Marcellus Ayer (1839-1921), a teacher, and successful grocer, loved the concept of Spirit and spiritual communication and considered it a doorway into life’s most amazing mysteries and revelations. He considered Spiritualism a gift to Humanity; not limited to one group, nor limited to simple phenomena. It was a gift for all people, of all faiths and denominations.
In the early 1880’s Ayer received inspiration and messages about establishing a church. It was to be a place:
From which the voice of God and Spirit could speak to all people, from all religious and spiritual backgrounds.
From which both the religious and scientific implications of Spirit phenomena and communication could be examined, free from dogma and prejudice.
From which mediumship would not be used to prove one's religious beliefs.
In which the medium would never surpass the message.
He founded the church in 1883, and on April 9, 1884, the cornerstone for the building to be known as The First Spiritual Temple was laid at the corner of Exeter and Newbury Streets, in the Back Bay section of Boston, Massachusetts. It was a beautiful ceremony, with many people in attendance.
The First Spiritual Temple was dedicated and consecrated on September 26th, 27th, and 28th, 1885. Over 1,200 people filled the sanctuary and walked through the Temple's library, lecture hall, and multitude of classrooms. The church grew until about 1910. Soon after the building was converted into Boston's legendary Exeter Street Theatre.
Marcellus Ayer was an avid proponent of the Suffrage Movement and women's rights. He also devoted his energies to expounding health and hygiene. He was very much involved in pioneer psychical research and worked very closely with the renowned medium, Andrew Jackson Davis.
The church and the Ayer Institute is active today in Brookline, MA. The Ayer Institute is “Dedicated to Understanding The Journey of the Soul and the Gifts of the Spirit.”