We’re planning an adults-only Boston trip. We’ve been talking about doing another adult trip for a few years – this will be our third, October 19 and 20. We do the same thing that our Coming of Age class does – including having some fun!
We leave Westport on a bus by 9 a.m. and arrive in Boston a little before noon. We have a picnic lunch on Boston Public Garden, near the Swan boats. The first stop of our tour is the statue of William Ellery Channing, the so-called Father of Unitarianism in America.
Channing launched the Unitarian movement in 1819 in Baltimore, Maryland, delivering a sermon he titled Unitarian Christianity. Channing was spokesperson for a group of Boston area clergy who believed that the Trinity was antithetical to mature religious development. Passages from Channing’s sermon are read at his statue, setting the tone for the tour.
The statue is positioned in such a way that allows Channing to look across the street at the church he served for 38 years – if the doors of Arlington Street Church (formerly Federal Street Church) are open, Channing has a perfect view of the sanctuary with its high pulpit.
The statue itself is a little misleading – Channing was only five feet tall. Some say five feet and two inches; but all agree that he was ‘a giant.’
After a taste of Channing’s sermon we cross Arlington Street and tour the church with the largest collection of Tiffanystained glass in the world. If we’re fortunate, we get to hear the 3,000-pipe organ, and those willing and able climb up to the bell tower and ring out songs by number – each of the ropes is numbered and familiar tunes are heard across to Boston Common.
From Arlington Street we walk across Boston Public Garden, cross to Boston Common and up Beacon Hill to visitour UUA headquarters at 25 Beacon Street. We cross Beacon Street to see the statue-relief of Robert Gould Shaw, a Unitarian who led the 54th Division of the Union Army – the first all-black regiment.
We walk Beacon Street to King’s Chapel, the first congregation in the country to declare itself Unitarian. The church is Unitarian Christian in theology, Anglican in worship and congregational in governance.
We walk from there to historic Faneuil Hall, famous for freedom, and Quincy Market, visiting the New England Holocaust memorial and spending some time on our own, including dinner.
We meet the bus, drive to our hostel, settle in rooms and then meet for discussion and psycho drama of famous parables and have some social time. We get up early, have breakfast and drive to Follen Church in Lexington, where I began my ministry in 1970. I offer a presentation on Emerson – especially his famous Divinity School Address. It’s my favorite stop.
From there we drive to Concord and pay a visit to Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson at Author’s Ridge in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, reading quotes from them; then it’s on to Walden Pond where we stand in the replica of his cabin before hiking to the original site, where he spent two years and two months as ‘an experiment in living.’ We have to limit the number, so call me or the church office to reserve a place – first come, first serve.