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First Congregational Church of Sutton

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The Rev. John McKinstry — 1720 — 1728


John McKinstry was the first minister in the first meetinghouse in the town of Sutton. He began his ministry at the age of 43 and was ordained as pastor on November 9, 1720. He was voted by the church and/or town to be dismissed from church preaching after eight years in September 1728.


His eight years of service began with ten signers of the first covenant. There were fewer than 50 members at his dismissal.


His dismissal followed eight years of differences of opinion regarding church politity is worth noting that all and any action taken regarding church affairs was taken at scheduled town meeting held in the meetinghouse that we refer to as the church.


The appointment of John McKinstry as first minister of the Congregational Church of Sutton was probably doomed to failure from the beginning. He and his family came to the colonies from Scotland to avoid persecution for their beliefs in the late 1600’s. They were part of the John Calvin movement and were called Presbyterians. As a minister and a leader of the Congregationalists, his beliefs and teachings followed the teachings of the Presbyterians. The idea that the minister and elders should make all church decisions was in stark contrast to Congregational belief that individual churches and their in­dividual members should be the ones to make decisions of doctrinal policy.


Those eight years probably were a constant period of unrest and contro­versy which brought about the unceremonious dismissal of the Rev. John McKinstry in 1728.


The vote at the town meeting on September 2 that year for the dismissal of the Rev. McKinstry was affirmative with no negative votes.


On September 26, this receipt is recorded in the town records:  “Then received of the selectmen of ye town of Sutton full satisfaction and payment as to salary for preaching in the said Town from the first day I came among them to the day above said, as witness my hand.”

John McKinstry


The town meeting of October 14, 1728, voted a day of fasting and prayer be put aside in preparation for the obtaining of a new preacher of the gospel in Sutton.


Thus was the beginning ministry of this the First Congregational Church of Sutton concluded.