Archives search: between “Christ will conquer” and the off-center cross

ugc1891_html_m49241d7fWhen the new UUA logo came out recently, quite a few people (myself included) japed about it on Facebook and mused about the past logos, some quite old. I noted the Universalist “Christ Will Conquer” seal and the off-center cross.

Here's a "Christ Will Conquer" use from 1920
Here’s a “Christ Will Conquer” use from 1920

But dang if, in my research at Harvard-Andover Theological Library, I didn’t find a missing link graphically between the two. It should be noted that I have found no official adoption for any of these logos, but it’s not the sort of thing that’s voted upon, so I suppose the most we’re ever likely to find (if anyone looks) is a launch notice, and probably not even that. We live in a branded age today, and I suspect these earlier “logos” were originally corporate seals (as we’ll see evidence below) that later took on an “inked” existance, much as the flaming chalice started on letterhead.

So let me introduce the “All Conquering Love” seal.

all-conquering-loveI’m guessing that it did not predate 1935, when the Washington Avowal was adopted by the Universalist General Convention (UGC) at the still-swank Mayflower Hotel, a short walk from my day job office and a lovely place for drinks.

The version of the image here is from the cover of the 1946 edition of the Laws of Fellowship, and in this context I wonder if its release was associated with the UGC’s 1942/43 re-conception as the Universalist Church of America.

The whole Washington Declaration text is a historical layer cake, and its use was to define the terms of fellowship between the General Convention, the state conventions, the churches and parishes and the members of the ministerial college. The Avowal is its core, with the text in bold type being the part best remembered:

The bond of fellowship in this Convention (church) shall be a common purpose to do the will of God as Jesus revealed it and to co-operate in establishing the kingdom for which he lived and died.

To that end, we avow our faith in God as Eternal and All-conquering Love, in the spiritual leadership of Jesus, in the supreme worth of every human personality, in the authority of truth known or to be known, and in the power of men of good-will and sacrificial spirit to overcome evil and progressively establish the Kingdom of God. Neither this nor any other statement shall be imposed as a creedal test, provided that the faith thus indicated be professed.

And while you can draw a straight line from “the supreme worth of every human personality” through “to affirm, defend and promote the supreme worth of every human personality” (from the 1961 Principles) to “inherent worth and dignity of every person” I think that image of God being Eternal and All-conquering Love is far more evocative, even thrilling.

all-conquering-love_seal_1960Back to the idea that it was a seal: well, I found two cases (1958 and 1960) of the UCA corporate seal with this design, the rings simplified. Here is the easier-to-read 1960 version: a level of officialdom the off-center cross could not claim. (I did see it on the letterhead of the Illinois state convention; Clinton Lee Scott’s influence from his Peoria pastorate?)

By Scott Wells

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


  1. I am curious if you see a large difference historically between the intention of “Christ will conquer” and “all conquering love.” Was the practice of Universalist faith that different between those two periods? Were Universalists more militant, coercive or disrespectful to those different than themselves when the earlier logo was present? Were the practices of Christian faith in the Universalist movement changed between those two time periods? I guess at its core my question is, was the symbol change indicative of change in the practice of christian faith and love or was it more of veneer change. You seem much more historically versed than I so I am curious about your thoughts.

    I ask this question because in my theology I don’t see a large difference between the two statements other than “all conquering love” is less visibly Christian. More specifically I ask because I’ve seen negative comments about Christian triumphalism surrounding the first logo.

    My inclination is that such statements might be UU anti-oppression over-functioning because the theology is expressed in Christian terms. We have no problem with love conquers all… but that statement with Christ, who for many Christians like myself would be close to or synonymous with love, ends up being the equivalent of the awkward racist family member for some of our colleagues. I find this sad.

  2. I think the earlier motto uses biblical phrasing; I hear it as victory over “sin, death and the grave” and not victory over others. The new motto frames this differently, with a connotation of personal, cooperative action. There were in-fellowship non-Christian Universalists by 1935, but they were still a minority, so that may play into the dynamic. Thank you for your added comments.

  3. My congregation is about to redesign the area behind the pulpit. I had thought of proposing a grid containing 18 historic chalices and circle symbols, each about 2 feet in diameter. I thought choosing them would be rather simple. Then I did some research just on the web. Help!!!

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