Unitarian Church of Atlanta – Letter, Oct 16, 1905 (Call Rev. Sanborn, but resistance)

October 16, 1905

Rev. Samuel A. Eliot, D.D.

Boston, Mass.

Dear Sir:-

We are pleased to notify you that in response to a unanimous call of our church, Mr. Sanborn has announced his acceptance of the call, and will labor with us during the coming year.  We ask you as the official head of the American Unitarian Association to do all you can to aid Mr. Sanborn in his work. Give him encouragement by your active interest and good cheer by any word that you may speak to him in your letters.

No doubt you are aware that our pulpit has been filled with mediocrity coupled with indolence and indifference for the past five years. This gave us no hope of real improvement. Our congregation was restive under such a leader, and some of our people remained permanently absent from our services. They are all coming back to us now, and bringing others with them.

We have realized more fully than you have perhaps the opportunity for something big in all lines of religious work, which this church presents under competent leadership.  We believe the right leader and the exact psychological moment have come  to ensure us success. We realize the important influence on our leader which your official position may give, and  we earnestly ask you to rally to our moral support – we  do not ask additional financial aid.

The friends of Mr. Sanborn have, all, urged him to decline our call. In fact it has seemed to us that the influencers of all his Eastern church and business connections have been against us. However, we believe that, so far as God mingles in the affairs of men, he has guided all – leader and people.

Already we see prophecies of success in our movement. Mr. Sanborn has been with us four Sundays and each service has shown an increase in attendance. Our attendance yesterday was nearly three times that of our usual congregation, although the weather was inclement. Mr. Sanborn has remarked on the zeal of our people. We are determined to make our work a success in the right sense. Let us feel that you do not look upon his as almost a forlorn hope, but that you are stirred as we have been by the promise of better things before us, and we wish in closing to express our deep gratitude to the Association for suggesting the name of our worthy lender Rev. Moore Sanborn.



J.G. St. Amand
Emilie T. Behre
Anna Lederle
Hamilton Douglas
Jno. L. Moore

Physical Archive: UUCA Box: 25   Folder: 05   Book: 01   Pages: 277
Citation: Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta Records, RG 026, Archives and Manuscripts Dept., Pitts Theology Library, Emory University, Atlanta GA

Archivist Note: Rev. Moore Sanborn prior to accepting the call to the Atlanta church had been an insurance executive in New York City.  He had, however, been active in the Presbyterian ministry after college until 1889.

The reasons for the “friends of Mr. Sanborn” urging him to decline the call is not known.

Sanborn has just recently resigned his position as third vice-president of the Security Trust & Life company saying he was doing so for health reasons. Urging by friends to decline the Atlanta pastorate  may have been a desire to retain his services in the insurance industry or a sense that he was unwisely “leaping back into ministry” for the wrong reason.  There is only speculation on this point.

It should be noted that Rev. Sanborn’s ministry at the Atlanta church was spectacularly successful, but only short lived.  He resigned his pastorate approximately one year later in August 1906.


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Posted in Meeting Minutes, Physical Collection, Unitarian Church of Atlanta, Unitarian Records - Book 1

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