Full History

Our Full History

Resurrection Lutheran Church (RLC)’s history began in late 19th century Boston. The city was founded by Puritan immigrants from England in 1630 on a forested peninsula.  The city originally belonged to the Native people of the region. For an estimated 12,000 years, the spiritual life of the Wampanoag and other Native peoples, deeply integrated into everyday life in the region, had been expressed through a great variety of beliefs and practices. The arrival of English settlers changed the city. The spiritual diversity of the area vanished. As Europeans settled and claimed ownership of the land, the ancient cultures were nearly destroyed as well, some 90% of the region’s native people dead by 1650, primarily of infectious disease, and most of the rest dispersed. Today, only one-half of one percent of Boston’s population is of Native ancestry.

The English Puritans who settled here had sought to reform the Anglican Church and the English nation but had suffered persecution for their efforts. They fled and came to the New World to establish a “holy commonwealth” in which church and civil life would be governed by their religious principles. They founded the City; theirs was the official religion of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and they tried vigorously to suppress other forms of belief. But in that, the Puritans did not succeed. Quakers were an unwelcome presence, a thorn in the Puritans’ side, as early as 1656. By 1665, Baptists had established a congregation in Boston, meeting in secret. In 1688, Boston’s first Anglican church had been built of Quincy granite. 

RLC has likewise moved from the vision of its forebears of a church for a small group of immigrants from a single country or one ethnic background. Resurrection now welcomes traditions from around the world. Its people are Asian, black, Latino, and white. We are from Ghana, Tanzania, Australia, St. Kitt, Barbados, Mexico, Honduras, Jamaica, Sweden, Cape Verde, Uganda, and the U.S. We engage with the world around us and find room for one and ail, testifying to a very different notion of a holy commonwealth, one that the Puritans never could have imagined nor ever would have welcomed. Our anchor is Jesus; our motto, Many Hearts, One Lord; our mission, to Love God, Love One Another, and Love Our Neighbours. As it became better established, the new church then helped found several other Lutheran churches in the region: in Gloucester, Lynn, Lowell, Norwood, T | Providence (RI), Quincy, Rumford, Salem, Waltham, and Worcester. Pastor Johansson served the people of Svenska Evangeliskt Lutherska Emanuel Férmatingens for 40 years, until 1913, conducting an average of 80 baptisms, 62 weddings, and 40 funerals a year.

Pastor Johansson was then succeeded by the Rev, A.M, Benander, who was the congregation’s pastor for the next 27 years. During his tenure, the congregation decided to relocate from the South End to Roxbury, feeling that it could not adequately serve the immigrants from Sweden who were increasingly settling in Roxbury. In the years since then, Resurrection has continued in worship and work, and of course in contending with the usual challenges of church people everywhere: maintenance of the aging property, helping to meet pressing needs in the community, struggles to make financial ends meet, bringing children up in faith and balancing others’ needs with personal ones. But we have confidence especially in the face of challenges. When this place is struggling, our faith grows. God has always been faithful to us and we know that it will always be so; thus we look forward in hope and confidence. Bless us the Lord!


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