Interesting worship tidbit from Chicago

This is a follow-up from that post about posts that I intended to get around to — so I’ll keep this brief and get it out the door. Last June, I noted that two more Universalist worship books appeared at Google Books.

St. Paul's Universalist Church, Chicago 1927 builiding
St. Paul's Universalist Church, Chicago 1927 builiding. Now a school. Photo: reallyboring (Flicker, BY-NC-SA Creative Commons license)

One, from 1891, is from the then long-defunct St. Paul’s Universalist Church in Chicago. The interesting thing is its use of creeds and a catechism, which I doubt much impressed the “Western” Unitarians headquartered in the same city.

The answer to the first question of the catechism anticipated the Universalist “Five Points” Declaration adopted by the Universalist General Convention, meeting in 1899 in Boston, but proposed at the 1897 convention in . . . Chicago. It reads:

I believe in one God, the Creator of all things, and the Father of mankind; in Jesus Christ his Son, who is the true Teacher, Example and Saviour of men; in the Holy Spirit, the Comforter; in the certainty of retribution; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of all men from the dead; and their final holiness and happiness in the immortal life.

And as for creeds, the worship book included two biblical ascriptions, the Apostles’ and Nicene Creed.


7 Replies to “Interesting worship tidbit from Chicago”

  1. Aside from the stated belief in universal salvation, it would appear that most late 19th-century Universalists were no more liberal theologically than most of their Congregational counterparts. That said, however, the proposed Universalist-Congregational merger of the early 20th century would probably have been nixed by the conservative wing of the Congregationalists. Too bad: it would have made a whole lot more sense than the Unitarian-Universalist merger.

  2. I do not think that late 19th century Universalism should be described as illiberal, even though it runs against the grain of what many contemporary UU’s would describe as liberal. I would say that it was liberal in a different mode of liberal religion – a liberal, small-c catholic Christianity.

    As for the merger with the Congregationalists – when I was serving a rural Universalist church, we still had a large minority in the congregation who thought they should have joined the Congregationalists and then the United Church of Christ. In some sense, I bet their roots were in that hidden liberal mode of left-wing catholicity.

  3. Ahhhmmmm… not really defunt. St Pauls left the building on the Midway (St Paul’s on the Midway) for a Church at 66th and Blacktsone in 1939 or 40 and eventually ended up in a archeticually significant Church built in 1955 at 86th and Ingleside. sometime in the 1970s they merged with the Unitarian All Souls Free Relgious Fellowship. At somepoint in the 90s they left the building at 86th and Ingleside and now meet at the West Chesterfield Community center off 95th street (about equidistant from Rev Wrights TUCC and Rev Meeks Salem Bapitist mega Church). They have a facebook page and I’ve attended services and have met the “Universalist” sides of the Fellowship.

    I asked what their plans were and was told they want more members with kids, and a building of their own on the near west or south sides of Chicago.

    St Paul’s originally Chicago’s First Universalist so the names Change but I think today’s All Souls can clam a link to one of Chicago’s first Churches. They don’t plan on going away either.

  4. Well, that’s a mercy. Sometimes a congregation will just get absorbed — like Ballou’s old church in Boston, into Arlington Street — so this is a happier ending, even if the congregation is so small today.

  5. Hi All from All Souls Free Religious Fellowship–Successor to St. Paul’s on the Midway–

    We are still in business. Reports of our death are greatly exaggerated, but could become true if we can’t reproduce ourselves as congregants. We enjoy a supportive fellowship and live by UU principles. Join us on a Sunday morning and continue the discussion of the urgent necessity of maintaining a UU presence in organized religion.

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