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“Unitarian Yearbook 1900” By The American Universalist Association

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Unitarian Yearbook – 1900 

(American Unitarian Association)

The by-laws of the AUA and the National Conference and the Rules of the Committee on (Ministerial) Fellowship of 1900 serve as benchmarks for the beginning of the century.

Note that Conference membership was strictly institutional not individual.

Note the powers claimed by the Committee on Fellowship and the special status given graduates of “theological schools of the denomination.”

  1. What major practical power does the UUA have today? Can you find the roots of those powers in these documents?
  2. Does the monetary factor (see Art. Ill of AUA by-laws) begin to give the central denomination power over congregational polity?


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Government. The Association is governed by the following By-laws: —

Article I. The object of the American Unitarian Association shall be to diffuse the knowledge and promote the interests of pure Christianity; and all Unitarian Christians shall be invited to unite and co-operate with it for that purpose.

Art. II. A subscription of fifty dollars shall constitute a person a member of this Association for life.

Art. III. Those contributing to the funds of this Association shall be entitled to representation under the following conditions, namely: —

Any church or missionary association, of at least two years’ standing, not being in arrears of debt to the American Unitarian Association or the Church Building Loan Fund, shall, upon sending a contribution for missionary uses to the Treasurer of the Association for two successive years, be entitled to representation at all business meetings of the Association by the persons of its minister or president and two additional lay dele- gates ; provided that such contributions shall be placed in the hands of the officers of the Association on or before May 1, to entitle a church to be represented in the following annual meeting.

Art. IV. The Board of Directors may by a unanimous vote at a regular meeting, two-thirds of their number being present, elect Honorary Members of this Association, who shall have the same rights and privileges as other members. Such elections shall be by ballot, and nominations shall lie over at least one month.

Art. V. The officers shall be a President, six Vice-Presidents,— one of whom at the time of his election shall be from Northern New England, one from Southern New England, one from the Middle States, one from the Southern States, one from the Central West, and one from the Pacific Coast’,— a Secretary and One or more Assistant Secretaries, a Treasurer, and eighteen other persons, who, with them, shall constitute a Board of Directors. These officers, of whom sixteen shall be laymen, shall be chosen by ballot at the annual meeting. The President, Vice-Presidents, Secretaries, and Treasurer shall be chosen annually, to serve for one year or until their successors shall be chosen. The eighteen other persons, of whom three shall be women, shall be chosen for three years or until their successors shall be chosen ; and one-third shall be chosen annually.

Art. VI. This Board shall meet at least once in three months, eight constituting a quorum, and shall have charge of all the business and interests of the Association, the direction of its funds and operations, with power to fill any vacancies that may occur in their number between any two annual meetings and to call’ special meetings of the Corporation whenever they shall deem it necessary or expedient.

They may choose from their own number an Executive Committee, which shall meet at the call of the Secretary or President, and shall have charge of such business as may be intrusted to it by the Board of Directors.

Art. VII. It shall be the duty of the Secretary to keep a full record of the meetings of the Corporation and of the Board of Directors; to con- duct the correspondence of the Association, and keep an accurately arranged file, of the same; and, in general, to perform such services, to suggest, devise, and execute, under the direction of the Board of Directors, such plans and measures, as shall, in “their judgment, tend to promote the objects of the” Association, increase its ‘usefulness, and enlarge the sphere of its influence; and the Assistant Secretaries shall render such service as shall be specified by the Board of Directors. The salaries of the Secretaries shall be determined annually by the Board of Directors, the Secretaries not voting.

Art. VIII. The annual meeting of the Association shall be held in the month of May, at such time and place as the Board of Directors may appoint, of which due notice shall be given, by circular to the churches and by advertisement in two or more newspapers published in Boston at least ten days previous.

Art. IX. Any amendment of these articles proposed at one annual meeting may be adopted at the next if a majority of the members present vote in favor of it.

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The Conference of Unitarian and Other Christian Churches was formed in the year 1865, with the purpose of strengthening the churches and societies which should unite in, it for more and better work for the kingdom of God. These churches accept the religion of Jesus, holding, in accordance with his teaching, that practical religion is summed lip in love to God and love to man.

The Conference recognizes the fact that its constituency is Congregational in tradition and polity. Therefore, it declares that, nothing in this Constitution is to be construed as an authoritative test.;” and we cordially invite to our working fellowship any who, while differing from us in belief, are in general sympathy with pur spirit and our practical aims.


Article I. The churches and other organization’s here represented unite themselves in a common body to be known as the National Conference of Unitarian and Other Christian Churches.

Art. II. This National Conference shall be composed of such dele- gates, elected once in two years, not exceeding three from any church or other affiliated organization, as may be invited by the Council, and accredited to it by a certificate of their appointment.

Art. III. The Conference shall meet biennially, at such time and place as it may designate at its successive biennial sessions, unless otherwise directed by the Council.

Art. IV. Its officers shall consist, of a President; six Vice-Presidents; a General Secretary; a Treasurer; a Council of twelve, including the General Secretary and Treasurer,- of whom not more than half shall be ministers; and a Committee on Fellowship, consisting of fifteen,— three from the Eastern States, three from the Middle States, three from the Southern States, three from the Central Western States; and three from the Pacific States,— who shall be elected at each-meeting to hold their offices for two years, or until their successors are appointed.

Art. V. The Council, during the intervals, of the biennial sessions, may fill vacancies in-the board of government, and shall have charge of all business having reference to the interests of the Conference, and intrusted to it by that body, which is hereby declared a purely advisory one.

Art. VI. The National Conference, until further advised by its experience, adopts the existing organizations of the Unitarian body as the instruments of its activities, and confines itself to recommending to them such undertakings and methods as it judges to be in the heart of its constituency.

Art. VII. This Constitution may be amended, at any regular meeting of the Conference, by a vote of not less than two-thirds of the delegates accredited thereto, provided public announcement of the proposed amendment has been given three months in advance.




1. Three months at least before the time fixed by the National Conference for its biennial meeting, the Council shall issue a circular letter of call to the churches and organizations in its fellowship, accompanying it with a form of certificate, the production of which shall be the proof of membership of the Conference until others are elected, unless otherwise ordered by the Conference.

2. The General Secretary shall keep a full report of the proceedings of the body, which shall be published at the expense of the Conference, and a copy sent to every delegate.

3. The Council, at the conclusion of each Conference, shall issue an


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address to the churches and organizations in our body, whether members of this Conference or not, to be published with the proceedings of the Conference, containing such advice and encouragement as it may deem appropriate, but especially communicating to the churches and organizations the recommendations of the Conference in regard to plans and methods of work, the amount of money required for the uses of the year, the special objects to which they would advise its appropriation, with such suggestions, as to a just apportionment of the burden, as they may judge expedient and becoming.

4. The Council shall have it for its duty to keep itself accurately in- formed of the plans and operations of the various organizations in our body, and of the state of the individual churches; inviting correspondence and soliciting reports, to be sent in one month before the biennial meeting, in which the general condition of the parish, its Sunday-school, charities, and general working may be set forth, to the end that the Conference may know what the wants and the wishes of the churches are, somewhat more particularly than it is possible to learn in the necessary hurry of the biennial meeting.

5. The General Secretary of the National Conference shall be the person to whom all letters and communications shall be addressed; and he shall be, ex officio, a member of the Council, and constitute its Secretary.

6. The list of delegates, churches, and organizations represented in each Conference shall be part of the Biennial Report. The archives of the Conference shall be in the keeping of the General Secretary, subject to inspection and temporary possession by the Council.

7. A collection shall be taken up among the delegates at each Conference, to which any others may contribute, to defray the incidental expenses of the Conference, such as printing the Report, etc.

8. Each church in this Conference is recommended to defray the expenses of its delegates.

9. All motions and resolutions, not merely of a formal or incidental character, which propose any action or declaration on the part of the Conference shall, unless the Conference shall otherwise specifically order, be referred without debate to the Committee on Business, whose duty it shall be to make seasonable reports thereon. In case any action by the Conference shall be recommended in a report, a suitable time for the same shall be therein designated; and, unless objection shall be made to any report, it shall be deemed approved by the Conference.

10. The Fellowship Committee shall include in its scope the extending of fellowship to ministers from other countries coming to America, and desiring to engage in ministerial work among our Unitarian churches.

11. No one admitted by the Fellowship Committee shall be entitled to claim insertion in the list of ministers until after being settled in some parish or other regular ministerial employment for at least one year.