I attended the Esperanto Usona Landa Kongreso — United-States-ian National Congress — in nearby Bethesda, Maryland, and I think I’m hooked. Proof: I’m in a blue shirt, a third of the way from the top. The next LK — pronounced “loko” — is in Berkeley, Kalifornio and I plan on being there.

More about my experience there later. I plan on blogging on my learning plan and in time adding posts in la lingvo internacia. More importantly, why I should do such a thing, and why you might.

With this post, I’m opening an Esperanto category.

British Unitarian and Free Christian numbers

Blogger and Unitarian minister Andy Pakula divided church giving by the standard capitation to make a working — if by his own estimation, highly inaccurate — census of inland churches affiliated with the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches.

I think it becomes somewhat less inaccurate — particularly to those who may have an accurate count — if these are seen as a jumbled quantification of membership numbers, wealth, institutional capacity and warm feelings towards the general fellowship. Or at least this is based on my experience in the United States when I review Annual Program Fund giving. In particular, I would love to know how the Christian Unitarian and Free Christian churches stack up. (It seems the Welsh-language churches have problems in fact or in relationships.)

And in my scant experience in London. When Hubby and I honeymooned there in 2003, we bypassed the usual tourist church options and attended Sunday services at the Unitarian church in Brixton. A wonderful welcome, and a delightful service with a significant congregation, but now registers with zero members.

Now, for the numbers, as a mental exercize: assuming these numbers were correct, most of the 169 British churches would be ineligibly small (under 30 members) to join the Unitarian Universalist Association, and many would be too small to join under the old rules (10 members). Only one — Rosslyn Hill Chapel in American-expat-heavy Hampstead — is bigger than “small,” or having 150 members or fewer. This makes me doubt any significant numbers of foreign ministers can be tempted to settle there, and I’d say the same if every membership value was doubled. (That said, Rosslyn Hill has a vacancy, and it has had American ministers.)

I’ve also made the data into a handier spreadsheet, though be sure to note corrections at the original post.

Swedenborgian praise: the Te Dominum

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been poking around Swedenborgian worship styles and I keep running to to references to a chanted text, the Te Dominum.

This isn’t the Te Deum — that well-known Christian canticle was so widespread that even the Universalists and Unitarians were known to sing it — rather, this was something only known to Swedenborgians.And it was also unknown to me, until last night when I found it in a hymnal of the middling-conservative General Church of the New Jerusalem, now more commonly known as the New Church.

I’m including it below, pointed for chanting. Here’s a PDF of the two pages, drawn from that hymnal.

We praise Thee O Lord, we acknówledge | Thee to | be our | God;
We magnify Thy holy náme and | worship | at Thy | footstool.

The heavens declare Thy glóry, the | earth is | full of · Thy | riches;
The Church doth wórship and ac-| knowledge | Thee a-| lone.

The Father eternal, the Word incárnate, the | Holy | Spirit, the | Comforter;
In essence and person óne Je-| hovah | Jesus | Lord.

To Thee the angels cry aloud, the héavens and | all the | powers there-| in;
To Thee cherubim and seraphím lift | up the | voice and | sing,

Holy, Holy, Hóly, | Lord · God Al-|mighty;
Heaven and éarth are | full · of Thy | glo-| ry.

Thou didst bów the | heavens · and come | down;
Thou didst clóthe Thy | self with | our | nature.

In Thy love and in Thy pity Thou hást re-| deemed | us;
And for our salvátion | Thou art | God with | us.

Thou didst endure all the bitternéss of | suffering · and temp-| tation.
Even to the passion of the cróss | and the | pangs of | death.

Thou didst burst asunder áll the | bonds of | death,
And rise in Divíne | majes-| ty and | glory.

Thou didst ascend on hígh leading cap-| tivi ty | captive;
The everlasting dóors were | open | to re-| ceive Thee.

High above all the héavens Thou | hast as-| cended,
Clóth-ed with | light and | girded · with | love.

Thou árt the | King of | glory;
Thóu | art Je-| hovah · of | Hosts.

Day by day will we exalt Thée O | Lord our | God,
And worship at Thy footstóol, for | Thou a-| lone art | holy.


Now, it’s clear it knows the Te Deum. But further research is necessary to understand its provenance and use — and when it fell into decline and where it might still be used.

Shutter: “Progressive Changes in Universalist Thought” (1895)

Since the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly will be held in Minneapolis this year, I though some choice words from one of the more prominant Universalist ministers to have served in the city would be an appropriate selection. I’m particularly fond of the second Ballou quote, below. I’ll see if I can find the source of his biblical citations, too: an interesting translation. (Well, that was easy: both are from John 16, in the good ol’ King James. I was thinking it might have been one of the early “modern” translations.)

The Arena, vol. 14 (1895), p. 144-154

Progressive Changes in Universalist Thought.

by Rev. Marion D. Shutter, D.D.

Continue reading “Shutter: “Progressive Changes in Universalist Thought” (1895)”

Open for comments: Thomas Jefferson District doesn't rename

So the Thomas Jefferson District didn’t rename itself. This issue has been going on for almost twenty years, and having been a member and supply minister in the TJD, I’ve heard a bit about it. I can respect both sides, but don’t have — as they say — “a dog in this fight.”

So I’ll just open the comments. As usual, I’ll allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments so long as there’s a real email address to identify it.

Universalists in “Who’s Who in America” (1899), part 1

As you might tell, I’m interested in Universalism in 1899 — and also back to 1897 — when changes in the Universalist General Convention occasioned great optimism in the denomination. Here is the first set of two featured in the first volume of Who’s Who. Worth a scan. More women than I would have bet, and more temperance activity, too.
Continue reading “Universalists in “Who’s Who in America” (1899), part 1″

Beginning Year Eight

This is Boy in the Bands blog entry #2,783. On May 22, 2003, I wrote blog entry #1.

Thanks to you, the readers, for making the last seven years worthwhile. And special thanks to those who wrote one of the 5,375 comments in that time.

Multi-denominational congregations within the UUA

This is a list I wanted before, so why not share? Multi-denominational — the term used at — is actually better than the more commonly used term federated because not all multiply-affiliated congregation are federated. A federated church is church made of churches; while rare, a federated church can break apart into its member churches. (This happened a few years ago.) The other common alternative is a community church, with a single corporation. These are easier to administer than federated churches, but a breakup is more like a divorce. Or a community church can drop one or more of it’s affiliations. In one case, the congregation went UUA-only, but more often the UCC is the “winner.”

The list below notes all the multi-denominational churches in the UUA. A few caveats:

  • I’ve long wondered if some of the single-digit member congregations in rural New England either function like federated churches in a local cooperative arrangement, or only report the Unitarian or Universalist partner in a federation.
  • Two of the churches below identify all their UU members as “multi-denominational” — which doesn’t make sense. Either it’s an error in filing, or perhaps a misunderstanding in terms. Such as, “all our members are multi-denominational.” Both are tiny, Universalist and in New England, so I’d be prone to believe the later.
  • In a two-way partnernship, a community church will usually report half its membership to one denomination and the rest to the other. But the stats for (UUA) membership and multi-denominational membership were made a few months apart so the smaller number isn’t going to be quite half.
  • Universalist-watchers note: with the 1961 consolidation, some Universalist churches went independent and federated locally with others, including the continuing Congregationalists (NACCC) in a few cases. They’re not listed here.
  • The last column is what other denominations are partners, where identified on their website.
    • ABC: American Baptist Churches
    • CCDOC: Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
    • Ethical Culture
    • UCC: United Church of Christ
    • UMC: United Methodist Church
    • First Existentialist, Atlanta, was an independent congregation before joining the UUA; it is essentially federated with its own founding identity. I can’t find the Friends partner with First Parish, Bolton; it isn’t New England Yearly Meeting.
Washington Ethical Society Washington DC 150 301 Ethical Culture
First Existentialist Congregation of Atlanta Atlanta GA 23 65
The Federated Church Avon IL 11 105
Peoples Church of Chicago Inc. Chicago IL 10 32 UCC
Federated Church Sycamore IL 14 182 UCC
The First Parish of Bolton Bolton MA 12 182 Friends, ABC, UCC
The First Church of Deerfield Deerfield MA 9 80 UCC
First Universalist Church of Hardwick Preservation Trust Hardwick MA 12 12
The Community Church Of North Orange And Tully Orange MA 10 50
Cong. Parish in Norton (Unitarian) Norton MA 13 13
The Federated Church of Orleans East Orleans MA 4 308 UCC
The Eliot Church of South Natick Natick MA 68 143 UCC
The First Church in Sterling Sterling MA 51 400 ABC, UCC
Federated Church Sturbridge MA 8 250 ABC, UCC
First Church of Templeton Templeton MA 10 160
The First Church of West Bridgewater West Bridgewater MA 66 130 UCC
First Parish Church United of Westford Westford MA 141 277 UCC
The Federated Church of Marlborough Marlborough NH 7 118 UCC, UMC
Newfields Community Church Newfields NH 5 54
The United Church of Winchester Winchester NH 6 119 UCC, UMC
All Souls Bethlehem Church Brooklyn NY 23 30 CCDOC, UCC
Church of the Mediator Providence RI 8 11

A sample of congregations in middle-income areas

So my think-piece continues. I’ve pulled a list of list of congregations that are in three large cities that are close to the United States mean cost of living: Atlanta, Columbus and Minneapolis. Then I went out fifty miles from their center — I used the largest convention center for each — and have listed below the congregations therein. (I could have probably chosen 25 miles and gotten almost all the same congregations.) No review yet — just want to show who I’m looking at. Though large congregations seem to be over-sampled; I wonder if that’s just a coincidence.

In order by UUA-assigned church number, with reported membership at the end.

UU Congregation of Atlanta Atlanta GA 737
Northwest UU Congregation Atlanta GA 162
First Existentialist Congregation of Atlanta Atlanta GA 23
Emerson UU Congregation Marietta GA 101
UU Congregation of Gwinnett Lawrenceville GA 127
UU Metro Atlanta North Congregation Roswell GA 156
Minnesota Valley UU Fellowship Bloomington MN 167
Pilgrim House UU Fellowship Arden Hills MN 84
Dakota UU Church Burnsville MN 33
Lake Fellowship of Unitarians & Universalists Excelsior MN 34
Michael Servetus Unitarian Society Fridley MN 84
First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis Minneapolis MN 506
First Universalist Church Minneapolis MN 801
UU Fellowship of Northfield Northfield MN 44
Unity Church – Unitarian Saint Paul MN 863
UU Church of Minnetonka Wayzata MN 199
White Bear UU Church Mahtomedi MN 618
First UU Church of Columbus Columbus OH 691
North UU Congregation Lewis Center OH 144
Delaware UU Fellowship Delaware OH 23
UU Congregation East Reynoldsburg OH 18
UU Fellowship of Yellow Springs Yellow Springs OH 82
UU Society of River Falls River Falls WI 83