Washington Gladden was a nationally known Congregationalist minister during America's Gilded Age (1870 - 1914). He achieved national name recognition during the years 1871-75 when he served as the religious editor of the Independent, a New York weekly newspaper which in its heyday had one million readers. Gladdens' role at this influential paper was to write news articles and editorials on practical theology and social issues of the day. He entered the ministry in 1860, serving Congregational churches in Brooklyn, New York and North Adams, Massachusetts. He left his position at the Independent to re-enter the ministry at North Church in Springfield, Massachusetts.  In 1882 he accepted a call to serve as Pastor of First Congregational Church of Columbus, Ohio. He remained active there until his death in 1918. Over the course of his fifty year career in parish ministry He penned hundreds of articles and editorials. He also authored nearly forty books on religious and social topics as well as works of short fiction and poetry.

Washington Gladden is best remembered by historians as one of the founding fathers of the Social Gospel Movement which has been described as the most distinctive American contribution to world Christianity. This Christian Reform Movement arose as a response to the unprecedented and profound social problems that rapidly multiplied in Americas' fast growing, newly industrialized cities during the last decades of the 19th century. Throughout his ministerial career Gladden remained on the front lines of those who spoke out often and knowledgeably about issues of labor, poverty and race that threatened the very fabric of American society. It is in his capacity as a bold, and wise prophetic voice to the serious, and controversial social problems of his time that the Washington Gladden Society seeks to perpetuate his memory and keep his social conscience alive in our day.