Full text of “Parish Practice in Universalist Churches”

A while back I lifted out clips from the 1946 polity and administration guide Parish Practice in Universalist Churches with little commentary. Now you can download the PDF to read the whole thing yourself. I don’t know if it is still in copyright — there’s a terrible problem with orphan works — but I’ll keep it up so long as no rights holder says otherwise.

By Scott Wells

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


  1. I didn’t spend much time in checking to see if the copyright was renewed (or even registered), but considering that at the the renewal time, the UUA was under extreme financial difficulty, I would expect they did not renew.

  2. I don’t remember where I picked up my copy — secondhand, of course! — but I do remember thinking that it looked like a formal step in the journey toward merger. The rap against many Universalist churches was just what Sam Eliot had decried in so many smaller Unitarian congregations that he’d worked to eradicate in the first quarter of the 20th century: “too small to be viable,” “glorified family systems, not really religious organizations” etc. It was a painful charge. From the mid 19th century onwards, Universalist state conventions had been endeavoring to put up one big show church in their primary city. Even here in Vermont, the Richmond church reached a grand stature (and is today a town building). Fourth Universalist in New York City (proudly named Divine Paternity in its hayday), Restoration in Philadelphia, National Memorial in Washington, DC — these represented Universalism’s aspirations for equality in the mosaic of formal faiths. But Dr. Cummin’s book did not apply only to these cathedrals: many small religious societies are very deliberately and ethically run.

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