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Background of First Church in Roxbury

Background of the Community of Roxbury:

In colonial New England, the meetinghouse was the focal point of the community, where residents gathered to engage with each other and conduct the business of their civic life. In 1630 Roxbury consisted of Mission Hill, Roslindale, Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury, South End, and lots of Back Bay. The town of Roxbury was a resourceful town for colonists, with good farmland, materials for building, such as timber and stone; and the Stony Brook for waterpower.

Early First Church in Roxbury:

The meetinghouse in Roxbury has always had a church on its site, which is First Church in Roxbury. At the start of the Revolutionary War, the fourth meetinghouse known as First Church in Roxbury was a target for British fire, as it housed soldiers and was a signal station. By the end of the Revolutionary War, the area around the fourth meetinghouse was mostly destroyed. A new and improved meetinghouse was built in 1804 and is the present First Church in Roxbury, and labeled as the fifth meetinghouse. 


Until about 1900, Roxbury was a community of English, Irish, and German immigrants and their descendants. In the early 20th century, Roxbury became more diverse with the establishment of a Jewish community in the Grove Hall area along Blue Hill Avenue. Following a massive migration from the South to northern cities in the 1940s and 1950s, Roxbury became the center of the African-American community in Boston.


The First Church in Roxbury is a Boston landmark that has been the home of the UU Urban Ministry since 1976. That was the year that the last congregation that called the church their home disbanded - largely because of "white flight". Today, UUUM works as a non-profit social justice organization to dismantle racism and white supremacy culture and push forward racial, social, and economic justice.

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