First Parish Church in Plymouth

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First Parish Church in Plymouth
First Parish Church in Plymouth is a historic Unitarian Universalist church at the base of Burial Hill on the town square off Leyden Street in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Founded in 1620 by the Pilgrims in Plymouth, it is the oldest church congregation in the United States in continuous operation.


The congregation was founded in the English community of Scrooby in 1606 by the Pilgrims, a group of Protestant Christians. After they emigrated to North America in 1620, the Separatist congregation established a church in Plymouth which became a parish church of Massachusetts' Congregationalist state church. Eventually, a schism developed at the turn of the 19th century, when much of the congregation adopted Unitarianism along with many of the other state churches in Massachusetts. All state churches were disaffiliated with the government by 1834.

Originally, the congregation held Christian services on the Mayflower and then at a fort on Burial Hill from 1621 until 1648. The fort was also used for other colony events including meetings of the Plymouth General Court. In 1648 the first of four church buildings on the town square was constructed. Later churches were built in 1684, 1744, and 1831. In 1899 the current granite building was constructed in a Romanesque style replacing the 1831 wooden Gothic structure. The church is currently (2009) an active Unitarian congregation. The congregation has 87 members.