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Tuesday, May 4, 2004

If I had a million dollars.

We're dreaming big dreams over at Coffee Hour, where Tom Schade asks what we'd do for Unitarian Universalism if we won the lottery. I'm amazed by a recurring theme in the responses so far:

Mark Brooks wants a seminary education for laypeople. (Ooh! I like the sound of that!) Scott Wells has a long list, but at the end he wants "locally-based lay training programs" that would train leaders of small congregations that can't afford a minister. And Chutney would give 3/7 of his jackpot to fund programs to help laypeople "ask themselves individually and corporately what UUism stands for and why that matters."

I pick up on these educational themes because Tom's question made me think immediately of the long-expired Unitarian Laymen's League, which functioned as an extra-denominational evangelism and service organization until the Unitarians and Universalists merged in 1961. The Laymen's League was responsible for the "Are You a Unitarian?" ad campaign in the post-war period; they sponsored preaching tours and special events to introduce Unitarianism to unfamiliar places; they even produced their own paperback hymnal (a condensed version of the AUA's official hymnal) for use at Laymen's League events. (If you know more about the history of this organization, I'd love to hear from you.)

If I stumbled onto millions of dollars, I'd send a good chunk to pay off the Philocrites family debt to Harvard Divinity School, and then I'd consider setting up something like a cross between the Laymen's League and the current Leadership Schools. In some districts the Leadership School retreats provide crucial theological, liturgical, and organizational leadership training for lay leaders. I'd love to see more programs like them all across the continent.

Copyright © 2004 by Philocrites | Posted 4 May 2004 at 6:37 PM

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