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The first Universalist church

Our Organization.—The church known by the above name has been established in Somerville for more than fifty years. It is therefore to-day one of the oldest, as it is one of the strongest churches in the city. Its property consists of the brick edifice of worship on the corner of Cross and Tufts streets, and Social Hall on Tufts street, the whole being valued at over $40,000. It is not endowed, and is free from debt.

It consists of the following organizations: The Parish, the Sunday School, the Church, the Ladies' Circle, the Mission Workers, the Men's Club, and the Mission Circle.

Its business affairs are administered by a parish committee of five members, by a clerk and treasurer and two auditors, all of whom are elected at the annual meeting in March.

Our Purpose.—In common with all Christian churches, it exists first of all for the worship of Almighty God, the Father of all souls. Worship it holds to be the highest and noblest act of the human mind and the supreme need of humanity. In worship retreat and release are found from the cares and burdens of this world, and strength, courage, and inspiration are given for daily duty and efficient service. Here meet together men of every position and condition, the rich and the poor, the learned and the unlettered, those who have traveled far along the way of truth and purity, and those who are taking the first uncertain steps that leadeth unto life. Thus the ideal of the true democracy in worship is realized.

In the second place, this church stands for the cultivation [97] of character. It teaches personal righteousness as the end and object of religious endeavor. It aims to free men from the slavery of sin and selfishness, and to bring into bold relief the divine image, which is the priceless endowment of every child of God. In a word, it strives to save men and to bring them to a knowledge of truth as it was in Christ Jesus.

It undertakes, as a third object, to create and foster right social conditions. It labors to bring in the kingdom of justice, sympathy, and love among men as members of a great social commonwealth. It seeks to do what it can to properly adjust the relations between the various and often conflicting interests of modern civilization, to cement and strengthen the ties of fellowship and brotherhood between those who work with their minds and those who work with their hands. It says to all men, ‘Sirs, ye are brethren, why do ye wrong one to another?’ It champions the cause of the weak and the oppressed, and insists that men are of much more value than money, and that the essence of social and political liberty is only found in absolute freedom of opportunity for each man to make the most of the faculties that God has given him.

To comfort the broken-hearted is a fourth purpose of our church. ‘Into each life some rain must fall, some days must be dark and dreary.’ With its matchless faith in God's everlasting goodness and love, with its firm assurance that ‘not one life shall be destroyed or cast as rubbish to the void,’ it brings consolation, comfort, and courage to those who are walking through the valley of great shadows and of great sorrow. It would have men see that, as all the universe is ever filled with light, and clouds obscure the sun but for a day, so there shall come a time when there shall be no more sorrow nor pain, for God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes, and peace and joy shall reign supreme. [98]

And thus it teaches that at last all, all is for immortality—immortality, the most daring and blessed faith of the soul. The crown and glory of our Universalist faith is that ‘no work begun shall ever pause for death,’ that, indeed, ‘there is no death,’ that this sojourn here is but a first step in a great career, the glories of which ‘eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived.’

Our Methods.—We commend our financial policy to the careful consideration of all reasonable men. We believe it to be nearly ideal—businesslike, modern, and thoroughly Christian. Our worship is supported by voluntary contributions. No price is placed upon any seat or sitting. No fixed tax is asked of any man, each pledging the amount per week that he feels he can afford, and is given his choice of any unoccupied seat. We have no chief seats, and we are not forever calling for money. No one but the treasurer knows what any contributor gives, and a man paying five cents a Sunday may be alongside of him who gives $5 every week.

There is welcome in this method. The smallest wage-earner is as cordially received as is he who counts his fortune by the tens of thousands. Our annual expenses are in the vicinity of $5,000.

Our Needs, and Yours.—We need men as well as women, and we believe that men need the church. The well-known witticism of the Hebrew trader, who, speaking of another, said that if he had any religion, ‘it was in his wife's name,’ applies to many men, both Jew and Christian. And, as an editorial writer in the Boston Herald pointed out some years ago, it is vastly better to have religion in your wife's name than not to have it at all. He tells us that ‘If the wife is uplifted and beautified by her faith, if it enables her to diffuse sweetness and light through the house, the husband is gaining the greatest blessings from hiring a pew he never condescends [99] to, sit in himself, and is reached by the prayer and preaching he never listened to, in a way for which he may be devoutly thankful.’

And there is much of truth in these words. No person, man or woman, can be deeply stirred and strongly moved by a service of worship without making life better and happier for those of the same household, for friend and neighbor, and for all one meets and greets along the way of life.

And yet somehow or other the feeling still remains that this reasoning, true though it may be, does not settle the question, and that a man's duty to God cannot be thus vicariously performed. It is all very well for a man to hire a pew for his wife, and it is very fine and fortunate for him that she comes from church filled with the light of truth and the beauty of goodness, and is thus able the easier to smooth his troubled brow and make home a delightful retreat from the world and its cares.

But how about the wife? She, too, has cares and troubles, and perhaps would appreciate more of that spirit of kindness, and gentleness, and humility, and service which it is the object of worship to invoke in the hearts of all those who gather in God's house. If it is helpful to the husband to have the wife bring this finer life into the home from the church, it ought to be stated the other way, that it would be equally helpful to the wife to have the husband bring the strength of manly kindness and thoughtfulness from the same church to the same home. Surely the rule works both ways.

The truth is that no well man who is not called to labor upon the Sabbath has any fair and reasonable excuse for failing to worship God.

Our Invitation.—There are probably nearly 400 families of known Universalists in various sections of our city who might rightfully be expected to be more or less interested in the Cross-street Church. More than half of [100] these are already actively identified with our work. Those who are not have cordial invitation to join us in our worship and church life. We want you to feel that the offices of our church are at your service, and that anything we can do to help you will be gladly done. This invitation includes, too, all those who have no regular church home. The children of such families will be welcomed to our Sunday School, and will be placed in classes under competent teachers. Parents are urged to set a good example by attending church, and thus making Sunday not only a day of rest from their usual labors, but a day of growth in the high and fine things that belong to character, to duty, and to destiny.

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