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historyThe history of Second Church goes back to October 24, 1713, when the Colonial Council in Boston approved a petition, setting up the Precinct of Salem and Beverly. At that time, Danvers was part of Salem, and the new Precinct included Ryal Side and the Burley Street area. A year later, on June 8, 1714, the new building was "raised" on its present site and in the geographical center of the Parish. In spite of the many changes in and additions to the building, the portion comprising the Sanctuary still bears the original timbers. These may be seen when the panels on the cemetery side are opened. There was still no pastor, but on March 29, 1715, the precinct called Rev. John Chipman, who graduated from Harvard in the Class of 1711. Finally, on December 28, 1715, Rev. Chipman was ordained, and fifteen men signed the Covenant with him; thus the Church was established.

Rev. Chipman remained as pastor until his death in 1775, a span of sixty years. For a few years before that time he had an assistant, Rev. Enos Hitchcock, who succeeded him. The outbreak of the Revolution came the year Mr. Chipman died, and Mr Hitchcock soon left to serve as a chaplain. He was with the unit with which Colonel Ebenezer Francis served, at the time of Francis' death in the fighting near Ticonderoga. Colonel Francis, a member of Second church, was a local Beverly hero; a monument to him is located in the cemetery behind the church.

The most significant development affecting the Church in the early nineteenth century was the rise of Unitarianism. Differences of opinion brought about the division of our Church in 1834, with a Fourth Church occupying a building across the street from the Conant-Chipman house. (The First Church is the present Unitarian Church in Ellis Square; the Third Church is the Dane Street Congregational Church.) Fortunately the Second and Fourth Churches came together again in 1868, and the old building of Second Church was refurbished. For many years there was a succession of student ministers; Edmund M. Wylie, called in 1901, was the first settled pastor in some time. The separate Parish House, now part of the enlarged Church plant, was built in 1908.

World War I saw a pastor, Rev. Don Ivan Patch, leave for service as a chaplain, as Rev. Hitchcock had done during the Revolution. In 1929 the Phillips family, a prominent family in North Beverly with a large estate bordering on Wenham Lake, contributed toward the restoration of the colonial atmosphere of the old building.

The Depression years of the thirties saw the budget sink to a low of under $5,000. At the conclusion of World War II, Dr. Robert L. Rasche, who had served as a Navy Chaplain, was called as pastor. Then began the rapid growth of the North Beverly community; and to meet this challenge, pastor and members in the nineteen fifties carried through the doubling of the physical plant. The breaking of the ground, the laying of the cornerstone, the setting of the new steeple, and the 300th celebration are events fresh in the memory of many of us.

With the end of the second millenium came several changes. Rev. Christian Zebley recently traveled to Japan and hopes his missionary work there helps to build bridges between differences in our culture and understanding. The Rev. Robert Wright, who served us faithfully for eighteen years, accepted a call to serve the United Congregational Church of Tolland, CT. In September 2000 our church called the Rev. W. Alan Froggatt, Jr. to be our Senior Minister, and in January 2014, the Rev. Tara Allen Olsen joined us as our Pastor for Congregational Life.

 

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