Friday, May 13, 2011

Happy Birthday UUA!

The merger of the Unitarian and the Universalist denominations took place 50 years ago -- the official date was May 15, 1961.  So, of course, I started thinking about my experiences at the merger.  But, wait!  I wasn't born yet!

That's right, one of the neat things that we can celebrate is that there are generations now of people who are Unitarian Universalists from childhood on, some even with ten years or more in the ministry, who were raised in, influenced by, and in turn influenced themselves this new association that was created 50 years ago.

Many argued then that without this merger, Universalism would die.  I look around me here, and I really believe that.  At the time of merger, there were three little rural Universalist churches between ten and fifteen miles from Jackson.  My church, a small rural Universalist church, joined the new UUA, and it's still going strong.  The Universalist church in Horton, MI did not join the UUA, but eventually became Congregationalist.  There's a church and a congregation thriving there, but no Universalist church.  The Concord, Michigan church, the furthest from Jackson at 14 miles, floundered for a while and then went out of existence.  They still have special programs there every year, such as a Christmas concert or service, but there is no longer a worshipping Universalist body.  There is no church there, even though there's a church building there. 

Without the merger, we might have died.  With it, we have generations of Unitarian Universalists to spread our saving message -- our Universalist message of love and acceptance.  All that, and Unitarianism, too.  What a deal we got.  Happy Birthday, UUA!

3 comments:

Robin Edgar said...

"Many argued then that without this merger, Universalism would die."

I expect that some people could reasonably argue that Universalism died as a result of the merger. . .

I have witnessed U*U clergy asserting that Unitarian*Universalism is neither Unitarian nor Universalist and, in rather too many ways, they are right. How many bona fide Christian Universalists, who hold to traditional Universalist (dare I say it?) dogma, are left in the U*U World?

Cynthia Landrum said...

Well, a lot of Universalism at the time of merger was along the lines of Kenneth Patton's Universalism and the idea that "a circumscribed Universalism is unthinkable." By that definition, Universalism triumphed as a result of the merger. But you ask, "How many bona fide Christian Universalist... dogma, are left in the [UU] World?" I don't know, but there are about 15 I can count off the top of my head in my church of 90.

Robin Edgar said...

Dare I ask how many there were at the time of the merger Rev. Cyn? ;-)

I am aware that, even before the merger, many Universalists had broadened their religious horizons as it were, but the fact remains that Christian Universalists are something of a endangered species in the U*U World and that the term Universalism has lost much of its original meaning within the context of Unitarian*Universalism. In fact *some* Unitarian*Universalist "newcomers" seem to want to all but completely redefine the term Universalism, as Rev. Peter Morales' recent Huffington Post article 'What Is Universalism?' illustrates.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-peter-morales/what-is-universalism_b_835913.html