The First Universalist Church of Cincinnati in 1978

by Mike Roberts, Church Historian

What did we look like nearly 40 years ago? In 1978, our church had to file a report with the national UU office profiling our demographics and programming. It is helpful in comparing where we stand now, nearly 40 years later.

MEMBERSHIP: In 1978, the number of members in the church stood at 74. This was an upward trend as in 1974 that number stood at 50. When adding in the non-members who were active in the church, the number rose to 167. Of these, about 45 were school age, 30 were retirement age and the rest, about 92 were working adult age. The number of women was 88, the number of men 79.

Of the 74 members, 51% were reported as being very active and 27% moderately active. A total of 60 families were reported as active members. Twenty-four of these were single people without children and 20 were couples with children.

PARTICIPATION: The average attendance at Sunday services in 1978 was 50. This was up from four years previously when 30 was the average attendance. Enrollment in RE classes was 42 with an average attendance of 26. This was a huge increase. In 1974, no RE was offered and in 1975 the enrollment was 10.

PROGRAMS AND ACTIVITIES: The church offered Adult Forum and Youth Activity Hour prior to the Sunday church service. These were held simultaneously and were offered 24 Sundays during the year. Adult average attendance was 15 and Youth was 12.

Monthly Family Nights were held which included Covered Dish Suppers or Cookouts. Average attendance was 40 to 50.

On the third Sunday of the month, after-service fellowship time was hosted by the Hospitality Committee. Average attendance was 50 to 60.

Short term programs included seminars and minister-led groups. These met from three to six sessions.

The Service Group met monthly during the day and guided service opportunities for the congregation’s women. It had 18 regular members. The Clara Barton Guild met evenings and also offered service and fellowship opportunities. It had 19 members. Boy Scout Troop 389 included 12 members and a Brownie Troop had 15 members.

FINANCES: The church reported income at $29,050 and expenses of $31,035. Investments were at $227,638 and building and land valued $137,250. Pledges were coming from 41 units.

PUBLICITY AND PROMOTIONS: The congregation reported that they regularly sent a newsletter concerning church affairs. The mailing list included 120 local addresses and 80 other UU Societies. Sunday Orders of Service were utilized along with pulpit announcements to keep the congregants informed. Occasional newspaper articles and ads were also used and special mailings were frequent.

Image: Salem Acres, our congregation’s location in 1978.

Photo courtesy of Mike Roberts.