Toward the Beloved Community 

… winner of the 2016 Unitarian Universalist History and Heritage Society Award which is awarded every three years, written by historian and First Unitarian Church member Cindy Cumfer in celebration of First Unitarian Church’s 150th anniversary.

Cindy is a now-retired Oregon attorney whose practice focused exclusively on advising nonprofit organizations. She has a PhD in history from UCLA and taught nonprofit history at Reed College. Her book Separate peoples, One Land won the 2007 Award for Best Tennessee History. Her writings have appeared in The Journal of the Early Republic, Oregon Law Review, and Tennessee Women: Their Lives and Times.

Anniversary histories are often largely congratulatory, meant to celebrate the organization. But author Cindy Cumfer has done much more with this volume by placing the church in the context in which it operated in terms of national and local events and ideas, and in connection with what was happening in the larger Unitarian and Universalist movements. Says Ms. Cumfer, “The church and the world exist in a mutually reinforcing relationship, in which what happens in the world informs the church and what the church does impacts the world. I was curious to see how this played out at First Unitarian.”

Unitarian Universalist Association’s (UUA) former president Peter Morales praises Cindy’s book: “This volume is no dull antiquarian history of one congregation. The focus is on Portland, but the story is really about our liberal faith adapting and evolving. Here is a story of real people engaging with changes in culture, race relations, economics, and theology.” And former UUA president John Buehrens adds, “This is a fascinating, well-written history, filled with unsung heroes and heroines … Read it and be inspired!”

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