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The Cambridge Platform

Contemporary Reader’s Edition

Peter Hughes, Editor

Both the Pilgrims in 1620 and the 20,000 or so Puritans who came to New England in the Great Migration of the 1630s were primarily concerned with a theology of organization: how churches ought to be organized in the spirit of mutual love and who in these churches should have authority and why.
—from the Introduction by Alice Blair Wesley

Here is a new edition of the Cambridge Platform, the 1648 document that first articulated the foundational principle of congregational polity. This independent form of church governance is the common heritage shared by Unitarians, Universalists and other congregationalist churches. Now distinguished historian Peter Hughes has made the Cambridge Platform available and accessible to a new generation of ministers and laypeople, with clarified scriptural citations, modernized spelling and punctuation, and a preface that addresses the contemporary value of this touchstone of religious liberty. Alice Blair Wesley introduces modern readers to the small community of seventeenth-century New England immigrants who gathered at Harvard College to craft a religious declaration of independence.

Peter Hughes is the chief editor of the online Dictionary of Unitarian and Universalist Biography. He was minister to the First Universalist Church of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, from 1986 until 1999, when he retired from parish ministry. A Canadian citizen, he now lives in Toronto, Ontario. Alice Blair Wesley, author and retired minister, was the 2000-2001 Thomas Minns lecturer at the Graduate Theological Union.

Praise for The Cambridge Platform:

"This edition of the Cambridge Platform (1648) makes a crucial seventeenth-century document accessible to present-day readers. There is direct continuity from that normative statement of congregational polity by our forebears to our own theory and practice. It helps us understand ourselves and why we run our churches the way we do. It should be more widely familiar to both ministers and lay people."
—Conrad Wright, author, Congregational Polity and The Unitarian Controversy

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Last updated on Wednesday, June 2, 2010.

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