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Historical Background

In 1933 in the depths of the Depression the Unitarian part of our movement was in such doldrums that its continued existence as an association seemed in question. In an attempt to find out what could be done to revitalize it, a group of concerned ministers and laypersons won endorsement from the 1934 Annual Meeting of the American Unitarian Association to form the Commission of Appraisal.

The Commission, headed by Frederick May Eliot, examined every aspect of the Unitarian movement, from its churches and Boston headquarters to the values and needs of its individual members. As a result of its study, "Unitarians Face A New Age," a dynamic new administration was created and there was a feeling of rebirth among many in our movement. When the Universalist Church of America and the American Unitarian Association merged in 1961 to form the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), a Commission on Appraisal (the "of" became "on") was written into the bylaws of the new Association as a permanent body of the General Assembly.

The Commission on Appraisal was given ongoing responsibility for evaluating the life of our movement and for making a report to the General Assembly on some aspect of our denominational life at least once every 4 years. It is the only non-Board and non-Administration body given the freedom to look at and evaluate the life of our movement and the effectiveness of its structures. The Commission has 9 members, elected by the General Assembly for staggered 6-year terms without eligibility for reelection; the UUA president is a non-voting ex-officio member.

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Last updated on Monday, July 14, 2014.

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