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Earl Morse Wilbur’s “The Period of Controversy: 1800-1825”

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 401-34

Wilbur 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.…

“Lecture I: 1825,” by Virgil E. Murdock

“Lecture I: 1825”

by Virgil E. Murdock

The Institutional History of the American Unitarian Association

(Minns Lectures, 1975-76), pages 5-19

  1. How would you sum up Channing’s reservations about the establishment of the AUA?
  2. Why do you think the AUA was organized anyway?

“The Growth of Denominational Bureaucracies,” by Conrad Wright

“The Growth of Denominational Bureaucracies: A Neglected Aspect of American Church History” (1983)

by Conrad Wright

in Harvard Theological Review 77:2. pp. 177-94, April, 1984.

Wright with his usual lucidity traces the growth of denominational superstructure in three periods: 1) the colonial, 2) 1800-60, 3) since the Civil War.…

“Unitarian Universalist Denominational Structure,” in Conrad Wright’s Walking Together

Chapter 6, “Unitarian Universalist Denominational Structure” (1986)

in Conrad Wright’s Walking Together

(Skinner, 1989), pages 73-95

Wright traces with broad sweep the “structural glue” among the Unitarian church going back to the colonial roots. Although he carries his discourse forward to the present, his attention (pp.…

“The Church and the Parish in Massachusetts,” by George E. Ellis

“The Church and the Parish in Massachusetts: Usage and Law”

George E. Ellis

in Unitarianism: Its Origin and History

(American Unitarian Association, 189C)

George Ellis (1814-94), ordained in 1840, was for 30 years minister in Charlestown, Massachusetts. He was a frequent contributor to AUA publications and a student of the “Unitarian Controversy.”

This edited version of his lecture, originally given in Dedham, in 1888, is generally credited with allowing the Unitarians “to inherit” a denomination.…

“Remarks on Associations,” by William Ellery Channing

“Remarks on Associations”

William Ellery Channing

in The Works of William Ellery Channing. Vol. I

(American Unitarian Association, 1903) pp. 302 – 09

William Ellery Channing wished the new American Unitarian Association well, but refused its presidency in 1825. A few years later he gave his views on Associations and indirectly suggested his reservations for organized Unitarianism.…

“Why Unitarian,” by Phillip Hewett

Chapter 1, “Why Unitarian?”

by Phillip Hewett

in Unitarians in Canada

(Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 1978), pages 1-15

Phillip Hewett was for 35 years until his retirement in 1991 the minister of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, British Columbia. His work on Canada tells the story of the other half of our North American movement.…

Sidney E. Mead, “The Nation with the Soul of a Church”

Sidney E. Mead

in The Nation With the Soul of a Church, Chapter 4

Harper & Row, 1975

Sidney Mead (1904-) is a distinguished American church historian and a onetime president of the UU theological school, Meadville/Lombard.

This essay serves as an introduction to polity issues in North America.…

“Authority and Power in the Free Church Tradition” by Paul Harrison

Authority and Power in the Free Church Tradition

by Paul M. Harrison

(Southern Illinois, 1959), pages 3 – 37

The opening section of Harrison’s work point out how polity works in the Baptist tradition, which has a strong history of congregational polity.…

Roger Williams: You Make a Path

You make a path, provide a guide

And feed a wilderness;

Your glorious name, while breath remains,

O that I may confess.

Lost many a time, I had no guide,

No house but a hollow tree.

In stormy winter night no fire,

No food, no company.…