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

Rev. Charles Lowell

Like several other founders, Rev. Lowell is perhaps better remembered for his son, the poet James Russell Lowell, but the father should be remembered in his own right. Born in Boston on Aug. 15, 1782, Rev. Lowell pastored the West Church in Boston (then a Congregational Church, now a United Methodist congregation) for 55 years. He graduated from Harvard in 1800, studied theology in Edinburgh and was installed at the West Church in 1806.

A memoir of his son by A. Lawrence Lowell records that Rev. Lowell worked so hard among the poor of the city that it undermined his health and his congregation asked him to find a house out in the country. That same memoir declares Rev. Lowell to have been “a man of unusual culture and refinement, possessed a pure and gentle spiritual nature, and a breadth of sympathy which endeared him in no common measure to his parishioners.”

Rev. Lowell’s father, Hon. John Lowell was the U.S. Chief Justice for the New England Circuit and was the author of the clause in the Massachusetts Constitution abolishing slavery. This passion was passed along to his son, who became a social activist and ardent abolitionist, ending the practice of segregated seating in his congregation. He died in Cambridge on Jan. 20, 1861.

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