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All Souls Unitarian Church
 

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In the spring of 1903, the American Unitarian Association sent the Reverend Elmer Newbert to Indianapolis to start a Unitarian church. The first public service was held early in May 1903. The congregation first met in the Hebrew Temple at the corner of 10th and Delaware streets. Reverend Newbert came from the All Souls Unitarian Church of Augusta, Maine, bringing with him the name for the new church. During Reverend Newbert’s tenure as minister, the All Souls covenant was created.

Reverend Newbert resigned and in October of 1905 and Dr. F.S.C. Wicks was named minister. All Souls grew rapidly during his 33-year ministry. In 1909, plans for a new church began to take shape. Horace McKay was instrumental in obtaining a property on north Alabama Street. Kurt Vonnegut, Sr., church member and architect, helped design the new facility. The new church was dedicated at a service in 1911.

In 1938, E. Burdette Backus was installed as minister. The sermons of Dr. Backus were aired on radio station WIRE. During his years of service the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to accept African-Americans into membership.

Jack Mendelsohn was installed as minister in 1954 after the retirement of Dr. Backus. It wasn’t long before it became apparent that a larger facility was needed.  In 1956, the congregation chose the current site on E. 56th Street for its new home. The final service at 1453 N. Alabama was held on February 8th, 1959. Reverend Mendelsohn led a procession to the new church. Many members of the church walked, carrying historic relics and symbols to the new facility.

Reverend Mendelsohn resigned in June of 1959 and the Reverend John G. MacKinnon was installed. In 1961, the Unitarian and Universalist denominations merged. In November of 1962 the Holtkamp pipe organ was installed at All Souls.

Reverend Paul H. Beattie was the next minister to lead All Souls. He began Sunday morning radio broadcasts in 1973, and it was during his years of service that All Souls held its first annual retreat and its first recognition service for longtime members. Dr. Beattie resigned in 1982 and Fred Campbell became interim minister.

In 1984, the congregation voted to call Reverend W. Edward Harris as its minister. Reverend Harris served as President of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association and published numerous articles and books on religious issues, politics, and community affairs. He also wrote poetry.

In 1990, Nancy Renner Kennedy became Director of Religious Education. Upon Reverend Harris’ resignation in 1992, the congregation voted to bestow upon him the honor of minister emeritus. Larry McGinty then became interim minister.

In 1993 Reverend Bruce Clear became minister of All Souls, which celebrated its 100th birthday in 2003. It was during this time that the Centennial Celebration Capital Campaign Committee was formed, paving the way for many improvements to the building, including the Atrium addition. Reverend Clear served the church until 2011 when he retired due to medical issues. The congregation voted to bestow upon him the honor of minister emeritus.

The Reverend Dr. Gretchen Woods served All Souls Unitarian Church as the two-year interim minister from August 2011-July 2013 while we searched for a new settled minister.

In August 2013, Anastassia Zinke arrived as our newly settled minister. Her ordination and installation occurred in November 2013.

 

Extended History