Publisher of universalist works has a sale

Wipf and Stock publishes more theological works that deal with issues of universal salvation (if not institutional Universalism) than anyone else — and probably on a scale unrivaled since the heyday of the Universalist Publishing House. (They have a wide-ranging catalog.)

So when I learned that they are having a sale — 30% off list and free media mail shipping — I said “yes, thank you.” I got The Renewal of All Things: An Alternative Missiology by Waldron Byron Scott, and All Set Free: How God is Revealed in Jesus and Why That is Really Good News by Matthew J. Distefano.

Looking forward to Christmas reading.

If your church needs a banner…

Counter to the prevailing opinion, I’m not a fan of church banners that highlight social or political issues — they seem to soak up the energy and capital that might be applied directly to the need — but if you do put one up, make it big and out of reach.

BLM banner on Church of the PilgrimsIn my neighborhood, at the Church of the Pilgrims (Presbyterian), Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C. It just went up.

The passage Hillary Clinton quoted

If you saw Hillary Clinton’s concession speech today, you may have been touched by her quotation from scripture.

Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

It drawn from Galatians 6:9, in case you wondered. It’s not a translation I know — perhaps “arranged” as one says in worship, but here’s the verse from King James Version: “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

 

 

Where the discussion about BLUU financial commitment?

Earlier this week, the UUWorld reported (Elaine McArdle, October 17) that the Unitarian Universalist Association Board of Trustees awarded a $300,000 grant to the Black Lives of Unitarian Universalists (BLUU), with a commitment to raise another $5 million, “guarantee[d] against the endowment.”

I have so many questions, not the least of which “why has there been no public commentary — apart from the immediate parties, and not much there — about this extraordinary step?”

And will there be room for an examination of what happened, or what this will mean to the Unitarian Universalist Association? There should be room; I’m not sure there will be.

Another story from the UUWorld is coming next week; perhaps then?

Universalist work in Korea, 1937 report

The story of the Universalist Korean mission is little discussed, surely because the Japan mission, on which it was institutionally dependent, is also little discussed and because there is no evidence that has come to light that it survived the Second World War. I’m hoping to add to the record, and follow up on the article I posted two years ago.

I was at the Library of Congress yesterday and scanned minutes and reports from the 1937 General Convention. This is from the section called International Church Extension. I’ve added links to outside resources for context.

Universalist General Convention. Universalist biennial reports and directory. Boston, Mass. : Universalist General Convention. (1938), p. 83-86.

Korea

Under the leadership of Mr. [Ryonki] Jio [or, Cho in the financial reports], graduate of Doshisha Theological Seminary, work was begun in Korea in 1929. Mr. Jio with another student from the seminary had done summer evangelistic work the two previous years. As he traveled all over the country he investigated possible centers for his future work. His final decision was in favor of Taikyu (Daigu—Korean pronunciation), a city the size of Rochester, New York.

In April, 1929, after his graduation from Doshisha, Mr. Jio rented a house and began his work. It was thought at first that no Sunday school could be conducted in such narrow quarters but on April 7th some 57 children came and three men and four women volunteered to help in teaching. What has come to be a very significant work was thus humbly begun.

Taikyu

There is a church building, and a pastor’s house on a small plot of land down a narrow alley building leading from one of the many wide streets in Taikyu. The buildings and land are being bought on the installment plan, with payments each month for something over two more years. The “church building” is an adapted ex-wrestling hall, now in quite bad condition, with uprights weakening and sinking to such an extent that the windows, which open horizontally, are immovable now, with the exception of one half of one window. A new building—one could almost say, a building—is needed badly, but the group is attempting this year a complete renovation with the limited resources these poverty-stricken people can manage to scrape together.

Here are all the usual meetings and some unusual ones —not only Church and Sunday School—but many other meetings throughout the week.

Mr. Jio has lived through some hard experiences since the start of 1929—experiences that would have embittered most men—but he has had his dream and has worked towards its realization steadily. To tabulate such activities as frequent preaching, Sunday School direction, prayer meetings, boys’ club work, Bible classes, does not begin to give one an idea of the work done. Mr. Jiu is fast becoming one of the best-known citizens of Taikyu.

In August of 1936, several months after his graduation from the Taikyu Government Medical School, Dr. Pak, who had for several years served as Sunday School superintendent, in cooperation with Mr. Jio and in the name of the church opened a medical-services-at-cost enterprise in a makeshift “attic” section of the “church building,” divided into a small laboratory, a small waiting room, and a somewhat larger consultation and treatment room, the whole comprising a space of about ten by fifteen feet. (Their original plan to build up the enterprise on a cooperative “shares” basis was prohibited by the police authorities.) For over a year Dr. Pak worked without salary patiently building the work. In August of ‘37, however, he resigned to take up a private practice in Manchukuo among Koreans there. Another young doctor was procured on a salary basis, and the work is going forward with steadily increasing numbers of patients daily and an ever-widening scope of influence in the city. In some months the average number of patients served has been as high as 40 to 50 daily. Last autumn, in answer to the need of an in-patient department for slight operation cases such as for trachoma, which is very wide-spread in Korea. Mr. Jio turned his house over to this work and took up a rented dwelling some twenty minutes’ walk from the “church.”

Handicapped by extremely limited equipment this “church and hospital” enterprise goes forward steadily.

Mrs. Onjun Pak, the first Korean to be trained at the Blackmer Home, has started a Sewing School for Women and Girls in connection with Mr. Jio’s work. Very little equipment was available, but it is hoped that interested groups in America may be able to contribute towards the purchase of a few machines and some necessary supplies. Until that time Mrs. Pak is carrying on with what is at hand and is making a real contribution to the people she serves. A portion of the International Friendship Offering received in Universalist Church Schools in November, 1937, has been a sign for this work of Mrs. Pak.

Wulchon

A church was soon started at Wulchon, some six miles from Taikyu, but owing to the persecution by another sect, it had to be suspended. But this misfortune has not followed another enterprise in Wulchon.

Some years ago people in the immediate vicinity of this small town faced a desperate unemployment situation. Mr. Jio resolved to do something about it. With his church group as a nucleus and on borrowed money, he purchased materials and begin a fibre-slipper manufacture, his own special service being the finding of markets for the goods manufactured goods during the long cold season when the ground cannot be worked. Today the Guild thus started has spread beyond this first group, gives employment to over eighteen hundred and manufactures over two hundred thousand pairs of slippers a year, selling some as far afield as Chicago and points farther east. This industry has become second in importance—after silk—in the district which Taikyu is the center.

Kumpo

A dozen miles beyond Wulchon is Kumpo, a small rural village of two hundred or more. Here, after some evangelistic meetings, a church of thirty odd members was formed. But it as was the case in Wulchon, was forced to suspend activities due to persecution from another sect.

Sendung

After Dr. Cary’s address of the Buffalo convention in 1931, Rev. G. H. Leining and Rev. Ellsworth C. Reamon conducted a swift impromptu campaign for funds which resulted in enough to purchase a farm of some one hundred and sixteen thousand tsubo (a tsubo is 36 square feet) or over 98 acres—a very large farm for the Orient. Upwards of fifty families rent and work this farm, which has extensive rice cultivation possibilities as well as being in a good position for fruit. In the summer of ‘34 a great flood swept down and buried large portions of the farm under six feet of water, but it was reconditioned—at considerable expense (with money borrowed of the government on very easy terms). What was necessary was done and the slow process of making the land valuable by annually putting all returns back from it back into it was taken up again. More fruit trees are planted, more poplars about the edges to hold off sand and future floods. In August of 1936 an even worst flood came, wrecking property throughout the southern part of Korea. Once again the work of reconditioning was taken up but it was too expensive to do it as completely as was desirable. Nevertheless, more planting of fruit trees and protective poplars, which are pruned short, was done. A goodly number of the thousands of trees planted before the ‘36 flood, lived through it.

In the nearby town, Mr. Jio holds occasional meetings whenever an opportunity presents itself.

Other interests

Mr. Jio maintains a constant communication with liberal groups of Koreans in Japan proper, especially among theological students to keep him exceedingly busy every time he visits Tokyo and Kyoto, where his alma mater, Doshisha, is.

He sees great opportunity for influence through a liberal magazine, but is compelled for lack of funds to postpone any independent action of this nature, submitting articles for publication in other magazines whenever opportunity permits.

Mr. Jio and the work he and his people undertake is financially aided by the General Convention and in constant affiliation with the General Convention representatives and the Japan Council.

In tough times, it’s important to remember we live in God’s time

I asked a group of friends to review my newsletter post for the Universalist Christian Initiative and they asked me to share it generally, and so I oblige. If you would like to sign up for the twice-monthly newsletter, click here.

Fifteen years ago tomorrow, “the world changed” for many people, and through a particular lens, many people’s understanding of the United States and its position in the world changed, too. The hijackings that lead to the thousands of deaths in New York, suburban Washington, D.C. and in rural Pennsylvania were devastating, and even as I write this remembered how I felt that day. Such a low, grim day. I was the pastor of the Universalist National Memorial Church, in Washington, D.C. then. My apartment was on a hill and I could see a plume of dark smoke rising from the Pentagon. Living within walking distance of the church, I went down to open up the doors and try to support anyone who was confused, lost or upset. But the bewilderment was only planted that day.

While it is tempting to repeat the saying that the world changed on September 11, 2001, it is more correct to say that a large number of Americans began to know better the fear and uncertainty that others know before and since: that violence takes the innocent, that life is fragile and fleeting, and that it is far easier to destroy than construct. We would want the world to change and, in fact, on that day it didn’t. But that’s not to say that we are doomed to a past, present and future of violence and cruelty, whether “senseless” or “sensible,” by which I mean violence and cruelty we would be prone to defend or forget because it serves a stated national interest.

As Universalist Christians, we trust that God sees this and knows us apart from time and away from our biases and prescriptions. Where there is hurt and loss, we trust God is present to heal. And when we give ourselves over in ministry to this healing — “the ministry of reconciliation” as St. Paul put it — we must necessarily surrender ourselves to that part of God’s vision we can see, and do what God would have us do. We cannot, for one, weigh the lives of compatriots higher than other people. Not that everyone is equally little, but rather that each of us is equally great; that is, in the words of a Universalist profession also adopted in Washington, D.C., the “supreme worth of every human personality.” But this new way of living is not for us to build, but create with God’s direction and in God’s time. This last stricture is the more painful, but so much harm has come from those who have presumed to know more that they do, and act in ways that later prove harmful. It is enough to do good where can can, and to cultivate the ability to do more good than we thought possible. That is, we should step back from the a statement later in the Washington Declaration that we could “progressively establish the Kingdom of God.” The greatness in our lives does not extend that far. The change comes not by our own design, but from a force unseen. It will bloom when and where it will; let us be ready for it. Let us show this readiness in our love for one another.

Sources of prayers: Theistic Prayer Book

A single prayer in the services before Hymns of the Spirit beginning “Almighty God grant that the words” comes from a book identified in the index as the Theistic Prayer Book. What is this and where did it come from?

Mw114797_charles_voyseyIt comes from the Theistic Church in London, that lasts from 1870 or 1871 until shortly after the 1912 death of its founder and minister, Charles Vorsey, who was driven out of the Church of England. (He’s the father of the famous architech of the same name, if your mind goes to the Arts and Crafts.) At the church, the book was known as The Revised Prayer Book, and ran through three (1871, 1875, 1892) editions.

In both Hymns of the Spirit (p. 146) and The Revised Prayer Book, the prayer appears in a section for additional prayers (in the third edition); it appears, slightly re-arranged as prayer for the “close of worship” in Hymns of the Spirit.

Cross-posted at Hymns of the Spirit.

Sources of prayers: an English book from 1903

The services before the Hymns of the Spirit include prayers and litanies from various sources, including the 1903 Devotional Services for Public Worship, by John Hunter. He was the minister of King’s Weigh House Church, then a Congregational church, in Mayfair, London.

You can read it at Archives.org.

I’ll see if there’s any commonalities, and if so I’ll note them below.

Crossposted at HymnsoftheSpirit.org.

Tilden lectures on the ministry online

There’s a shortage of historic works — Unitarian or Universalist — on the preparation and exercise of the ministry. So — while researching — I was happy to see a printed set of lectures by William Phillip Tilden (1811-1890) to the Meadville Theological School, in June 1889. So we can consider these the mature words of a respected pastor.

I’ve not read this, but will put them on the list. Thought you might like to read it, too.

The Work of the Ministry: Lectures Given to the Meadville Theological School