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Arlington Street Church - National Fund For Sacred Places
2018 Cohort

Arlington Street Church

(Unitarian Universalist)

Boston, Massachusetts

Arlington Street Church in Boston is an American institution known for its pioneering spirit, commitment to reform, and landmark building.

 

Arlington Street Church courtesy Arlington Street Church

Arlington Street Church courtesy Arlington Street Church

2018 Cohort

Arlington Street Church

(Unitarian Universalist)

Boston, Massachusetts

Arlington Street Church in Boston is an American institution known for its pioneering spirit, commitment to reform, and landmark building.

Scots-Irish immigrants founded the congregation in a barn in 1729 but moved to the current church designed by noted architect Arthur D. Gilman in 1861. The church, inspired by St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London, is an early example of a revivalist architectural style in America. Between 1899 and 1930, the congregation commissioned 16 Tiffany-designed stained-glass windows that illustrate the Beatitudes. Throughout its history, Arlington Street has been on the forefront of reform and justice. The congregation hosted the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention in 1788, advocated for fire brigades, petitioned for the abolition of enslavement, and turned in draft cards. In the 21st century, Arlington Street Church performed the first legal same-sex church wedding in the United States and became a gathering space for people affected by the Boston Marathon bombing.

Today, Arlington Street Church is a hub for community activity. The historic church is open to visitors six days a week, offering volunteer-led tours to educate the public on the history of the building. The church provides daily Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, a weekly meal for those in need, a bi-monthly book club and meditation session, and a food pantry catering specifically to Arlington Street’s low-income Asian neighbors. Arlington Street Church also collaborates with Black Lives Matter Boston, the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, and other local organizations.

A National Fund grant of $250,000 with $500,000 in matching funds raised by the congregation will allow Arlington Street Church to complete urgent repairs that will restore the integrity of its building’s envelope. Unstable masonry, leaks, unsafe stairways, and deteriorating portico finishes will all be addressed to ensure the preservation and safe usage of the building.

Arlington Street Church courtesy Arlington Street Church

Historic Houses of Worship as Advocates for LGBTQ Rights & Inclusion

Houses of worship may not be the first places that come to mind when thinking about institutions that uplifted lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people, as many LGBTQ individuals across the nation and the world have faced discrimination as a result of the policies of organized religions. Although discrimination against this community has not been extinguished from religious institutions, an increasing number of religious groups in the United States have taken firm steps towards welcoming and advocating for the rights of the LGBTQ community.

Arlington Street Church courtesy Arlington Street Church

Stories and Media Coverage

Read more about how the National Fund for Sacred Places is helping congregations around the country rehabilitate their sacred places.

Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church by Luis P. Gutierrez