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bMS 711

Call, Lon Ray. Papers, 1910-1979: A Finding Aid.

Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School, Harvard University


Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: bMS 711
Repository: Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School, Harvard University
Creator: Call, Lon Ray.
Title: Call, Lon Ray. Papers, 1910-1979.
Date(s): 1910-1979.
Quantity: 5 boxes
Abstract: Papers of Unitarian minister Lon Ray Call, including diaries, sermons, writings, and correspondence. The papers span 1910-1979.

Acquisition Information:

Gift of Marjorie Call Kimbrough, 2010.

Processing Information:

Processed by Carol Filip, 2011.


There are no restrictions on access to this collection.

Biographical / Historical

Lon Ray Call (1894-1985) was born in Advance, North Carolina. Call was ordained to the Baptist ministry in 1915 and graduated from Wake Forest College in 1916. Following his graduation, he enrolled in the Divinity School at the University of Chicago. From 1918-1919 Call served as a chaplain in the American Expeditionary Forces. He returned to the Divinity School following his service and graduated with a BD in 1920.
Call was ordained to the Unitarian ministry in 1923, and served at the First Unitarian Church, Louisville, Kentucky from 1923-1930; the West Side Unitarian Church, New York, New York from 1930-1931; the Community Church, New York, New York from 1931-1933; and the All Souls Unitarian Church, Braintree, Massachusetts from 1933-1935. From 1935-1941 he served as the executive secretary of the Western Unitarian Conference in Chicago and the regional director of the American Unitarian Association (AUA) for Midwestern States. From 1941-1951 Call was a Minister-at-Large for the Department of Extension of the AUA. In this role, he gathered and organized thirteen new congregations, and for his work in developing the Unitarian Fellowship movement he became known as the "father of the Unitarian Fellowships." In 1951 he founded the South Nassau Unitarian Church in Freeport, New York where he ministered for nine years. In 1959 Call received his DD from Meadville Theological School in Chicago, Illinois. He retired in 1960 but later served as an interim minister for fifteen years at four churches: Unitarian Church, Charlottesville, Virginia, 1962-1963; Unity Church, Unitarian, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1963-1964; First Unitarian Church, Dallas, Texas, 1965; and East Shore Unitarian Church, Bellevue, Washington, 1966-1967.
Call was married twice, first in 1921 to Stevie Kennington, with whom he had one child, Marjorie Call Kimbrough. After Stevie Kennington died in 1933, he married Lucy Powers in 1945. He received the Annual Award for Distinguished Service in the Cause of Liberal Religion for the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1967.


The contents of this collection have been organized alphabetically. Additionally, each grouping of contents has been arranged chronologically. For example, all of Call's diaries are found at the beginning of the collection and are arranged in chronological order. The only exception is in box 4, folder 4 where an address given by Call has been placed amid sermons for the sake of chronological order.

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of Call's diaries, letters, sermons, interviews, an unpublished manuscript for a book, documents from his ministry, and a scrapbook. Some of the subjects Call was interested in are the intersection between religion and public politics during the Cold War era, psychology, and aging. These topics are reflected in a number of his sermons and writings, such as "The Pulpit and Politics" (box 3, folder 18); "What Should We Demand of Our Religion?" (box 4, folder 1); "America and Russia: Can They Ever Be Friends?" (box 4, folder 1); "Religion and Public Education" (box 4, folder 2); "Psychiatry: Friend or Foe of Religion" (box 4, folder 2); "Communism, the Congress and the Clergy" (box 4, folder 2); "Growing Old" (box 4, folder 3); "Guarding Our Children from Prejudice" (box 4, folder 6); "Religion in the Schools" (box 4, folder 6); "Old Age Wisdom—Fact or Farce?" (box 4, folder 7); and "The United Nations: Dream, Failure, or the World's Best Hope?" (box 4, folder 9).


The number after the slash in each entry in the following list indicates the box number, and the number in parentheses is the folder number.

Container List