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Heritage and history groups sponsor conference together

'History and Heritage Convocation' unites four independent organizations.
By Christopher L. Walton
Spring 2011 2.15.11

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Several organizations committed to the study of Unitarian Universalist history collaborated this past fall to sponsor a “His­tory and Heritage Convocation,” the first time the groups have sponsored a conference together.

The convocation, which drew approximately seventy people to a conference center in Waltham, Massachusetts, October 8–10, 2010, was sponsored by Partners in Unitarian Universalist History and Heritage, a council formed in 2009 by four independent organizations: the UU Historical Society, the Universalist Heritage Foundation, the UU Women’s Heritage Society, and the UU Religious Education History Group. Collegium, an organization of UU religion scholars, jointly held its annual conference in the same location on October 7–8. The UU Funding Panel provided financial support.

The Rev. Barbara Coeyman, a trustee of the Historical Society, said the history and heritage organizations had started talking about working more closely together after the UUA Board of Trustees redefined and eventually eliminated the status of “independent affiliate organizations.” Each group retains its independence, but they are sharing exhibit space at General Assembly and plan to sponsor future events together.

Historian Kathleen R. Parker, the author of Here We Have Gathered: The Story of Unitarian Univer­salism in Western Pennsylvania, 1808-2008 (First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh, 2010; available from ohiomeadville.org) and newly named editor of the Journal of Unitarian Universalist History, encouraged research into neglected areas of our past. “Of thirty-four major works [in the Journal] in the last ten years,” she said during a plenary session, “only one was about a female minister; two were about African Americans; only two were about the West.”

Copies of the papers presented at the conference are available online. Topics included the influence of Universalism on Mormonism’s founder Joseph Smith, the demographics of Universalism in New York, the history of the UUA’s About Your Sexuality curriculum, and Olympia Brown’s feminism.

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