Deacons in The Universalist

The Universalist, one of the two national Universalist newspapers of the 1880s and 1890s, is available online and with searchable (if imperfect) text. It also gives a view from “the west” namely Chicago and Cincinnati. What does it say about deacons?

In one case, it speaks of a deacon who participated in the 1887 Universalist General Convention, but in the main, deacons appear in one of two ways:

  1. Elderly Universalist men, noted in an obituary.
  2. As a stock character in an entertaining, but hard-boiled tale. (One time, we get a deacon’s wife with a switch ending.) The deacon — an older, established and respected or feared man — has rigid or misplaced morals that place him or the ones he loves in harm’s way. I get a sense that these deacons aren’t Universalist, but they are so broadly drawn that who knows?

I like a soap opera as much as the next person, but it’s not the ecclesiology I was looking for, so I’ll leave further reading to interested parties.

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