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Women Blazing Trails:
Their Flames Light the Way to Our New Frontiers


Created by Kim Hardee and Dorothy May Emerson
UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST WOMEN’S HERITAGE SOCIETY
WORSHIP SERVICE
UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST GENERAL ASSEMBLY
JUNE 24, 1994 <><> FORT WORTH, TEXAS


Introit: “The Place Where We Meet” Music by Betsy Jo Angebranndt, contemporary UU

Opening Words: We gather here today to celebrate women blazing trails. Their pioneer flames light our way as we travel our present paths or embark on new frontiers.

Chalice Lighting: The flame of our heritage lights the way to our future.

Candle Lighting: Three Flames that Light our Future Paths
1) We light this candle for all our courageous foremothers who paved the way—our foremothers who bravely demanded an education, racial justice, the vote, control over their own bodies, their womanhood.


2) We light this candle for our descendants-our children and those we influence, and those that will follow them. May they have a smoother path-a life where there is peace, equality and love.

3) We light this candle for us-our generation. May we have the strength and courage, the self-esteem, self-acceptance, self-reliance, self love, self-honesty, and self-confidence to continue challenging injustice.
Adapted from Meg Bowman, Contemporary UU


Hymn: “As Pilgrims Sailing Through the Night” Words by Florence Harris, Unitarian Poet (1891-1 933)

Responsive Reading: “Let Us Now Praise Trail-Blazing Women”
Let us now praise trail-blazing women
Our foremothers who paved the way—

THOSE WHO INITIATED CHANGE
THOSE WHO LOVED JUSTICE
THOSE WHO MADE THE WORLD GO.

Let us now praise trail-blazing women
Those wise and eloquent teachers
Who steadfastly passed on their culture—

THEIR NURTURING
THEIR HEALING
THEIR COUNSEL
THEIR WISDOM.

Let us now praise trail-blazing women
Few were honored in their generation

BUT THEY LEFT THEIR NAMES BEHIND THEM
FOR US TO SING THEIR PRAISES.

Let us now sing praises to—

ELLA LYMAN CABOT, PHEBE A. HANAFORD, MARIA MITCHELL,
FLORENCE KOLLOCK CROOKER, JOSEPHINE BAKER, ANNA SWANWICK,
FRANCES ELLEN WATKINS HARPER, FRANCES DANA BARKER GAGE,
ANITA TRUEMAN PICKETT, ELIZA RICE HANSON.

But many of our foremothers are forgotten.

THEY HAVE NO MEMORIAL,
NO REMEMBERED NAME
THEY HAVE PERISHED
AS THOUGH THEY HAD NEVER BEEN.

All those life-giving women—
STRONG UPPITY ANGRY BEAUTIFUL RIGHTEOUS ASSERTIVE.
COURAGEOUS AND WISE

They are our foremothers,

AND WE ARE THEIR CHILDREN. WE SHARE THEIR LEGACIES, FOR WE ARE THE HEIRS OFALLAGES.

Their bodies are buried,

BUT THEY ARE NOT FORGOTTEN.
THEIR LIVES SHALL NOT BE BLOTTED OUT.

For we know their wisdom— THEIR FEARS

THEIR DREAMS
THEIR SONGS
THEIR LOVE.

We sing praises to trail-blazing women—

WE SING THEIR PRAISES!
WE SING THEIR PRAISES!
Adapted from Meg Bowman, Contemporary UU

Choral Response: “A Promise Through the Ages Rings” Words by Alicia Carpenter
(#344 Singing the Living Tradition) Contemporary UU

Today we are gathered here to celebrate women who were trail blazers. These women speak to us today from many different paths. They were pioneers on frontiers such as education, science, medicine, theology, ministry, social reform. Let us now praise trail-blazing women, women who can light our way. As we look forward to new frontiers for Unitarian Universalism, we can gain inspiration from looking back to the past, looking back to the lives and words of our Unitarian and Universalist foremothers.

Hymn: “Standing Before Us” (Verses 1 and 2) Words and music by Carole Etzler, Contemporary UU

[Between the two verses, you may invite the congregation to name women
from the past who have inspired them.]

Let us now praise the trail-blazing pioneers standing before us.

ELLA LYMAN CABOT (1880-1930) was a Unitarian and a pioneer in education. She was one of the authors of the new religious education curricula published by the American Unitarian Association just before World War I.

ELLA LYMAN CABOT speaks to us today of the past, the present and the future.
We sometimes speak as if the past were over and done with: “That’s past; that’s out of date; that’s ended.” Yet try to obliterate in your thought all that is past. It is impossible, of course, because in so doing we obliterate ourselves. Without the help of what we call the past we could not live at all...
The past, instead of being done with, is, then, the real fiber of the world as we know it. Just as the food we eat nourishes us till it becomes what we act with, so the past is always what we think with...
The present. . .is what we make of it, and its size is exactly that size which our hands are capable of grasping...
Our future is in our power—not, indeed, what happens to us, but what we do with what happens to us...
How can we best meet an unknown future? Three things seem to be essential: resolve, resource, discipline...
Our own future may be spiritually and physically.. .rough, wild, [and] complicated... To meet its uncertainties we need to know what to do in woods where we have lost our life-way and in whirlpools that break to pieces our cherished hopes. (Our Part in the World, 1918)

Today we look to the past, the past that is “the real fiber of the world,” the past that “nourishes us till it becomes what we act with” and “what we think with.” The women we celebrate and praise today are inspirations for our present and our future.
And we respond, saying:

THE FLAME OF OUR HERITAGE LIGHTS THE WAY TO OUR FUTURE.

PHEBE A. HANAFORD (1829-192 1) was a Universalist and a pioneer in ministry. She was the first woman ordained to the ministry in New England. She was also a feminist activist and writer.

PHEBE A. HANAFORD speaks to us today of “Women of the Century.”
Man was not made subject to woman, nor should woman be subject to man. Neither men’s rights nor women’s rights should be considered, but human rights ,—the rights of each, the rights of all. Men and women rise or fail together. History shows that no nation can enslave its women, but it insures its own barbarism. In proportion as society advances in culture, women are freed from an unholy tyranny, and in that righteous freedom are able to do much for the world’s advancement. Every civilized nation owes much to its women. And the student of history clearly perceives that the advancement of any nation is marked by the progress of its women; and therefore social, literary, and professional life in America may be clearly exhibited by a fair statement of the characteristics, labors, and successes of the women who have become in any way notable during the century which limits the history of the United States. The new century opens with brilliant prospects from the large number of its women still living who are active in good works and noble reforms, giving fair springtime promise of the coming centuries in which a glorious harvest shall be garnered, while women and the race advance towards high moral, intellectual, and even physical development
(Daughters of America: of Women of the Century, 1882)

PHEBE HANAFORD’s century was the nineteenth, but her words speak to us today as we approach the twenty-first century. For us, too, a “new century opens with brilliant prospects.. .giving fair springtime promise of the coming centuries in which a glorious harvest shall be garnered.”

And we respond, saying:

THE FLAME OF OUR HERITAGE LIGHTS THE WAY TO OUR FUTURE.

MARIA MITCHELL (18 18-1889) was a Unitarian and a pioneer in astronomy. She discovered a comet in 1847. As professor of Astronomy at Vassar College, her teaching methods were considered radical.

MARIA MITCHELL speaks to us today of the importance of women in science.
We may turn our gaze as we turn a kaleidoscope, and the changes are infinitely more startling, the combinations infinitely more beautiful; no flower garden presents a variety and such delicacy of shades.
But as beautiful as this variety is, it is difficult to measure it; it has a phantom-like intangibility—we seem not to be able to bring it under the rules of science.
From age to age the colors of some prominent stars have certainly changed. This would seem more likely to be from change of place than of physical constitution.
Nothing comes out more clearly in astronomical observations than the immense activity of the universe. “All change, no loss, ‘tis revolution all.”
Observations of this kind are peculiarly adapted to women. Indeed, all astronomical observing seems to be so fitted. (1878)


We especially need imagination in science. It is not all mathematics, nor all logic, but it is somewhat beauty and poetry.
There will come with the greater love of science greater love to one another. Living more nearly to Nature is living father from the world and from its follies, but nearer to the world’s people; it is to be of them, with them, and for them, and especially for their improvement. We cannot see how impartially Nature gives of her riches to all, without loving all, and helping all; and if we cannot learn through Nature’s laws the certainty of spiritual truths, we can at least learn to promote spiritual growth while we are together, and live in a trusting hope of a greater growth in the future.
….The great gain would be freedom of thought. Women, more than men, are bound by tradition and authority. What the father, the brother, the doctor, and the minister have said has been received undoubtingly. Until women throw off this reverence for authority they will not develop. When they do this, when they come to truth through their investigations, when doubt leads them to discovery, the truth which they get will be theirs, and their minds will work on and on unfettered. (1871)
I am but a woman! For woman there are, undoubtedly, great difficulties in the path, but so much the more to overcome. First, no woman should say “I am but a woman.” But a woman! What more can you ask to be? (1874)
(Life, Letters and Journals, compiled in 1896)

Yes there “are, undoubtedly, great difficulties in the path.” However, with the inspiration of our Unitarian Universalist foremothers, as we embark on new frontiers we can agree: “A woman! What more can you ask to be?”

And we respond, saying:

THE FLAME OF OUR HERITAGE LIGHTS THE WAY TO OUR FUTURE.

FLORENCE KOLLOCK CROOKER (1848-1925) was a Universalist and a pioneer in ministry. She served churches all over the United States—fllinois, California, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia, and Tennessee. She advocated for equal rights for women in the work place, especially equal wages for equal services.

FLORENCE KOLLOCK CROOKER speaks to us today about women’s equal rights in the ministry.
The question is sometimes asked: “Why should there be women ministers” The answer is plain: “For the same good reasons that there is a male ministry.” That is to spread the gospel; to give religious instruction; to train the young in the ways of virtue and righteousness—in brief to help the world through the ministry of religion, as men and women are helping it through the many splendid agencies now employed in the great uplift of humanity...
[T]he change now going on in the church in its usual slow conservative way, but going on nevertheless, is changing the emphasis from theology to sociology, from creed to “what can I do to save others?” and will take into account the gifts particular to women in the work that is commonly called “the social uplift.”
As a woman she has mingled with the most devout and intellectual women of the community representing the members of all churches and no particular church.
In the women’s clubs, temperance meetings, mothers’ meetings and gatherings of a similar character, the woman minister has constituted an active member.
She has joined hands with Catholic and Protestant, and has with them taken counsel and worked for the object that has enlisted their interest and sympathy.
A woman minister is first and always a woman; a companion of women; a Friend and confidant of young people and a lover of children.
As a woman she easily passes into the sick chamber, and her gentle ministry is there even more effective than when her parishioner is in the pew before her.
The young people easily recognize her as a friend and counsellor, Thechildren in a beautiful sense are her children, and to instruct and guide them becomes an inspiration.
With a woman’s intuition, consideration and sympathy she is equal to the most delicate tasks that the domestic and social life of her parishioners may make necessary to be met and adjusted.
To the mother, sister and daughter she carries with her a peculiar favor and irresistible influence of the authority of a high priestess, and through this she leads and guides, she comforts and consoles, and thus the community and individual comes to realize “Why a woman minister.”
(as President of the Women’s Ministerial Conference, 1914)

The “usual slow conservative” change within churches has continued, and now, 80 years later women have indeed changed the face of Unitarian Universalist ministry. In ministry, as in many other frontiers, we can afiinn: “A woman! What more can you ask to be?

And we respond, saying:


THE FLAME OF OUR HERITAGE LIGHTS THE WAY TO OUR FUTURE.

S. JOSEPHiNE BAKER (1873-1945) was a Unitarian and a pioneer in medicine. A doctor, a health care reformer and a public health administrator, she worked for women’s health and for women’s suffrage.

S. JOSEPHINE BAKER speaks to us today of the pioneer spirit.
I presume I have always had the spirit of a pioneer, and at first, had the gay and gorgeous buoyance of youth. Not that I have recognized it; life has been too busy for that. But as I look back over the years, there seem to have been a surprising number of “firsts” in my life. I suspect that was because women were then making an effort to get out of the shadow-land where they had dwelt for so long, and the enormous vitality and strength of youth made almost anything seem possible. I was young and active during the years when women began to be emancipated and to find their place... The pioneer aspect of my work-that I could have been the first woman to earn a degree of Doctor of Public Health, the first woman to hold an executive governmental position, the first woman to be appointed in the professional rank in the League of Nations and above all, the first woman (or man for that matter) to act on the idea of preventive medicine in baby and child care was a function of government—seems very strange and unreal now. But it has left me with special interest in the achievements of my sex. Today women are everywhere in public life.
(Fighting For Life, 1939)

Our Unitarian and Universalist foremothers played an integral role in women being “everywhere in public life.” They provide a reservoir of power that has opened many doors for us today.

And we respond, saying:

THE FLAME OF OUR HERITAGE LIGHTS THE WAY TO OUR FUTURE.

ANNA SWANWICK (born 1813) was a British Unitarian and a pioneer in education. She worked for the enfranchisement of women in education. Together with other pioneers, she founded several women’s colleges.

ANNA SWANWICK speaks to us today of the “Enfranchisement of Women.”
On the battlefield of life, where the powers of evil and of good are arrayed for mortal combat, the forces which are needed are not physical but spiritual forces; not powerful limbs, but hearts and brains; and in these, women are not deficient. Give them a sound, practical education, remove their social and political disabilities, and in their energy and sympathy, conscientiousness and tenderness, we shall, I believe, have a reservoir of power which will lift this great nation to a higher level of social and political life.
(in Unitarian Teachers: Their Lead in Thought and Work, 1923)

As we look to the past, the lives of our Unitarian and Universalist foremothers we can see that their “reservoir of power” did a great deal to “lift this nation to a higher level of social and political life.” Their flames are a reservoir for us today.

And we respond, saying:

THE FLAME OF OUR HERITAGE LIGHTS THE WAY TO OUR FUTURE.

FRANCES ELLEN WATKINS HARPER (1825-1911) was an African American Unitarian and a pioneer in social reform. She was a writer and a public speaker, who worked both for women’s suffrage and for racial justice.

FRANCES ELLEN WATKINS HARPER speaks to us today of women’s political responsibilities.
Today women hold in their hands influence and opportunity, and with these they have already opened doors which have been closed by others. By opening doors of labor woman has become a rival claimant for at least some of the wealth monopolized by her stronger brother. In the home she is the priestess, in society the queen, in literature she is a power, in legislative halls law-makers have responded to her appeals, and for her sake have humanized and liberalized their laws. The press has felt the impress of her hand. In the pews of the church she constitutes the majority; the pulpit has welcomed her, and in the school she has the blessed privilege of teaching the children and youth. To her is apparently coming the added responsibility of political power; and what she now possesses should only be the means of preparing her to use the coming power for the glory of God and the good of [hu]mankind; for power without righteousness is one of the most dangerous forces in the world...
0 women of America! into your hands God has pressed one of the sublimest opportunities that ever came into the hands of the women of any race or people. It is yours to create a healthy public sentiment; to demand justice, simple justice, as the right of every race; to brand with everlasting infamy the lawless and brutal cowardice that lynches, burns, and tortures your own [people.]
(Speech given at the World Congress of Representative Women, 1893)

Today “women do hold in their hands influence and opportunity and with these they have already opened doors closed by others.” Our Unitarian and Universalist foremothers helped a great deal in opening many of those doors, doors to voting, freedom, and equal opportunity in the work place, such as in science, and medicine. They also showed us that “one of our sublimest opportunities... is to “create a healthy public sentiment; to demand justice.”

And we respond, saying:

THE FLAME OF OUR HERITAGE LIGHTS THE WAY TO OUR FUTURE.

FRANCES DANA BAKER GAGE (1808-1884) was aUniversalist and a social refonner. Eliza Hanson called her “one of the great forces of the nineteenth century. She fought for temperance, anti-slavery, and the rights of women.

FRANCES DANA BARKER GAGE speaks to us today to inspire us to “Dare to Stand Alone.”
Be bold, be firm, be strong, be true,
And dare to stand alone.
Strike for the right, whate’er ye do,
Though helpers there be none.

Oh! bend not the swelling surge
of popular crime and wrong.
‘Twill bear thee on to ruin’s verge
With current wild and strong.

Strike for the right, tho’ falsehood rail
And proud lips coldly sneer;
A poisoned arrow can not wound
A conscious pure and clear.

Strike for the right, and with clean hands
Exalt on high.
Thou’lt find warm, sympathizing hearts
Among passers by.

Those who have thought, felt, and prayed,
Yet could not singly dare
The battle’s burnt; but by thy side
Will every danger share.

Strike for the right, uphold the truth;
thoul’t find an answering tone
In honest hearts, and soon no more
Be left to stand alone.
(in Our Women Workers, 1881)

The words of our Universalist and Unitarian foremothers inspire us today to embark on new frontiers. Frontiers can often be lonely at first, but if we do “Dare to Stand Alone,” we may find that others will join us and we will “soon no more be left to stand alone.”

And we respond, saying:

THE FLAME OF OUR HERITAGE LIGHTS THE WAY TO OUR FUTURE.

ANITA TRUEMAN PICKET (188 1-1961) was a Unitarian and a pioneer in ministry. She knew a way to never stand alone. She viewed every day as a romantic adventure by realizing the divine within her soul.

With the help of Lila Cobb, UU musician from Maine, who recently set her “Confession of Faith” to music, and with the help of our choir, ANITA TRUEMAN PICKETI’ sings to us today of faith.

As the choir sings, we will gratefully accept your offering to help keep the flame of our heritage burning bright.

Offertory: “A Confession of Faith” Words by Anita Trueman Pickett;
Music by Lila Cobb

[Alternative: If you do not have a choir that can sing this anthem, you may want to read “A Confession of Faith,” by Anita Trueman Pickett, followed by a period of silent meditation.]

To realize and reveal the Divine within my soul,
To see, serve, and worship the Divine in all else;
This is my life, my faith, my religion...


Every day is a romantic adventure,
Every place I visit is holy ground.
All persons I meet are Divine Companions,
seeking me as I seek them,
That we may reveal the Divine in our souls
one to another,
And share the Divine that we discover
in our Universe.

And we respond, saying:

THE FLAME OF OUR HERITAGE LIGHTS THE WAY TO OUR FUTURE.

ELLZA RICE HANSON was a Universalist and a pioneer in women’s history. Thanks to her we have the stories of many Universalist women. She wrote more than two thousand letters to collect facts for the entries in her book Our Women Workers, published in 1881.

ELIZA RICE HANSON speaks to us today of “Unknown Women.”
There is a kind of pain felt by the thoughtful reader of the world’s history, as he [or she] thinks of the multitudes of the unknown people who constituted not only the bone and sinew, but the heart and soul of the nations...
[A] singular feeling of sadness may creep over many readers of this book, which seeks faithfully to give some account of some of the more notable Women Workers of the Universalist Church, as they think of many others equally scholarly, Christian, and worthy, and who have given equally faithful service to the church and humanity, and who are yet remanded to the great company of the Unknown...
[Universalism] was to them a great joy. They received their children into their anns, not as specimens of total depravity, but as pure souls of God’s image- gifts of divine love to be brought up in their nuture of the Lord, and to be enjoyed not only in this world but in the one to come. They received the girls as equally dear to God as their boys...

And very soon they began to make themselves felt in our literature and our churches, but most in our homes and in the social influences which went out from them. When we began to found schools by which our church could educate its children in its own way, it received the hearty approval of our women, and they have educated great numbers of their sons and daughters in them... Many and many a noble woman in our church standing behind her husband, has influenced him to give bountifully to our institutions. These invisible benefactors are largely among the Unknown in the record book of our church...
But more and better of this womanly worth, which adorns the kingdom of the Master, is found in the richly intelligent and strongly endowed souls of so many of the women of our church, who are inspiring and sustaining spirits of our faith and work all over the land.... These women, so strong in the mind and heart and power of usefulness, that they are not only in a large degree the life of the church, but equally the life and leaven of society, are, for the most pan, so absorbed in the private ways and walks of life, that their names must be relegated to that great class who go into the record as Unknown...
No mention of the names of our women known to the public, as the Women Workers of our Church, would, therefore, be just, unless supplemented by an appreciative recognition of the worth and work of the less public, but not less meritorious characters and services of the Unnamed Many...
(Our Women Workers, 1881)

Although we do not know the names of many of our foremothers, we do know that their work nourishes and sustains us today.

And we respond, saying:

THE FLAME OF OUR HERITAGE LIGHTS THE WAY TO OUR FUTURE.

Hymn: “Standing Before Us” (Verses 3 and 4) Words and music by Carole Etzler
Contemporaiy UU

[Between the verses invite people to say the names of women who inspire and sustain them. On the last verse, encourage them to think of women in their own families.]

Closing Words: May the flame of our heritage light the way to our future. May you blaze your own trails to light the path for the next generation. May the flame of our heritage continue to pass from generation to generation. Amen. Blessed Be.

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Notes about the Music
“The Place Where We Meet,” music by Jo Angebranndt, and Singing the Living Tradition are available from the Unitarian Universalist Association Bookstore, 25 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108. (617) 742-2100.
“Standing Before Us, words and music by Carole Etzler, is available in the songbook, Take Up the Song. which may be ordered for $6.95 (including postage) from Sisters Unlimited, RR 1 Box 1420, Vergenes, VT 05491.
“Confession of Faith,” words by Anita Thieman Pickett and music by Lila Cobb, is available for $6.00 (including postage) from the Unitarian Universalist Women’s Heritage Society, 147 High Street, Medford, MA 02155. (781) 396-7494.
Special thanks to David Johnson for rediscovering “As Pilgrims Sailing Through the Night” (words by Florence Harris) and to Lila Cobb for creating the version used in this service.