The Federated Church of Hyannis History
Written in 1939
The Federated Church of Hyannis was founded in 1917 by union of the old Universalist society, established in 1829, and the Congregational society, founded in 1854. Thus it is the spiritual and material heir of two societies with roots deep in the early years of Hyannis. Let us consider the older society first.
Most of those who banded together to form the new Universalist society in 1829 withdrew from the Baptist society. Schism seemed to be in the air that decade. The old Congregational church of the East Parish had gone Unitarian, the Methodists were holding meetings all over the town, and the Universalist doctrines were winning a large following. The new society was legally organized November 13, 1829, with about 50 members. As a preliminary, Zaccheus Hamblin, Alexander Baxter, Jehiel Simmons, Charles Goodspeed and ten others had petitioned Freeman Marchant, justice of the peace, to empower one of their number to call the meeting. Mr. Hamblin was invested with that authority
They met first at the Hyannis Port schoolhouse and chose these officers: Samuel Pitcher, moderator; Frederick L. Scudder, clerk; Zaccheus Hamblin, Alexander Baxter and Samuel Pitcher, prudential committee. They next met in the old schoolhouse which stood where the Hyannis Trust building now stands, directly across from the present Federated church site. Here they continued gathering until their new meeting house was built the following year.
When the constitution, articles of faith and practice had been adopted, the Rev. John M. Spear of Brewster, who had already performed some sort of missionary labor here without compensation, was called to the pastorate for one year, and his salary fixed at $400. On April 29, 1830, the new society voted to build a meeting house. In July, The Patriot noted:
“We are informed that the frame of the First Universal Church at Hyannis was raised on Saturday last. We congratulate our friends of that section of the town that they have laid aside prejudice and assumed to themselves the liberty of thinking and worshipping agreeable to their own feeling”.
The Congregation society, second party to the union or affiliation which is now the Federated church of Hyannis, was itself really an heir of the old Methodist societies of Hyannis. Their history is rather difficult to set down with exactness. A class of Methodists was formed in Hyannis on a circuit of classes throughout the town in the early 1830’s. The Hyannis class was formed into a distinct society in 1840. It purchased a lot and built a meeting house in 1841. Among these Methodists a division occurred about 1846, into the Wesleyan or Protestant Methodist society, and the Methodist Episcopal society. Neither prospered. When a new Congregational society was organized, it enlisted members of both branches of Methodists and both factions soon disappeared. The church of the Protestant Methodists was sold and remodeled into a dwelling, now that of William P. Saint on Pleasant Street. The house of the Methodist Episcopal society, on Main Street, was taken over by the new Congregational society.
At the time of the union with the Universalist society in 1917, it seemed best to abandon the Congregational structure as a house of worship and meet in the Universalist meeting house.
The Federated Church of Hyannis is thus, as these notes show, the spiritual heir of the old Methodist, Congregational and Universalist societies, and the result of the union of the latter two.