Patrick Murfin writes a little history about Rev. Preston Bradley. I read it with great interest. Years ago, I met a young UU who lived down the street from the Peoples Church UU on the North side of Chicago on West Lawrence St. We went there several times, and later I attended a UU Urban Ministry Conference there. It is an amazing facility, 7 stories or so, thousand person sanctuary, and Rev. Bradley’s name is engraved on the outside. Its story was lumped in with other great urban congregations that declined with White Flight in the 1970s. I didn’t learn more (nor did I see much at the church about its history…today there are only a handful of memberes).
It is remarkable to read of Bradley’s development, as well as recognize the marginalization he experienced (as has been reported) with peers and UUA leadership. It makes me wonder if the respect and relationship were stronger, would the great UU ministry he established in a changing, multiracial neighborhood, have been strengthened and spreading among the many cultures that live there today? The lesson of Theodore Parkers great ministry in Boston and the great decline when he left has taught us much about the need for collective support and care for our faith, to make it sustainable. I pray that we make this effort with those who minister in communities, or in ways, not always in the mainstream of suburban UU congregations.