Two things notable from the former parish

Ordinarily one files the happenings of one’s old pastorate under “let sleeping dogs lie” but there was two items of note (after a quick scan) in the November newsletter from Universalist National Memorial Church that I thought I’d point out.

First and of more general interest, the PDF download version — perhaps the print version, too — of the UNMC newsletter is now laid out on the long edge of the paper, or in “landscape.” If you use Adobe Reader, click Control+L and you can take the newsletter into whole screen mode and read it page by page like a slide show. (Up and down arrow to move pages; click “esc” when done.) I think this is a better way to distribute PDF newsletters since the layout matches the orientation of nearly everyone’s computer monitor and ever since I started reading TUX Magazine (a PDF distributed Linux novices magazine) I thought church newsletters should do likewise. UNMC’s is the first I’ve seen so.

Second and more for the professing Universalists out there, the church will now act on a successor declaration of faith; they had been using the 1899 Five Principles declaration and will either adopt the following or return to it. Given the history of Universalist local revisions becoming less and less Christian, I wasn’t encouraged by the early news of the revision process but was prepared to say nothing on the subject since it really wasn’t (and isn’t) my business.

But I really like it, and think whether or not UNMC adopts it their draft might inspire others to use and consider it. The preamble is a succinct ecclesiology more convincing than found either in the Winchester Profession or the Washington Avowal. The “just retribution for sin” plank, controversial even in 1899 and a dubious soteriology today, is gone and good riddance.

Here’s the text, but go get the newsletter for context.

In faith and freedom, we are called
to bring hope and healing to the world,
so that all may rejoice in God’s grace.
I believe in
the universal love of God,
the spiritual authority and
leadership of Jesus Christ,
the trustworthiness of the Bible
as a source of divine revelation,
the need for repentance
and forgiveness of sin,
and the final harmony
of all souls with God.

By Scott Wells

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


  1. I also like this profession faith. It is probably the best contemporary worded Universalist Christian profession that I’ve seen for liturgical use. I know there are some who adore the Washington Avowal (humanistic leaning), or the Winchester Profession (hard on post-modern ears), but this one slices the spirituality just right.

    I’ll be interested about how their vote goes.

  2. Thanks for your affirmitive comments Scott. I too was worried that the 1899 declaration would be watered down but the present version retains most of the original points. I personally will miss the “just retribution for sin” as it put an edge on an overly sugarcoated UU faith in general. I used to resolve a lot of my feelings about the war criminals living and dead as well as warn myself when saying it. But it did turn a lot of visitors and members off so it was worth changing. We started with “need for forgiveness of sin then some one wisely suggested that “repentence” be added. I could almost feel the flames with the “just retribution” and think that this was a good 1899 response to those who said that Universalism did not take sin seriously. Keep up the good work Scott and I hope to hear you preach again soon. Perry King, deacon, UNMC

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