a digital library of Unitarian Universalist biographies, history, books, and media
the digital library of Unitarian Universalism
Home » Congregational Polity » “The Significance and Influence of the Cambridge Platform of 1848” by Henry Wilder Foote

“The Significance and Influence of the Cambridge Platform of 1848” by Henry Wilder Foote

“The Significance and Influence of the Cambridge Platform of 1848”

by Henry Wilder Foote

in The Cambridge Platform of 1848

(same editor; Beacon/Pilgrim, 1949), pp. 29-50

Henry Wilder Foote Jr.

Henry Wilder Foote Jr.

Henry Wilder Foote (who died in 1984) was ordained in 1902 and served a number of Unitarian churches. He was a musicologist, professor at the Harvard Divinity School, and historian.

The last half of Foote’s essay gives summation of the major points in the Cambridge Platform. These include:

  • What a Congregational church is?
  • How its clergy are chosen?
  • The polity of the parish and the communion among the churches
  • Relationships between church and state

All of these matters have continuing issue but none continues to concern modern UUs as much as the distribution of power between the individual congregation and the larger association of churches (today a denomination). Cambridge placed ultimate power in a particular congregation, but the consulting councils were supposed to play a strong role. What over the years made these councils moot or ineffective? Is there an analogy to be drawn between the contemporary UUA and the colonial councils? Or is the growth of denominational power (e.g. in placement, loans, and ministerial certification) an institutionalization of bureaucracy without historic precedent?

Download (PDF, 991KB)

Series Navigation<< The Cambridge Platform of 1648Conrad Wright’s Walking Together, Chapter 1 >>
Tagged with:
Categories: Congregational Polity

Notable in UU History
Joseph Hodges Choate

Notable American Unitarians: Government – Joseph Hodges Choate

Joseph Hodges Choate, 1832-1917 This lawyer, who grew up in Salem, Massachusetts, battled Tammany Hall in ... Read More
Mary Safford

Notable American Unitarians: Religion – Mary Safford

Mary Safford, 1851-1927 by Sarah Oelberg Around 1900, a joke was making the rounds in Unitarian ... Read More
Jonathan Schell

Jonathan Schell

Jonathan Schell’s penetrating mind has long sounded the single, most perplexing question humankind has ever faced: ... Read More
Barbara Sicherman

Barbara Sicherman

Barbara Sicherman, is co-editor of a biographical dictionary—Notable American Women: The Modern Period—published by Harvard University ... Read More