Excerpts from Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony by Thomas Franklin Waters
The Congregational Church
The Congregational Church, founded by the first settlers, maintained the old order for many generations in undisputed supremacy. From time to time, as the population increased, as has been noted, new Parishes within the Town limits had been established, in Chebacco, now Essex, in the Hamlet, now Hamilton, in Linebrook, and finally the South Parish in the center of the Town, but these were all Congregational, holding firmly to the Puritan order.
The Baptists: 1806
A number of friends and Neighbors having met together at the mutual desire of each other for the purpose of forming a “Society to Unite in Religious worship of the Supreme Being” formed themselves into a Religious Society. The peace of quiet Ipswich was disturbed and much bitterness was interjected into the religious life, but the Baptist people proceeded steadily to establish their Church. The services of worship were held in the second story of the building, which Dr. Manning had built for a woolen mill, on the corner now occupied by Caldwell’s Block.
The withdrawal of parishioners from the First and South Parishes caused a considerable loss of revenue, but stable prosperity was never secured, and the plans for building a Baptist meeting-house did not materialize. A secession took place from the Church in 1816, and in the course of this year they dissolved. The original Society of Baptists continued after the secession from them only one year. In 1892, the Baptist people again began to worship together.
The Methodists: 1829
When the Baptist Church was virtually extinct, some of the leading members of that body turned to the Methodist order, which was then becoming prominent in Essex County. In 1829 and 1830, many Ipswich families joined the new Methodist Church.
During his pastorate, the famous revivalist Rev. John N. Maffit held a “protracted meeting” as it was called, which was undoubtedly the most extraordinary episode in the history of the churches of Ipswich since the days of Whitefield and Tennent. He preached sixty nights to congregations which occupied every inch of the meeting-house. It is said that during an entire week, business was at a stand still, most of the stores were closed, the cotton mill was shut down for want of help, and every one seemed to be seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness.