ATLANTA, GA.—Unitarian Church, Rev. Ralph E. Conner, acting minister: Here is what one Southern church did in a short time. Before that is told, why is there such a small number of strong, self-supporting liberal churches in the Southland? In order to understand this dearth one explanation must always be borne in mind, namely, that Congregationalism, Universalism and Unitarianism are not indigenous to the soil. They are regarded as exotic growths. The doctrine of States’ rights may be dead, but it spirit is marching on.
In Atlanta, Ga. there is a Congregational church the auditorium of which would seat seven hundred people but the attendance is less than one hundred. Not one Southern family is on its membership roll.
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.
So liberal religion is more or less suspected of being a New England graft.
There is an impressive and worshipful Unitarian church in this Gateway City of the South. Every detail of its architecture reveals thought, skill, and reverence. Its appointments are well-nigh perfect from an ecclesiastical point of view. Both the exterior and the interior show at once its purpose. One would be willing to take it just as it is, set it down anywhere, and go to work with it. The architect, Mr. Edwards, is one of the steady and sturdy pillars of our faith.
The acting minister, a forerunner, came to prepare the way for another who was expected to come. A “drive” to clear the indebtedness on the new organ, with Mr. Hamilton Douglas at its head, got busy and in one week paid off $1,850, the Carnegie Foundation assuming $750.
This initial act showed the people what they could do. The congregation increased from forty to seventy-five and one hundred, in the coldest winter for a hundred and five years. At the end of ten weeks all other bills were paid and there was a balance of $1,000 in the treasury.
Source: The Christian Register found in Google Books , vol 97, No. 9, Feb. 28, 1918 Page 23 – 23 (214 – 215)