By F. Alan Coombs
History moves on. Nearly three decades have passed since the research and writing that produced Unitarianism in Utah: A Gentile Religion in Salt Lake City, 1891-1991 by Lorille Miller and Stan Larson—and what decades they have been! History moves on, but not always in the same direction or at the same pace. As remarkable as were the first one- hundred years of the First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City, the developments and events of the past thirty years represent an impressive acceleration of the church’s activities.
As the various components of this account illustrate, some projects from the earlier times (e.g., the creation and flowering of the Community Cooperative Nursery School) continued to flourish and grow. While maintaining the classic New England appearance of church and its distinctive steeple, a series of capital campaigns provided substantial improvements in classroom space, office space, and opportunities for social interaction.
Credit for production of what follows goes to contributors too numerous to mention but must begin with the person best acquainted with the multi-faceted history of First Unitarian since publication of the Miller-Larson volume, the Reverend Thomas R. Goldsmith. But as a working committee was formed, including Allan Ainsworth, Tim Chambless, Ken Kraus, John Rasmuson, Don Walton, Tom Huckin and Tom Goldsmith, interest was expressed in producing something more comprehensive and easily accessible than another 400-page book. New options were explored for developing multi-media access to a wide variety of the church’s activities and the people who have made it happen. As the process ensued, an excellent working relationship was developed with the staff of the J. Willard Marriott Library at the University of Utah so that a
plethora of readily available materials might be added to the archival materials First Unitarian had already deposited at that site. Special thanks go to Anne Morrow and Bruce Sorensen of the library’s Special Collections for their extensive assistance.
But history—including this one—is always a “work in progress,” so readers are encouraged to bring to the church’s attention any “missing pieces” or new developments not adequately covered. Meanwhile, enjoy the story of this truly remarkable religious community.