Minnie Douglas Bennett
for the occasion of the 125th Anniversary of the building of the present meetinghouse
Revisions and Additions by
Bruce J. Crowther
Richard J. Ross
Earle T. Stewart
For the celebration of the 300th Anniversary of the Church
This post is part of The History of the Original Congregational Church of Wrentham series. Previous posts can be found here.
In 1685, the inhabitants of Wrentham petitioned the General Court to allow them to elect their own selectmen. The request was granted, and these men were chosen to make up the first Board: Samuel Fisher, John Blake, John Fairbanks, John Guild, John Ware. The daughter town of Wrentham had now come of age, with greater freedom in guiding her destiny - but also with heavier burden of responsibility.
On April 3, 1692, the autonomous Wrentham worshippers, who had been banded together for some twenty-five years, organized the Church of Christ in Wrentham. The society at the time of its organization consisted of ten persons: Samuel Man, Samuel Fisher, John Ware, John Guild, Benjamin Rockwood, Thomas Thurston, John Fairbanks, John Fales, Eleazer Metcalf, and Ephraim Pond. Mr. Man was ordained as the first minister, and Samuel Fisher was named the first deacon. The first church covenant, written that day, was lost along with the earliest Church records, when Mr. Man's home was destroyed by fire on October 25, 1699. A new "draught" of the covenant was made and accepted by the Church on April 21, 1700. It consisted of two parts: the covenant with God, "the prophet, Priest and King of our immortal souls", and the covenant of admission to church membership. A copy is found in the first church Manual, printed in 1818.
A parish scribe and treasurer attended to the business of both Church and Town, as they were still one. As yet no committees were appointed. The minister visited the sick, and the deacons dealt with the delinquents. All offenses from the trivial to the serious called for discipline. The censures inflicted were private reproof, public admonition, or excommunication, "according to the aggravation of the offence."
Samual Man continued as minister until his death in 1719. He had eleven children, seven sons and four daughters, and was the great-grandfather of Horace Mann, the world-famous American educator. Mr. Man was a scholar, an accomplished preacher, and a loving and faithful shepherd of his flock. He came to them in their poverty, shared their hardships, comforted them in their sorrows, and died beloved by them. Not only was he their spiritual leader, he was an advisor in all town affairs as well. Perhaps no one man did more for Wrentham in the days of infancy and transition than Samual Man.
To be continued…