Merger of Atlanta’s Universalists and Unitarians 1918

by Digital Archivist

Summary

In 1918, the Universalists and Unitarians in Atlanta officially merged their congregations to form the Liberal Christian Church. The combined congregations adopted the Unitarian church at 301 West Peachtree Street (later 669 West Peachtree Street) as their spiritual home.

This local Atlanta meager pre-dates the official union of the Universalists and Unitarians in 1961. That merger combined the Universalist Church of America founded in 1793, and the American Unitarian Association founded in 1825. After consolidating in 1961, these faiths joined to form the Unitarian Universalist Association.

Yet, nearly four decades before this formal merger the Universalists and Unitarians of Atlanta elected to join in common cause. Why did the Atlanta religious faith communities merge?

Unfortunately, original church records at the time of this merger appear lost to history. Per a report commissioned by the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) prior to their demolition of the West Peachtree church building “organizational records for the Unitarian Church for the period 1915 to 1948 when the congregation occupied the structure in question . . . were destroyed in a fire at a member’s house in the late 1940s.”

Merger of the Atlanta religious communities had been discussed earlier in 1908. In that year, the American Unitarian Association (A.U.A.) implored Atlanta Unitarians to merge with the local Universalists. In a letter dated Apr 23, 1908 from the president of the A.U.A., Rev. Samuel Eliot to the pastor of the Unitarian Church in Atlanta noted, “This seems to me a question of ‘unite or die’.” The Unitarians voted not to merge at that time. Research is underway to understand the Universalists point-of-view.

American Unitarian Association Called for Merger

Merge for the war effort.

At a meeting of the Board of Directors of the American Unitarain Association (A.U.A.) on December 11, 1917 a resolution was adopted citing the desirability of churches to merge for the winter or the duration of the war (e.i., World War I).  The resolution stated that:

“Whereas it is desirable that the churches should at this time set an example of economy in the use of men and money,–

“Resolved, That the Directors of the Association recommend that the churches give careful consideration to the possibilities of federation and combination for the winter or for the duration of the war. Experience in the federation of churches of similar or even different traditions has demonstrated that it is possible to reconcile denominational loyalty with local unity, efficiency and economy.”

In an article in the December 20, 1917 edition of The Christian Register entitled Winning the War in the Churches in which the resolution appeared, the president of  A.U.A. Rev. Samuel Eliot argued that churches should consider the economics of trade, for example, when considering maintaining their separate churches.

“If the trade of that town of five thousand souls and twelve churches were conducted in the way its religious interests are administered there would be a dozen grocery stores where three are enough, and every store would have a cheap and adulterated stock and be upon the brink of bankruptcy.”

The argument for merger of churches during the war effort was summed up with a cutting statement. “The waste involved in superfluous churches is obvious.”

President Eliot shared the objective of the A.U.A. directors as:

The combinations that the Directors have in mind in their recommendation are, first, temporary mergers of adjacent, non-liturgical churches of similar traditions but of different allegiances; and, second, the union of neighboring Unitarian churches in the employment of one minister where two are now meagrely sustained.

Odd bedfellows were noted by Eliot such as the merger of the Unitarian Church and the Trinitarian Congregational churches in Uxbridge, MA.  It appears that this message of merge was heard by the leadership of the Unitarian and Universalist churches in Atlanta.

Announcement of War Time Merger

In the Atlanta papers on Saturday, February 23, 1918, a notice appeared stating that:

The Unitarian and Universalists of Atlanta will meet in public worship at the Unitarian Church, 301 West Peachtree street, tomorrow morning at 11 o’clock.  This is the first meeting under a temporary merger of the two congregations which is planned to last for the duration of the war.  Rev. T.B. Fisher, the retiring minister of the Universalist church, will preach on “The Larger Destiny.”  All friends are cordially invited.

Given the language of the announcement “for the duration of the war” one can conclude that the resolution of the America Unitarian Association and Rev. Eliot’s argument for war time merger influenced this decision by Atlanta’s Unitarians and Universalists.

Were there other factors that inclined the churches to merge?

A review of the limited number of church records and a survey public record published in the Atlanta papers was conducted to determine the reason(s) behind this merger.

Unitarian Church

The Unitarians built their church building only three years earlier in 1915.  The minister at the dedication of the building, Rev. J. Wade Conkling,  sang the hymn of dedication of the Founders’ Windows honoring the first Unitarian minister of Atlanta, Rev. George Leonard Chaney and his wife Carolina.  By all indications, regular Sunday service were conducted under Rev. Conkling’s ministry until his resignation in spring 1917.

Rev. J. Wade Conkling resigned his pastorate to join the US Army as an artillery captain. He was later killed in France in October 1918 just a three – four weeks before the conclusion of the Great War. His death, however,  occurred months before the merge with Atlanta’s Universalists and clearly had no impact on merger discussions.

After Rev. Conkling’s resignation, the pulpit at the Unitarian church was inconsistently filled until November 1917 when it was announced that Rev. Ralph E. Conner of Massachusetts would fill pulpit “until the new minister, Rev. George Kent, of New Orleans, arrives.”

Rev. Kent never appeared and Rev. Conner left the Atlanta church two months later in early January 1918.  Rev. Walter Samuel Swisher then filled the pulpit and oversaw the merger of the churches.

Although there was an “open” pulpit at the Unitarian church, an open pulpit situation was not a rare occurrence for the church.

The only first hand account of the situation within the Unitarian church at the time is found in a February 28, 1918 article by Rev. Conner in the Christian Register that appears to have been written and submitted for publication prior to the announcement of merger.

Rev. Conner noted that the Unitarian church had recently conducted a fundraising drive and cleared the $1,850 debt owed on the organ.  Other bills had been paid leaving the church a balance of $1,000 in the bank.  Membership numbers were up. The Women’s Alliance reorganized with Mrs. Edward T. Ware, wife of the president of Atlanta University, as its cultured and efficient president.

Although this Archivist is accustom to reading “rosy” pictures published in the Christian Register, the account by Rev. Conner nonetheless appears to paint a picture of a rather stable Unitarian congregation in Atlanta.

Rev. Conner also made note of merger discussions within the two churches.

A movement was also started that is likely to result in the co-operation of the Unitarians and Universalists. Both organizations voted favorably for it during the period of the war, but it is hoped that the result will be permanent.

One clue regarding merger was found in Rev. Conner’s article.  Rev. Conner implied that there was a general observation of religious facility “over building” in Atlanta by liberal denominations.   Rev. Conner pointed out that the Atlanta Congregational church was built for 700, but had attendance of less than 100.

Organic southern growth for the Unitarians or Universalists or other liberal denominations from Rev. Conner’s perspective appeared problematic.  As Rev. Conner stated, “Congregationalism, Universalism and Unitarianism are not indigenous to the soil” of the South. Rev. Conner added, “The Congregational church had not one Southern family on its membership roles.”

Rev. Conner further observed that:

“The Universalist pastor corroborated the statement for his church and the acting minister of the Unitarian church could bear the same witness. One parent of the family might be Southerner, but the other is certain to hail from the North.”

Merger may have been a mechanism to achieve sufficient size and scale to survive in the deep South.

Universalist Church

Less information is known of the Universalists.

The pastorate of the Universalist church had been rather stable with the Rev. T.B. Fisher assuming the ministry from Rev. John Rowlett in October 1916. This ministerial transition appeared planned.  Rev. Rowlett resigned his pastorate to become the Universalist Superintendent of Georgia.

Although Rev. Fisher was retiring, pastorate transition at the Universalist church had been rather stable since the re-establishment of the Universalists in Atlanta in 1895.  The Universalists erected their church edifice in 1900.  Sunday services, per public announcements in the Atlanta papers, appeared to have been held regularly right up to the time of the merger.

The last public notice of a service at Universalist church on East Harris Street by Rev. T.B. Fisher was on January 5, 1918.

United Universalists and Unitarians

Rev. Swisher, who was the acting pastor of the Unitarian church,  presided over five joint services and then departed Atlanta in April 1918.

The vacant pulpit of the united church was initially filled by Rev. T. B. Fisher. For several weeks, other guest speakers supplied the pulpit including Methodist ministers during the weeks the Methodists were holding their convention in Atlanta. It is during this period of rotating ministers supplying the pulpit that the united Universalists and Unitarians adopt the name the Liberal Christian Church in July 1918.

In September 1918, with a fair amount of fanfare in the Atlanta papers, it was announced the Unitarian Rev. Frank Oliver Hall, of New York, would be the new minister of the Liberal Christian Church.

The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia)  Fri, Sep 6, 1918 · Page 6

The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia)
Fri, Sep 6, 1918 · Page 6

An article in the Atlanta papers on September 6, 1918 announced in part:

“In order to establish a real, live church in the place of two which have not been as active as they might have been, the Unitarians and Universalists have consolidated and formed one large permanent church.”

The article continued and announced:

“Dr. Frank Oliver Hall, of New York City will be the new pastor.  He is one of the leading ministers of the country, and one of the highest salaried pastors in the city of New York. He will fill the pulpit next Sunday morning and it is expected that a very large congregation will greet him.”

Rev. Hall preached a handful of sermons at the church and then departed Atlanta by the end of September. No explanation is provided why he departed Atlanta in the public media.

In mid-October the church building used by the Unitarians and Universalists was closed for two weeks by the Health Department. No information has been found regarding this situation, but with the announcement and then departure of Rev. Hall the operation of the joint church may have lost its short-term footing.

However, by the end of October 1918, Rev. G.I. Keirn, recently from the Universalist mission in Japan, began preaching at the Liberal Christian Church. Rev. Keirn maintained the pastorate of the Liberal Christian Church until his death in October 1922.

Conclusion

Why did Atlanta Unitarians and Universalist merge in 1918?   No “smoking gun” conclusion has yet been determined.  The liberal churches clearly had common cause in the deeply orthodox religious South.  War efforts may have caused general shortages, drained financial generosity and gave rise to a “call to action” based on  sense of patriotism.

Merger may have been simply a pragmatic response to the need to achieve a sufficient base or scale of congregrants to support a church building, minister’s salary and church operations in the very religiously un-friendly South.

There is just too little information to draw a clear conclusion.

Why did the merger continue after the war?

Again no “smoking gun” conclusion has yet been determined.  It does appear that the two churches had an honest affection for the members among themselves.  Dinners were held to help the two congregations merge together.  Nor has any indication been found that merger was seen as “temporary.”  Rather it appears the combined church saw the merger as permanent and long-lasting.

A year after the merger in January 1919, for example, the women’s groups at the church (Universalist – Women’s Mission Circle, Unitarian  Woman’s Alliance) merged to form a new group called the Woman’s Union.  In the hand-written meeting book recording the inagural meeting of this new group UNION was spelled out in capital letters.

By 1920, the Universalist church building on East Harris Street was sold and the money placed in an endowment fund for the combined church.

In the 1930’s the church was widely referred to in public announcements and in its Sunday order of service as the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Atlanta.

This combined Unitarian – Universalist church, however, collapsed in the late 1940’s over issues of racial segregation  and fears the liberal church was being seen in the public eye as sympathetic to leftist thinking in a time of heightened concern over the spread of Communism.

Summary of Services and Public Notices for 1918

The data below is complied from a review of contemporary newspaper articles at this time.

 

Date Description
Jan 5, 1918 Unitarian service at West Peachtree Street church – Large ad appears in the Atlanta paper stating, The Unitarian Church. (301 West Peachtree Street). 11:00 am Rev. Ralph E. Conner preaches upon “Calling on the Reserves.” Reception of New Members. Dedication of Service Flag. We do not all agree to think alike, but alike we all agree to think.
Jan 5, 1918 Last notice of a standalone Universalist service in 1918 prior to merger of Atlanta Universalists and Unitarians. Ad appears in the Atlanta paper stating, Universalist. “Success is the Anticipation of the New Year, How It Can Be Realized for the Individual and in Our World Struggle,” will be discussed by the pastor, Rev. T.B. Fisher, at the Universalist church Sunday morning. Sunday school at 10. Y.P.C.U. at 10.
Jan 12, 1918 Large ad appears in the Atlanta paper stating, The Unitarian Church. 301 West Peachtree Street. 11:00 am – Sermon by Rev. Ralph E. Conner upon: “Marks of the Master.”Mr. Conner moves to Chattanooga and Nashville the last of this week.
Jan 26, 1918 First service conducted by Rev. Swisher at the Unitarian church. Article notes that Rev. Swisher is the Acting Pastor of the Unitarian church.Large ad appears in the Atlanta paper stating, The Unitarian Church. 301 West Peachtree Street. 11:00 am – “The Quest for the Eternal.” A sermon on the eternal verities, by Rev. Walter S. Swisher, B.D. All are cordially invited.
Feb 2, 1918 Large ad appears in the Atlanta paper stating, The Unitarian Church. 301 West Peachtree Street. 11:00 am – “The Power of Personality.” A sermon human influences by Rev. Walter S. Swisher, B.D. All are most cordially invited.
Feb 9, 1918 Large ad appears in the Atlanta paper stating, The Unitarian Church. 301 West Peachtree Street. 11:00 am – “What is the Function of Modern Religion?”, “What Place Has Religion in Modern Life?”, “Have We Outgrown Religion?”, “Is Billy Sunday Humbug?”Come and hear these questions answered tomorrow morning at the Unitarian church by Rev. Walter S. Swisher, B.D. 5:00pm – A special musical vesper services. All soldiers invited. Fine musical program. Shore address on the Red Cross. All welcome.
Feb 16, 1918 Large ad appears in the Atlanta paper stating, The Unitarian Church. 301 West Peachtree Street. At 11 am, Rev. Walter Samuel Swisher will preach on the topic: “Is the Church a Failure?”, “Has the Church Failed in its Mission?”, “Is It Afraid to Face Present Issues?” Come and Hear the Sermon.
Feb 23, 1981 Large ad appears in the Atlanta paper stating, at 11 A.M. the Unitarian and Universalists will worship together for the first time.This is a temporary merger to last for the duration of the ware and help win the war by saving fuel and light. Rev. T.B. Fisher, Pastor of the Universalist Church, will speak on “the Larger Destiny. All welcomed.
Mar 1, 1918 Article in Atlanta papers, At 6 o’clock this evening the merge congregations of the Universalists and Unitarians will hold a supper and parish meeting at the Unitarian church for the purpose of discussing plans for the actual working of the two congregations as on under the merger agreement for the duration of the war. All friends of the church who are interested in the success of the movement are urged to attend.
Mar 2, 1918 First joint Unitarian – Universalist service. Large ad in the Atlanta paper announcing, “ The Unitarian Church 301 West Peachtree Street, United Services of Unitarians and Universalists. 11 am – “Co-Workers with God,” by Rev. Walter S Swisher. Could God get along without us? Would His purpose fare without human agents? Come and Hear!
Mar 2, 1918 Second joint Unitarian – Universalist service. In the Atlanta papers, Unitarian.   Tomorrow is the second Sunday for united services of Universalists and Unitarians at the Unitarian church. A splendid, enthusiastic congregation was present last Sunday; a larger congregation is expected tomorrow.   Rev. Walter S. Swisher will preach on the topic. “Co-workers with God.”
Mar 9, 1918 Third joint Unitarian – Universalist service. In the Atlanta papers, Joint Services. At the joint services of Universalists and Unitarians at the Unitarian church building, 301 West Peachtree street. Tomorrow morning at 11 o’clock, Rev. Walter S. Swisher will preach on the topic, “The Growing Truth.” This will be a philosophical treatment of the question, “Is Truth a Growing, Dynamic Thing, or Is It Static? Is it Alive or Dead?”
Mar 16, 1918 Fourth joint Unitarian – Universalist service. In the Atlanta papers, Universalists – Unitarians. United Services. Universalists and Unitarians. Morning service only at 11 O’clock. Subject of Sermon: “Human Brotherhood”, Acting Pastor: Rev. Walter S. Swisher. The Unitarian Church, 301 West Peachtree Street. All Welcome.
Mar 23, 1918 Fifth joint Unitarian – Universalist service. In the Atlanta papers, Universalists – Unitarians. United Services. Universalists and Unitarians. Morning service only at 11 a.m., “The Advance of Liberalism”, Musical Vesper Service at 5 p.m., Pastor, Rev. Walter S. Swisher, B.D., The Unitarian Church, 301 West Peachtree Street
Mar 23, 1918 Article in Atlanta papers, Church music program at Liberal Christian church. Rev. Walter S. Swisher to preach, topic: “The Advance of Liberalism.” Article notes that this Sunday is Rev. Swisher’s last Sunday at the Liberal Christian church.
Mar 30, 1918 Sixth joint Unitarian – Universalist service. In the Atlanta papers, Universalists – Unitarians. United Services. Universalists and Unitarians. Morning service only at 11 a.m., “The World’s Easter Holding Its Sacrifice, Its Peril, Its Hope.” A War Sermon, by Rev. Samuel B. Nobbs, of Boston. The Unitarian Church, 301 West Peachtree Street.
Apr 6, 1918 In the Atlanta papers, Universalists – Unitarians. United Services. Universalists and Unitarians. Morning service only at 11 a.m., Sermon: “Faith and Life” by Rev. Samuel B. Nobbs, of Boston. The Unitarian Church, 301 West Peachtree Street.
Apr 13, 1918 In the Atlanta papers, Universalists – Unitarians. United Services. Universalists and Unitarians. Morning service only at 11 a.m., Sermon by Rev. T.B. Fisher. The Unitarian Church, 301 West Peachtree Street.
Apr 20, 1918 In the Atlanta papers, Universalists – Unitarians. United Services. Universalists and Unitarians. Morning service only at 11 a.m., Sermon by Rev. T.B. Fisher. The Unitarian Church, 301 West Peachtree Street.
May 4, 1918 In the Atlanta papers, Universalists – Unitarians. United Services. Universalists and Unitarians. Morning service only at 11 a.m., Rev. D.B. Price, of Methodist Conference, Montana. The Unitarian Church, 301 West Peachtree Street.
May 5, 1918 Extended article in the Atlanta paper about Methodist ministers filling Atlanta pulpit due to general conference being held in Atlanta.
May 11, 1918 In the Atlanta papers, Universalists – Unitarians. United Services. Universalists and Unitarians. Morning service only at 11 a.m., Rev. J.C. Hawk, China, of the Methodist Conference. The Unitarian Church, 301 West Peachtree Street.
May 18, 1918 In the Atlanta papers, Universalists – Unitarians. United Services. Universalists and Unitarians. Morning service only at 11 a.m., The Unitarian Church, 301 West Peachtree Street.
May 25, 1918 In the Atlanta papers, Universalists – Unitarians. United Services. Universalists and Unitarians. 11 a.m. Sermon by Rev. John W. Rowlett, The Unitarian Church, 301 West Peachtree Street.
Jun 1, 1918 In the Atlanta papers, Unitarians – Universalists. United Services. Unitarians – Universalists. Rev. Henry B. Taylor will fill the pulpit, The Unitarian Church, 301 West Peachtree Street.
Jun 8, 1918 In the Atlanta papers, Universalists – Unitarians. Rev. H.B. Taylor, of the Third Universalist Church of Somerville, Mass., is acting pastor for June of the affiliated congregations of Unitarians and Universalists worshipping in the church at 301 West Peachtree street. He will also be voluntary chaplain for fort McPherson and Camp Gordon. He is at the Pickwick. Mr. Taylor’s Massachusetts’s church is the one nearest Tufts’s college, founded by Universalists, and now the largest institution strictly a college in America.   His Sunday subject at 11 o’clock will be “Do the Meek Inherit the Earth?”
Jun 15, 1918 In the Atlanta papers, Unitarian – Universalists. Rev. Henry B. Taylor, from a suburban Boston church, preaches to the congregations of Unitarians and Universalists, meeting in the church at 301 West Peachtree street, on Sunday at 11 am, his subject being “How to Be Happy in War Time.” Mr. Taylor is no stranger to “mergers.” During the acute coal shortage in New England he alternated with Congregationalist and Unitarian ministers in preaching to congregations of Universalists.   Congregationalists and Unitarian meeting in one church. At other times on Sundays and weekdays from other denominations made use of the same building. An average of about 125 meetings a month were held in the single church. Baptists, Methodists, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Unitarians and Universalists united for mid-week prayer meetings.
Jun 22, 1918 In the Atlanta papers, Unitarian – Universalists. “A fortune for Everybody – How to Enjoy Yours” is the theme Rev. Henry B. Taylor, of Boston, will preach on Sunday at 11 am at the church used by Unitarians and Universalists at 301 West Peachtree Street.   The preacher claims he has a practical word both on the realization and enjoyment of a fortune. Mr. Taylor will preach at Camp Gordon Sunday night.
Jun 29, 1981 In the Atlanta papers, Unitarian. Rev. Henry B. Taylor, who has been preaching to the united congregations of Universalists and Unitarians in the church at 301 West Peachtree street, finishes his series of sermons on Sunday at the 11 am services. His subject will be, “How a Few Men Saved a Nation.”
Jul 6, 1918 In the Atlanta papers large ad, Unitarian – Universalist. United Services. Unitarian and Universalists. (Church at 301 West Peachtree Street). 11:00 am Sunday – Special service has been arranged for. Excellent Music. All Welcomed.
Jul 13, 1918 In the Atlanta papers large ad, Unitarian – Universalist. United Services. Unitarian and Universalists. (Church at 301 West Peachtree Street). 11:00 am Sunday: Rev. T.B. Fisher. Excellent Music. All Welcomed.
Jul 20, 1918 First mention of the united congregations being called the The Liberal Christian Church.In the Atlanta papers large ad, Unitarian – Universalist. The Liberal Christian Church. West Peachtree, Bet. Third and Kimball. 11 am, Sunday. Rev. J.M. Rasnake. Summer Services. Soldiers Especially Welcomed.
Aug 3, 1918 In the Atlanta papers large ad, Unitarian – Universalist. The Liberal Christian Church. West Peachtree, Bet. Third and Kimball. 11 am, Sunday, Sermon by Layman.   Special Music. Soldiers Especially Welcomed.
Aug 10, 1918 In the Atlanta papers large ad, Unitarian – Universalist. The Liberal Christian Church. West Peachtree, Bet. Third and Kimball. 11 am, Sunday, Sermon Rev. J.M. Rasnake. Special Music. Soldiers Especially Welcomed.
Aug 17, 1918 In the Atlanta papers large ad, Unitarian – Universalist. The Liberal Christian Church. West Peachtree, Bet. Third and Kimball. 11 am, Sunday, Rev. F.B. Bishop. Special Music. Soldiers Especially Welcomed.
Aug 24, 1918 In the Atlanta papers large ad, Unitarian – Universalist. The Liberal Christian Church. West Peachtree, Bet. Third and Kimball. 11 am, Sunday, Rev. F.B. Bishop. Good Music. Soldiers Especially Welcomed.
Sep 6, 1918 In the Atlanta papers, Two Churches Combine. Universalists and Unitarians Now Liberal Christian.In order to establish a read live church in the place of two which have not been as active as they might have been, the Unitarians and Universalists have consolidated and formed one large permanent church, to be known as the Liberal Christian Church. This is in line with the unification of the two creeds in other parts of the United States.It is the plan to sell the Universalist church property on Ellis street and to take the proceeds as an endowment for the new church, whose services will be held in the Unitarian church on West Peachtree street.Dr. Frank Oliver Hall, of New York city, will be the new pastor. He is one of the leading ministers of the country, and one of the highest salaried pastors in the city of New York. He will fill the pulpit next Sunday morning, and is expected that a very large congregation will greet him.
Sep 7, 1918 In the Atlanta papers, Unitarian – Universalist. The Liberal Christian Church. West Peachtree Street, between Kimball and Third. Service Sunday, 11 a.m. Rev. Frank O. Hall, eminent New York minister.
Sep 14, 1918 In the Atlanta papers large ad, Unitarian – Universalist. The Liberal Christian Church. West Peachtree Street, between Kimball and Third. 11 a.m., Rev. Frank O. Hall, eminent New York minister. Subject: “The Liberal Interpretation of Heaven and Hell.”
Sep 21, 1918 In the Atlanta papers large ad, Unitarian – Universalist. The Liberal Christian Church. West Peachtree Street, between Kimball and Third. 11 a.m., Rev. Frank O. Hall, eminent New York minister. Subject: “The Religion of a Manly Man.”
Sep 21, 1918 Archivist Note: This article referring to Dr. Hall delivering the last of series of sermons is quite curious. Just two week earlier, it had been announced that the Rev. Hall was the new pastor of the Liberal Christian Church.Liberal Christian. Rev. Frank O. Hall, new York minister, will be in the pulpit of the Liberal Christian church tomorrow his subject being “The Religion of a Manly Man.” Rev. Mr. Hall, while here, spends his entire time during the week doing Y.MC.A. work for the soldier boys at Camp Gordon. Tomorrow and next Sunday are the last of the series of sermons to be delivered b Dr. Hall.
Sep 28, 1918 In the Atlanta papers large ad, Unitarian – Universalist. The Liberal Christian Church. West Peachtree Street, between Kimball and Third. 11 a.m., Rev. Frank O. Hall, eminent New York minister. Subject: “Union Service as a War Measure.”Archivist Note: This ad is the last reference to Dr. Hall in Atlanta.
Oct 5, 1918 <archivist action OCR Article>
Oct 5, 1918 In the Atlanta papers large ad, Unitarian – Universalist. The Liberal Christian Church. West Peachtree Street, between Kimball and Third. 11 a.m., Rev. G.I. Keiru, D.D., recently missionary to Japan.Archivist Note: Ad misspelled the Rev. Keirn’s name.
Oct 12, 1918 In the Atlanta papers large ad, Unitarian – Universalist. The Liberal Christian Church. West Peachtree Street, between Kimball and Third.No service at church, owing to closing order by board of health.
Oct 19, 1918 In the Atlanta papers large ad, Unitarian – Universalist. The Liberal Christian Church. West Peachtree Street, between Kimball and Third.No service at church, owing to closing order by board of health.
Oct 26, 1918 In the Atlanta papers large ad, Unitarian – Universalist. The Liberal Christian Church. West Peachtree Street, between Kimball and Third. 11 a.m., Rev. G.I. Keiru, D.D., Sermon Subject: “The Militant Christ.”Archivist Note: Ad misspelled the Rev. Keirn’s name.
Nov 2, 1918 In the Atlanta papers large ad, Unitarian – Universalist. The Liberal Christian Church. West Peachtree Street, between Kimball and Third. 11 a.m., Rev. G.I. Keirn, D.D., Sermon Subject: “Carrying On.”
Nov 9, 1918 In the Atlanta papers large ad, Unitarian – Universalist. The Liberal Christian Church. West Peachtree Street, between Kimball and Third. 11 a.m., Rev. G.I. Keirn, D.D., Subject: “The Transfiguring Power of Sacrifice.”
Nov 16, 1918 Article – Rev. Conkling killed in action in France.   “Captain J.W. Conkling, former pastor slain”. Conkling had resigned the pastorate at the Unitarian church to enter the army. Conkling indicating to the congregation that he could serve his country better as a soldier than he could as a chaplain. “I feel, too, that I can perform a service to may flag and to my fellowmen as one them – soldier”, said Conkling.
Nov 16, 1918 First reference to Rev. Keirn as Acting Pastor of the Liberal Christian Church.In the Atlanta papers large ad, Unitarian – Universalist. The Liberal Christian Church. 301 West Peachtree Street. Rev. G.I. Keirn, D.D., Acting Pastor. Service at 11 am. Subject of sermon: “Material Out of Which the New Age Must be Constructed.”
Nov 23, 1918 In the Atlanta papers large ad, Unitarian – Universalist. The Liberal Christian Church. (301 West Peachtree Street). Rev. G.I. Keirn, D.D., Acting Pastor. Service at 11 am – Thanksgiving Service and Sermon. 4 pm – Memorial Service in honor of Rev. J. Wade Conkling, M.D., former pastor, who recently died in France.
Nov 30, 1918 In the Atlanta papers large ad, Unitarian – Universalist. The Liberal Christian Church. (301 West Peachtree Street). Rev. G.I. Keirn, D.D., Acting Pastor. 11 am – Sermon by Rev. John W. Rowlett, State Superintendent.
Dec 7, 1918 In the Atlanta papers large ad, Unitarian – Universalist. The Liberal Christian Church. (301 West Peachtree Street). Rev. G.I. Keirn, D.D., Acting Pastor. 11 am – Sermon by Rev. J.B. Fisher
Dec 14, 1918 In the Atlanta papers large ad, Unitarian – Universalist. The Liberal Christian Church. 301 West Peachtree Street. Sermon Rev. John W. Rowlett, 11 AM
Dec 18, 1918 Article in the Atlanta paper, Reception to Dr. and Mrs. Kiern. A reception will be tendered Dr. and Mrs. G.I. Kiern, of Boston, by the congregation of the Liberal Christian church at 301 West Peachtree street on Friday evening, December 20 at 7:30 o’clock.There will be recitations, music and refreshments. Al friends of the church are also cordially invited to come and join with the members of the church in welcoming their new minister.
Dec 21, 1918 Rev. Kiern begins is pastorate at the Liberal Christian church.In the Atlanta papers, Liberal Christian. Rev. G.I. Keirn D.D., begins his pastorate of the Liberal Christian church tomorrow with a Christmas sermon at 11 am; subject “The Prince of Peace.”

 

 

 

 

 

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