Founders of the Massachusetts Bible Society - 1809

The Massachusetts Bible Society began on July 6, 1809 and is an ecumenical, Christian organization dedicated to promoting Biblical literacy, understanding, and dialogue. This blog lists brief biographies of our founders who gathered in the Massachusetts State House Senate Chamber on that historic day to sign the Charter founding MBS. Please visit our website:

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Location: Newton Centre, MA, United States

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mr. Nathan Parker

Born on June 5, 1782 in Reading, Mass., Nathan Parker was the son of a farmer. He graduated from Harvard in 1803, studied theology and taught school in Worcester and then served for a time as a tutor at Bowdoin College, also performing the President’s Chapel duties at the College when the Presidency was vacant.

Nathan Parker was ordained to the struggling South Church and Parish in Portsmouth, NH (pictured here) in 1808. Rev. Parker built the congregation back to strength, and when some questioned his theology, fellow founder Joseph Buckminster jumped to his support and thereafter took him under his wing as a son. Nathan Parker served that congregation for 28 years and died at the age of 52 on Nov. 8, 1833.

As the Orthodox/Unitarian split raged around him, and he found himself unwelcome to once devoted colleagues simply because he attended the ordination of a Unitarian in Baltimore, Rev. Parker stuck to his ideals “‘to unite with good men in doing good, whatever name they might bear, to strengthen the influence of every one who appeared honestly laboring in the cause of Christ, to do all in his power to cherish kind affections, and persuade Christians to love each other.’ The confession of faith used at the admission to his church would exclude Christians of no denomination. He would not assume the responsibility of sitting in judgment over others, but yielded to all the Christian name, who exhibited the fruit of the Gospel in their lives. But he attached a higher value to liberty of conscience—to the rights of exercising the mind given for that purpose in the examination of religious truths. He pressed it upon his people, to examine the Bible for themselves, to follow servilely the opinions of no frail mortal, but to go to Revelation itself, and with devout and prayerful hearts to use the light of their own minds, fearless of the decision which they honestly and conscientiously should make. He was not a partisan. He looked to interests higher and holier than those of any party—the interests of Christianity itself.”

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