Through Waters Deep – Tour of Boston, Part 2

Tour of Boston 2The city of Boston is fascinating—chockfull of history and color. While best known for its key role in the American Revolution, the city also played a role in World War II, with busy shipyards and naval bases—and more! The city’s reputation for revolutionary foment seemed a great backdrop for Through Waters Deep, set in the tumult of 1941, as isolationists and interventionists argued the correct course for the nation’s future, and as rumors of sabotage and espionage ran rampant.

To enter the giveaway for Through Waters Deep, see the information at the end of the post.

I’ve been blessed to visit Boston a number of times. In July 2014, I made a research trip and took lots of pictures to help me visualize the story. We’ll follow the Freedom Trail, established in the 1950s to connect Boston’s multiple historical sites. Follow as we visit:

Boston Common and the Public Garden

Paul Revere House and Old North Church

Charlestown and USS Constitution

Charlestown Navy Yard

Old State House, Faneuil Hall & Quincy Market

Today we visit Park Street Church. When writing Through Waters Deep, I chose Park Street as the church my hero and heroine would attend, due to its long history in Boston and its role in the birth of the evangelical movement in the early 1940s. In July 2014, I was able to attend a Sunday service at Park Street and take pictures (before the service started).


In 1809, Park Street Church was founded to support traditional Christian teachings in a time when Unitarianism was growing in strength in New England. Taking a strong stand for biblical teaching, the founders faced much opposition. From the beginning, the church believed in the cornerstones of missions, evangelism, Christian education, involvement in social issues, and biblical teaching. To this day, the church keeps the same Statement of Faith adopted in 1809.


Brimstone Corner: Park Street Church, Boston (Moody Press) presents the history of this church up to 1968, showing cycles of stagnation, intense external opposition, and stirring revival—while refusing to budge from the fundamentals—an uplifting account of how God can use even one small church to have an impact on the world.


Park Street Church has a long string of historical firsts. From 1810-1867, Park Street was the tallest building in Boston, until surpassed by Church of the Covenant. In 1819, Park Street sent the first team of missionaries to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii). In 1829, William Lloyd Garrison, founder of the American Anti-Slavery Society, gave his first abolitionist speech at Park Street. And the patriotic song America (My Country, ‘Tis of Thee) was first performed on July 4, 1831 at Park Street.


From 1936-1969, Dr. Harold J. Ockenga served as pastor of Park Street. In the first part of the twentieth century, the rise of secularism in mainline churches led to the rise of fundamentalism, with its call to separate from the culture. In response, Ockenga and others gave rise to the modern evangelical movement, which kept fundamentalism’s stand for theological truth, while rejecting its trend toward isolation from culture. In 1942, the National Association of Evangelicals was formed, with Ockenga as president.


On May 30, 1943, Dr. Ockenga began an outdoor evangelical ministry on Boston Common. At the first service, 3500 servicemen and civilians enjoyed music and teaching, and many came to Christ. The services continued through that summer and the next, until opponents caused the city to cancel the permit. Not to be silenced, Ockenga continued conducting the services from the church steps, and later from the “Mayflower Pulpit” on the side of the church—across the street from Boston Common.


For Lent in 1944, the congregation of Park Street Church decided to forego one meal a week and to donate the money saved to a new War Relief Fund, designed to help the churches of Europe rebuild after the war. The idea swept the nation to other churches, and on Easter morning $600,000 was collected. In 1950, the War Relief Commission was renamed World Relief, which remains active to this day. In another landmark for Park Street, Billy Graham began his first transcontinental crusade at the church in 1949.



Park Street Church website: http://www.parkstreet.org/

Englizian, H. Crosby. Brimstone Corner: Part Street Church, Boston. Chicago: Moody Press, 1968.

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Park_Street_Church


This week I’m giving away THREE copies of Through Waters Deep! To enter, leave a comment below (US & Canada only please), on the video post, or on any of the Tour of Boston posts (Part 1, Part 3), which will show the sites featured in the novel. You can earn a maximum of four entries by leaving a comment on each of the four posts. If you can’t leave a comment, please send me an email to enter. Giveaway ends Monday, July 27, 2015 at midnight, Pacific Time. I’ll announce the winner here on Wednesday, July 29, 2015.

120 Responses to “Through Waters Deep – Tour of Boston, Part 2”

  1. Sue

    The pictures of the church will make the story really come alive! It makes books so much more interesting when they are about real places that we can see and visit. Thanks for taking the time to discover all these pictures and research the history of Park Street Church!

  2. Betti

    I am loving the opportunity to learn more about Boston! I would love to win this book 🙂

  3. Lis K

    Thanks for the very interesting info about the church and its contribution to the evangelical movement. What a legacy.

  4. Sue

    I am so glad you are sharing this piece of history with us, especially the story of a church standing firm.

  5. Kathryn Voss

    Thanks for posting the pictures. I always find it interesting to see actual locations in books. It does help make the story more real!

  6. Emmy

    Your books are so amazing. I get lost in every single one. I can’t believe how even more palpable the pictures make the story!

  7. Beverly Bowere

    Love all this History….Boston is beautiful to tour…Great job..

  8. Becki Molitor

    We didn’t visit this church when we were in Boston! Thanks for the insider look :-).

  9. Jodie

    Thanks for the history lesson! That church has a neat history!!

  10. Britney Adams

    There is so much history and beauty in Boston! Thank you for sharing, Sarah!!

  11. Emily

    Thank you so much for sharing! Please continue to add me to the giveaway.

  12. Sherry Arni

    I fell in love with Boston when I was a little girl reading about the Revolutionary War, hearing my grandmother’s stories, and even more when our son was at Harvard. I so want to go back!

  13. Sharon Hula

    Thank you so much for the look inside this historic church — both literally and thru the eyes of history. I love all your writings.

  14. Suzanne Blackburn

    The pictures brought back memories from my visit a few years ago. Would love to go back.

  15. sharon Miller

    Park Street church in Boston is such a beautiful church! So glad to hear they are still evangelical. Enjoying your tour of Boston and would love, love, love to win Through Waters Deep.

  16. Ellen Gray

    Wow! I’ve never been to Boston but this makes me want to visit! can’t wait to read the book.

  17. Joan Arning

    I’m planning a trip to Boston so this was especially interesting!

  18. Stella Gustafson

    Beautiful church and history of the church

  19. brian robinette

    historical places and their histories and stories behind a book makes it come to life more.

  20. Catherine

    Really enjoyed reading about the history of this church. Looking forward to ready the book.

  21. Michelle Connell

    What lovely pictures of the church! I’ve only been to Boston once, and would like to go again, even though the pace overwhelmed me!

  22. Pam K.

    Thank you for the photos and history of Park Street Church. I enjoy having a bit of background for the book. I’m looking forward to reading Through Waters Deep since I’ve enjoyed your other books.

  23. Julie Goltermann

    Thank you so much for the tour and information about Park Street Church. I did not know any of this, and really enjoyed learning about it.

    • Sarah Sundin

      I learned all this while researching the story. In previous trips to Boston, I’d passed up Park Street because it wasn’t “old.” 🙂 I missed out.

  24. Jennifer Hibdon

    Thanx for the historical tour. That was very enlightening. It is particularly special that the historical beliefs are still adhered to. I’m enjoying all this background to the book.

  25. Tammy Cordery

    I love going to Boston. I went so many times with my family. I never get tired of going there. Great post. I can’t wait go to the places that you have on your posts.

  26. Debora Wilder

    This is a beautiful church. I love reading all the history of it that you included in this post.

  27. Lisa Harness

    Great pictures. I love that you give the history of the different places. Will make the book come alive!

  28. Rachel

    So excited to read your next book. I would love to visit Boston, love this post. Every time I read your books it’s like living in the 40s, I have to break out my Artie Shaw and Swing records when I read. Can’t wait to read Through Waters Deep!

  29. Samantha B

    Beautiful church and I great history behind it! So inspiring 🙂

  30. Brittany Keating

    Wow…Park Street Church is beautiful. I’m more excited to read the book now:) thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

  31. Denise Glisson

    Oh Sarah, that Church is so beautiful on the outside and that stairway inside, Wow! So wonderful to hear the “beginnings” of a Church and how much was started and done through the strong Faith of the Pastor and the members (body of Christ).

  32. Rebecca Maney

    I love your attention to historical detail and the information about Boston’s Park Street Church is just one example. Would love to win a copy of this must-be-outstanding-book!

  33. Linda Stuck

    I coordinate our monthly Book Chat at our church and I definitely see potential for a delightful discussion with this one, wow! Many of the ladies are retired educators AND devour historical fiction. Definitely an addition to our church library. Thank you for the “tour”.

    • Sarah Sundin

      Thanks, Linda! I love book clubs! Discussion questions are included in the back of the book, and I love doing chats with clubs via Skype or speakerphone. Let me know if your group chooses the book.

  34. Kathy Davis

    It’s cool that you took your own pictures of these sites. It makes me feel like I’m there with you observing history.

  35. Nancy M

    Thanks for sharing about the church and the history behind it. Very interesting!

  36. Cathy Richmond

    Sarah, What a difference God’s people can make when we work together. For my last novel, I kept finding connections to a small church in Omaha, Trinity. Wonderful to hear about Park Street Church!

  37. Danielle Hull

    Thank you so much for sharing all of this! And for the giveaway 🙂

  38. WendyBrz

    Sarah, as always your research is so thorough – I learn something almost daily from your facebook posts. Thanks for raising the bar for historical fiction novelists!

  39. Kelly Goshorn

    Loved seeing the inside of Park St. Church. Hubby and I were there in June and couldn’t go inside due renovation. Can’t wait to read your book! Sounds wonderful!

  40. Debbie K

    I really enjoy your books. The characters and locations come alive for me. Thanks for writing. 🙂

  41. Nicole

    Never been to Boston but would love to go. Please enter me in, I would love to win the book 🙂

  42. Caryl Kane

    Thank you for this FABULOUS tour of Boston! 🙂

  43. Kendra Whittle

    I didn’t know about the role Boston played in WWII! Fascinating!

    Would love to win the book!

  44. Jenny Allbritain

    I love how much time and research you put into each novel. It truly is a craftsmanship! And each one has its own unique geographical setting and attention to historical detail. Such a treat to read!

  45. Linda S

    I would love to hear that organ there and sing in the choir.

    • Sarah Sundin

      I loved singing to the organ that Sunday! I go to a typical California rock & roll, praise song, lyrics on the screen type of church. So singing hymns from a hymnal to an organ was divine!

  46. Katie

    That’s amazing that Billy Graham began his first transcontinental crusade there! There are so many incredible historic moments in our nation’s cities that have gone unrecognized, especially when it comes to seeing the work of God.

    • Sarah Sundin

      So true! I found it thrilling to find great nuggets of Christian history in a city not known for faith.

  47. Trixi O.

    I enjoyed the beautiful pictures of the church, thanks for sharing!

    teamob4 (at) gmail (dot) com

  48. Deana Dougherty

    Thank you for sharing about the church. Enjoyed it.