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Sunday, February 5, 2006

A Universalist heritage center in Winchester, N.H.

The Winter 2006 issue of the New Massachusetts Universalist Convention Newsletter – not online, unfortunately – features an unflattering critique of the new UUA logo. (Richard Trudeau calls it the "flaming birdbath" and writes: "The UUA's previous logo, for all its problems, at least made an attempt – by placing the chalice off-center – to acknowledge that our heritage is more than Unitarianism alone. The new logo says simply: we're Unitarian." Hmm.) But I'm more interested in a document that arrived with the newsletter announcing an opportunity to establish a Universalist Heritage Center in Winchester, New Hampshire, where in 1803 the Universalists adopted the statement of faith that defined Universalism throughout the nineteenth century.

The only online description of the project is in the January 2006 report from the UUA district staff to the board of trustees [pdf], which says:

"We have a dream — of a Universalist Heritage Foundation." The church in Winchester, NH, site of the historic Universalist document, "The Winchester Profession of Faith," has in recent decades been owned by the United Church of Winchester, a UCC and Universalist federated congregation. The United Church of Winchester has decided to sell the Universalist structure. On the deed, the NH/VT District has the right of first refusal for purchase of the building. The handsome brick building is in excellent condition and is assessed at nearly one million dollars. The United Church of Winchester, in an extraordinary gesture of generosity, has offered to sell it to the district for just $18,000, much of which they will re-invest in our proposed Universalist Heritage Foundation. We have already received commitments for more than $14,000.

The vision is for the building to become a Universalist Heritage Center, and the starting point of a Universalist Heritage Trail with visits to Hosea Ballou's nearby birthplace, Ballou family graves, and several significant historic Universalist churches in that corner where Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire come together. A NH/VT District group called The Winchester Universalist Explorers is gathering a broad coalition of interested individuals and forming an independent non-profit corporation to carry this vision forward. This group will launch a capital campaign in the near future to fund renovations, startup and staffing costs, and to build an endowment to sustain this project.

You can reach the coordinating committee by writing to Winchester Universalist Explorers, c/o New Hampshire–Vermont District of the UUA, 41A South State Street, Concord NH 03301. I hope we'll hear more about this.

Copyright © 2006 by Philocrites | Posted 5 February 2006 at 2:35 PM

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