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HSL’s Introduction to “Polity Among the Unitarians and Universalists”

In the early 1990s, the Rev. Peter S. Raible of Seattle’s University Unitarian Church created a collection of materials relating to Unitarian and Universalist congregational polity, or structures of church governance. The documents quickly totaled well over one-thousand pages, coming in at almost 1,440 pages in length. Today, the materials in this packet continue to be used in UU seminarians’ courses on congregational polity, but they are divided among several lengthy, not to mention bulky, photocopies of the entirety of the material, as well as PDFs that individual instructors have made of sections relevant to their courses at Meadville Lombard Theological School, Harvard Divinity School, and Starr King School for the Ministry, among others.

Peter S. Raible

Peter S. Raible

One of Raible’s initial intentions was to make a collection of hard-to-find materials easier to locate. With the advent of the Internet, however, such a collection is made much more easily available by means of the Internet. Rev. Raible passed away in 2004.  Harvard Square Library is grateful for the permission extended by Raible’s relatives allowing HSL to make the material available online, as is our custom, for free to a worldwide audience.

Our practice has been to both preserve Raible’s original contribution, as well as to make the materials generally available. To this end, we include all of the original front matter of the collection, including a biography of Raible, his own preface, introduction, and acknowledgements, as well as the Table of Contents with the original pagination.  Raible wrote a brief introduction and offered discussion questions for every document in the collection, and we have retained all of these. The documents, with their corresponding introductions, are accessible through the links found on the Table of Contents.

The documents themselves are in a variety of formats. Many of the documents have been scanned and formatted as HTML pages by Harvard Square Library’s student assistants Michael McLean and Evan Didier. In addition, Google Books has already made many items available online. The introductory page to these documents links directly to the relevant starting page in Google books.  In cases where a Google book is not available internationally (outside of the United States), alternate links to material more widely available have also been provided.

In preparing the collection for representation online, we have secured individual permission from the copyright holders, where applicable. These permissions are listed along with the individual documents themselves.

I am excited to offer Rev. Peter Raible’s Polity among the Unitarians and Universalists to Harvard Square Library’s worldwide audience, and I look forward to adding more to this collection.  If you would like to be informed of when new material is online, please connect to us on social media or sign up for our monthly newsletter, using the links in the sidebar at the left.

Emily Mace, Director
Harvard Square Library
July, 2013

The work of Harvard Square Library is generously supported by the Frank and Alice Schulman Fund for Unitarian Universalism, as well as by smaller donations from individuals and through the support of our Amazon affiliates program. We would appreciate any financial support you can offer; this will allow us to continue to promote Unitarian Universalism and religious liberalism with high-quality material such as Peter Raible’s “Polity Among the Unitarians and Universalists.” 

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