Churches marking the Winchester Profession

Ever ready to comb the Internet for what people are saying about all matters Universalist, I’ve noted the following churches will be having Winchester Profession themed services this year.

September 14

All Souls Church, Unitarian Universalist, West Brattleboro, Vermont . The Rev. Barbro Hansson, minister.

September 21

Unitarian Universalist Church of Medford, Massachusetts. The Rev. Hank Peirce, minister. (Hank is also a friend, and he and his wife Rebecca attended my wedding. I feel cooler just knowing them.)

September 28

Holston Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, Gray, Tennessee. The Rev. Barry Whittmore, minister. (And Barry’s a friend, too. A theme emerging.)

November 26

First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville, Tennessee. The Rev. Mary Katherine Morn, minister. (We used to be in the same district.)

More to be added as I find them.

Hurricane day

hurricane flag

I can tell the hurricane is coming. I tried to turn off the window fan in the kitchen; it wasn’t on, but the wind was blowing cold air in from outside. My sinuses are throbbing; the barometer is obviously dropping.

Call this entry my hurricane day journal until if-and-when the power goes out.

I am actually excited about the hurricane, less any damage it does. Spent much of my early childhood in New Orleans, so this isn’t my first hurricane, unlike some of my worried neighbors. A good day to read Psalm 148. Or Psalm 107:23-47 and spare a little prayer for the Coast Guard.

1300 ET. Cloudy, windy, light rain. Went up to the roof to take pictures. Will post later.

1408 ET. Amid my other work, I found a Universalist hymn appropriate to the occasion. See “continue reading” for a hymn “During or after a Great Storm” by Universalist minister Edwin Hubble Chapin. More ibuprofen, tea, and hot towels for the sinuses.

1753 ET. More wind, and steady rain. The lights flicker, and after talking to church members in the area, it seems that we can look forward to a minimum of intermittent outages.

1814 ET. Another liturgical gift: one of the “Special Prayers at Sea” from the Universalist prayerbook, The Gospel Liturgy. I can easily imagine this little suffrage being used aboard ship in times of distress.
Continue reading “Hurricane day”

Ordination hymns

In the last entry, Derek Parker [blog is extinct, 14 April 2005] mentions an ordination hymn in the comments.

This is a good place to do a little hymnological archaeology. For my own ordination, at Canon, Georgia, I looked up the meeting of the second Georgia Universalist Convention in 1839 the proceedings were published in a paper, later preserved on microfilm, in case you want to do the same where a minister was ordained: the first in northeast Georgia, and the earliest for which we have a detailed record. From that, I discovered what was sung there, and used it in my service (text in “continue reading”).

But I haven’t yet found the hymn Derek cites (despite my rather good collection of Universalist hymnals) but the text is in common meter, so finding a decent tune is duck soup. (My ordination’s hymn is in long meter, so I applied Duke Street “Unto thy Temple Lord We Come to it.)

As for gender exclusive ordination hymns (with respect to the ordinand) I have seen at least one nineteeth-century hymn (written, fwiw, by Universalist minister Edwin Hubble Chapin) that put the male pronouns in italics, which I suppose it to prompt substitution. Whether the substitution is to a plural (for multiple ordinations at State Conventions, as was often the practice) or to accomodate the ordination of women, I cannot say.

If I find anything more, I’ll add it here.
Continue reading “Ordination hymns”

Hymns for the Winchester Profession bicentennial

If you come to Universalist National Memorial Church this Sunday, you’ll see the following in the order of service (or something like it)

The Universalist General Convention and First Universalist Church, Washington (Church of Our Father), this church’s predecessor, held Winchester Profession Centennial observances in October 1903. The first and third hymns this morning were the two hymns selected for that occasion.

The first hymn is still in our hymnal, Hymns of the Spirit, and is based on Tennyson’s poem. Read Strong Son of God at (Here we sing it to Orlando Gibbon’s tune Song 5.)

The second is rare, and not in common usage today, and comes from the hand of Universalist Abel C. Thomas, Thou, whose wide extended sway. To see the text, click “continue reading.” The tune used in 1903 was Brannockburn; the meter is the odd, so I’ll need to see if we have any options.
Continue reading “Hymns for the Winchester Profession bicentennial”

Mrs. Gaskell's church

Time flies, blog entries grow stale, and unless new entries are made, Movable Type will empty the blog in what seems to be a very short time. I’ve noticed that most [Unitarian | Universalist] blogs are a bit spare this week.

So, back to Matthew Gatheringwater’s blog. [Defunct; quite a loss.] He refers to English Unitarian Elizabeth Gaskell.

Her church is pastored today by the Rev. Alex Bradley, also the Honorary Secretary of the Unitarian Christian Association, mentioned heretofore, and they have a church website [gone].

It is a small fellowship.

Gatheringwater's experience

Matthew Gatheringwater doesn’t have TrackBack, so this will have to do to respond to his rather harrowing tale, entitled, “My bus fare and Jesus.” That, and it has been four days since I’ve made an entry, and don’t want to seem to have gone AWOL.

In short, our writer, in south Chicago at night (like ER?) explained that three young men were fit to rob him. Gatheringwater writes his response, “‘I’m sorry,’ I said, with surprising confidence, ‘All I’ve got is my bus fare and Jesus.'”

Then his coda: “Where did that come from?” He says . . . well, go read it, and come back.

Welcome back.

Wow, yes (like the other commenters said) and now what to do with it? I doubt the “welcoming party” backed off because with no apologies to John Wesley of their hearts were “strangely warmed.” After all, Pharoah had a hard heart but was forced to act when he saw the signs Moses worked woth God’s power. And a minister has God’s power, bidden or not, like it or not. If the ministerial formation process fails to impress this, it hasn’t worked. I do admit I’m not sure how this works for non-theists, but that’s for them to work out.

But let’s press this a bit farther. If you will excuse a small vulgarity, God can be a bad-ass sometimes, and perhaps more often than our usual liberal church image of God as the Heavenly Park Service Officer. You know, “I find God in beauty.” “I find God in nature.” and so forth.

Now how did they know M.G. was, if not ordained, then at least moving in that direction? A white guy in the south side? Perhaps, but I’d like to put out there that the “Jesus and bus fare” comment unleashed a power that demanded recognition. I’ll leave that there, and may pick it up some other day.

But this demand and responsibilty of power cuts both ways. I can’t help but think that the clerical sex scandals are due in part to receiving the power granted by God and (sometimes) recognized in society, but not respecting God and the persons God had made. These priests not only betrayed the people, but they betrayed God, and I cannot begin to comprehend the depth of that alienation. But, I’ll also lay that aside for the moment, and hope that readers here and at Gatheringwater will continue writing, thinking, and praying on these things.

"If it's not love, then it's the bomb that will bring us together"

The ever-dear Suburban Blight made me think, in putting me in her Cul-de-Sac, that though this is a special purpose blog, it needn’t be so serious and dull. (But bless her heart, while I sometimes feel like a YR here in Babylon-on-the-Potomac, she can still make me look like a lefty and realize I like being inside the Beltway.)

When we first met, at the University of Georgia‘s Demosthenian Society I may have been serious, but not nearly so dull.

Ah, where is the lad who had a hissy fit/debate (with one of SB’s former roommates, and fellow Demosthenian) over whether the United States should recognize Lithuanian sovereignty? (I was pro; she thought it unwise to agitate the Soviets. Seems I got the last laugh on that, and still smile thinly when I walk to the store, pass the Lithuanian embassy.)

To continue the flashback to the late 80s: This morning, before getting to work, I decided to partition my hard drive, and install Mandrake Linux. Listening to the Smiths, from which the title of this entry comes.

So back to the mission of this blog, and something that nobody talks about, but I suspect has affected my vocation, and that of others about the same age (34).

If you’ve been waiting for the point, it’s here.

Did you think you’d survive to adulthood, or, perhaps, did you think you were going to die in a nuclear apocalypse? Most of my adolescence, I was convinced we were doomed. An echo of that is my keen awareness that the 9/11 anniversary is coming.

In 2001, when the events really happened, I was a mess.
In 2002, I was just tired of it.
In 2003, I have enough distance to realize it really still bothers me, and touches on old feelings.

Then as now, I sometimes refer to my church being “within the vaporization zone” as it is within a close walk to the White House, and I hate feeling like that.

Good book to get

Facilitating Paradox mentions his current inspiration in Justo Gonzalez’s The Story of Christianity (vol. 1). (Hear that Jim?)

I know “the Gonzalez” (as we always called it) is a classic textbook, and that it serves a particular function, but for my money and shelf space, I’m more partial to Linwood Urban’s A Short History of Christian Thought — “short” meaning compact, not cursory.

It isn’t the lightest of reading, but nearly every page has a topic that would stand alone, say, for a study group, and so it would be worth having for any serious lay student of Christian theology. Or, put another way, “If I could have only one book on the subject …”

It isn’t cleap new (lists at $31.95 for paperback) but it can be had for less than $4 if you get it used at places like

Two more for the blogosphere

Everyone welcome the two new bloggers new in that they have their own private blogs at

Watch and Pray, a.k.a. Derek Parker, and

Humble Parson, a.k.a. Steve Cook.

1/1/2005 Neither are active any more.