This is the second in a two-part series on the ministers of Centre Church, New Bedford. Part One.
Rev. Jonathan Brown, of Naples, N.Y., was the second minister of Centre Church, from 1845-1848. Following his unsuccessful ministry, the congregation “voted not to employ any but Unitarian ministers.” (13) They then called Rev. Moses George Thomas as their next minister.
Moses George Thomas was born on January 19, 1805, in Sterling, Mass. He was graduated from Brown University in 1825, and from there went directly to the divinity school at Harvard. (14) While he was still a student at Harvard Divinity School, the American Unitarian Association (AUA) hired him to travel through the Western frontier, to find out where the AUA might fruitful ground in which to plant new Unitarian churches. From 1826-1827, Thomas traveled some 4,000 miles on horseback, through Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, going as far west as St. Louis. (15)
Following his graduation from divinity school in 1828, Thomas served as minister of the Unitarian church in Concord, N.H., from 1829 to 1844. He was ordained there, and he was the first Unitarian minister settled in that city. He laid the cornerstone of the first Unitarian church building, and gave the sermon at the dedication of that building. In his early years at Concord, N.H., he became good friends with Ralph Waldo Emerson, who had supplied the pulpit there before Thomas arrived. (16) While serving in Concord, N.H., Thomas officiated at Ralph Waldo Emerson’s first marriage, to Ellen Tucker. (17) The next year, 1830, Thomas himself was married, to Mary Jane Kent. Thomas’s time in Concord was later reported to be perhaps the happiest time of his life. (18)
Thomas was settled at the Broadway Church in South Boston in 1845, soon after the church was organized; here again, Thomas was the founding minister of the church. This congregation never owned its own building, but met in rented space; it seems to have dissolved by about 1853. (19)
After leaving the Broadway Church, Thomas came to New Bedford and was installed as the minister of Centre Church in 1848. Continue reading