Unitarian Universalist Women’s Heritage Society
General Assembly 2002, Quebec City, Quebec
Worship Service

Lovers of our own lands, we are citizens of the world. Emily Greene Balch, 1922

OPENING WORDS “Welcome Peace!” by Frances EW Harper

Welcome Peace! thou blest evangel!—
Welcome to this war-cursed land;
O’er the weary waiting millions
Let thy banner be unfurled;
On the burning brow of anger
Lay thy gentle soothing hand;
Say to Carnage and Destruction,
Ye shall cease to blight the land.

Plead in tones of love and mercy,
‘Mid the battle’s crash and roar;
‘Till the nations new created
Learn the art of war no more.

OPENING HYMN “Songs for the People” words by Frances EW Harper
Our service today opens with the words of Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, 19th century advocate for abolition and women’s rights. She wrote the opening words shortly after the Civil War and the words to our opening hymn toward the end of the 19th century. We’ve set her words to music and invite you to sing it now—”Songs for the People.”

Narrator: A wise person once said, “Take from the past not its ashes, but it’s fire.” Today we kindle this flame knowing that our presence forms a bridge between the past and the future.

Congregation: May the flame we light in our hearts today draw strength from the best of our liberal religious heritage. May it empower us to act boldly for justice in the present world. And may it shine brightly in our lives as a beacon for future generations.

Narrator: Today we call forth the spirits of Unitarian and Universalist women of the past who worked for peace. We welcome you to this service today as we invite our foremothers to share their wisdom to help us join hands around the world and make peace.

In the 19th century, the terrible carnage of the American Civil War left women all over that country grieving the loss of life and wondering if there wasn’t some other way to resolve conflicts. Only five years later, the Franco-Prussian War devastated much of Europe.

JULIA WARD HOWE, Unitarian, 1819-1910
Reading about this war awakened the consciousness of Unitarian Julia Ward Howe. Best know as the author of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” Julia was a well-known lecturer and writer, advocating for abolition and women’s rights. Here she is to tell her story.

Julia Ward Howe:

I was visited by a sudden feeling of the cruel and unnecessary character of the contest. It seemed to me a return to barbarism, the issue having been one which might easily have been settled without bloodshed. The question forced itself upon me, “Why do not the mothers of mankind interfere in these matters, to prevent the waste of that human life of which they alone bear and know the cost?” I had never thought of this before. The august dignity of motherhood and its terrible responsibilities now appeared to me in a new aspect, and I could think of no better way of expressing my sense of these than that of sending forth an appeal to womanhood throughout the world, which I then and there composed.

The little document, which I drew up in the heat of my enthusiasm, implored women, all the world over, to awake to the knowledge of the sacred right vested in them as mothers to protect the human life, which costs them so many pangs.

Narrator: Our Unitarian Universalist Association has seen fit to include Julia’s proclamation in our hymnbook as a responsive reading. Let’s read it now together.

RESPONSIVE READING Mother’s Day Proclamation by Julia Ward Howe

Arise then…women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly: “We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
“Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.
“Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of harity, mercy and patience.
“We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”
From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own. It says: “Dim Disarm!”
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood does not wipe our dishonor, nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace…
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality, may be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
All: To promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.

Julia Ward Howe:

I did not doubt but that my appeal would find a ready response in the hearts of great numbers of women through the limits of civilization. I invited these imagined helpers to assist me in calling and holding a congress of women in London … My first act was to have my appeal translated into various languages, to wit: French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Swedish, and to distribute copies of it as widely as possible. I devoted the next two years almost entirely to correspondence with leading women in various countries….

In the spring of 1872 I visited England, hoping by my personal presence to effect the holding of a Women’s Peace congress in the great metropolis of the civilized world….

I had desired to institute a festival which should be observed as mothers’ day, and which should be devoted to the advocacy of peace doctrines. I chose for this the second day of June, this being a time when flowers are abundant, and when the weather usually allows of open-air meetings. … In Boston I held the Mothers’ Day meeting for quite a number of years. The day was also observed in other places, once or twice in Constantinople, and often places nearer home. My heart was gladdened, this last year [1898], by learning from a friend that a peace association in Philadelphia still celebrates Mothers’ Day.

I was very sorry to give up this special work, but in my prosecution of it I could not help seeing that many steps were to be taken before one could hope to effect any efficient combination among women. The time for this was at hand, but had not yet arrived.

Narrator: Let us thank Julia Ward Howe for her visionary leadership by saying together the motto of the UU Women Heritage Society, which you will find printed in your program.

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

HYMN “Bid the Din of Battle Cease” words by Julia Ward Howe
And now let us join in singing “Bid the Din of Battle Cease,” with words written by Julia Ward Howe.

MARY ASHTON RICE LIVERMORE, Universalist, 1820-1905
Narrator: Our next visitor is Universalist Mary Livermore, who was known as the Queen of the Platform. The mere announcement that she would be speaking was enough to fill any lecture hall. During the Civil War Mary served as one of the coordinators of the Sanitary Commission, a precursor of the Red Cross. She made many trips to the battlefield, visited military hospitals, raised money for supplies, helped injured soldiers return home, and organized over 3000 local aid societies. Having experienced the horrors of war firsthand, she believed that it was time for humanity to develop alternative ways to deal with conflict. Here she is to share her vision for world peace from one of her popular lectures, “The Battle of Life.”

Mary Livermore:
We are approaching the era when war shall be no more. The world is ready for it. Unconsciously, and unintentionally, the powers that be have been preparing for it. For they have increased the destructive power of the enginery of war so marvelously, that the nations employing it against each other will both suffer almost irreparable injury. When a handful of men can blow up a navy, and another handful can annihilate an army, war ceases to be war, and become assassination. If we should wake tomorrow to find that all civilized armies were to be disbanded, all fortifications to be dismantled, and the giant battleships transformed into vessels for peaceful uses, how much the world would gain by the change!

The prophecy of two thousand years ago that there should be “peace on earth and good-will to [all]” would begin to be verified. Between two and three billions of dollars, now wrung annually from the people for military purposes, would not then be called for, and would increase the resources of the masses, and add to their material comforts. How the certainty that war had ceased forever would loosen the brakes now held down on the wheels of the world’s progress!

Narrator: Let us thank Mary Livermore for her inspiring vision by saying together the motto of the UU Women Heritage Society.

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

Narrator: Our next visitor is Unitarian Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, a popular lecturer and writer of novels, essays, and poems. Born to a free African American family during the time of slavery, she worked for abolition, women’s rights and peace—and she wrote our opening words and hymn. In 1898 the United States was once again at war, this time with Spain. We’ve invited Frances here to share her poetic response to that conflict, “Do Not Cheer, Men Are Dying,” Said Capt. Phillips in the Spanish-American War.

Frances E.W. Harper:
Do not cheer, for men are dying
From their distant homes in pain;
And the restless sea is darkened
By a flood of crimson rain.

Do not cheer, for anxious mothers
Wait and watch in lonely dread;
Vainly waiting for the footsteps
Never more their paths to tread.

Do not cheer, while little children
Gather round the widowed wife,
Wondering why an unknown people
Sought their dear own father’s life.

Do not cheer, for aged fathers
Bend above their staves and weep,
While the ocean sings the requiem
Where their fallen children sleep.

Do not cheer while maid and matron
In this strife must bear a part;
While the blow that strikes a soldier
Reaches to some woman’s heart.

Do not cheer till arbitration
O’er the nations holds its sway,
And the centuly now closing
Ushers in a brighter day.

Do not cheer until the nation
Shall more wise and thoughtful grow
Than to staunch a stream of sorrow
By an avalanche of woe.

Do not cheer until each nation
Sheathes the sword and blunts the spear,
And we sing aloud for gladness:
Lo, the reign of love [original says “Christ”] is here,

And the banners of destruction
From the battlefield are furled,
And the peace of God descending
Rests upon a restless world.
Narrator: Let us thank Frances Harper for her poignant reminder of the work we have yet to do by saying together.

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

MAY WRIGHT SEWALL, Unitarian, 1844-1920
Narrator: Our next visitor from the past is Unitarian May Wright Sewall, one of the leading organizers both in the United States and internationally for women’s rights and world peace. She is here to tell us about the work of the International Council of Women, which she helped to found and served as president from 1899 to 1904.

May Wright Sewall:
Since 1899… the International Council of Women has stood ready to be used for the noble purposes of the promotion of social Peace, the reduction of Armaments, the substitution of an International Tribunal of Justice for warfare, and the establishment of a permanent International Parliament which shall legislate for the world, as the congress or parliament of each of its constituent parts legislates for a single nation.

Our International Council … looks for this result—not for the abatement of war, but for its extinction; not to the limitation of armaments but the remanding of warships into the museums of history, where it will require as much patients and skill to reconstruct their forms and rehabilitate them as it now requires scientific skill to reproduce the form of the mastodon.

Our … ultimate object is the cessation of all warfare by the extinction of all competitions, by the supplanting of competition by co-operation, by the displacement of hate, all international hate and international envy, by international affection.

Narrator: Let us thank May Wright Sewall for her important work by saying together

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

EMILY GREENE BALCH, Unitarian/Quaker, 1867-196 1
Narrator: The International Council of Women adopted a resolution committing its members to peace and arbitration as the means for resolving disputes. So when the First World War began, a meeting was called at The Hague in 1915. This remarkable gathering of over 1500 women included representatives from many countries, some of whom were already at war with each other. It was the only important international meeting held during that war. The women struggled long and hard to overcome their differences and finally managed to reach agreement on a plan to bring about peace by instituting continuous mediation.

Unitarian Emily Greene Balch, our next visitor, was chosen as one of the envoys to carry out the plan proposed by the International Council of Women. She traveled to Russia and to neutral Scandinavian countries and later conferred with British leaders and with President Woodrow Wilson. Because of her radical activities and associates in this work for peace, the trustees of Wellesley College, where she was a sociology professor, voted not to renew her appointment. That same year, 1919, the International Council became a permanent organization—the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and Emily was hired to set up the organization’s offices in Geneva, Switzerland.

Emily continued throughout her life to work internationally for world peace. In 1946, she became the second woman in history to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1960, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Unitarian Association.

Emily Green Balch:
I try to think as a human being and not merely nationally but there is one personal plea that I would like to make to you, my friends, as an American. Please try to forgive America for being so powerful. We cannot help it. We are neither to be prized not blamed for it. It is the inevitable result of causes, geographical and historical, which just happen to be so. We are not worthy of this power. We have not the experience and wisdom and goodness that it calls for. Condemn our wrong doings, make clear our blunders and do not condone our short-comings. Help us. We so need help, but be realistic and generous in understanding the strange situation in which we find ourselves, like an inexperienced young man who awakens one morning to find himself heir to a large share of an immensely tangled and complicated estate.

Narrator: Let us thank Emily Greene Balch for her lifelong devotion to the cause of world peace by saying together

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

OLYMPIA BROWN, Universalist, 1835-1936
Narrator: Our last visitor is Olympia Brown, the first well-known woman minister, who began her ordained ministry during the Civil War. Active as both a parish and a community minister, she served churches for over 30 years and was a leader in the campaign to gain the right for women to vote. Toward the end of her career, she became concerned about the problem of increased militarism, a trend she believed could destroy the full democracy she had been working for so many years to achieve. Here she is today to share with us part of her sermon, “Permanent Peace,” which she preached at the end of World War I.

Olympia Brown:
President Wilson called upon our men to fight to make the world safe for Democracy and it made every man of them a hero. But Democracy … can never be “safe” until the doctrine of the worth of [all human beings] is understood.

War is not possible where [people] recognize that all are alike God’s Children Can we teach this great lesson to the people of the warring world? True it will require time, it will be a matter of education to prepare the way for such a civilization, but can we not begin today? We have sacrificed 50,000 men to make the world safe for Democracy, can we not send 1,000 consecrated preachers who shall teach the foundations of Democracy? Now is the time to begin, when men are tired of war, when women are heart-sick, when the nations are impoverished and overburdened, when all the people everywhere are wishing for something better. … What a glorious opportunity for any denomination to be the exponent of a new civilization which should express itself in love for [humanity]! To make a new world in which [people] can dwell together in peace!

Narrator: Let us thank Olympia Brown for her inspiring vision by saying together

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

Narrator: The legacy of these visitors from the 19th and early 20th centuries has inspired Unitarian Universalist women of more recent times to continue this important work for peace. Let us hear their voices now.

(Women from the congregation stand and read from cards they have been given in advance.)

Speaker #1: I speak for Margaret Moseley, civil rights activist and founder of the Cape Cod Chapter of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, in whose honor the Peace Education Fund was established. She brought her peace work home in the way she raised her family: “I taught all my children, tried to teach them, to play without using toys of violence … I wasn’t always successful when they were out among other children because they would use sticks and that kind of thing, but at home they were absorbing a great deal of my philosophy.”

Speaker #2: I speak for Florence Luscomb, labor rights and peace activist, who is one of six women honored in a new monument in the Massachusetts Statehouse. In the late 1950s she declared: “I believe it is absolutely urgent to launch a major campaign directed to the mothers of America I say that it is incredible that [they] cannot be roused to action to save the lives of [their] sons. … A special … organization should undertake a peace crusade of mothers.”

Speaker #3: I speak for Helen Boonn Tucker, one of the founders of Voice of Women, established in Canada in 1960. Helen claimed: “Men have never known how to make peace. Men know only war. Women have always made the peace in the family, at school or at city hall. Mothers have always made peace between the kids; it’s part of women’s nurturing role.” Throughout her life, she continued to ask: “Have we done enough?”

Speaker #4: I speak for all the Unitarian Universalist women who participated in women’s peace camps in the I 980—at Greenham Common in England, at the Seneca Army Depot in New York, on Puget Sound in Washington State, and elsewhere. They responded to Julia Ward Howe’s call to “leave all that may be left of home” to protest the deployment of nuclear weapons in Europe by the United States and to empower women to create a future of justice and peace.

Speaker #5: I speak for Unitarian Universalist Ruth Harriet Jacobs, who created an anthology called We Speak for Peace in the early 1 990s to raise consciousness about the ongoing need to work for peace “because apathy, escapism, scapegoating, and the need to forget happen after each war.” She said: “Despite the threat of more wars, seeking peace seems so complex, people have turned to smaller, more manageable issues or have privatized their minds and lives.”

Speaker #6: I speak for the Unitarian Universalist women who are currently part of the Women’s Congress for Peace, formed after September 11, 2001, in response to Julia Ward Howe’s call. They declare: “This is the time to build a culture of peace. … We decry using violence to respond to violence, terror to respond to terror. … Let us build a nurturing, safe, and compassionate world for our children and the generations to come. Together let us speak and act boldly. Now is the time.”

Narrator: These women provide a living link between the past and the present. Through their visionary leadership and our own we ffl create a future of justice and peace for generations to come. Let us dedicate ourselves to the continuation of this great work, as we share a moment of silence.


May we honor all those who stand before us and with us in working for peace. May their memory and their presence empower us to act boldly for justice. And may the generations that follow remember as the ones who took essential steps to bring into being a future of justice and peace for the world. Amen. Blessed Be.

CLOSING HYMN “Heroes of Peace” words by Anna Garlin Spencer

Anna Garlin Spencer, the first woman to teach at a Unitarian seminary, wrote the words to our closing hymn for the National Arbitration and Peace Congress held in New York City in 1907.

CLOSING WORDS—by Olympia Brown, from Singing the Living Tradition #578
Let us join hands now for our closing words. As we join hands with each other here in this room, let us imagine that we are joining hands with women around the world, and that together we can make peace a reality. As Olympia Brown reminds us:

We can never make the world safe by fighting.
Every nation must learn that the people of all nations are children of God, and must share the wealth of the world.
You may say this is impracticable, far away,
can never be accomplished,
but it is the work we are appointed to do.
Sometime, somehow, somewhere, we must ever teach this great lesson.

As we prepare to leave this sacred time and place, we must extinguish this chalice flame, but the flame of our heritage must never be extinguished. May we each carry that flame in our hearts and dedicate our lives to making certain that this precious heritage is preserved so that ftiture generations may light their way by its bright fire.

This service was created by Joan Goodwin and Dorothy Emerson, with additional research by Elizabeth Greenhavens and Irene Baros-Johnson. Music layout by Lila Cobb. Most of the resources are from the library and files of the Unitarian Universalist Women’s Heritage Society, 2 Elm Street, Malden, MA 02148.

Emily Greene Baich. Quotations from The Improper Bostonian: Emily Greene Balch. Mercedes M. Randall. NY: Twayne Publishers, 1964.

Olympia Brown. “Permanent Peace.” Dana Greene. Suffrage and Religious Principle: Speeches and Writings of Olympia Brown. Metuchen, NJ and London: Scarecrow Press, 1983.

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper. “Welcome Peace!” Christian Register. June 26, 1873.
“Songs for the People.” Poems. Philadelphia, 1895.
“Do Not Cheer, Men Are Dying.” Richmond Planet. December 3, 1898.
All are reprinted in A Brighter Coming Day: A Frances Ellen Watkins Reader. Edited by Frances Smith Foster. NY: Feminist Press, 1990.

Julia Ward Howe. Reminiscences, 1819-1899. Boston and NY: Houghton, Muffin, and Company, 1900.
“Bid the Din of Battle Cease.” Songs of Loyalty andFriendship. Edited by Charles Levermore. Boston, 1917.

Ruth Harriet Jacobs, editor. We Speak for Peace: An Anthology. Manchester, CT: Knowledge, Ideas, and Trends, Inc., 1993.

Mary Livermore. The Story of My Life. Hartford, CT: A.D. Worthington and Company, 1899.

Florence Luscomb. Quotations from Political Woman: Florence Luscomb and the Legacy of Radical Reform. Sharon Hartman Strom. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2001.

Margaret Moseley, as told to Berry Shea. Moving Mountains One Stone at a Time:
Memoirs ofMargaretMoseley. Barnstable, MA: 1993.

Anna Garlin Spencer. The Council Idea. International Council of Women, 1930.

Helen Boonn Tucker. Research by Elizabeth Greenhavens and Irene Baros-Johnson. Available from the Unitarian Universalist Women’s Heritage Society.

Women’s Congress for Peace Declaration. Available from the American Friends Service Committee, 140 Pine Street, Florence, MA 01062.