The anniversary of Merger Day, May 12, 1961
Classic Music from 1961. Remember this was before Elvis and The Beatles changed music forever!
Early History – Who were we?
The two greatest leaders in the early 19th century, Universalist Hosea Ballou and Unitarian William Ellery Channing, lived within easy walking distance of each other and had prominent Boston ministries that overlapped for 24 years, yet they apparently never met professionally or socially, even though they certainly knew of each other. Thus it was that the two religions were separated, too.
Early Universalist preachers were often self-educated and generally preferred to roam the countryside, speaking to small groups about their loving God. Unitarian ministers of that era all came through the gates of Harvard and became the intellectual and social aristocracy of Boston.
The Humanist Movement brought us together
Meanwhile, religious humanism had taken steadily stronger root out west, and 1933 was a significant year in its development. Unitarian ministers Curtis Reese and John Dietrich led that movement toward ever greater visibility and understanding, with eventual publication in 1933 of the influential document “A Humanist Manifesto.” From that point on, the Unitarian context sponsored a very active humanist perspective affirming that our human experience and reason in this world can be the locus of truth and morality. There were also Universalist ministers signing on to the Humanist Manifesto, signaling a growing coherence between them and the Unitarians.
We honor our creative youth who merged before the adult Unitarian and Universalists did.
We honor and celebrate the creative, responsive youth who saw the sense in combining the Unitarian and Universalist congregations.
In 1954, after several years of joint conferences, the separate Unitarian and Universalist youth organizations disbanded to form Liberal Religious Youth (LRY), with a college-age program called the Channing Murray Foundation (named after the acknowledged founder of each denomination). The LRY Hymn #318, “We Would Be One” (written by Sam Wright, one of the first leaders of LRY), remains in our hymnal as a testimony to the sentiment for merger:
“We would be one in building for tomorrow
a nobler world than we have known today.
We would be one is searching for that meaning
which binds our hearts and points us on our way”
Who are we now?
We are Unitarian Universalists
And so the seeking continues as our living tradition morphs into a new expression…
We look into the past and into the future. We ask ourselves
Have we brought the best of each forward?
Have we protected that which was precious about each?
Have we lived the covenantal moment that was the merger?
Make Rainbow Jello