Congregationalism began in England in the early 1600’s and was born out of the Protestant reformation and the desire for separation from the Church of England. Influenced by the teachings of John Calvin, a Puritan movement was established which sought to purify the church of Roman Catholic beliefs and practices, and to oversee individual churches locally rather than ecclesiastically by bishops or other centralized denominational leaders. These separated, Puritan churches were governed by their local congregations and quickly became known as Congregationalists. Because of their actions, they suffered persecution by the British government and state sponsored church. Believing that reformation of the Church of England was not possible, a group within the Puritans, know as Separatists, decided to leave England to establish more religious freedom in the New World. These early Congregationalists set sail on the Mayflower in 1620 and established their first settlement at Plymouth Plantation. Eventually the Separatists formed an association with other New England Puritan settlers and these early Congregationalists became a dominant force both religiously and culturally in the region.The First Congregational Church of Holden is governed in much the same way as those first churches of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. At the head of the church is Jesus Christ. Our church is subject to the control of no other ecclesiastical body. Our pastor and all church officers are congregationally elected. All spiritual and business matters are decided by the local church leaders and the congregation, under the guidance of Scripture and the Holy Spirit. The church membership meets twice a year to vote on the annual budget, to receive the annual committee reports, to select officers, and to vote on other matters that come before the congregation. Each member of the First Congregational Church of Holden is entitled to one vote at each congregational meeting.