“But before he had spent so much time in Oxford as he could have wished that he might have done; the People in Toxteth, whose Children had been taught by him, sent to him, desiring that he would return unto them to instruct not so much their Children as themselves, and that not in meer Humane Literature, but in the things of God. This Call, after due Consideration, for weighty Reasons he accepted of. Being then returned to Toxteth, he Preached his first Sermon November 30. 1618. There was a very great Concourse of people to hear him, and his Labours were highly accepted of by the judicious.”
…part of the reading given by Beryl Black at the 400th anniversary service of the Ancient Chapel of Toxteth on Sunday, 25th November. This section of the reading (from: The Life and Death of That Reverend Man of GOD, Mr. Richard Mather Teacher of the Church in Dorchester in New-England by Increase Mather, Cambridge Mass. 1670) was also reproduced on the back page of the printed order of service.
At the opening of worship (Photo: Sue Steers)
It was a tremendous occasion; well attended and enthusiastically received by all who were present. Readings were also given by Graham Murphy, Annette Butler and Leslie Gabriel while Cliff Barton played the organ.
Graham Murphy gives a reading (Photo: Sue Steers)
In addition to the above reading there were readings from T.S. Eliot’s Little Gidding, from Robert Griffith’s The History of the Royal and Ancient Park of Toxteth, Liverpool (1907) and from Joshua ch.4 v.1-9 and John ch.4 v.31-38.
A message was also read from the First Parish Dorchester, Massachusetts, to which place Richard Mather, emigrated in 1635.
Reading the message from Dorchester (Photo: Sue Steers)
The message from Dorchester:
Dear Members of the Ancient Chapel of Toxteth:
First Parish Dorchester sends you our heartfelt greetings and best wishes upon the occasion of your 400th anniversary of your founding. It is rare for us to know a Unitarian congregation older than ours, as we will not mark our 400th anniversary until 2030! Rev Richard Mather, your first minister and our third minister (1636-1669), certainly sowed good seeds in our two long-standing faith communities.
It may interest you to know that First Parish Dorchester established the oldest elementary public school in the United States, which is situated right next to the church- and it is called the Mather School!
In our weekly service, we have a time when we light candles of celebration or concern. This Sunday, November 25th, I will light a candle for the Ancient Chapel of Toxteth, in celebration of your four centuries as a gathered community. We rejoice with you in spirit.
Rev Patricia Brennan
First Parish Dorchester
Yo can read more about the Ancient Chapel via these links:
This post has been made on the day of the 400th anniversary of Richard Mather’s first sermon in Toxteth.
With special thanks to Jim Kenny who devised the logo used for the 400th anniversary.