Half-Way Covenant
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Time Period
1662
Description
Prior to this Half-way Covenant, full membership was solely granted to those who had a conversion experience and only full members could baptize their children. This affected second and third generation Puritans. Many second generations did not have a “conversion” experience, thus excluding them from membership regardless of their piety. Since these colonists were not considered full members, they could not baptize their children.

In response to this dilemma, ministers met together in 1662 and decided to extend membership to children of all baptized members as long as they lived a pious life, dedicated their family to the church, and submitted to the church authorities. In this way, the second generation became partial members and could baptize their children.

While scholars debate whether the half-way covenant was a response to decreased piety or a voting issue, it clearly signified the ongoing accommodation of Puritan congregationalism in the New World.
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Religious Groups
Timeline Entries for the same religious group Congregationalists (UCC)
Congregationalists (UCC): Other ARDA Links

Photographs

'Propositions Concerning the Subject of Baptism' by the 1662 synod, first page- Internet Archive

First Church of Boston, where the 1662 synod was held- Internet Archive- from History of the First Church in Boston by Arthur B. Ellis

Richard Mather, who drafted the Half-Way Covenant- Internet Archive- from Lineage of Rev. Richard Mather by Horace E. Mather

Essay arguing against the Half-Way Covenant, title page- Hathi Trust
Book/Journal Source(s)
Queen, Edward, Stephen Prothero and Gardiner Shattuck, 1996. The Encyclopedia of American Religious History. New York: Facts on File.
Web Page Contributor
Benjamin T. Gurrentz
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in Sociology

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