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The Essential Clarence Skinner

A Brief Introduction to His Life and Writings

Charles Howe

Universalism is the real religion which the masses consciously or unconsciously are adopting. It is the philosophy and the power which under one name or another the multitudes are laying hold upon to swing this old earth nearer to the Kingdom of Heaven. It is the religion of the people, for the people, by the people. Universalism is the faith of the new world life, seeping upward toward spiritual expression.”
—Clarence Skinner

Educator, activist, writer and theologian Clarence Skinner (1881–1949) was a Universalist minister and dean of the Crane Theological School at Tufts University. Particularly influential during the period leading up to the Unitarian Universalist consolidation in 1961, today he is widely regarded as the most significant Universalist of his era.

A leading proponent of the “social gospel,” Skinner’s writing provides the theological foundation for Unitarian Universalism’s social justice work today. Howe’s careful selection of Skinner’s writings, in combination with an accessible account of his life, introduces this important Universalist to a new generation of readers. Includes selections from “The Social Implications of Universalism” and “A Religion for Greatness.”

A retired Unitarian Universalist minister, Charles Howe is the author of The Larger Faith: A Short History of American Universalism, For Faith and Freedom: A Short History of Unitarianism in Europe and editor and co-author of Clarence R. Skinner: Prophet of a New Universalism, all published by Skinner House Books.

Praise for The Essential Clarence Skinner:

The Essential Clarence Skinner represents Skinner’s incisive manner of expression and his ardent search for a religion to meet modern needs. For those who knew Skinner, Howe has reintroduced this legendary crusader and exponent of what Universalism might become. For those who didn’t know him, Skinner is presented as a determined advocate of the social gospel, a dedicated teacher and minister as well as a tenacious pacifist.
—Janet H. Bowering, Minister Emerita, Universalist Unitarian Church of Haverhill, Massachusetts

"These selections from Skinner’s writings are perceptive examples of his thought, tracing its development through his multi-faceted career as minister, teacher, scholar and social activist. As one who knew Skinner during his latter years, I am much moved by the many reminders here of his eloquence and of the deep personal faith that undergirded and motivated his perseverance and devotion to a larger view of Universalism. Surely, those who make Skinner’s acquaintance through this volume will find both insights and renewed hope therein. A wider acquaintance with his life and thought will serve us all in significant ways."
—Gordon B. McKeeman, author of Out Of the Ordinary: Meditations

Howe has succinctly encapsulated the nourishing essence of Skinner’s contributions to this progressive and eager faith.
Dr. Alan Seaburg, Curator of Manuscripts, Emeritus Harvard Divinity School Library

For more information contact skinnerhouse @

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Wednesday, June 2, 2010.

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