HUSBANDS, MUNROE (11 September 1909, Spokane, WA-4 January 1984, Needham, MA). Education: Graduated from University of Utah, 1931; graduated from Leland Powers School of Radio and Theatre, 1934. Career: Head of Speech Department, McCune School of Music and Art, 1934-42; military service, 1942-45; associate director of public relations, Blue Cross of Massachusetts, 1946-47; director of fellowships and associate director of extension,
American Unitarian Association and Unitarian Universalist Association, 1948-67; active retirement, 1967-84.
After World War 11 Unitarianism experienced an enormous surge of growth, due at least in part to a concerted denominational effort to encourage the formation of Unitarian fellowships. They were conceived as lay-led religious societies, not merely churches without ministers. In 1967 Lon Ray Call emphasized that "the man who is primarily responsible for having made the fellowship movement . . . the success that it is, is Munroe Husbands" (Unitarian Universalist Association, p. 8). As the director of fellowships for the American Unitarian Association (AUA), Husbands traveled extensively to organize and nurture these new religious societies and was active in helping to prepare materials necessary for their functioning. Husbands noted that many to whom the fellowships appealed had "developed an antipathy toward the entire religious vocabulary: worship, God, prayer, invocation, benediction." But part of the fellowship experience addressed that mentality: "Slowly the individual divests himself of his negativism, talks out the resentment accumulated over the years, and begins formulating a positive philosophy of religion" ("Fellowship Can Accomplish Anything It Will," pp. 11-12). Thus the Unitarian fellowship was not only a unique experiment in religious organization, it might in many cases provide a unique form of religious experience to its members. Husbands also saw value in the fellowship's ability to bring out the "latent talents" of its members and encourage a strong degree of participation in the religious community. These things are important factors in a religious tradition that, since William Ellery Channing,* has stressed self-culture as a focus of the religious life. In 1974 Husbands was awarded the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Annual Award for Distinguished Service to the Cause of Liberal Religion.
A. "Fellowship Can Accomplish Anything It Will," Christian Register (April 1957). I 1-12
B. Laile E. Bartlett, Bright Gal~~: Ten Years of Unitarian Fellowships (Boston, 1960); Unitarian Universalist Association, Department of Extension, Take a Giant Step: Two Decades of the Fellowships (Boston, 1967); Conrad Wright, ed., A Stream of Light (Boston, 1975).