Thursday, December 28, 2017

Prophetic voices and events - Noah Worcester: Peace advocate

December 28, 1815, the Massachusetts Peace Society was organized by Unitarian Minister, Noah Worcester. It was the first peace society in the world. Rev. Worcester was called, "apostle of peace."

The Rev. Willian Ellery Channing gave the eulogy at Rev. Worcester's funeral in 1835. Here is part of what Channing said,

"He was distinguished above all whom I have known, by his comprehension and deep feeling of the spirit of Christianity; by the sympathy with which he seized on the character of Jesus Christ as a manifestation of Perfect Love; by the honor in which he held the mild,- humble, forgiving, disinterested virtues of our religion. This distinguishing trait of his mind was embodied and brought out in his whole life and conduct. He especially expressed it in his labors for the promotion of Universal Peace on the earth. He was struck, as no other man within my acquaintance has been, with the monstrous incongruity between the spirit of Christianity and the spirit of Christian communities; between Christ's teaching of peace, mercy, forgiveness, and the wars which divide and desolate the church and the world. Every man has particular impressions which rule over and give a hue to his mind. Every man is struck by some evils rather than others. The excellent individual of whom I speak was shocked, heart-smitten, by nothing so much as by seeing that man hates man, that man destroys his brother, that man has drenched the earth with his brother's blood, that man, in his insanity, has crowned the murderer of his race with the highest honors; and, still worse, that Christian hates Christian, that church wars against church, that differences of forms and opinions array against each other those whom Christ died to join together in closest brotherhood, and that Christian zeal is spent in building up sects, rather than in spreading the spirit of Christ, and enlarging and binding together the universal church. The great evil on which his mind and heart fixed, was War, Discord, Intolerance, the substitution of force for Reason and Love. To spread peace on earth became the object of his life."[1]

For more click here


  1. The UUA voted to make peacemaking a Congregational Study/Action Issue from 2006 - 2010. The UUA adopted a State of Conscience on the issue in 2010. You can read ithere.. Having skimmed a lot of this material about the issue, I never knew before the extremely deep roots that peacemaking has in Unitarianism. It is a wonderful thing to learn about Rev. Noah Worcester. Not only was he a pioneer in the Christian peace movement, he was the first. Thank you for posting this about UUs remarkable history.

  2. I have long been an admirer of the Quakers and their peace movement as well as Pax Christi, the Peace movement in the Catholic church. And then, of course, there are the Menonites and the Amish. Jesus was a pacifist and told Peter to put away his sword when the Roman soldiers came to arrest him. The UUs seem more ambivalent about peace and it is a great joy this morning to learn about the long tradition in Unitarianism. Noah Worcester was passionate in his belief in Jesus teachings of peace. This is exciting information for me. I am delighted to learn this.

  3. Joseph Heller the author of Catch 22 said, "Peace on earth would be the end of civilization as we know it." I laughed and then thought "How wonderful!" We need to dismantle our old civilization and create a new one. Worcester began the project. Perhaps we could covenant together to form the "Worcester society" to pursue his dream. Anyone interested in joining?

  4. This story needs to be told more widely. There is the UU Peacemakers but they don't seem to be too active. I wonder if they have any kind of strategic plan or work plan? To go to their web site click here.


Print Friendly and PDF