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The Religion in America series, initiated with this volume, is modeled on the Mainstream of America series. Historically oriented (as indicated by the book's subtitle: ""The Role of the Pilgrims and their Heirs in Shaping America""), they are intended to show how religious denominations have effected the overall development of American history and character. The nature and influence of The Congregational Way is traced by Marion L. Starkey in a narrative which gives room to ideas and movements, yet revolves about personalities. All the known names are here and then some-- Bradford, Winthrop, Hooker, Williams, Mather, Wise, Edwards, Whitfield, Champion, Morse, Butrick, Worcester, Bushnell--and such distaff members as Hutchinson, Sawyer, Stowe, Stone. The narrative in which these persons emerge sets off with the Puritan persecutions in England, details the early settlement in Massachusetts and the destinies of the dissidents Hooker and Williams, Edwards and Hutchinson. The life of the church with the outburst of witch-hunting, the Great Awakening, and so on, is integrated with that of the nation through the decisive wars, through missions, through the move west, through the establishment of educational institutions (Harvard, Yale, Oberlin). The story is carried to the Synod of 1957 which saw the merger of the Congregationalist and Reformed Churches into the United Church of Christ. As the life of the nation widens, that of the denomination becomes less evident and individualized, so that the earlier sections of the book have more immediacy. Still, this is a considered telling of a consequential part of the American story.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1966
Publisher: Doubleday