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Congregational Polity 101

Congregational Polity 101, Six Principles and Related Primary Source Voices


Robert Browne

Primary Voice One: Robert Browne (d.1633).  Robert Browne was the first person to write down the basic principles of congregational polity, and to gather a church according to those principles. …

Ceremonies for Special Services in Universalist Churches, 1949, Humiliati


In the mid 1940’s, a young group of seminary graduates from the Crane School of Theology at Tufts University had a vision.  Concerned that Universalism was outdated and in fatal decline, this small group of ministers at the beginning of their careers sought to “pursue an intense spiritual journey into ministry and work mightily to transform the Universalist Church from a struggling dissident Christian sect into a religion of greatness.”  They formed the “Humiliati” – an intentional, semi-monastic religious community, with the goals of establishing a theological basis for pushing Universalism beyond Christianity, complete with new worship and rites of passage for a reinvigorated Universalist Church (read more about the choice of name here).…

The Humiliati: Reinventing Universalism, 1946-1954

Materials in the Harvard Square Library Humiliati Collection of Original Documents:

Internal Newsletters (“Epistle”)
External Newsletters (“Theologically Thinking”)
Emergent Universalist Creed 
Origin of the Name “Humiliati”
Origin of the Symbol, Circle with Off Center Cross
Dining Ritual
Ceremonies for Special Services in Universalist Churches
Order of Holy Communion
Investiture of the Abbot
Convocation Reports
Convocation Planning Notes
The Rule of the Humiliati
Personal Correspondence and Notes


In the mid 1940’s, a young group of seminary graduates from the Crane School of Theology at Tufts University had a vision. …

Summer Reading: Explore Unitarian Universalist History Through Novels

While there are many Unitarian Universalist authors, not many novels take on explicitly Unitarian Universalist subject matter. Here are four exceptions—all highly readable pieces worthy of space on your beach  blanket, and each with its own take on Unitarian Universalist history.…

The Pentagon Papers and the Unitarian Universalist Association:  How the UUA Was Almost Destroyed by the Decision to Publish

The Key Roles of a Unitarian Universalist Senator, Journalist, President, Publishing House and Congregation in One of the Most Important Civil Liberties Case in American History.

The December of 2017 release of the blockbuster Stephen Spielberg movie “The Post” has everyone taking about the Washington Post’s brave defiance of the Nixon administration with its decision to publish excerpts from the Pentagon Papers, the 7,000-page compilation of secret government documents pertaining to the war.  …

West, Robert Nelson (1929-2017)

By Tom Stites

(this article was originally published in the UU World on October 30, 2017; Harvard Square Library is grateful to Tom Stites and the UU World for permission to reprint it here.  The original article can be accessed here).…

The Greatest Showman:  The Complicated Legacy of P.T. Barnum

Hugh Jackman’s biopic of P.T. Barnum, “The Greatest Showman,” was released late in 2017 to record breaking box office success.  And while no one expects complete factuality from a biopic, many critics have been rightly alarmed by how the show “whitewashes” Barnum’s troubling relationship with the human side show “curiosities” that made him famous.   …

On Thanksgiving Day, Remember Fast Day: a feature by Dean Grodzins


Americans have forgotten Fast Day, although it once was as important a holiday as Thanksgiving. In fact, it was paired with Thanksgiving and considered its necessary complement.

Thanksgiving and Fast Day originated together in colonial New England. Most Americans think Thanksgiving celebrations started in 1621, when Pilgrim settlers and Wampanoag Indians feasted at Plymouth.…

Forbes, John Perkins (1855-1910)

John Perkins Forbes was born in Middleboro, Massachusetts, March 25, 1855. He attended the public schools of Middleboro, and was, for a time, a pupil in Middleboro Academy. Later the family moved to Westboro, Massachusetts, and there he began the study of law.…

How The Universalists And Unitarians Invented Christmas; Plus An Anthology of Historical Unitarian Christmas Stories

Harvard Square is delighted to present our first ebook, which includes an account of the Universalist and Unitarian role in giving shape to the American Christmas celebrations we know today. It also includes five classic Christmas stories by Unitarian authors, including Rev.…

Notable in UU History
Jane Addams

Addams, Jane (1860-1935)

Born in Cedarville, lllinois on September 6, 1860 and graduated from Rockford College in 1882, Jane ... Read More
Melvin Arnold

Arnold, Melvin (1913-2000)

Biographical Introduction by Alexandra Arnold Lynch, his daughter Melvin Luxton Arnold was born August 13, 1913, the ... Read More
Robert Frost

Frost, Robert (1874-1963)

Biographical Sketch In Boston on January 29, 1963, America's unofficial poet laureate, Robert Frost, died. As ... Read More
Chris Moore

Moore, Christopher (1929-1987)

Biographical Introduction The Chicago Children's Choir is a multiracial, multicultural choral music education organization, shaping the ... Read More