John Morse (1694-1700)
The Newtown town records of April 12, 1694 contain the following resolution: "The towne will call a minister to preach the gospel amongst us upon liking." A letter of introduction was prepared for Content Titus to go to New England to secure a minister. At a public meeting on May 15, 1697, Newtown's inhabitants agreed that John Morse would be ordained as the town's pastor.
Son of Ezra Morse, a prominent resident of Dedham, Massachusetts, John Morse was born in 1674. He was the first minister of FPCN born in America. Early in life, he displayed keen intellectual ability. He graduated at 18 from Harvard College, which at the time was a school for training Congregational pastors. At the age of twenty, he had accepted a post at his first congregation, the church at Newtown.
The first parsonage was built during his ministry and a bell was purchased for the Church. After six years in Newtown, Morse contemplated resigning because his salary was small. When this became public, a town meeting was called on July 4, 1700. At the meeting, a committee was appointed to collect money for him and convince Morse to reconsider. Morse stayed.
Morse was described as having the "people greatly attached to him" and being "greatly beloved by his people." Their joy was short lived. In October 1700, he became "violently ill" and died. The congregation of his first and only pastorate was shocked by his sudden death at the age of 26.