Boston

Please note: While efforts have been made to verify the locations of religious centers and interfaith organizations maps may not always be accurate or up to date. For those centers without a physical address, a symbol appears at the city center. Read more about our methodology.

Since its founding in 1630, the city of Boston has been profoundly shaped by the religious communities that call it home. While the Freedom Trail commemorates many of the city’s earliest Christian influences, including Christ ChurchThe term church has come to wide use to refer to the organized and gathered religious community. In the Christian tradition, church refers to the organic, interdependent “body” of Christ’s followers, the community of Christians. Secondarily, church ... in the City of Boston (the famed “Old North Church” of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere”), the city’s religious landscape is today much more diverse. Nearly fifty Islamic centersAn Islamic center will typically include a mosque, school, and area for social and cultural activities. When a new Islamic center is being organized in the United States, attention is paid to community needs, including a weekend or full-time school, indic..., almost forty Hindu templesA Hindu temple will be called a mandir in northern parts of India or a koyil in the south. There are many styles of temples and temple-complexes, but most temples are laid out according to precise dimensions and proportions and erected to be the symbolic ..., over ninety Buddhist groups, six gurdwarasThe gurdwara, “the gateway of the Guru,” is the place for community gathering and worship in the Sikh tradition. The Guru is the Adi Granth, the sacred scripture of the Sikh tradition. Each center will include a chamber where the Adi Granth is kept, a..., and small but vital communities of Jains, ZoroastriansOriginating with the teachings of the Prophet Zarathushtra in the second millennium BCE, the ancient faith of Zoroastrianism is referred to as “the Good Religion” in the sacred texts. Zoroastrians are encouraged to live out their faith through the pra..., and practitioners of Afro-Caribbean traditionsAfro-Caribbean religions include a wide range of religious traditions that have roots in Africa, came to the islands of the Caribbean with African captives, and developed distinctive forms in this new environment: Santería or the Lucumi tradition in Cuba... make their home in Greater Beantown.

Catholic immigrants began streaming into the city as the Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s devasted their homeland. Around the same time, Ohabei Shalom (“Lovers of Peace”), the first Jewish congregation in Massachusetts and the second in the nation, was formed. Although a templeA temple is a house of worship, a sacred space housing the deity or central symbol of the tradition. The Temple in Jerusalem was the holy place of the Jewish people until its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE; now the term “temple” is used by th. Ref... was not built until 1851, historical records indicate a Jewish presence in Boston since the mid-seventeenth century. Today, these communities continue to thrive in Greater Boston. As of 2000, 48 percent of Bostonians identified themselves as Catholic, making the dioceseA diocese is an administrative unit of the Christian Church, presided over by a bishop. one of the largest in the world. By 2004, over 100 Jewish organizations and synagoguesSynagogue, shul in Yiddish, is the most widely used term for a Jewish house of worship. Meaning a “place of gathering,” it is the central institution of Jewish communal life. The structure and role of synagogues has changed through the centuries, but ... were serving the city’s vibrant Jewish community which is comprised of nearly 200,000 people.

Following federal immigration reform in 1965, many immigrants were attracted to Boston for its leadership in the higher education, bio-tech, and health care sectors. Hindu templesA temple is a house of worship, a sacred space housing the deity or central symbol of the tradition. The Temple in Jerusalem was the holy place of the Jewish people until its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE; now the term “temple” is used by th. Ref... range from purpose-built South Asian style mandirsA Hindu temple will be called a mandir in northern parts of India or a koyil in the south. There are many styles of temples and temple-complexes, but most temples are laid out according to precise dimensions and proportions and erected to be the symbolic ... such as Sri LakshmiLakshmi is the goddess who embodies auspiciousness, wealth, and good fortune. She is often regarded as a wife of Vishnu or Narayana and is worshipped especially in the fall festival of lights called Divali. Temple in Ashland to adapted-use spaces such as Braj MandirA Hindu temple will be called a mandir in northern parts of India or a koyil in the south. There are many styles of temples and temple-complexes, but most temples are laid out according to precise dimensions and proportions and erected to be the symbolic ..., a temple in Holbrook that makes its home in a renovated Friendly’s restaurant.

While immigration patterns of recent decades have brought Muslims to Boston from all over the world, many of the city’s first Muslims were descendents of slaves who understood their religion to be part of their African heritage. During the latter part of the twentieth century, Boston became a fertile site for the Nation of IslamIslam in Arabic literally means “submitting” or “submission.” One who submits or surrenders his or her will to God is called a Muslim. While the whole of God’s creation is described as being inherently Muslim, human beings must choose whether to.... Today, over 50,000 Muslims call Boston home. The largest Islamic centerAn Islamic center will typically include a mosque, school, and area for social and cultural activities. When a new Islamic center is being organized in the United States, attention is paid to community needs, including a weekend or full-time school, indic... in the area is the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center in Roxbury, which houses a mosqueMasjid (plural masajid) in Arabic means “place of prostration,” or the place where Muslims bow in prayer; in English, this word has become “mosque.” A masjid contains a prayer hall in which there is a mihrab or prayer niche, and a minbar or pulpit..., school, café, and community center built of Bostonian red brick in traditional Islamic architecture style, an intentional blend of elements familiar to both the neighborhood and the Muslim community.

The events of September 11, 2001 are often credited with sparking increased interfaith work in the United States, but interfaith initiatives have been part of the religious landscape of Boston for decades. Many describe Boston as a laboratory for this kind of work, the result of an ethnically and religiously diverse community within a small urban setting that boasts over forty-five interfaith organizations. With numerous academic centers in which to test and monitor interfaith projects, Boston offers an ideal backdrop. As one interfaith leader noted, “there is no central grid… It is multi-nodal, organic, shifting, no central locus or loci of activity, power and relationship.”

Greater Boston’s wealth of academic institutions also play a significant role in shaping the religious landscape and interfaith infrastructure far beyond any one campus. The Humanist Community ProjectThe Humanist Community Project is an initiative of the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard that seeks to research and resource the Humanist, skeptic, atheist, and not religious communities of America., an effort spearheaded by the Harvard Humanist community, promotes the establishment of Humanist center across America. Andover Newton Theological School and HebrewHebrew is the ancient language of the Israelites in which the Bible and most of Jewish liturgy is written. College offer an institutional partnership on a shared campus in Newton. There, faculty members come together to teach with an interfaith perspective and students may choose to enter an Interfaith and Leadership Certificate Program. The Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard Divinity School offers a wide range of programming to explore diverse religions across the globe and provides significant academic opportunities for scholars and students. Since 1993, the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life at Wellesley College has been an innovative leader in multi-faith campus chaplaincy.

Significant efforts have been made in greater Boston to inspire local youth to get involved in interfaith work. Cooperative MetropolitanA Metropolitan is the title given to a bishop, used especially in the Orthodox family of churches today. Ministries’ Interfaith Youth Initiative summer program and Sharon’s Youth LEAD promote youth empowerment and offer leadership trainings centered on diversity and religious dialogue. The Greater Boston Interfaith Organization is a coalition of over 100 congregations organized to advocate for social issues such as health care reform and debt relief. Partnership in the wake of tragedy is yet another way in which Bostonians promote and model cooperation. “A Service Rooted in the SikhSikhs call their tradition the “Sikh Panth,” meaning the “community (panth) of the disciples of the Guru.” The tradition reveres a lineage of ten Gurus, beginning with Guru Nanak in the 16th century and coming to a clos. with the death of Guru Gob... Tradition,” held at TrinityThe Trinity is the Christian doctrine of the three natures of the One God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The language of the Trinity bespeaks the complexity of God, who can be spoken of as the transcendent creator, the one who accompanies humanity as the ... Church in Copley Square in the wake of the August 2012 shooting at a Sikh gurdwaraThe gurdwara, “the gateway of the Guru,” is the place for community gathering and worship in the Sikh tradition. The Guru is the Adi Granth, the sacred scripture of the Sikh tradition. Each center will include a chamber where the Adi Granth is kept, a... in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, was sponsored by area Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh groups and drew over 1,500 people from the metro area. Less than a year later, in the aftermath of the bombing at the Boston Marathon, a crowd of nearly 2,000 gathered at the Cathedral of the Holy CrossThe cross is the central symbol of the Christian faith, pointing to the significance for the church of the whole Christ event: the life and teachings, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. for an interfaith service that concluded with remarks from President Barack Obama who told the city: “You will run again.” Today, Greater Boston is a reflection of a new multireligious America and it is clear that any trail charted through the city would reflect that reality, both in landscape and, at its best, in optimism.