May 16-17, 2007 — Washington, D.C.
The Christian Universalist Association held its founding meeting at Universalist National Memorial Church in Washington, D.C., on May 16-17, 2007. Five members of the CUA Board of Directors attended the meeting in person (shown and listed above). Five other Board members participated by telephone conference call: Rev. Dr. John Morgan, Brad Edwards, Dr. Ken R. Vincent, Dr. Cecil E. Bohanon, and Rev. Felicia Urbanski. One non-Board member attended the meeting in person: Todd Miller of Bushland Community Church in Amarillo, Texas. One Board member was not able to participate because of medical reasons: Charles Slagle. Two of the 13 total seats on the Board remained vacant at the time of the meeting, pending responses from people invited to serve.
At this historic gathering, the Christian Universalist Association Board of Directors voted to approve the CUA’s Statement of Faith, Bylaws and Policy; elected officers of the Board; and established six standing committees and elected their chairs. All of these votes were unanimous. Projects and budgetary goals for the CUA’s first year were also unanimously approved.
CUA Officers for 2007-08:
- Kalen Fristad, Chair
- John Morgan, Vice Chair
- Eric Stetson, Executive Director
- Brad Edwards, Treasurer
- Lillie Henley, Secretary
CUA Committee Chairs for 2007-08:
- Historical Research – Ken Vincent
- Ordination – Lillie Henley
- Ministerial Relations – Rick Spencer
- Evangelism – John Morgan
- Fundraising – Cecil Bohanon (acting)
- Annual Conference – Felicia Urbanski
The Executive Director was authorized to proceed immediately following this meeting to file Articles of Incorporation for the Christian Universalist Association and to apply for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.
Eric Stetson, who began the process of forming the CUA in January 2007, noted how quickly and successfully the nascent organization has been able to attract a highly experienced and diverse leadership team that is passionate about spreading the Good News of universal salvation. “I believe the Holy Spirit is in this,” he said. “When new religious movements start, if they are of God there is a special energy you can feel — a sense that a great work of the Lord is underway. I believed this was possible when I first discovered Christian Universalism, and now that I have seen things come together for the CUA even faster and better than I expected, I know it is true.” Rev. Stetson looks forward to a bright future for the CUA. “I expect that within a few years time, the Christian Universalist Association will have turned the religious world upside down. We are seeing the beginnings of a Second Reformation in Christianity, and a great revolution in spirituality as a whole.”
Kalen Fristad, the Chair of the CUA, shared this view. “I believe everyone has the desire to make history, to do something profound and world-changing,” he said. “As much as people may desire to make a world of difference, few of us really have a realistic opportunity to do so. We, in the Christian Universalist Association, have the opportunity by the grace and power of God to help dramatically change the world for the better. We are like surfers who have caught a wave that is just beginning to develop, and which I am confident will grow to such magnitude that it will carry humankind into the coming centuries with a spiritual awakening, perhaps the greatest in human history.”
Rev. Fristad went on to explain the power of Christian Universalism and the CUA to affect dramatic change. “By helping to organize and resource the rapidly growing number of people who are coming to embrace the message of God’s unconditional love and unlimited salvation, and by facilitating the spread of this message to seekers around the world, we in the CUA will not only help bring about a spiritual revival, but there will be profound social change as well. That is because, as this growing number of people gives up their belief in a judgmental, condemning and cruel God, they come to more and more closely resemble the true God, who is loving, kind, merciful, forgiving, nurturing and saving.”
Ken Vincent pointed out that “In the past few years, there’s been much interest in getting back to the ‘original’ Christianity. Christian Universalism is the theology of the earliest Christians.” And in keeping with the ecumenical spirit of the CUA, he explained that “Universalism does not require a change of denomination; it takes a change of heart.”
Lillie Henley is the pastor of the historic Universalist church where the CUA’s first meeting was held — a church that was the national cathedral of the Universalist Church of America before this denomination merged with the Unitarians in 1961, and which remains a Christian Universalist church today. Rev. Henley said that “It has been an honor to host the Christian Universalist Association Board meeting at the Universalist National Memorial Church in Washington, D.C. The Church is a tribute to the perseverance of men and women who have kept Universalism alive and well in the heart of our nation.”
The founding of the Christian Universalist Association marks the first time in decades that there has been an organized association of churches openly and boldly teaching Universalism as the central theme of the Christian Gospel. It is the only ecumenical, interdenominational association ever to do so. Rev. Henley expressed hope for the CUA and its mission. “We need a Christian association that lifts up God’s love for all. We need a Christian association that supports Christians and Christian churches that spread the Good News of God’s all-abiding, all-including love. It is an honor to be a part of the CUA and a Board member. It is my hope that the association we are creating will make a difference in the world.”
G. A. Roach said that “The formation of the Christian Universalist Association is of great historical note. The impact of this meeting will continue to have an impact for years to come — not only on those who are directly involved, but very possibly on the whole world. We should all thank our heavenly Father for the opportunity to participate in what He is doing in our day. May we be usable vessels in His hands to accomplish His will and glorify Him.”
A special occurrence took place on the afternoon of Thursday, May 17. The day had been cloudy in Washington, but the sun suddenly broke through the clouds and began streaming into the room where the CUA Board of Directors was meeting, immediately after the votes were taken to officially establish the organization and elect its leaders. This was noted by the Board members present as a sign that divine light and blessing shines upon the newly formed Christian Universalist Association.