Newton got its first church because Cambridge was too far away. Newton was originally a part of Cambridge, then called Cambridge village. Over winding roads, muddy or dusty, sometimes snow-deep, or ice slick, the horse made slow painful progress from the wide-open reaches of New Cambridge, or Cambridge Village, or New Town, to what we know as Harvard Square.
New Town became the name of the whole of what now makes up Newton and Cambridge. The official separation of our New Town from Cambridge did not come until 1691. For decades, the New Cambridge people had begged from release from paying the church tax for a meetinghouse so far away. They took matters into their own hands and began religious services in 1654.
The first “”meeting-house”” was built in 1660 and Rev. John Eliot Jr. was the pastor. This church stood near the old graveyard we still see on Centre Street. As an organized independent church, “The First Church in Newton” was officially constituted in 1664. It was this congregation that supported the mission of Pliny Fisk, Levi Parsons, Jonas King and Elnathan Gridley who in the early 1820s went to Athens Greece, and Asia Minor and converted the Greek colonies to the Protestant faith.
Years later, the protestant Greek immigrants approached the congregation of the First Church in Newton to purchase their church and institute the Greek Evangelical Church of Boston. In God’s mysterious providence the converts found themselves, some one 150 years later, in Boston, and actually purchased one of the churches so active in former years in this missionary movement.
1664-1914, First Church in Newton, 250th Anniversary
1873-1973: Newton Centennial