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Discipline in the First Baptist Church, Boston, MA
By Nathan E. Wood
[p. 77]
The first case of church discipline recorded in our annals is given in full. It illustrates the spirit and method of that far-off time. It is as follows:
Att A Church Meeting the 11th of the 9mo 1677 Itt was Agreed that Brother Drinker Brother Foster Brother Russell and Brother Skinner should goe in ye name of the Church to sister Watts to see whether shee remaines in that obstinate frame of spiritt against god and his Church as formerly they left her and soe made returne to the Church of her Answer.

A Coppy of A letter sent to sister Watts from Charlestowne att A Church meeting the 6th day of 10mo 1678.

These few lynes are to Acquaint you that we have considered yor condison and as we are informed and undestand that you desire to speake with ye Church If you please to appoint ye time and place, the Church will accordingly appoint some in there behalfe to give you a meeting unless some extraordinary providence doe prevent soe with our kind love to you we rest yo' Brethren in ye best relations.
Signed by us in ye behalfe of ye rest

having Receved severall Resons from sister Watts by our Brethren for her withdrawing from ye Church which were groundless and of a raileing nature they took itt into consideration and proceeded as followeth,

The Church of Christ att Boston being assembled att Charlestowne the 10th of 12mo 1678 takeing into consideration the unchristian carriages of Elizabeth Watts and upon serious and solemn consideration doe find that for a long

[p. 78]
space of time she has binn A disorderly walker toward the Church she belongs unto and that by her groundless rejection of the Church as alsoe railingly charging ye Church with great evills without ye least ground of proofe and taking part with her husband in condemning ye Church in such Acts passed by them according to ye rules of Christ and therefore ye Church doe soe declare to all itt may concern that they look upon her as a disorderly walker and they soe vote her and without her repentance will have noe communion with her and therefore to unfeigned repentance for these evills doe Admonish her in ye name of our Lord Jesus that we may injoy her as a sister.
Signed in ye name of ye rest by us
Sister Watts proved that she had a stubborn will, and it is not recorded that she ever repented and returned to the fellowship of the church. She remains on our records with the unhappy epithet "disorderly walker" attached to her, which constitutes her sole title to this little posthumous fame.


1 John Clarke, "Narrative."

[Nathan E. Wood, The History of the First Baptist Church of Boston, (1665-1899), 1899, pp. 77-78. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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