Since its founding in 1809, Park Street Church has been the site of many historic events and has been a pioneer in many social, national and theological concerns. As a result, Park Street is widely known as a church of “firsts.”
The Handel and Haydn Society of Boston, America’s first oratorio society, was organized at Park Street in 1815.
In 1816, Park Street started one of America’s first Sunday school programs.
The first Protestant missionaries to Hawaii (formerly known as the Sandwich Islands) were sent from here in 1819.
On July 4, 1829, the famous abolitionist, William Lloyd Garrison, delivered his first anti-slavery address from the Park Street pulpit.
Lowell Mason, Park Street’s first organist, is considered by many to be the father of American Protestant church music. He composed the music for many common hymns including “Nearer My God to Thee” and “Joy to the World.”
Samuel Francis Smith’s hymn, “America” (otherwise known as “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”), was first sung on the front steps of the church by Park Street’s Children’s Choir on July 4, 1831.
The Prison Discipline Society (America’s first prison ministry), the American Temperance Society, the Animal Rescue League (America’s first animal humane society), and the Boston Chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. all began here.
America’s oldest radio ministry began at Park Street Church in 1923.
The Billy Graham evangelistic crusades were introduced to Boston at Park Street in 1949.
Dr. Harold J. Ockenga, Park Street’s minister from 1936 to 1969, was co-founder and first president of the National Association of Evangelicals, Fuller Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.