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bMS 1138

Church of the Larger Fellowship, Unitarian Universalist (Boston, Mass.). Administrative subject files, 1946-1988: 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 1138
Repository: Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School, Harvard University
Creator: Church of the Larger Fellowship, Unitarian Universalist (Boston, Mass.).
Title: Church of the Larger Fellowship, Unitarian Universalist (Boston, Mass.). Administrative subject files, 1946-1988.
Date(s): 1946-1988
Quantity: 16 boxes
Abstract: Administrative subject files, including historical documents, sermons, photographs, publications, and material related to religious education and meetings and conferences. The records span 1946-1988.

Acquisition Information:

Gift of Unitarian Universalist Association.

Processing Information:

Processed by Tamira Beth Stephens, 2015.


There are no restrictions on access to this collection.

Related Materials

For related collections, please see bMS 1121, bMS 1140, bMS 1141, bMS 1142, bMS 1216, and bMS 1431.

Biographical / Historical

Originally known as the Post Office Mission of the Unitarian Women's Alliance, the Church of the Larger Fellowship began in the 1800s as a relay system for letter correspondence. In 1904, Unitarian minister William Channing Gannett founded the Church of All Souls, mailing monthly letters and sermons to Unitarians with no church affiliation. Under the direction of the President of the American Unitarian Association, Reverend Frederick May Eliot, Dr. Albert Diffenbach became the first minister of the CLF in 1944 and formed the Church School by Mail program, making lessons widely available to the widespread congregation. Meanwhile, Universalists formed their own CLF in 1947 in conjunction with the Universalist Church of America, with Reverend Clinton Lee Scott serving as minister. With the merger of the Unitarian and Universalist churches in 1961, the Church of the Larger Fellowship. Unitarian Universalist was formed, retaining its semi-autonomous nature and purpose to provide a spiritual home for Unitarian Universalists throughout the world.
Dr. George Marshall, who served as minister to the CLF from 1960 to 1985, created the Independent Study Program and the Directed Discussion Course for members to study and correspond with one another on matters of faith. On September 24, 1970, the CLF was legally incorporated as its own religious society. Membership was broadened to include those who belonged to local UU congregations, as the CLF provided a spiritual home to isolated religious liberals, with programs and services designed to promote the growth of Unitarian Universalism. A minister's phone line was created in order to increase personal connectivity between ministers and members, and in 1999, the CLF went online, launching both a website and podcast. In 2011, the CLF launched a new website to include live streaming sermons and to serve the growing community more broadly.


Organized into the following series:

Scope and Contents

This collection contains material held by the Church of the Larger Fellowship. Historical documents include information on the CLF's history, packets sent to new members and ministers, a master's thesis on the CLF, ordination materials including photographs, and newspaper clippings. The second series includes papers and information held by George Marshall, minister of the CLF from 1960 to 1985, including a copy of his dissertation, documents pertaining to his travel with the CLF, information on Esperanto featuring a translation dictionary, copies of sermons and papers he collected, clippings, correspondence, and many of his writings. Meetings and conferences consist of notes and information corresponding to CLF meetings and activities. Also included in this series are photographs taken at General Assemblies.
The photographs series consists of photos taken at board meetings and of staff members, while publications includes copies of pamphlets and materials published by the CLF. The radio programs are transcripts of the programs given by the CLF from 1953 to 1989. Religious education consists of educational material sent to members of the CLF, including curriculum for children and families, information on the CLF youth group "Church of the Younger Fellowship," and copies of the Directed Reading Courses. The scouting series includes information on the relationship of the CLF to American scouting programs, specifically the Boy Scouts of America. The scrapbooks included in this collection span the early years of the CLF, from 1944 to 1949, and are arranged chronologically. Finally, the sermons include sermons written both for and by members of the CLF, including sermons in Japanese and Russian.

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