Skinner Sermon Award

Presented annually to the preacher of the sermon best expressing Unitarian Universalism's social principles.

The Skinner Sermon Award honors Clarence Skinner, the late dean of the Tufts College School of Religion in Medford, MA. and a major voice of prophetic religious liberalism. As Professor of Applied Christianity at Tufts College (now Tufts University) from 1914 to 1945, he introduced generations of Tufts students to the social, economic, and political realities that shape religion and are in turn shaped by it. His manifesto, The Social Implications of Universalism (1915), gave American Universalism an ethical platform by stating the religious underpinnings of such reforms as abolition, women's liberation, and the humane treatment of prisoners.

The first recipient of the Skinner Sermon Award was Rev. Manuel R. Holland in 1959.

Open to any Unitarian Universalist layperson, religious educator, or minister, the Skinner Sermon award was established to stimulate preaching concerned with the social implications of religion—particularly needed in this period of history. Criteria employed in judging the sermons include: grasp of the subject, religious depth, originality, conviction, and understanding of other perspectives. These qualities are also considered: prophecy and timeliness, courage, personal involvement, strong argument, orientation to action, and inspiration.

The award carries an honorarium of $500. The winning sermon will be distributed and promoted through a variety of Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) communications channels.

New for 2023

We particularly encourage and invite sermons that speak to one of our four intersectional justice priorities (bodily autonomy inclusive of reproductive justice and trans liberation; decriminalization; democracy and electoral justice; and climate justice).

Requirements for Submission

Submissions must be received by September 1 and decisions will be announced in late fall. One submission per person. Entries already submitted will be considered. Two separate items must be included:

  1. A single cover page must be submitted with the author's name, address, church affiliation, phone number, email address, and indication of when and where the sermon was delivered.
  2. The sermon itself, with all information indicating the author's identity on or within the text removed. It is important to keep the authorship of each entry anonymous. If the entry includes identifying information, it will not be considered.

Send to:, with 'Skinner Sermon Award Submission' in the subject line.

Learn about past recipients of the Skinner Sermon Award.

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