Dr. A. Powell Davies Bio & Sermons

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Biography | Links to Other Sites | Sermons

A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY

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The plaque reads: “The world is now too dangerous for anything but truth. Too small for anything but brotherhood.”

Religion is not something separate and apart from ordinary life. It is life–life of every kind viewed from the standpoint of meaning and purpose: life lived in the fuller awareness of its human quality and spiritual significance. – A. Powell Davies

Dr. A. Powell Davies, for whom the Davies Memorial Unitarian Universalist Church is named, was a great minister, speaker, and leader of Unitarianism, spurring growth in the denomination in the 1950’s. He was also a renowned social and political activist, as well as an author. Davies, who had previously been a Methodist minister, began his career as a Unitarian minister in 1933 in Summit, New Jersey. It culminated at All Souls Church in Washington, DC from 1944 until his untimely death in 1957.

During his ministry at All Souls Church, his social and political activism, spurred by his religious convictions, included the following activities.:

  • He headed the committee that lobbied Congress to place nuclear power under civilian control instead of military.
  • He was responsible for the total racial integration of public restaurants in Washington.
  • The intensity of his opposition against bigotry was more than racial, leading him to preach against anti-Semitism, not merely that of Nazi Germany, but in this country as well.
  • He headed campaigns in post-war Washington to feed the starving Europeans and to deal with Washington slums.
  • He not only defended the right of atheists to teach, but proposed that every campus should have at least one on its faculty.

The cold war dominated post-war politics, and he attacked the left and the right in the communist controversy during the McCarthy era in the name of rock-bottom democratic values.

Prior to the union of Universalism with Unitarianism (which took place in 1961 after his death), he helped to shape the Unitarian faith as we know it today.: “…it simply is not true that one can believe anything and be a Unitarian. This is not what creedlessness means. One cannot be a racist and a Unitarian; be a Nazi and a Unitarian; a polygamist and a Unitarian; a bigot and a Unitarian. In our zeal for growth, we must not sacrifice the character of our movement as a rational, idealistic, ethical religion. Everybody is not, and cannot be a Unitarian regardless of their unethical behavior or prejudicial beliefs.”

In the Washington Post, he was eulogized as “…militantly in the forefront of every assault upon intolerance and racial discrimination and injustice. Convenience and convention never silenced him. …He was, among all the members of his calling, the most resolute and indomitable champion of righteousness as he saw it and the brotherhood of man.”

We have an extensive archives of his sermons, some of which are here, and others still to come.

LINKS TO OTHER SITES

To learn about other Famous UU’s and other interests, see our links page.
SERMONS BY A. POWELL DAVIES
His two most popular sermons:

Other sermons & writings by date:

05/27/43 – THE FAITH BEHIND FREEDOM
11/25/45 – WHAT CAN ANYONE DO?
12/30/45 – FROM THE FUTURE COMES A CRY
02/24/46 – UNITARIANISM–WHAT IS IT?
12/08/46 – WHERE NOW IS THY GOD?
01/12/47 – WHAT IS CONSCIENCE?
03/16/47 – CAN SCIENCE AND RELIGION GET TOGETHER?
05/04/47 – WHAT TO DO WITH GLOOM
10/16/49 – IS SOCIALISM MORE ETHICAL THAN CAPITALISM?
11/27/49 – RELIGION CAN MAKE SENSE
01/29/50 – CAN ANXIETY BE MASTERED?
02/50 – WHOSE IS THE FUTURE?
02/19/50 – A STUDY IN TREASON
02/26/50 – THE REDISCOVERY OF SIN
04/23/50 – THE FORGIVENESS THAT COMES HARDEST
05/21/50 – TRUTH NEEDS FRIENDS
04/04/54 – THE UNITARIAN FAITH
04/25/54 – THE CREDO OF THE NON-CONFORMIST
05/23/54 – THE SUPREME COURT DECISION
09/19/54 – WHAT DO WE MEAN BY RADICAL?
1956 – LANGUAGE OF THE HEART

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