John Murray, 1741-1815

The “father of American Universalism” died this day in 1815 in Boston. Much to much to do today to give him full homage, so a couple of links will have to do.
John Murray
image courtesy UUA

His entry at reminded me of a basic fact:

He was chaplain to the Rhode Island brigade that was encamped before Boston in 1775, and was on intimate terms with several of its officers, including Nathanael Greene and James Varnum, who united in petitioning Washington to permit him to remain in that capacity, when the rest of the chaplains urged his removal.

escended in my father’s line from some Rhode Island patriots (who were Sabbatarian Baptist) and one of my ancestors was named Varnum, for the general. Perhaps one of my ancestors heard or knew Murray. A nice thought, anyway.

I’m also glad to see the (online) Dictionary of Unitarian Universalist Biography has a new entry on George deBenneville even though it is missing one for either of the Murrays.

A young adult ministry

Here at the office following an amazing experience. Four college-aged persons arrived unannounced at the church door, wanting a tour. They were from the Columbia, Maryland suburb, and one of the four knew about Unitarian Universalism. (Her parents had been married in a San Francisco Bay area UU church.)

They were interested and keen, especially when the talk moved from the architectural to the theological. (We have a John Murray memorial window, and I tell his landing story, with the “Not hell, but hope and courage” ancedote.)

Seems they are part of a collegiate ministry to the city, and they wanted to pray with me for the church, my ministry, “that you Father might send [me] a new word” and the city.

They were positive, affirming, and open for us to participate in the ministry to disadvantaged children in a local park. I liked these people, and they seemed to appreciate an open door.

But there’s another lesson here: connections — and especially the ecumenical contact that so many Unitarian Universalist Christians crave — will follow the same rules as the post-Constantinian church. The connections will be lateral and personal. (Not unlike this blog.)

We don’t have to wait to be welcomed by the ecumenically-assertive denominations (indeed, it may never happen) but contact may be as close as the front door.

Open inquiries

So, there are two lines of thought I’ll be following in the next few months, and both have practical sides.

  • What is the purpose and meaning of confirmation?
  • On what basis would a newly constituted Universalist Christian church be founded?


Church websites using MT

Following up on some earlier comments: I got the idea for using Movable Type for the church website from Heal Your Church Website � the newest entry is a suggestion on what to do in lieu of an “under construction” church webpage � whose owner does it for his own church, Redland Baptist Church, Rockville, Maryland, in the suburbs.

I’m amazed how few churches use this powerful tool for church website. Indeed, when I made a Google search last week to get ideas back home, I noticed there were more bloggers named Church, or mock churches, or even church camping and youth groups that used Movable Type than churches themselves.

Even funnier, I noticed that many of the few that did use MT were of the “church of Christ” variety, the “Restorationists” who are the Disciples of Christ’s conservative kin. These are the people who won’t use musical instruments in worship because they’re not mentioned in the New Testament, but (as a Disciples seminary classmate pointed out) will definitely use electricity (and Movable Type) without biblical warrant. (“Restorationist” is a term also used within Mormon and Universalist traditions, meaning different things in each case.)

Only two of the other MT using churches have sites worth mentioning, so for your convenience:

  • St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, Washington, D.C. (just a couple of miles from UNMC)
  • Higgins Lake Baptist Church, which loses points for not making it obvious where it is. (Higgins Lake, Michigan, it turns out.)

14 October 2003. Since porn sites seem to spam from this entry, I’ve closed the comments