The following is a history of the All Souls Free Religious Fellowship as written by William Gough in the 1970’s
A small group of persons, among whom were Harry L. Jones, Jesse Reed Jr., Fern Gayden, George Walker, Jr., Harry Manley and Haywood Phillips, met from time to time from January to June 1947 to discuss religious questions.
During that summer, a committee was formed to plan for a permanent organization. The name Free Religious Association was chosen and beginning in October 1947, regular Sunday afternoon meetings were conducted. Reverend Kenneth L. Patton was speaker for the first of these meetings.
By April 1, 1948, fifty persons or families had pledged to become members of an interracial Unitarian Church. On Sunday, April 25, 1948 Reverend Randall S. Hilton, Secretary of the Western Unitarian Conference, presided at the official organization of the Free Religious Fellowship (Unitarian). A committee representing the American Unitarian Association supervised the work of the church previous to the organization of the Fellowship. The committee was composed of Reverend Randall S. Hilton, Dr. Curtis W. Reese, Dean of the Abraham Lincoln Center and Dr. James Luther Adams, Professor of Social Ethics, Meadville Theological Seminary.
On June 13, 1948, Reverend Lewis A. McGee was installed as the first minister. The officers of the first Board of Trustees were: Harry I. Jones, President, George Walker, Jr., Vice President; and Mrs. Deborah Smith, Secretary/Treasurer. Board members were Harry L. Manley, Haywood C. Phillips, Mrs. Osbeth Adams, Mrs. Charlotte Charnock, John Forwalter, and Mrs. Hazel Dingey.
Within four months, the Fellowship contracted to bring the then famous One World Ensemble from New York City. It was a daring endeavor for a small and newly formed organization. The program provided publicity but failed to fill Orchestra Hall and was not a financial success. It ran a deficit of $100.00.
The Fellowship conducted services in several locations and finally moved into Abraham Lincoln Center on Oakwood Blvd. The Center was the home of the previous All Souls Church, whose pastor was the nationally famous Jenkins Lloyd Jones. The move did not meet the approval of some members and led to the loss of some of them.. However, it was during this period that three of its members, Mary Clarey (nee Gibbins), Hugo Leaming, and Emil Goodmunson were ordained in the church at Lincoln Center.
Reverend McGee resigned in June 1953 and Reverend Harold Marks served temporarily until June 6, 1954 when the Free Religious Fellowship became All Souls Unitarian Church with Reverend Ben Richardson, pastor.
Reverend Hugo Leaming was the next minister, serving from 1961 to1966. These were trying years in the United States with the genesis of the Civil Rights Movement. Sit-ins, civil disobedience, and non-violent protests took place in many cities. Several All Souls members, including Reverend Leaming, participated in these actions. Reverend Leaming also introduced and led discussion groups prior to regular services.
Reverend Emery Davis was minister when Lincoln Center was sold and moved with the All Souls congregation to a merged All Souls First Universalist Society in 1971.