UCC getting the Universalists anyway

That’s a bit tongue in cheek. I’m recalling the 1920s proposed merger of the Congregational churches and the Universalist Church. The Universalists got cold feet at what would have been a virtual absorption. The Congos went to merge with the “Christians” (a part of the American movement that includes the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)) and then to the Evangelical and Reformed Church, and the Universalists went off to the Unitarians.

Well, I’ve noted how the United Church of Christ has been adding already-existing churches. Two are noteworthy.

  • Higher Dimensions Family Church, of Tulsa, Oklahoma. This is the charismatic church led by Carlton Peason, known for his theological universalism. (Previous blog post)
  • Church of the Universal Fellowship, of Orono, Maine. This is a Congregationalist-Universalist local merger that was for a long time independent. (I believe it does and has had some kind of contact with the Northeast District, UUA.)

3 Replies to “UCC getting the Universalists anyway”

  1. Church of Universal Fellowship does have membership in the Northeast District, but not in the UUA. This may be a legacy of Universalist polity.

    There are other Universalist heritage churches in the UCC in Bristol, NY; I think Beverly, Mass; Sycamore, IL and Avon, IL. Many of these the product of Congregational-Universalist flirtations with denominational merger, that still produced local merger.

    As an aside, when I served a Universalist church in rural Ohio there were still a few VERY elderly people who remember the talk of merger with the Congregationalists, and still said they would have preferred it to the Unitarians. But I suspect that there were my Trinitarian Universalists in the flock. This was the kind of church that considered Universal Salvation mandatory doctrine, and Unitarianism “optional theological speculation”.

  2. Speaking of mergers and history, et al, Lyle Schaller’s latest book, From Cooperation to Competition, has a lot of fascinating statistics and analysis (of course!) about the era of the mergers (in some ways from the 30s to the early 80s) and the more recent and continuing era of you might say de-merging. It wasn’t good for growth or at least a case could be made that it kept the merged groups from being able to respond to culture shifts more quickly and also to plant more. Will be interesting to see how these additions to UCC, for example, might spur on some de-merging. By the way Carlton’s church is now known as New Dimensions and his new website is http://www.newdimensions.us. I will post some more soon from the Schaller book on my blog

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