A New Minister for a New Church
On November 6, 1966, the Rev. Charles Lewis Wilson was installed as the first minister of the Northshore Unitarian Universalist Church. The installation took place in the Park Street Church in Peabody while the congregation waited for a new building in Danvers to be completed.
Members of the church’s Liberal Religious Youth greeted and ushered the members, family, and friends who attended. The choir, under the direction of Mrs. Robert Koonig and joined by choir members from the First Religious Society, Unitarian, in Newburyport, performed admirably. Mrs. Mark Rand was the organist.
The visiting dignitaries who participated in the service included the Rev. James Luther Adams, who delivered the sermon (The Enduring Heritage of Liberal Christianity); Edward Mallinckrodt Jr., Professor of Christian Ethics at Harvard Divinity School; Rev. Frederick Lipp, Minister of the First Parish Church, Unitarian, in Beverly; Rev. Theodore Webb, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Bay District of the Unitarian Universalist Association; and Mrs. Arthur (Edna) McCoubroy, Chair of the NSUU Board of Directors.
Members and friends sang hymns, heard readings, and listened to remarks. Finally, Reverend Lipp “presented” Rev. Wilson to the congregation. While standing, the congregation, led by Board Chair Edna McCoubroy, recited the following:
Our purpose is to join together in a cooperative quest for religious and ethical values; to apply these values to the fulfillment of our objectives, which are: the development of character, the enrichment of the spirit, the promotion of universal brotherhood, and service to all mankind.
Our basic underlying conviction is that each individual has an inherent dignity and the right to freedom of belief unfettered by any prescribed creed.
The high purpose we would accomplish can best be attained through a mutual relationship between the congregation and the minister they have freely chosen.
The relationship which we are about to recognize lies wholly between the congregation and the minister, and requires from both minister and congregation a deep sense of responsibility, active cooperation and mutual trust.
Are we ready then to assume these obligations?
We are ready and willing to take upon ourselves those obligations and we do solemnly promise to fulfill them to the best of our ability.
Charles, we have called you to be minister of this church because we are confident of your zeal to quicken the spiritual life of this people. We offer you a free pulpit, for we have been accustomed to much liberty of thought, and great liberty of speech. We ask you to dwell among us, to share our joys and sorrows, to speak the truth with love, and to demonstrate in word and deed a way of life in keeping with our worthiest aims and noblest desires.
We, the members of the Northshore Unitarian Universalist Church, install you, Charles Lewis Wilson, as the first minister of our newly formed congregation. In unity of spirit may we walk together with you as seekers and pilgrims.
With a deep sense of responsibility and gratitude for the confidence you have placed in me, I assume the ministry to which you call me. I pledge myself to help build our liberal religious fellowship wherein the bonds of peace, justice, righteousness and love may be shared and extended among all men.
The Rev. Theodore Webb issued the official Charge to the Minister, the congregation and choir sang the Recessional Hymn It Sounds Along the Ages, and everyone gathered in Hudson Hall (named for Rev. John W. Hudson, minister of the First Unitarian Society of Peabody from 1873-1898, and Pastor Emeritus until his death in 1925) for a reception after the service provided by “the ladies of The Unity Guild.”
Rev. Wilson served the NSUU Church until 1971, when he was succeeded by the Rev. Edwin Lynn. In 2005, Rev. Lynn was succeeded by two interim ministers, Rev. Rosemarie Smurzynski and Rev. Jeanne Nieuwejaar. From 2008 to 2014, the Rev. Frieda Gillespie served as the church’s settled minister. Rev. Julie Lombard has served as minister since 2015, and was installed as settled minister on June 4, 2017.
Installation Order of Service, 6 November 1966.