Arbor Grove Congregational Church
The Boston Seminar
Boston and the surrounding area is the birth place of our nation and Congregationalism. What better place to gather to learn the history and polity of our faith tradition known as the Congregational Way. It seems only fitting to stay in an historic hotel and the Mariner's House at 11 North Square in Boston, Massachusetts, was the ideal location. It was built in 1847 by the Boston Port Society and operated as a boarding house for sailors by the Boston Seaman's Aid Society and the Port Society's chaplain, Father Taylor. Many of the historic sites are within walking distance from this location. The last week of July 2019, a group of eleven people gathered at the Mariner’s House. This was a diverse collection of religious traditions from Michigan, Wisconsin, and Connecticut, nine students, and two leaders/teachers. This gathering is called the Boston Seminar offered through the Congregational Foundation for Theological Studies (CFTS) of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches (NACCC). This is an intense learning experience that involves a great deal of walking. We average five miles per day, which doesn’t sound like much, but add in the humidity and temperatures of 95 degrees and it was a little challenging. The attendees arrived throughout the day Sunday. We began our journey by walking to dinner at 5:30 pm. We returned to the Mariner’s House and gathered for introductions at 7:30 pm. Then we held evening Devotions at 8:45 pm. Monday after breakfast we boarded a bus to head to Plymouth Plantation. We spent the morning walking through the plantation, a living museum with actors playing the part of the pilgrims. The live characters, the pilgrims, invite you into their home and answer questions and explain their living conditions and struggles. There is also a Native American village there with natives that explain their camp and their dwellings for summer and winter, and the different foods they have. We ate lunch at Plymouth Plantation's visitor center then boarded a bus to the town of Plymouth. The afternoon was spent visiting various historical sites which included climbing the 165 feet to the top of Burial Hill, where many of the Mayflower passengers were interred. We did visit Plymouth Rock at the bottom of Burial Hill, a museum with artifacts from the Pilgrims and the Mayflower. Tuesday through Thursday the schedule was breakfast at 6:30-8 am. Morning devotions 8:30-8:45 am and then our sessions began. We broke for lunch and walked to the Congregational Library, just less than one mile from the Mariner’s House. We then participated in more lectures and discussion. On Tuesday afternoon, we did a walking tour of historical religious sites in Boston. We walked to dinner at 5 pm and then walked back to Mariner’s House. Our evening sessions began around 7:15 pm and evening devotions 8:45 pm. The evening session ended around 9:30 pm. Several of us then walked a few blocks to have some gelato to end the day. This learning experience brought together ministers and lay people that bonded. We came away with an understanding of the Congregational Way. Many friendships began there in Boston. I thank Arbor Grove for allowing me to attend this wonderful seminar.
Rev. Jerry W. Turner
Arbor Grove Congregational Church
2621 McCain Road
Jackson, MI 49203