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The Rev. Richard Manning Hodges served as minister of the First Congregational Society in Bridgewater (at the time called the South Parish and now known as the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church of Bridgewater, MA) from 1821 to 1833, after having been ordained there in 1821. On the fiftieth anniversary of his ministry and after a long career in Cambridge and Somerville he returned to his first settlement to address the congregation.
This volume of approximately sixty pages is a complete text of both his discourse and the other elements of a Unitarian religious service of the 1870’s period. The last few pages may have been added at the time of publication and are interesting “historical notes” which include comments about the history of the town, the earlier ministers of the church, the nature of religious services, the high points of Rev. Hodges’ ministry and the coming to the community of other religious organizations.
The tone of the Rev. Hodges’ discourse is gentile and nostalgic befitting a minister of long and prestigious service, perhaps one who thought himself near the end of life as well as ministry. However, he does make note of the doctrinal controversy of his time in Bridgewater (well known as the Unitarian Controversy) which led to the church becoming Unitarian.
Rev. Hodges died in 1878 at the age of 84 and is buried in Cambridge.
Hodges, Richard Manning. (1871). A Semi-Centennial Discourse before the First Congregational Society in Bridgewater, Delivered on Lord’s Day, 17th September 1871. Cambridge: Press of John Wilson and Son. Available at http://vc.bridgew.edu/local_histories/4/.