It might surprise you to learn that the earliest Congregationalists did not believe that each congregation was to be independent of all others. Browne believed that each autonomous church owed "communal helpfulness" to every other church. In 1706 Massachusetts adopted Cotton Mather's plan that ministers be in associations with one another and be given the authority to examine and license candidates for ministry. 300 years later this structure still stands within our denomination, as the local associations of Congregational (U.C.C.) churches, now with clergy and lay representatives, have the authority to ordain. Mather's plan called for a voluntary fellowship of churches to provide mutual aid and outside assistance in handling disputes. These ministries as well are carried on today by our local association (the Andover Association of the U.C.C.) as well as by the Massachusetts Conference of the U.C.C.
Here's a thought: Congregationalism was more a church polity (governing) movement than a theological one; yet the earliest Congregationalists were known for their biblical theology; so much so that they were called, "People of the Book."
Question: How important is it to understand our roots, where we've come from?
Prayer: Thank You, God, for our spiritual forebears, who have "run the race" before us and have been found faithful, leaving us a great heritage of faith and discipleship. Amen.