Guest Speaker: Mr. John Leeker, Archivist, Meadville Lombard Theological School.
Unitarian Universalist history is often imagined as a series of famous names on a timeline: William Ellery Channing begets Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emerson begets Henry David Thoreau, and so on and so on. Or, it is told as a series of successes as part of an ever more just world: abolitionism, women’s rights, civil rights and now gay rights. Neither of these frameworks, however, fully expresses the history of Unitarian Universalism. John Leeker will explore Unitarian Universalist history through a perspective informed by the philosophy of Walter Benjamin and various theologies of liberation to help create new histories. These histories, to use a phrase from Benjamin, thrust themselves into our present as a “moment of danger” that opens us to new possibilities of being.
John Leeker, in addition to his position as Archivist at Meadville Lombard, is Secretary-Treasurer of UU Collegium, and Treasurer of the Unitarian Universalist Humanist Association. At the University of Chicago, he studied American religious history, writing a thesis on how Catholic women organized themselves within male dominated religious structures. He received his Master’s degree there. As a UU archivist, he works at the intersection of historical memory and social justice. He believes that the past can help us find a prophetic voice for the future.