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A Hundred Years Hence
Created by Sarah Barber-Braun, Paula Copestick, and Dorothy Emerson
for the Unitarian Universalist Women’s Heritage Society
Worship Service at General Assembly, 1996

Chalice Lighting:
Leader: Take from the past not its ashes but its fire.
Response: The flame of our heritage lights the way to our future.

Opening Words (in three voices):
“The Past, the Present, and the Future” adapted from Ella Lyman Cabot (1918)

I. The Past: 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“That’s past; that’s out of date; that’s ended.”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.

II. The Present: The present. . . is what we make of it, and its size is exactly that size which our hands are capable of grasping.

III. The Future: 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.

All: 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.

Opening Hymn: “A Hundred Years Hence”, words by Frances Dana Barker Gage (1852)
(Used with the tune: Milton 11.11.11.11.)

One hundred years hence, what a change will be made
In politics, morals, religion and trade,
In statesmen who wrangle or ride on the fence,
These things will be altered a hundred years hence.

Our laws then will be uncompulsory rules,
Our prisons converted to national schools,
The pleasure of sinning ‘tis all a pretense,
And people will find that, a hundred years hence.

All cheating and fraud will be laid on the shelf,
Men will not get drunk, nor be bound up in self,
But all live together, good neighbors and friends,
As Christian folks ought to, a hundred years hence

Then woman, man’s partner, man’s equal shall stand,
While beauty and harmony govern the land,
To think for oneself will be no offense,
The world will be thinking, a hundred years hence.

Oppression and war will be heard of no more
Nor blood of a slave leave his print on our shore,
Conventions will then be a useless expense,
For we’ll go free-suffrage a hundred years hence.

Instead of speech-making to satisfy wrong,
We’ll all join the chorus to sing Freedom’s song;
And if the Millennium is not a pretense,
We’ll all be good [neighbors] a hundred years hence.

Welcome and Introduction
Frances Gage wrote the words to this hymn nearly 150 years ago. Clearly we have already passed by half a century the time she hoped her vision of a world of justice and peace would come to pass. This service today, created by the Unitarian Universalist Women’s Heritage Society, offers us an opportunity to reflect on the visions of our foremothers, to consider our own contemporary response, and to envision anew what we hope to bring into being one hundred years from now.

I. The Past: Introducing Frances Dana Barker Gage
We are honored to have with us today the visionary author of our Opening Hymn, Frances Dana Barker Gage. She is a writer, lecturer and social activist, known to the readers of her famous column as “Aunt Fanny.” Her religion is Universalism, and she works tirelessly for social reform, particularly for the abolition of slavery, for temperance, and for equal rights for women.

Just one example of her activities will demonstrate her visionary perspective, which included an understanding of the need to link oppressions. In 1850, she organized a petition drive to secure voting rights for women of all races and for African Americans both male and female, by asking the Ohio legislature to eliminate the words “white” and “male” from the new state constitution then being drafted.

The following year, she was chosen to preside at the second Ohio women’s rights convention, which was held in the Universalist church in Akron. It was at this gathering that Sojourner Truth gave her famous “Ain’t I a Woman” speech.

In her opening remarks to that convention, Frances Gage drew on the Bible as an unexpected source of validation for equal rights for women.

Reading: “Male and Female Created He Them” by Frances Dana Barker Gage (1851)
Permit me to draw a comparison between the situation of our forefathers in the wilderness, without even so much as a bridle-path through its dark depths, and our present position. The old land of moral, social, and political privilege, seems too narrow for our wants; its soil answers not to our growing, and we feel that we see clearly a better country that we might inhabit. But there are mountains of established law and custom to overcome; a wilderness of prejudice to be subdued; a powerful foe of selfishness and self- interest to overthrow; wild beasts of pride, envy, malice, and hate to destroy. But for the sake of our children and our children’s children, we have entered upon the work, hoping and praying that we may be guided by wisdom, sustained by love, and led and cheered by the earnest hope of doing good.
I shall enter into no labored argument to prove that woman does not occupy the position in society to which her capacity justly entitles her. The rights of mankind emanate from their natural wants and emotions. Are not the natural wants and emotions of humanity common to, and shared equally by, both sexes? Does man hunger and thirst, suffer cold and heat more than woman? Does he love and hate, hope and fear, joy and sorrow more than woman? Does his heart thrill with a deeper pleasure in doing good? Can his soul writhe in more bitter agony under the consciousness of evil or wrong?

Is the sunshine more glorious, the air more quiet, the sounds or harmony more soothing, the perfume of flowers more exquisite, or forms of beauty more soul-satisfying to his senses than to hers? To all these interrogatories every one will answer, No!

Where then did man get the authority that he now claims over one-half of humanity? From what power the vested right to place woman—his partner, his companion, his helpmate in life—in an inferior position? Came it from nature? Nature made woman his superior when she made her his mother; his equal when she fitted her to hold the sacred position of wife. Does he draw his authority from God, from the language of holy writ? No! For it says that “Male and female created he them, and gave them dominion.”

Does he claim it under law of the land? Did woman meet with him in council and voluntarily give up all her claim to be her own lawmaker? Or did the majesty of might place this power in his hands? The power of the strong over the weak makes man the master! Yes, there, and there only, does he gain his authority.

In the dark ages of the past, when ignorance, superstition, and bigotry held rule in the world, might made the law. But the undertone, the still small voice of Justice, Love, and Mercy, have ever been heard, pleading the cause of humanity, pleading for truth and right; and their low, soft tones of harmony have softened the lion heart of might, and, little by little, he has yielded as the centuries rolled on; and man, as well as woman, has been the gainer by every concession. We will ask him to yield still; to allow the voice of woman to be heard: to let her take the position which her wants and emotions seem to require; to let her enjoy her natural rights.

Do not answer that woman’s position is now all her natural wants and emotions require. Our meeting here together this day proves the contrary; proves that we have aspirations that are not met. Will it be answered that we are factious, discontented spirits, striving to disturb the public order, and tear up the old fastnesses of society? So it was said of Jesus Christ and His followers, when they taught peace on earth and good-will to men. So it was said of our forefathers in the great struggle for freedom. So it has been said of every reformer that has ever started out the car of progress on a new and untried track.

We fear not man as an enemy. He is our friend, our brother. Let woman speak for herself, and she will be heard. Let her claim with a calm and determined, yet loving spirit, her place, and it will be given her. I pour out no harsh invectives against the present order of things—against our fathers, husbands, and brothers; they do as they have been taught; they feel as society bids them; they act as the law requires. Woman must act for herself.

Oh, if all women could be impressed with the importance of their own action, and with one united voice, speak out in their own behalf, in behalf of humanity, they could create a revolution without armies, without bloodshed, that would do more to ameliorate the condition of mankind, to purify, elevate, ennoble humanity, than all that has been done by reformers in the last century.


Meditation: Thanking and Naming Women from the Past Who Are Our Spiritual Guides
You are invited now to remember and to name women from the past who have served as your spiritual guides.

Hymn: “Great Over-Soul and Inter-Heart”, words by Mary Safford (1895) as edited by Eugene B. Navias, with the tune: Duke Street L.M.)

Great Over-Soul and Inter-Heart,
Of whom we feel ourselves a part,
To whom all souls forever tend,
Our Father, Mother, nearest Friend.

This church with love to thee we bring,
And while our spirits inly* sing,
We pray that it may ever be
A Home for all who seek for thee.

The home of faith in all things true,
A faith that seeks the larger view,
The home of love that yearns to bless.
The home of truth and righteousness.

Long may it stand, the outward sign
Of that indwelling Life divine,
Which makes thy children truly free,
And draws them ever nearer thee.

*The word “inly” was in common usage in Mary Safford’s day and means inwardly, intimately, thoroughly.

II. The Present Verse by Verse, Voice by Voice—a response to Frances Gage
Nearly 150 years ago Frances Gage challenged women of her day to create a world of justice and peace. Furthermore, she spelled out that vision with details of how life would be “a hundred years hence.”

Today, we have our own visionaries. We hear their voices as a response to Frances Gage, as evidence that her vision lives on in us. Several of these women have spoken to us at our General Assemblies, from the prestigious platform of the Ware Lecture. We hope that those who have not yet addressed us in this fashion will be invited to do so soon.

Frances Gage reads her hymn, verse by verse. She is answered by the voices of contemporary women.

Verse 1: One hundred years hence, what a change will be made
In politics, morals, religion and trade,
In statesmen who wrangle or ride on the fence,
These things will be altered a hundred years hence.

Pat Schroeder, United States Congressperson:
Women all over the country can get to know the facts.. . so they can stand up and ask the hard questions and say, “We want to be involved in the details of our own protection, rather than trusting it to the same old craziness.
Verse 2: Our laws then will be uncompulsory rules,
Our prisons converted to national schools,
The pleasure of sinning ‘tis all a pretense,
And people will find that, a hundred years hence.

Coretta Scott King, Human Rights Activist:
If. . . women would increase their voting turnout by 10%, I think we would see an end to all of the budget cuts in programs benefiting women and
children. . . . Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul.

Verse 3: All cheating and fraud will be laid on the shelf,
Men will not get drunk, nor be bound up in self,
But all live together, good neighbors and friends,
As Christian folks ought to, a hundred years hence.

Marian Wright Edelman, Director of the Children’s Defense Fund:
When the new century dawns with new global economic and military challenges, [we] will be ready to compete economically and lead morally only if we stop cheating and neglecting our children for selfish, short-sighted, personal, and political gain...

Verse 4: Then woman, man’s partner, man’s equal shall stand,
While beauty and harmony govern the land,
To think for oneself will be no offense,
The world will be thinking, a hundred years hence.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, First Lady of the United States:
The challenges of change are always hard. It is important that we begin to unpack those challenges that confront this nation and realize that we each have a role that requires us to change and become more responsible for shaping our own future.

Verse 5: Oppression and war will be heard of no more
Nor blood of a slave leave his print on our shore,
Conventions will then be a useless expense,
For we’ll go free-suffrage a hundred years hence.

Helen Caldicott, Founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility:
The power of an aroused public is unbeatable. Vietnam.. . proved that. It must be demonstrated again. It is not too late, for while there is life there is hope. There is no cause for pessimism, for already I have seen great obstacles surmounted. Nor need we be afraid, for I have seen democracy work.

Verse 6: Instead of speech-making to satisfy wrong,
We’ll all join the chorus to sing Freedom’s song;
And if the Millennium is not a pretense,
We’ll all be good [neighbors] a hundred years hence.

Sonia Johnson, Radical Feminist:
We must remember that one determined person can make a significant difference, and that a small group of determined people can change the course of history.

The Women and Religion Resolution (1977):
In our own Unitarian Universalist movement, women took a stand to change the course of history by creating the Women and Religion Resolution. In 1977, the General Assembly called upon all Unitarian Universalists “to examine carefully their own religious beliefs and the extent to which these beliefs influence sex-role stereotypes.” Furthermore, religious leaders were encouraged to “(a) put traditional assumptions and language in perspective, and (b) avoid sexist assumptions and language in the future.”

This resolution has sent reverberations throughout our movement. The changes did not happen all at once, but change has occurred. When we get discouraged at how slow things are to change, we need only remember this one resolution to realize the power we have in our hands to make systemic change.

Meditation: Thanking and Naming Women of the Present Who Are Our Spiritual Guides and Mentors. We invite you now to remember and name women of the present who are your spiritual guides and mentors.

Hymn: “Spirit of Life” by Carolyn McDade (1981), (#123 in Singing the Living Tradition)

III. The Future Once again, Frances Gage inspires us to move forward into the future, with her poem “Dare to Stand Alone.” Let us read it together antiphonally.

Antiphonal Reading: “Dare to Stand Alone” by Frances Dana Barker Gage (c. 1852)

Right: 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.

Left: Oh! bend not to the swelling surge
Of popular sneer and wrong;
‘Twill bear thee on to ruin’s verge
With current wild and strong.

Right: Stand for the Right! Humanity
Implores, with groans and tears,
Thine aid to break the fest’ring links
That bind her toiling years.

Left: Stand for the Right! Though falsehood reign,
And proud lips coldly sneer,
A poisoned arrow cannot wound
A conscience pure and clear.

Right: Stand for the Right!—and with clean hands
Exalt the truth on high;
Thou’lt find warm sympathizing hearts
Among the passers-by—

Left: Those who have seen, and thought, and felt,
Yet could not boldly dare
The battle’s brunt, but by thy side
Will every danger share.

All: Stand for the Right! Proclaim it loud—
Thou’lt find an answering tone
In honest hearts, and thou no more
Be doomed to stand alone!

Meditation: Envisioning the Future—What do WE hope to see a hundred years hence?
We know that what we are doing in the present is helping to create the future. But what is the future we are seeking to bring into being? Let us pause now for a moment of silence and allow the future to come into focus in our minds and hearts. (Silence)

You are invited now to come forward to light a candle and to name some element of the future you are helping to bring into being.

Closing Hymn: “Take up the Song” by Carole Etzler Eagleheart and Brenda Chambers (1986)*

Closing Words: “The Opening Doors” by Olympia Brown (1920)
Dear Friends, stand by this faith. Work for it and sacrifice for it. . . . Do not demand immediate results but rejoice that we are worthy to be entrusted with this great message and that you are strong enough to work for a great true principle without counting the cost. Go on finding ever new applications of these truths and new enjoyments in their contemplation, always trusting in the one God which ever lives and loves.

*AJ and music by Carole Etzler Eagleheart and Bren Chambers, 1986 © Use only with permission from composers.
Published in the songbook Take Up the Song, which may be ordered for $7.45 including postage, from:
Sisters Unlimited, Inc.
RR 1, Box 1420, Bridgeport, VT 05734
802-758-2549 -