As part of UUC’s 100th Anniversary, we are publishing recordings of historic sermons delivered by former reverends.
Each month, we will be unveiling two sermons, which can be found on this webpage by playing the audio directly below. Note that if you right-click the title of the sermon, you can choose “Save Target As” to save the sermon MP3 to your own computer, where you can move it to an MP3 player.
In addition, we have created a special podcast solely for this historic series. If you’d like to subscribe to the podcast and receive the newest releases, simply search for the UUC 100th Anniversary Sermon Project Podcast in the Apple itunes Store and click “subscribe.”
Craig Harper was a strong and positive force at UUC. A former Methodist minister, he directed the church school and membership for many years. He delivered “The Reachable Star” when he returned from sabbatical, which allowed him to sail solo to Alaska. His wonderfully descriptive message connects “follow your dream” with his sailing adventure.
This sermon goes to a core difference between orthodox Christianity and Unitarian Universalism. The fundamental Christian position sees humans as born ”in sin” or bad, thus requiring external control: they must believe and think as told. Unitarians, believing in individual authority, see this position as denial of the “sacred human spirit”. Raible calls for the responsible individuality. We must oppose abuse of power, grow personally, and allow others to grow. Our own unique selves are what we bring to community and allow us to contribute to the human quest.
Peter Raible draws from three historical times to examine civil disobedience. Issues emerge in every age; the challenge is how to confront them. Can we stand apart from the moral dilemmas of our time? When can we practice civil disobedience? What are we content to live with?
Peter Raible delivered this on the day that UUC voted to join the sanctuary movement. Examines criminal law versus ethical law and asks us to “choose apathy or choose life.” “We are called upon to assist.”
The late Paul Carnes, former UUA president and a pillar in the movement, dedicates this service to Peter Raible’s ministry. He examines community vs. individuals. Does community have a history? Can community sustain silence? Will my commitment to community promote or hinder my commitment to religion? He wants community to support the individual’s religious quest. He died a few short weeks after this sermon.
Peter Raible’s complelling and simple sermon reasserts that Jesus was a person. It speaks directly to the historical core of the Unitarian faith tradition that separated from the European Trinitarians in the 1500’s.
Dr. Ralph Mero, UU minister Associated (1977-96), lays out a convincing argument for patients’ right to die with physician assistance. He was to become a regional, even national, leader in the right-to-die movement but has not been given the credit he might have. His work led to the Oregon right-to-die initiative which, in turn, led to our right-to-die initiative in WA State. His seminal message is as pertinent today as it was 23 years ago.
Bill Houff explores the topic of self-improvement. We treat an enemy as “bad” and we forget that our own human condition inclues both. “We must be centered and whole in our own being if we are to overcome current problems.” He draws on Judaism, Christiany, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and even T.S. Eliot.
Nathaniel Wagner offers an entertaining and historically informative lecture about the origins of many of our taboos. He was a psychology professor at the University of Washington, where his course entitled, “Introduction to Human Sexuality” attracted crowds of 500 students at a time (standing room only). Dr. Wagner won the UW Distinguished Teaching Award in 1978.
George Shangrow, UUC’s Music Director for more than twenty years, and Peter Raible explore the relationship between religion and music and how one enhances the other. The UUC choir sings. This service commemorates George’s 10-year anniversary as UUC’s Music Director.
Peter Raible explains the plight of gay people and calls us in 1974 to remove all discriminatory laws, attitudes and language. “I was loved, not as I was, but as I seemed to be.”
Noted historian and lecturer, Giovanni Costigan, explores problem-solving by reason versus fear. He visits the Cold War, Vietnam, and the problems of youth. He was known as a “fighter for liberal social causes and an outspoken critic of American involvement in Southeast Asia and Central America.” The University of Washington cites him as “perhaps the… best known teacher among several generations of students.”
Rebecca Parker is President of Star King School for Ministry, Berkeley, CA. She is a dually ordained minister in the Methoidst and UU traditions, and is a wonderful speaker. In this sermon, she addresses how paradise came to identified as a place other than the earth, beginning in the 11th century. She weaves in Universalist teachings that paradise is available to all of us in the present. The keys to paradise are love, justice making and generosity of spirit.
1986 commemorates the 200th anniversary of the passing of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which Jefferson cited as one of the three great accomplishments of his life. This Statute advocated keeping church and state separate. Raible stated that in recent years, many in our society would seek to pull down what Jefferson called “the high wall of separation.” The sermon speaks to the respect that is due for the spectrum of religious traditions and the need for religious beliefs grounded in evidence, reason and thought as well as action.
This is a full Thanksgiving service, an annual event, including Beth Am and UUC. “Let us not enjoy plenty so long as any are in want.” “Lut us be useful citizens in this, our world.” “Let us be thankful, even for sadness, which means compassion is alive within us.” Music includes a cantor.
Deborah Raible reminds us that Thanksgiving often brings up “left over” issues that can be difficult, and that sometimes we need to face up to those and do the work involved in “cleaning out our spiritual refridgerator.” She reminds us to have faith in the “crumbs” that grace our lives: hope, joy, and forgiveness. Peter Raible reminds us to support our incoming minister, the Rev. Jon Luopa.
Peter Raible tells the tale of the fawn and fox with a Unitarian twist. Which would you like to be? He originally delivered it at the Everett church in Aug 1960, when he was applying to be minister at UUC. He repeated “The Wild Fawn and Fox” (perhaps at the request of the ministerial search committee) in Feb 1961. It was his second sermon at UUC.
A lifelong fan of the Boston Red Sox, Peter Raible challenges the caring achingly about something we do not control. He uses his devotion to the Red Sox as a metaphor for making commitments in our lives, and accepting the wounds that happen as we persevere in a cause. Victory brings yet another test, with other victories coming slowly, demonstrating that life is full of possibility.
Martin Luther King Memorial Service (Rev. Peter S. Raible and Rev. Marvin Evans, 1968)
Moving full service includes readings from the words of Martin Luther King and music from the period when he was leading the black freedom movement.
Modern American Guide to the Health of the Soul (Dr. Lon Ray Call, 1973)
Entertaining and thoughtful exploration of the human soul from a Unitarian perspective. Dr. Call and his wife are credited with starting 13 Unitarian churches, included Eastshore in Bellevue.
Art & Symbols for a World, pt. 1 (Rev. Kenneth Patton, 1962)
How can you have an adequate religion if you don’t know the nature of the universe (macrocosm and microcosm); the nature of Earth (what’s under the crust); the nature of human origin (anthropology); and the science of the human mind?
Art and Symbols for a World, pt. 2 (Rev. Kenneth Patton, 1962)
“Humans are a small group of animals” huddled on one little planet, one species among many. Patton refused to use his “Reverend” title, saying he was no more to be revered than anyone else, nor would he wear a robe. He was a poet as well as a Unitarian minister and won several honors.
The Unwilling Journey (Rev. Aaron Gilmartin, 1976)
Reflects on the state of the nation during its bicentennial year and calls upon the church to take risks, shake up our structures of order in the culture, and be an “interfering community”. Gilmartin served as senior minister at UUC from 1952 to 1959
The Last Thanksgiving (Rev. Peter Raible, 1976)
“We are creators of our own destiny.” There need never be a “last Thanksgiving.”
The Peculiar Institution of the Free Church (Rev. Patrick O’Neill, 1978)
Examines the many roles of a Unitarian church in our lives, and discounts the criticisms about UUs. O’Neill was ordained at UUC; he served as a popular intern under Peter Raible, and has since served many churches and won several preaching awards.
Abortion (Rev. Peter Raible, 1963)
Raible makes an impassioned case for the right of women to choose to have an abortion one decade prior to the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.
Jesus and the Gnostics (Rev. Peter Raible, 1980)
Compares and contrasts many gnostic values to Unitarians while providing a history of the rise and demise of the Gnosticism movement.
As We Have Journeyed (Rev. Peter Raible, 1981)
On this 20th anniversary of his arrival as UUC’s minister, Raible shares in some detail how he came to be here. He alludes to personal problems without being specific. He describes the previous 20 year church history and shares his hopes for the future.
The Roar of Silence (Dr. Brent Smith, 1981)
Smith examines finding faith, trust, and hope in the human dimension, as well as in a silent God. This is the initial sermon of a popular intern under Peter Raible.
The New Plague: AIDS (Rev. Peter Raible, 1986)
Shares facts and fears about AIDS, and challenges the congregation to develop a religious response. This sermon resulted in the formation of the AIDS Task Force at UUC, and subsequent purchase and development of the Mark DeWolfe House, a residence for people with AIDS.
Forgive and Let Forgive (Rev. Forrest Church, 1987)
What would happen if you could live your life all over again, knowing what was going to happen? We act without knowing what the future will bring and we have a really hard time forgiving ourselves as well as others. Forrest Church was a parish minister at All Souls Church. He wrote many books, and edited “The Jefferson Bible”.
Religion and Politics (Rev. Peter Raible, 1991)
Provides an historic review of the American separation of church and state. Predicts that religion’s influence on politics will increase.
What Do These Signs Mean? (Rev. Samuel McKinney, 1995)
Relates the story of the 12 tribes of Israel, bringing 12 stones to the River Jordan. Each stone connoted a gift (talent, ability) and together they created a flower pot, not a melting pot. McKinney served as pastor of Seattle’s Mount Zion Baptist Church for 40 years. He is a community icon, a “civil rights leader who has done much to shape the conscience of Seattle.”
Gratitude, the Heart’s Warmth (Rev. Lena (Cynthia) Breen, 1996)
Speaks to cultivating an attitude of gratefulness to allow living in-the-moment and responding to people and circumstances from the heart. While we experience loss and bitterness in our lives, an attitude of gratefulness opens us up to our enduring gifts as well as to those of others.
After the Great Companions (Rev. Peter Raible, 1997)
Peter Raible’s final UUC sermon is filled with emotionally moving moments and amusing side comments. He stresses the covenant of community and emphasizes the need to support UUC’s incoming interim minister, William (Bill) Houff.
Privilege (Rev. Deborah Raible, 2001)
Asks us to look at our response to our own privilege and address it in meaningful ways, such as acknowledgement and exploration, and a questioning that ripples out to create change. What are our responsibilities toward others?
After Ecstasy, the Laundry (Rev. William Schulz, 2007)
Sermon articulates the particular role of UUs in creating justice in the world. Schulz served as President of the UUA, and had just completed 12 years as President of Amnesty International.