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Home » Biographies » John Haynes Holmes (1938)

John Haynes Holmes (1938)

John Haynes Holmes

John Haynes Holmes

John Haynes Holmes was the founder of the Community Church in New York, open to all faiths, races, classes, and creeds. If you ever heard Holmes preach, you are apt to know why Rabbi Wise said: “If I had to single out a single man who represents power, moving and overwhelming, without ever descending to the sensational, I should name the preacher of the Community Church, John Haynes Holmes.”

At the time of his death in 1964 at the age of 84, The New York Times‘ editorial honored him as “a militant fighter for peace, for religious and racial tolerance, and for clean politics.” Praising as most significant for New York his chairmanship of the City Affairs Committee that led to the forced resignation of the Tammany machine’s Mayor James J. Walker, the Times concluded: “He was a courageous and dedicated man, in the tradition of the great spiritual leaders who, refusing to confine themselves to pious expressions from the pulpit, are willing to come down into the marketplace to fight the good fight with all the force at their command.”

—From Harvard Square Library

John Haynes Holmes was a leading political and religious liberal in the first half of the twentieth century. He was ordained in the American Unitarian Association in 1904 and in 1907 moved to the Church of the Messiah in New York City, where he remained until he retired in 1949. He was deeply disturbed by World War I and helped organize the American branch of the pacifist organization, the Fellowship of Reconciliation. He was a leader in the American Union Against Militarism, an umbrella organization that opposed American involvement in World War I. The controversy over his pacifist views caused him and his church to leave the Unitarian Association, and the name of the congregation was changed to the Community Church. Following the lead of Holmes, the Community Church remained one of the most active liberal groups in the nation.

—From Enotes.com

Recommended Reading:

I Speak for Myself: The Autobiography of John Haynes Holmes
by John Haynes Holmes

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