The land encompassing today’s Newton was first settled by English colonizers in 1630 as part of “the newe towne,” though the lands of this new town were within the traditional tribal lands of the Massachusett peoples. The “newe towne” was renamed to Cambridge in 1638. In 1646, the missionary John Eliot and a small band of Native Americans lead by Waban settled the village of Nonantum, from the Algonquian term for rejoicing, in an area of Cambridge that would be today’s Newton. Nonantum became the first of John Eliot’s “praying Indian villages.” However, five years later, Eliot and Waban were forced to relocate the village and its people to present day Natick due to the insatiable land hunger of the colonists in nearby Cambridge and Boston. In 1681, Cambridge Village was incorporated as a separate town from Cambridge and in 1691 the town was renamed Newtown. The town name was changed yet again in 1766 to Newton.
The first meeting house, built on the site of today’s Old Burying Ground, in Newton was built in 1660 by parishioners who had tired of making the trip to Cambridge proper for Sunday worship. In 1664, the Massachusetts General Court granted the parishioners of this area leave to form their own church, the First Congregational Church. That same year John Elliot Jr. was installed as the first pastor of the newly gathered church. The second meeting house was constructed in 1698 across the street from the first meeting house. In 1720, and again in 1770, the homes of John Cotton and later Jonas Meriam were destroyed by fire and with them the earliest records of the church.
In 1721 the church was ordered by the General Court to move their building; that same year saw the construction of the third meeting house and all subsequent meeting houses would be built on the same land. In 1764 a group of parishioners in the western part of Newton built their own meeting house to hold Sunday services and in 1781 they formally gathered the West Parish Church. The fourth meeting house was constructed in 1805. The Federal Street Church in Boston gifted First Church its first bell in 1810. The first Sunday school was established in 1816. The fifth meeting house was constructed in 1847.
In 1895, the church and parish organizations incorporated as a single organization. The sixth, and final, meeting house was constructed in 1904. During the 1940s the First Church contemplated the formation of a federated church with the First Baptist Church in Newton, but did not follow through. In 1972 the First Church in Newton dissolved after more than three hundred years of service to the Newton community.