a digital library of Unitarian Universalist biographies, history, books, and media
the digital library of Unitarian Universalism
Home » Congregational Polity » “On Some Results of the Voluntary System,” by J. H. Allen

“On Some Results of the Voluntary System,” by J. H. Allen

“On Some Results of the Voluntary System, Especially in Our Country Parishes”

J. H. Allen

The Christian Examiner, March 1868

Joseph Henry Allen

Joseph Henry Allen
Courtesy of Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School

Joseph Henry Allen (1820 – 98) was ordained in 1843 and served several Unitarian Churches before moving into writing and teaching. In 1878, he became a lecturer on ecclesiastical history at Harvard Divinity School.

A generation after church tax abolishment in Massachusetts (1834) Allen looks at the result, particularly in the towns.

His essay suggests that the change in church financing had profound results, which seem to be neglected in studies of Unitarian development.

  1. Did the fiscal uncertainty of a ministerial career serve as a barrier to securing competent ministers?
  2. Did the change in the basis of church support make the clergy hirelings and particularly dependent on wealthy supporters?
  3. What methods of church finance were undertaken after 1834? Why did they eventually give way?
  4. Does the way a church finances itself affect its polity?

The full text of Allen’s essay is available through Google Books, here.

Series Navigation<< James Freeman Clarke, “A Discourse Delivered at the Dedication of the Chapel”“Our Church, As Seen by Religious Geography,” by Ron Clark >>
Tagged with:
Categories: Congregational Polity

Notable in UU History
Jonas G. Clark

Notable American Unitarians: Business — Jonas G. Clark

Jonas G. Clark, 1815-1900 Jonas Clark founded Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, located on eight acres ... Read More
celia-burleigh

Celia C. Burleigh (1829-1875)

Celia Burleigh was the first woman ordained to the Unitarian ministry. Little is known of Burleigh’s ... Read More
Helen Caldicott

Helen Caldicott

Born in Melbourne, Australia, Dr. Caldicott received her medical degree in 1961 from the University of ... Read More
Emerson lodged at his grandparents’ home, the Old Manse, when he first moved to Concord. Courtesy of the Concord Free Public Library.

Emerson in Concord

The Living Legacy of Ralph Waldo Emerson Ralph Waldo Emerson moved to Concord, Massachusetts, in 1834 ... Read More