Inside the Architecture: First Parish in Cambridge


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182-year-old Unitarian Universalist church still providing community services

Hundreds of thousands of people pass the First Parish in Cambridge every year due to its location right in Harvard Square.  It is an iconic landmark with a steeple that can be seen even amongst the competing brick buildings in Harvard Yard.  

The church was built in 1833.  It is the fifth build of a meeting house for Cambridge and has only ever been associated with the Unitarian Universalist faith.  Prior to the build in 1833, the meeting house was located in Harvard Yard.  In fact, Harvard built itself around the meeting house for its students to take advantage of the former Evangelical church.  

The Parish House was built in 1902 and over a decade after that, the interior of the parish was remodeled.  In 1941, the chapel was dedicated to the Crothers.  Samuel M. Crothers was a minister from 1894-1927.  

Today, the church has a lot of organizations to help not only Cambridge, but the larger communities around us.  

One of these organizations is the Social Justice Council.  Each year they vote on justice concerns to get involved in by making Task Forces.  For 2015-2016, the Task Forces are Beyond Borders, Environmental Task Force, and the GBIO Task Forces.  

Beyond Borders-Sin Frontera focuses on bringing awareness to issues involving immigration.  This group has joined with other members of the community to keep immigration a topic of conversation in Boston.  Environmental Task Force focuses on the importance of people understanding human impacts on the environment, specifically focusing on fossil fuel.  GBIO Task Forces focuses on issues in Boston and the rest of Massachusetts involving housing, healthcare and education.  

Another organization that the First Parish in Cambridge hosts are Tuesday Meals.  All day on Tuesdays, the parish offers free meals for people who need it to eat in a safe environment.  Anyone from the community is welcome to volunteer their time to Tuesday Meals.  

The physical church also holds different community events for anyone to participate in.  These activities include Women Writing Together, Yoga led by John Schlorholtz, Young Adult Group, and Groovy Baby Music.  These are just a handful of the many events held at the parish.  There is just about something for all ages and interests.

First Parish in Cambridge is located at 3 Church Street, Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA 02138. To learn more, call, 617-876-7772 or visit