A Theology of Personal and Societal Transformation: The Bicentennial Legacy of James Freeman Clarke

2010 Lecture Series by the Reverend Dr. Paul S. Johnson

  • About Rev. Dr. Johnson
  • Lectures 1-2
  • Lectures 3-6

ABout Rev. Dr. Johnson

Photo of Rev. Dr. Ritchie

Rev. Dr. Paul S. Johnson has served as the Senior Minister of the Unitarian Universalist  Congregation at Shelter Rock, Manhasset, New York, since August of 2002.   Previously he served Unitarian Universalist congregations in Minnesota, Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey.

Rev. Johnson holds a B.A. in history from  Trinity College (IL),   a master's degree in counseling from  Minnesota University (Mankato), and the M.A., D.Min. and D.D. degrees from Meadville/Lombard Theological School, affiliated with the University of Chicago. He is a past president of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers’ Association and currently serves as vice president of the Board of Trustees of the Meadville/Lombard Theological School and as a member of the Unitarian Universalist Commission on Social Witness.

His wife, Carol, is a social worker with the VA hospital in St. Albans, Queens.  Their daughter, Kristin, is a sophomore at SUNY Albany and their son, David, is a graduate student in architecture at UCLA.

Rev. Dr. Johnson Lectures 1-3

Lecture 1: James Freeman Clarke and the Theology of a Practical Transcendentalist

In 1885 Clarke summarized Unitarian theological tenets as: (1) The Fatherhood of God; (2)The Brotherhood of Man; (3) The Leadership of Jesus; (4) Salvation by Character; (5) The Continuity of Human Development in All Worlds, or The Progress of Mankind Onward and Upward Forever. These became a normative expression of Unitarianism well into the twentieth century. This lecture will examine the rationale behind them and their relevance to us today.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010, 6:00 pm reception and 6:30 pm dinner ($10 fee for dinner), followed by 7:30 pm lecture

First Church in Boston, 66 Marlborough Street, Boston

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Lecture 2: James Freeman Clarke and the Church of the Disciples: Religious Community as an Agent of Personal and Societal Transformation

Clarke’s principal life work was founding and leading Boston’s Church of the Disciples which he served from 1841 until his death in 1888.   Dedicated to the practice of Jesus’ teaching, the congregation was guided by three basic principles:  (1) financial support through voluntary contributions rather than the sale and rental of pews; (2) development of close personal relationships among congregants by means of a wide range of activities engaging intellect, affection, and will; (3) widespread congregational involvement in worship and governance.   Their fascinating story holds lessons for building successful congregations today.

Tuesday, April 20, 6:30 pm reception followed by 7:00 pm lecture

Arlington Street Church, 351 Boylston Street, Boston

Lectures are free and open to the public.

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Lecture 3: James Freeman Clarke’s Concept of Self Culture:
Physical, Intellectual, Moral, and Spiritual

Clarke’s  life and ministry was undergirded by his belief that religion was not only a means of attaining  heaven at death,  but also a means of attaining joyful eternal life in the here- and –the-now  through development of God-given physical, intellectual, emotional, aesthetic, and spiritual capabilities.  His book on self culture went through 23 editions by 1898 and continues to have an instructive, inspiring message to us today.

Wednesday, April 21, 6:30 pm reception followed by 7:00 pm lecture

King’s Chapel House, 64 Beacon Street, Boston

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Lecture 4: James Freeman Clarke's Trials and Triumphs as a Missionary to the AmericanWest

Seven years in Louisville tested Clarke’s mettle and provided the background for the unconventional congregation he formed in Boston and was to serve for forty-seven years.

Wednesday, May 19, 5:30 pm dinner followed by 6:30 pm centering service and 7:00 pm lecture

First Unitarian Church, 809 S. Fourth Street, Louisville, Kentucky

Lecture 5: James Freeman Clarke's Bicentennial Legacy

Thursday, June 24, 4:30 pm

UUA General Assembly, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Lecture 6: James Freeman Clarke as a Model for Ministry

January 2011, Meadville/Lombard Theological School, Chicago, Illinois

Lectures are free and open to the public.