Native American members of a church that became UU

(I don’t usually link to my sermons, because reading sermons can be about as interesting as watching paint dry. But today’s sermon had some interesting history in it, and I’ll provide direct links to the interesting bits so you can skip the boring bits.)

In the 17th century, our congregation, First Parish in Cohasset, had at least two Native American members.

Sarah Wapping joined our church on January 7, 1738 [N.S.], exactly 296 years ago today. Not much in the historical record, but I found a few things to say about her.

Naomi Isaac joined our church on September 19, 1736 [N.S.]. I may have found out more about Naomi Isaac’s life — though you have to read the footnotes so you can see why much of what I say is only tentative.

None of this is to imply that either Naomi Isaac nor Sarah Wapping was a Unitarian Universalist. Our church was not Unitarian in the 1730s. It was a fairly liberal Christian church for its time and place, since it was under the influence of Ebenezer Gay of Hingham; but it was not yet a Unitarian Universalist congregation.

Nevertheless, it’s still very interesting that our congregation had Native American members i the mid-eighteenth century. There were Black members, too. Thus, in spite of a rigid racial hierarchy, in the mid-eighteenth century ours was a multiracial congregation. Then by 1790, the town of Cohasset had become entirely White (the 1790 U.S. Census reports no non-White population at all), and the congregation was also entirely White. The town and church went from moderately racially integrated, to entirely segregated in the space of half a century.