Halfway Covenant

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HALFWAY COVENANT. As the second generation of Puritans began to move away from their parents' exceedingly strict definition of sainthood, church elders were faced with a serious problem. If, as they reached adulthood, children of the founders of Massachusetts and Connecticut gave no acceptable proof of that spiritual experience called regeneration, should they be granted full church membership? In June 1657, an intercolonial ministerial conference at Boston attempted to answer through the Halfway Covenant, whereby membership was granted to the children whose parents had experienced regeneration but, pending regeneration of their own, participation in the Lord's Supper and voting in the church were withheld. Although a Massachusetts synod proclaimed it for all Massachusetts churches (1662), controversy continued for more than a century.


Foster, Stephen. The Long Argument: English Puritanism and the Shaping of New England Culture, 1570–1700. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991.

Rutman, Darrett B. Winthrop's Boston: A Portrait of a Puritan Town, 1630–1649. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1965.

Raymond P.Stearns/a. r.

See alsoCongregationalism ; Meetinghouse ; "New England Way" ; Puritans and Puritanism ; Religion and Religious Affiliation ; Religious Thought and Writings .