First Parish of Westwood
Growing Faith, Sharing Love, Grounding Lives
The congregation of First Parish of Westwood seeks to learn, live, and love in covenant with one another and with the United Church of Christ.
We practice Jesus’ commandments by choosing to grow spiritually, to participate in hands on mission, and to honor sabbath.
We Love God by growing spiritually through daily prayer, weekly worship, music, Bible study, stewardship, and developing small groups.
We Love Our Neighbors by helping people and organizations in our local community and world through outreach and hands-on service.
We Love Ourselves by honoring sabbath by taking time and making space to renew and recharge our soul, mind and strength.
Throughout our now two-hundred and ninety-year history, First Parish has occupied a central place in the life of the Westwood community.
The roots of First Parish reach back to Dedham and the early 1630s. With the passage of time, there came a need for more suitable lands for farming and housing. With expansion south and east of Dedham, there naturally arose a need for a closer meeting house for worship and matters of government.
The parish was “gathered” in 1730 when Westwood was still part of Dedham. In 1736 the Clapboard Trees Parish was established by law. In a few years, there was a meeting house and a settled pastor. The congregation called itself The Clapboardtree Parish, or Third Parish. In the early 1800s the Parish, like many others in New England, became Unitarian in thought and affiliation.
The great theological debates and schisms of the 1800s affected many Protestant churches in New England, including the Clapboard Trees Parish. It came out of those times as a Unitarian church. At the end of World War II, when Westwood was a rapidly growing Boston suburb, a new Congregational Church was forming. At the invitation of The First Parish of Westwood, Unitarian, the Congregationalists joined with the older parish in a federated church. In 1950 the dual organization was succeeded by a single congregation: The First Parish of Westwood, United Church.
Today as a church our congregation is autonomous. We are historically tied to the two denominations that formed us – Congregational and Unitarian. We maintain cooperative and responsible relationships with the larger fellowship of Christians mainly through the United Church of Christ (UCC), the denomination formed in 1957 by the merger of the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church. We identify as a UCC church.