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!