Notes on the 1925 Congregationalist-Universalist unity statement

I just published the 1925 “A Joint Statement on Interchurch Relations from the Commissions of the Congregational and Universalist Churches” but didn’t want to clutter that document with thoughts. Indeed, I’ll want to review some of the standard denomination histories to see why the Universalists aren’t a part of the United Church of Christ today. Partnering with the Unitarians wasn’t the foregone conclusion so described today.

Union was in the air, then. Indeed, contemporaneously, the Congregationalists were making overtures to the Christian Church, leading to a merger. Most of the Congregational Christians then merged with the Evangelical and Reformed Church (itself merged) to create the United Church of Christ. The Universalists were also talking to the Unitarians; years ago I published a Universalist report from the same commission in 1927. And now I want to see what else they reported out.

Some loose thoughts:

  1. I’ve heard it suggested that the relative size of the Congregationalists would have made organic union an absorption, rather than a merger.
  2. It makes the later, if minor, Universalist participation with the “continuing” Congregationalists make more sense.
  3. There are words the joint statement that echo in the 1935 Universalist Washington Declaration, namely in the second paragraph. “The kingdom for which he lived and died” for instance.

I hope this sparks interest in the history of Universalist polity…

Author: Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

One thought on “Notes on the 1925 Congregationalist-Universalist unity statement”

  1. This joint ministry agreement is not simply a chapter of lost history, but a legacy that lives on with us – albeit at the margins of the UUA. I would venture that over 50% of the interdenominational churches affiliated with the UUA have roots going back to the Congregationalist-Universalist joint ministry statements.

    Today, it seems to me, we have back-slid. Today such interdenominational congregations are often viewed in sectarian terms as insufficiently UU. One wonders what opportunities for liberal ministry are being missed when we do not take seriously these openings for shared ministry?

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