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A Documentary History of Unitarian Universalism

A Documentary History of Unitarian Universalism

From 1900 to the Present

A panel of top scholars presents the first comprehensive collection of primary sources from Unitarian Universalist history. Spanning two volumes, each containing more than a hundred distinct selections, with scholarly introductions by leading experts.

Editor: Dan McKanan

Price: $20.00

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A panel of top scholars presents the first comprehensive collection of primary sources from Unitarian Universalist history. This, the second of the two-volume set, covers the history of Unitarianism, Universalism, and Unitarian Universalism from 1900 to the present, including a wealth of sources from the first fifty-five years of the Unitarian Universalist Association. From Clarence Skinner and James Luther Adams to Jack Mendelsohn and Rebecca Parker, this rich anthology features leaders, thinkers, and ordinary participants in the ever-changing tradition of liberal religion. This volume contains more than a hundred distinct selections, with scholarly introductions by leading experts in Unitarian Universalist history. The selections include sermons, theologies, denominational statements, hymns, autobiographies, and manifestos, with special attention to class, cultural, gender, and sexual diversity. Primary sources are the building blocks of history, and A Documentary History of Unitarian Universalism presents the sources we need for understanding this denomination's past and for shaping its future.

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Introduction to the Collection
Introduction to Volume Two


Eleanor Elizabeth Gordon, "Our Mission to Save by Culture" (1900)

Quillen Shinn, "Affirmations of Universalism" (1900)

Marion Shutter, Applied Evolution (1900)

Francis Greenwood Peabody, Jesus Christ and the Social Question (1900)

Charles W. Wendte, Report of the General Secretary of the International Council of Unitarian and other Liberal Religious Thinkers and Workers (1901)

Hajom Kissor Singh, Preamble to the Constitution of the Unitarian Union of North East India (1901)

Hajom Kissor Singh and Robin Roy, The Booklet of Brief Questions about Unitarianism (c. 1901 and 1960)

Nellie M. Stouder, "Value of the Mission Circle" (1905)

Sempo Ito, "My Religion" (1905)

Charles W. Eliot, "The Religion of the Future" (1909)

Anna Garlin Spencer, "The Vocational Divide," in Woman's Share in Social Culture (1913)

William Wallace Fenn, "Modern Liberalism" (1913)

Clarence Skinner, Social Implications of Universalism (1915)

May Wright Sewall, Women, World War and Permanent Peace (1915)

John Haynes Holmes, "A Statement To My People On the Eve of War" (1917)

Debate on World War I at the Unitarian General Conference (1917)

Universalist Commission on Social Service, "A Declaration of Social Principles" (1917)

Olympia Brown, "The Opening Doors" (1920)

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, His Religion and Hers (1923)

Curtis Reese, Humanism (1926)

John Dietrich, "Unitarianism and Humanism" (1927)

"The Humanist Manifesto" (1933)

Georgene E. Bowen, "A Universalist Missionary to Japan 1925-1936" (1936)

Commission of Appraisal, Unitarians Face a New Age (1936)

"The Position and Credo of the Independent Church" (1939)

Verna Hills, Martin and Judy in their Two Little Houses (1939)

James Luther Adams, "Why Liberal?" (1939)

Aurelia Henry Reinhardt, "Education for Service in Democracy" (1940)

Martha Sharp, "Food for Babies in the Basses Pyrenees: Emergency Project, Summer, 1940" (1940)

James Luther Adams, "The Changing Reputation of Human Nature" (1941)

Norbert Capek, Songs Composed in Dresden Prison (1942)

Frederick May Eliot, "Bring in the Candles" (1942)

Trustees of the Universalist Church of America Proposed and Final Applications for Membership in the Federal Council of Churches (1942)

American Unitarian Youth, "Political Resolution" (1945)

Homer Jack, "The Threat of American Communists to the Liberal Church and Other Organizations" (1946)

Clinton Lee Scott, Parish Parables (1946)

A. Powell Davies, The Faith of an Unrepentant Liberal (1946)

James Luther Adams, "A Faith for Free Men" (1946)

Lon Ray Call, "A Research on Church Extension and Maintenance Since 1900—A Progress Report" and "Unitarian Lay Groups" (1946)

Egbert Ethelred Brown, "Why I Am What I Am" (c. 1947)

Henry Nelson Wieman, "Neo-Orthodoxy and Contemporary Religious Reaction" (1947)

Stephen Fritchman, "Americans Bearing Gifts," and Unitarian Commission on World Order, "The Greek Crisis" (1947)

Frederick May Eliot, "The Message and Mission of Liberal Religion" (1947)

General Alliance of Unitarian Women, The Liberal Woman of Today(1948)

A. Powell Davies, America's Real Religion (1949)

James Luther Adams, "Theological Bases of Social Action" (1950-1951)

Sophia Lyon Fahs, Today's Children and Yesterday's Heritage (1952)

Constitutions of American Unitarian Youth and Liberal Religious Youth (1953)

Joint Merger Commission, Information Manual (1958)

Albert Q. Perry, "The Uniqueness of Universalism" (1958)

Gordon McKeeman, "The Place of Hosea Ballou in Present-Day Universalism" (1959)

Irving R. Murray, "A Case for Merger" (1959)

Walter Donald Kring, "A Case against Merger" (1959)

"A Minister's Wife Has Rights" (1959)

Constitution of the Unitarian Universalist Association (1959)

Gordon McKeeman, "Questions About Jesus" (1960)

Albert Q. Perry, "Decisions and Implications" (1960)

Dana McLean Greeley, "Frankly Speaking" (1960)

Walter Donald Kring, "We Ought to Be" (1960)

Donald S. Harrington, "We Are That Faith!" (1960)

William B. Rice and Dana McLean Greeley, "Nominees for President, U.U.A." (1961)

Resolutions Adopted by Unitarian Universalist Association (1961)

Dorothy Spoerl, "Is Our Religious Education Religious?" (1961)

Churchwoman. . . . or Churchmouse ? (1962)

James Luther Adams, "The Indispensable Discipline of Social Responsibility" (1962)

Angus MacLean, "The Method Is the Message" (1962)

General Resolution Commending Pope John III's Encyclical "Peace on Earth" (1963)

"General Resolution on the Commission on Religion and Race" (1963)

General Resolution on Reform of Abortion Statutes (1963)

Kenneth L. Patton, A Religion for One World: Art and Symbols for A Universal Religion (1964)

General Resolution on Vietnam (1964)

Martin Luther King, Jr., "A Witness to the Truth" (1965)

Lon Ray Call, "Fellowships: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow—With the Accent on Yesterday" (1967)

Charles Hartshorne, A Natural Theology for Our Time (1967)

"Questionnaire on Sex and Sexual Relations" (1967)

Emergency Conference on the Unitarian Universalist Response to the Black Rebellion "The Black Caucus Report" (1967)

Business Resolution on Investment Policy (1967)

Jack Mendelsohn, "The Church and the Draft Resisters" (1967)

Hayward Henry, "The Caucus Story" (1968)

FULLBAC, "Questions and Answers on the Black Affairs Council" (1968)

Joseph L. Fisher, "Guest Editorial" (1968)

Hayward Henry, "The Black Caucus: Toward a New Unitarian Universalism" (1968)

Kenneth Clark, "Racism for the UUA?" (1968)

Seventh General Assembly of the UUA Resolution (1968)

Unitarian-Universalists for Black and White Action Constitution (1968)

Black Unitarian Universalist Caucus Constitution (1969)

Black Unitarian Universalist Caucus "BUUC Position on the Funding of BAWA" (1969)

Homer Jack, "Keeping the Backlash Liberal" (1969)

Larry Ladd, "The Youth Agenda" (1969)

"UUA Budget Recommendations" (1969)

Glover Barnes, "The Case for Integrated Unitarianism" (1969)

Nikkyo Niwano, Honzon: The Object of Worship of Rissho Kosei-Kai (1969)

General Resolution on Survival and Population Control (1970)

General Resolution on Equal Rights and Opportunities for Women (1970)

General Resolution on Discrimination against Homosexuals and Bisexuals (1970)

Black Affairs Council, "Statement of Disaffiliation of the Black Affairs Council, Inc. from the Unitarian Universalist Association" (1970)

About Your Sexuality (1971 and 1973)

Mike Gravel, "Introduction," The Pentagon Papers (1971)

UUA Department of Education and Social Concern, The Invisible Minority: The Homosexuals in Our Society (1972)

William R. Jones, Is God a White Racist? A Preamble to Black Theology (1973)

Richard Nash, "How Are Unitarian Universalist Gays Discriminated Against?" (1973)

Resolution for the Creation of an Office of Gay Affairs (1973)

Robert Nelson West, "A Matter of Priorities" (1974)

Marjorie Newlin Leaming, "Women in the Unitarian Universalist Ministry" (1974)

Betty Bobo Seiden, "Sojourner Truth to Shirley Chisholm" (1974)

General Resolution for the Right to Abortion (1975)

Business Resolution on Women and Religion (1977)

Leslie Arden Westbrook, "Grailville '79—To Extend Support to All of the Women of the Church" (1979)

Unitarian Union of North East India "Principles of the Unitarian Faith" (1979)

Report of the UUA Affirmative Action Program Advisory Committee (1980)

Lucile Schuck Longview and Carolyn McDade, "Coming Home Like Rivers to the Sea: A Women's Ritual" (1980)

Sandra Caron, "O = E A P, or If I Can't Have Everything, How Much Can I Have?" (1980)

Carolyn McDade, "Spirit of Life" (1981)

Carolyn Owen-Towle, "Abortion: An Agonizing Moral Choice" (1982)

Common Ground: Coming of Age, A Report of the 1982 UUA Youth Assembly (1982)

Business Resolution on Gay and Lesbian Services of Union (1984)

"The Principles and Purposes" (1985)

General Resolution Opposing AIDS Discrimination (1986)

Shirley Ranck, Cakes for the Queen of Heaven (1986)

Jacqui James, "Affirming Beauty in Darkness" (1988)

"Proclamation of the Society for the Larger Ministry" (1988)

Report and Recommendations of the Common Vision Planning Committee (1989)

Margaret Williams Braxton, "Some Day" (1991)

Marilyn Sewell, "Introduction" to Cries of the Spirit (1991)

Kim K. Crawford-Harvie, "Give Thanks" (1992)

Marilyn Sewell, "What Women Really Want" (1993)

Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley, "Kwanzaa, Cornrows, and Confusion: The Dilemma of Cultural Racism and Misappropriation" (1995)

Ellen K. Campbell, "The International Council of Unitarians and Universalists: Its Founding Meeting" (1995)

James Ishmael Ford, "An Invitation to Western Buddhists" (1996)

Resolution of Immediate Witness in Support of the Right to Marry for Same-Sex Couples (1997)

Business Resolution Toward an Anti-Racist Unitarian Universalist Association (1997)

Denny Davidoff, "Preface" to A Chosen Faith (1998)

"Beyond Religious Tolerance: The Challenges of Interfaith Cooperation Begin with Us" (1999)

Constitution of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Philippines, Inc. (1999)

Rebecca Ann Parker, Proverbs of Ashes (2001)

Elek Rezi, "Transylvanian Unitarian Theology at the Dawn of the New Century" (2001)

Pearl Green Marbaniang, "Unitarianism in North East India at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century" (2001)

William G. Sinkford, "The Language of Faith" (2003)

Laurel Hallman, "Images for Our Lives" (2003)

"Humanist Manifesto III: Humanism and Its Aspirations" (2003)

Rosemary Bray McNatt, "The Problem of Theology in the Work of Anti-Racism: A Meditation" (2003)

Goodridge et. al. vs. Massachusetts Department of Public Health (2004)

Jason Shelton, "Standing on the Side of Love" (2004)

Sharon D. Welch, After Empire (2004)

"Criminal Justice and Prison Reform" (2005)

Rebecca Ann Parker, "Choose to Bless the World" and "Benediction" (2006)

William F. Schulz, "What Torture's Taught Me" (2006)

"Threat of Global Warming/Climate Change" (2006)

Christine Robinson, "Imagineering Soul" (2008)

Thandeka, "Thandeka's Change of Heart" in What Moves Us: Unitarian Universalist Theology (2008)

Peter Morales, "We Are One" (2009)

Nihal Attanayake, "How We Belong to Creation" (2010)

Maria Pap, "Partnerships: Belonging as Collaboration, Mutuality and Accountability" (2010)

Fulgence Ndagijimana, "African Perspectives on Belonging" (2010)

Deborah J. Pope-Lance, "Whence We Come and How, and Whither" (2010)

"Ethical Eating" (2011)

"Immigration as a Moral Issue" (2013)

Business Resolution on Fossil Fuel Divestment (2014)

"Reproductive Justice" (2015)

Lilia Cuervo, "Paradigm Shifts or Having a Taste of My Own Medicine" (2015)


Bibliography of General Histories and Primary Source Collections
About the Contributors
Index of Names and Titles
Index of Genres and Themes

Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to be on the alert to point out its faults, and do better than it would have them?

Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is a prison. The proper place to-day, the only place which Massachusetts has provided for her freer and less desponding spirits, is in her prisons. . . . It is there that the fugitive slave, and the Mexican prisoner on parole, and the Indian come to plead the wrongs of his race, should find them; on that separate, but more free and honorable ground, where the State places those who are not with her, but against her,—the only house in a slave-state in which a free man can abide with honor. If any think that their influence would be lost there, and their voices no longer afflict the ear of the State, that they would not be as an enemy within its walls, they do not know by how much truth is stronger than error, nor how much more eloquently and effectively he can combat injustice who has experienced a little in his own person. Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence. A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority; it is not even a minority then; but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight...

I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest. What force has a multitude? They only can force me who obey a higher law than I.

Source: Henry David Thoreau, "Resistance to Civil Government," in Reform Papers, ed. Wendell Glick (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973), 65, 67, 72-73, 76-77, 79-81.

Unitarian Universalists today can benefit from greater awareness of the depth and resources of their own faith tradition. This excellent and well-edited collection will go a long way toward meeting that need. The material is well-chosen, and the helpful introductory comments place the selections in context. Overall, an excellent and much-needed resource.
—Paul Rasor, author, Faith Without Certainty and Reclaiming Prophetic Witness


Dan McKanan and his editorial committee of scholars have provided the Unitarian Universalist community with a marvelously useful access to its rich heritage in A Documentary History of Unitarian Universalism. With curated writings from early Christianity to the twenty-first century, this collection offers the defining texts of this diverse liberal religious tradition. The compilation is of particular value for its inclusion of texts that illuminate both the religious doctrines and the institutional events that have shaped the complex history of Unitarian Universalism. The authoritative introductory essays provide an illuminating synthesis of the numerous Universalisms and Unitarianisms that have contributed to the movement.
—David M. Robinson, author, The Unitarians and the Universalists and Emerson and the Conduct of Life

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