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 >>

Notable in UU History
Caroline Wells Healey Dall

Dall, Caroline Wells Healey (1822-1912)

Born the oldest child of a wealthy Boston merchant on June 22, 1822, Dall had full ... Read More

Carnegie, Louise (1857-1946)

The success of the public Carnegie Libraries played a great role in encouraging the development of ... Read More
Samuel McChord Crothers

Crothers, Samuel McChord (1857-1927)

Samuel McChord Crothers was born in Oswego, Illinois, on June 7, 1857, and died in Cambridge, ... Read More
Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston

Jackson, James (1777-1867)

At the beginning of the present (20th) century Boston had no hospital for the treatment of ... Read More