History of The First Church in Belmont, Unitarian Universalist
In 2006 The First Church in Belmont, Unitarian Universalist celebrated the 150th Anniversary of its founding on February 5, 1856.The founding of the church and the birth of the Town of Belmont are closely related. Citizens of West Cambridge, Watertown and Waltham had been working for several years to form their own town. According to church records, “In anticipation of the incorporation of the new township steps were taken to establish a separate parish.” The record further states that, “At a meeting in Belmont Hall on January 21, 1856, it was voted to apply to Mr. Mead, as justice of the peace, to issue a warrant to the citizens calling them to meet to consider organizing a parish.” That meeting took place on February 5, 1856, and “the parish was organized under the name of the Belmont Congregational Society; and plans were laid for the maintenance of regular preaching and the erection of a meeting house.”
The church building, erected near today’s post office, was dedicated on October 28, 1857. The Town was then founded in 1859, and the church spire can be seen in the Belmont Town Seal. In 1890, a new stone-based church church was nearly complete across the street when the original burned. The bell tower contains the official town clock.
The church was Unitarian from the very beginning. The name was changed to “The First Church in Belmont” in 1928 and “Unitarian Universalist” was added after the 1961 merger of the two denominations.
In 2004, a new Parish Hall and Religious Education Wing was added, replacing a 1924 addition. The church now has nine religious education classrooms, an air-conditioned parish hall with a performance space and theatre lighting, a library, an office suite, and a full-sevice kitchen. The building is also fully accessible. A member-designed frieze in the upper gathering hall depicts the church’s history.
“The First Church in Belmont is proud of the role its congregants have played in the Town of Belmont from its birth to the present day,” said Interim Minister Doris Hunter.