Rev. Robert M. Hardies
All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, in Washington DC
10:30 am; Permanent Video Link: https://www.uuneedham.org/service-video
This Sunday for our third “Congregational Virtual Field Trip” we will visit All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church, in Washington DC and witness the final service led there by their senior minister of 19 years Rev. Robert M. Hardies on June 7th of this year. As so often happens when a leader says “Goodbye” he conveys as much of his wisdom and love for his congregation as he can compress into his parting message as is possible. In his words about weathering change and turmoil and finding a path in the wilderness for future generations to follow he conveys his optimism and his faith in the strength and resilience of those he leaves behind. His message is just as relevant to us here and now as it was to his congregation on that day.
As their website tells us, All Souls Church, Unitarian is a historic 198-year-old church that, for two centuries, has played a vital role in Washington, DC, and the nation as a whole. It was founded in 1821 as the First Unitarian Church of Washington by American visionaries—William Ellery Channing, founder of American Unitarianism; and in the DC area, President John Quincy Adams, Vice President John C. Calhoun, and Charles Bulfinch who designed not only the original church but the U.S. Capitol. Founding members included slaves, free African Americans, immigrants, laborers, merchants and distinguished local and national leaders—each involved in key issues facing the country—abolition, education, poverty, civil rights, peace, and economic justice.
Today, All Souls Unitarian Church remains a leader of liberal reform, social justice, and community outreach. Those attending All Souls are just as active and engaged as its religious leaders and staff. In 1965, All Souls congregants marched in Selma, Alabama on behalf of voting rights for African Americans and an All Souls minister, Rev. James Reeb, was among the victims murdered there. Hundreds of volunteers helped rebuild New Orleans after Katrina; supported Florida’s Parkland School students on behalf of gun control efforts; and are now organizing support for immigrants and refugees.
We will get to see the magnificent interior of the sanctuary, listen to beautiful music from a few of the choir members singing while socially distancing themselves from each other. Come let us share in this uplifting farewell service from our nation’s capital. And stay afterwards to join in our own Zoom Social Hour to connect and share the highlights of your lives with your First Parish fellow parishioners.