remember_universalism.jpg (65169 bytes)The Leaders Guide to
REMEMBER UNIVERSALISM INTO LIFE

An Eight Week Adult Discussion Series for Unitarian Universalist Societies

by

The Reverend R. Nasemann
The Reverend Elizabeth M. Strong

Copyright Revised May 1993, NYSCU
Second Printing, January 1995

This publication was made possible through a grant from the New York State Convention of Universalists.


Leaders and Participants Information and Introduction

There are basic life questions for which humans seek answers and to which there are religious and ethical dimensions. Religions have posited answers to these questions throughout the centuries, and Unitarian Universalist faith practices have provided us with varying degrees of ability to find our own answers, and enable us to live our lives.

Participants will explore, through the Keynote addresses of the New York State Convention of Universalists, and historic Universalist statements of faith, ways to enable them to better answer these basic life questions.

The program thus offers an opportunity to understand Universalism's contribution to the Unitarian Universalist faith and an opportunity to explore one's own developing personal faith.

Each session is designed for a 2 hour time block. A time for a break and snack is suggested in the first session, and you may choose to include these in each of the sessions.

We suggest a team of leaders as this provides you with a greater ability to work with the different responses to the material, and to enable you to have a continuity of leadership if one leader needs to be away.

We suggest that you go through the entire program, and the reading before the sessions begin to familiarize yourself with all of the dimensions of the program. Newsprint, paper, magic markers, masking tape, a chalice, matches, a candle, pencils and/or chalk and chalkboard will be needed in most every session. We recommend that each participant have a folder in which to keep the handouts and writing from each session.

PARTICIPANTS WILL BE REQUIRED TO PURCHASE THE ADDRESSES AND TO HAVE READ THEM BEFORE THE SESSIONS IN WHICH THEY ARE USED.

Please be as flexible as you need to be in working with the suggested format and structure of the exercises. If you have fewer than 6 participants you may, for example, choose not to break into small groups for sharing. Some find the use of newsprint unhelpful, others find it very helpful; use your judgment after the experience of the first session. We have included several options for readings at the opening Chalice lighting time. Please use others if you choose.

The Participant's Packet is to be distributed at the time of registration for the class. In it we have included a brief history of Universalism, an overview of the program, a diagram of Universalist belief systems that are compared with Orthodox beliefs of the times and this Leader and Participant information page.


REMEMBER UNIVERSALISM INTO LIFE
AN ADULT DISCUSSION SERIES

TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION AND LEADERS INFORMATION ......................  i
OVERVIEW OF DISCUSSION SESSION ........................... iii
UNIVERSALIST HISTORY ......................................  v 
BELIEFS-UNIVERSALIST VS ORTHODOXY, EARLY 1900'S ........... ix
SESSION ONE ...............................................  1
    FAITH, HOPE, LOVE: UNIVERSALISM'S RESPONSE TO LIFE 
SESSION TWO................................................  6
    UNIVERSALIST THEOLOGICAL HISTORY 
SESSION THREE ............................................. 10
    UNIVERSALIST HISTORY 
SESSION FOUR .............................................. 14
    SALVATION: THEN AND NOW 
SESSION FIVE .............................................. 18
    EMPOWERMENT & MOTIVATION UNIVERSALIST STYLE 
SESSION SIX ............................................... 22
    ETHICS: WHAT IS REQUIRED OF US 
SESSION SEVEN ............................................. 26
    CHURCH: INSTITUTION & INDIVIDUAL-ON WHICH DO I RELY 
SESSION EIGHT ............................................. 30
    REMEMBER UNIVERSALISM INTO LIFE 

HANDOUTS 
1. SESSION 1: BASIC LIFE QUESTIONS ....................... 35
2. SESSION 2: UNIVERSALIST STATEMENTS OF FAITH ........... 36
3. SESSION 3: QUESTIONS FOR PARTICIPANTS ................. 40
4. SESSION 3: MATERIAL FOR LEADERS ....................... 41
5. SESSION 4: QUOTES ON SALVATION ........................ 43
6. SESSION 5: QUOTES ON MOTIVATION AND/OR EMPOWERMENT .... 44
7. SESSION 6: STORIES & STATEMENTS OF ETHICAL UNIVERSALISM 47
8. SESSION 6: SYNOPSIS & HIGHLIGHTS OF TWO PAPERS ........ 49
9. SESSION 7: CHURCH/INVDIVIDUAL BACKGROUND MATERIAL ..... 50
10. SESSION 8: A RESPONSIVE READING FROM THE 1982 GEN.ASSY.52


Remember Universalism Into Life by The Revs. Raymond R. Nasemann and Elizabeth M. Strong

Overview of Sessions

I. Introductory Session: Faith, Hope, Love: Universalism's Response to Life

Overview of program.
Exploration of life's essential questions in relation to Universalism: past and present
Papers by Gordon McKeeman, Christopher Raible, Peter Lee Scott

Goals of Session:
-To begin to understand how life's basic questions relate to the development of Universalism: past, present and future.
-To begin to learn the fundamental concepts of Universalism and how they relate to us.

II. Universalist Theological History

1. Universalist philosophy and theology
Papers by Dorothy Spoerl and Max Coots (Ellsworth Reamon optional)

Goals of Session:
-To learn how various historical forms of Universalism (Confessions, Professions, Bonds, Principles & Purposes) address and/or respond to basic life questions.
-To discover the fundamental concepts of Universalism and how they have changed throughout our history.

III. Universalist History

1. Historical Universalism
Papers by Cynthia Grant-Tucker and Brian Kopke

Goals of Session:
-To learn of the history and heritage of the Universalist Church of America.
-To explore our connection to that history and heritage.

IV. Salvation: Then and Now.

1. The traditional theology of salvation
2. A meaningful interpretation for today
Papers by Mark & Donna Morrison-Reed, Richard Gilbert (pages 81-84)

Goals of the Session:
-To learn about Universalism's historical belief in Universal Salvation.
-To develop definitions of salvation meaningful to us.

V. Empowerment and Motivation Universalist Style

1. Universalist theology and self understanding
Paper by Carolyn Owen-Towle

Goals of the Session:
-To gain a deeper understanding of our motivations. To increase our dimensions of empowerment.
-To connect with the understanding, motivation and empowerment in the Universalist tradition.

VI. Ethics: What Is Required of Us?

1. Ethical Universalism
Paper by Richard S. Gilbert pages 84 to end. 

Goals of the Session:
-
To explore the ethical implications of Universalism in our lives.
-To look at the sources of empowerment in ethical Universalism and in ourselves.
-To try to answer the question: What ought I to do?

VII. Church: Institutional/Political and the Individual

1. Institution and Individual, on which do I rely?
Papers by Forrest Church, Kenneth Patton and John Buehrens

Goals of the Session:
-To engage in dialogue with the issues of personal religious freedom within an institution.
-To engage in dialogue with the issues of institutional authority in religious life.

VIII. Remember Universalism Into Life

1. What is the essence of Universalism?
2. Faith and meaning: Am I A Universalist?
3. How am I answering the questions posed by my life?
4. How then do I remember Universalism into life?

Goals of the Session:
-To determine Universalism's message for me and for the world.
-To remember Universalism into life.


Universalist History

"In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the Universalist view ...made great strides. In Germany many Universalist groups expanded and further defined the Universalist doctrine. In 1759 in England, James Relly published 'Union,' which denied the Calvinistic doctrine of salvation for the few and claimed that all would be saved.

"John Murray, a follower of Relly, helped deliver the Universalist movement safely to the shores of America. In 1779 Murray occupied the pulpit of the Independent Christian Church of Gloucester, Massachusetts, which was the first organized Universalist church in America. Twenty-six years later the movement's greatest exponent, Hosea Ballou, articulated Universalist doctrine in his book, 'A Treatise On Atonement,' which sought to prove the doctrine of the trinity was unscriptural, and argued against miracles and the view of men and women as depraved creatures who would burn in hell.
"In 1785 a Universalist convention adopted a Charter of Compact which eventually evolved into the Universalist Church of America."
by Gary Provost in UUA Pamphlet, A Brief History of Unitarian Universalism

It was during the Great Awakening of the mid to late 1800's that Universalism's message of universal salvation, no hell and belief in a loving God swept across New England out into Ohio and south to Georgia. It grew in response to the Revival Camp meeting theology of preachers like Jonathan Edwards and Charles Chauncey, who sought conversion of depraved sinners dangling over the pits of hell in the hands of an angry God. Universalist preachers declared there was no hell, all were saved, and God was loving and forgiving, not angry, and that humanity was worthy of salvation.

Important Dates in Universalist History
from Universalist Bicentennial Celebration Newsletter #2

225 Origen, one of the Church Fathers, writes On First Principles, advocating a belief in universal salvation.
544   Belief in universal salvation proclaimed as a heresy by church council.
1315   The Lollards maintain a belief in universal salvation.
1637   Samuel Gorton, a pioneer of Christian Universalism, driven out of Massachusetts for his political and religious radicalism.
1703   Birth of George de Benneville, one of the leaders of American Universalism in London, England.
1740   High point of the Great Awakening (whose emotional excesses stimulated a desire for a more rational religion).
1741   John Murray, one of the leaders of American Universalism, born in Alton, England.
1741   de Benneville emigrates to Pennsylvania
1743   Christopher Sower, a Universalist Quaker, with the assistance of George de Benneville, prints the first Bible in America translated into the German language. Passages supporting the universal character of religion published in bold typeface.
1750   In England, James Relly establishes himself as an independent preacher of the doctrine of universal salvation.
1759   Union, a theological treatise on universal salvation by Relly, is published in London.
1770   John Murray arrives at Good Luck on Barnegat Bay, New Jersey. On September 30, Murray preaches his first sermon in America in the meeting house of farmer Thomas Potter.
1771   Birth of Hosea Ballou, great Universalist theologian, in Richmond, New Hampshire
1774   John Murray preaches in Gloucester, Massachusetts.
1778   Caleb Rich organizes the General Society (Universalist) to ordain ministers and issue preaching licenses.
1779   Gloucester Universalists organize the first Universalist Church in America.
1785   The first Universalist convention with delegates from churches held in Oxford, Massachusetts.
1786   Gloucester Universalists win the right not to be taxed by the state to support the established church.
1788   Murray wins the right for Universalists and other dissenting ministers to be recognized as ordained ministers with authority to perform marriages.
1790   The Philadelphia Convention of Universalists adopts a declaration of faith and a set of principles of social reform.
1793   General Convention of Universalists organized on September 4th at Oxford, Massachusetts, which under different names, continued down to the merger with the Unitarians in 1961.
1803   Winchester Profession of Faith adopted by Universalists at Winchester, New Hampshire.
1805   Hosea Ballou writes A Treatise On Atonement, a defense of universal salvation and also the first book published in America openly rejecting the doctrine of the Trinity.
1811   Maria Cook, generally considered the first woman to preach in Universalist pulpits, begins her work.
1819   The Universalists begin publishing a weekly paper under the name of The Universalist Magazine, which later became The Christian Leader. It has been published continuously until succeeded by the UU World.
1841   Adin Ballou founded the utopian Hopedale Community.
1843   A Universalist church established in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
1847   The Universalist General Reform Association is organized.
1852   Tufts College (now University), including Crane Theological School, is founded by Universalists at Medford, Massachusetts.
1856   Saint Lawrence University and Theological School founded by Universalists at Canton, New York.
1856   Children's Sunday started by the Universalist Church in Chelsea, Massachusetts.
1863   Ordination of Olympia Brown, first woman to be ordained by a denomination.
1869   Women's Centenary Association formed, later called the Association of University Women.
1870   Centennial celebration of Universalist church held in Gloucester, Massachusetts.
1884   Richard Eddy publishes his two volume history,
1886   Universalism In America.
1889   Joseph H. Jordan fellowshipped with the Universalists as the first black Universalist minister.
1889   Young People's Christian Union formed (later called the Universalist Youth Fellowship).
1890   Universalists begin a mission to Japan.
1891   Orello Cone became the foremost Universalist Biblical Scholar with the publication of his Gospel-Criticism and Historical Christianity.
1898   Isaac Morgan Atwood became the first General Superintendent of the Universalist Church.
1899   The Boston Declaration adopted at Boston, Massachusetts.
1904   Joseph Fletcher Jordan became the third fellowshipped black minister, and subsequently founded Jordan Neighborhood House in Norfolk, Virginia.
1913   The General Sunday School Association organized in Utica, New York.
1917   The Universalist General Convention adopts a Declaration of Social Principles written by Clarence R. Skinner.
1921   Universalist women acquire Clara Barton homestead and develop it into a camp for diabetic girls.
1935   Statement of Faith adopted by Universalists at Washington, D.C. called Bond of Fellowship
1945   The Universalist Service Committee organized.
1953   Liberal Religious Youth formed from a merger of the Universalist and Unitarian youth organizations.
1955   The Council of Liberal Churches organized merging the departments of publication, education and public relations of the Universalist and Unitarian Denominations.
1956   The Commission on Merger formed to examine feasibility of merging the two denominations.
1961   The Universalist Church of America and the American Unitarian Association officially consolidate and become the Unitarian Universalist Association.

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