A devout Catholic friend of mine visited our church yesterday morning because I was preaching and then, before church, a woman who is fairly new to our community pulled me aside and said, "I really like this church, and I wonder, do Unitarians believe in God?, because I do sometimes." We had a good talk and it got me thinking about true "Catholicity" in a worship service. That, in turn, put me in mind of this description of John A. Andrew's (who became the Civil War time Gov. of Mass.) first exposure to James Freeman Clarke, who would become his minister...
John A. Andrew, after hearing him (JFC) preach for the first time, in 1841, wrote to a friend : —
" I have forgotten to give you my impressions of Rev. J. F. Clarke. In the first place I liked the flavor of the man. He carried his service as though he felt it a good thing to worship God and wanted the people to feel the same. I liked his sermon thoroughly. It was upon well-seasoned speech. ' Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.' And the sermon was itself a good illustration of the theme. Its spirit was Christian to the core, and did not disturb my Orthodox conscience in the least. I think I felt the catholicity of the man : he did not say a word that could be fairly understood to touch any man's honest convictions uugeutly. The whole service I enjoyed heartily ; and not the least agreeable experience was the being invited to seats at least half-a-dozen times while I was waiting for my friend at the entrance."