Dr. Josiah Noyes: Doctor, Geologist, Botanist, Lecturer, Surveyor, Astronomer, & Church Founder

Reposted from Once Upon a Time in Needham.

Josiah Noyes, MD (1801-1871)

Notice how that list doesn’t include minister?

That’s because the founder of the Congregational Church of Needham was not a minister at all, but Needham’s town doctor. During the first 30 years of his life in Needham, Dr. Noyes and his wife, Elizabeth, were regular members of the First Parish in Needham. When First Parish began to adopt more Unitarian views, Dr. Noyes, who was an orthodox Congregationalist, became deeply dissatisfied with it. In 1855, Dr. Noyes, his wife, and some two dozen other like-minded parishioners broke away from First Parish to build a new, more orthodox Congregational community. The Evangelical Congregational Church of Needham was officially formed on Wednesday, May 6, 1857.

When not founding churches or tending to Needham’s sick, his neighbors could find Dr. Noyes lecturing on chemistry at the Needham Lyceum (which he also founded) or on botany at the Lowell Institute. He was also a well-respected astronomer, surveyor, and geologist.

The first minister to serve the church was the Rev. Dr. Burgess, the minister of the Congregational Church in Dedham, who Dr. Noyes recruited to preach on a voluntary basis to the founding members of the church during their first year of exile from First Parish.

Source: The History of the Evangelical Congregational Church of Needham, Massachusetts as compiled by Edmund W. Trowbridge, Church Historian, 1957.

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