Chapter XXI: “The Period of Controversy: 1800-1825”
by Earl Morse Wilbur
in A History of Unitarianism in Transylvania, England, and America
(Harvard, 1952) pages 401-34Wilbur quickly noted the issues that led to the unwilling birth of Unitarianism. The key event, a professional appointment at Harvard, took place not in the churches themselves, but suggests how strong were the informal ties of that time. Obviously both clergy and leading laity took the retaining of ministers to be a serious business.
1) Wilbur notes “the Massachusetts churches were not yet organized for missionary activity nor especially interested in it.” (page 427). What caused this lack of interest?
2) The description of the Dedham case (pages 431-33) sums up a key moment in Unitarian organizational history. What continuing attitudes in Unitarian development resulted from that decision?
The full text of Earl Morse Wilbur’s A History of Unitarianism is available online from Starr King School for the Ministry.