Welcome to the Mid-West Summer Institute of 1942

by Mike Roberts, Church Historian

It is nearing time for some of our church members to plan their trips to summer retreats. SUUSI and MUUSA are calling. The same was true in 1942 when some of the membership of the First Universalist Church of Cincinnati looked forward to summer retreat at the Mid-West Institute held at Shakamak State Park in southwest Indiana. The camp opened on Sunday, July 12 and ran until the following Saturday morning.

This camp was the forerunner of today’s Midwest Unitarian Universalist Summer Assembly. This year’s camp will be conducted in southeast Missouri.

Courses of Study for participants in 1942 included:

Senior Youth 16 And Older:

  • The Bible as Literature
  • Living with Ourselves
  • After the War—What?
  • Understanding Orientals

Junior Youth under 16:

  • Understanding Orientals
  • Handcraft
  • Church School Workers
  • The Worker and His Bible
  • Demonstration Classes

For Women:

  • The Woman’s Place in the Church

For Adults:

  • Personality Adjustment in Today’s World
  • China Today
  • The Bible as Literature

For Ministers:

  • Dealing with Women
  • Can We Believe in Peace?

Costs for the week seem minimal by today’s inflated standards. Charge for dormitory sleeping was $1.75 for the week and food charges for the week were $7.00. Registration was $1.25 and the park entrance fee was ten cents.

Two former Cincinnati First Universalist Society ministers were officers of the institute. President was Reverend Carl Olson, at that time serving a church in Minneapolis. He was minister of our church at the Essex Street location from 1933 to 1939. A trustee was Dr. Robert Cummins, who had become national president of the Universalist Church. He served the Essex Street congregation from 1926 to 1932.

Universalists attending the institute were identified as “Institooters.”

A statement as to the goals of the institute reflects the tenor of the times.

“The 18th Annual session of the Mid-West Institute will be held under conditions which it has never before experienced. Our nation is at war. The potential and actual leadership of our churches is being drawn into the armed forces of our country. Our churches are faced by a most serious problem. The Mid-West curriculum is planned with this problem in mind, the development of new leadership. In spite of the curtailment of the use of automobiles and the possible rationing of gasoline, plans for the Institute have been developed. Times and conditions demand it. Again, the Institute program is a church-wide program containing something of value for every group and individual from the minister to the primary child. Make attendance at Mid-West Institute this year your ‘vacation-with-a-purpose!’”

Photo: Building at Shakamak State Park, Indiana, site of the 1942 Mid-West Summer Institute (Universalist)

Image courtesy of Chris Light via Wikipedia.