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360 Year Anniversary


(“gathered”) on November 4, 1663, 360 years ago. The nearest town was Rowley,

nine miles distant, although Rowley Village (later Boxford) was down the road and

contained sixteen families, all of whom attended worship services in our early

Meetinghouses. Those first families of Boxford, including the ancestral family of

Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints,

petitioned the colony’s legislative General Court to join the Topsfield congregation as

well as the town’s militia. They also petitioned for a right to be exempt from training

with Rowley’s militia and from the obligation to contribute to the Rowley ministry.

The General Court ruled that whatever the villagers decided to do, whether to align

spiritually and secularly with Topsfield or Rowley, would be permitted by the Court.

They chose Topsfield and shortly thereafter a new and larger Meetinghouse was

constructed in 1663 and located where the current Smith Family Memorial monument

now stands in the southeast corner of the Pine Grove Cemetery.

In its first 180 years (1663-1843), the Congregational Church of Topsfield was

witness to King Phillip’s War, the Salem witchcraft delusions, the Revolutionary War,

and the War of 1812. The congregation grew in number and worshipped in four

successive Meetinghouses (1655, 1663, 1703, and 1759). Its ministers expelled Satan

and were instrumental in establishing the town’s public library. The Church, then as

now, serves as the heart of the community.

In the second 180 years (1843-2023), the 5th and current Meetinghouse was

opened for worship and remains open and welcoming to all who seek the Way of the

Lord. It still stands in architectural splendor and historical significance in the center

of town, facing east towards a new day and a new era. The enduring congregation,

formed 360 years ago, intends to enter into another cycle of life and deems its nearly

four-hundred-year existence as merely the end of its beginning.


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