The current Meetinghouse of the Federated Church was built in 1828, but the history of the church goes back to 1642, when Thomas Mayhew established the First Church of Christ on Martha’s Vineyard. This church, also known as the Edgartown Congregational Church, became the Federated Church in 1925. That year the Edgartown Baptist Society and the Congregational Church merged. This watercolor painting of the steeple and view to Edgartown Harbor was done by the late Ray Ellis, renowned artist and former church member.
A Storied History
The Federated Church is the oldest church building on the island in its original location that is still used for worship. It was originally positioned to face an open green, that was subsequently filled in with residential homes.
African American Heritage Trail
In 2018, The Federated Church became the 29th site to be designated on the African American Heritage Trail. In 1857, Frederick Douglas delivered his historic speech 'The Unity of Man' to a packed audience at the Meetinghouse. Every July 4, a reading of Frederick Douglass' powerful speech, "The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro" is read by community leaders and members.
(Click on image to enlarge and read!)