Congregation History

History of Church of the Covenant


The Church of the Covenant has a remarkable history spanning more than 180 years. Today’s Church of the Covenant formed from the merging of the Central Congregational Church and First Presbyterian Church in 1931. The new congregation then made its home in the Newbury Street sanctuary.  The church building is not only a beautiful example of interior and exterior design, however, but has also been a hub for social justice, faith, and the arts in the Back Bay community.
New Merged Announcement 1932

Central Congregational Church

The Central Congregational Church, one of our progenitors, organized in 1835,  the Society erected it’s first church edifice on Winter Street in the year 1840, and occupied it until 1864, when it was sold.  It’s Grecian front, in granite, was for a quarter of a century a familiar object on the street.  A prominent feature was the massive Corinthian columns, in solid granite, with highly ornamental capitals, and graceful proportions.
Winter Street 1842
Winter Street 1842

In 1865, they undertook construction of the current Newbury Street building, and were one of the first churches to relocate to the then-new Back Bay neighborhood of Boston.  The new edifice was erected during the years 1863 to 1868.  The church occupied the main building November, 1867; completing the spire in 1868.


First Presbyterian Church


First Presbyterian, our other progenitor church, was, in truth, the very first Presbyterian church in the Boston area. In 1852, a committee of seven Scottish residents of Boston, who wanted to worship under the Presbyterian form, arranged for a minister to be sent to them through the Colonial Committee of the Free Church of Scotland. “Knox Presbyterian Church” held its first service on December 11, 1853.

In 1858, upon joining with what is now the Presbyterian Church (USA), they changed their name to First Presbyterian Church.  On January 8, 1860 the membership began worshiping in their own building at the corner of Beach Street and Harrison Avenue. ​

In 1875 the city siezed the church property for municipal purposes.  The membership then purchased land in the Back Bay on the edge of the South End.  The cornerstone for the second building was laid in April 1876 at the corner of Columbus Avenue and Berkeley Street.

1st Presbyterian Boston

In 1926, the church began investigating ways and means of enlarging the church building to accommodate the growing congregation.  Meanwhile the neighbors of the Central Church were struggling with a small membership but a large edifice.

Formation of Church of the Covenant


In 1931, the Central Congregational Church and the First Presbyterian Church began worshipping together, both congregations agreed to become a federated church while retaining some aspects of their distinctive identities, formally renaming themselves Church of the Covenant.