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Celebrating the 2019 Bicentennial

Click here for the Bicentennial Website


Planning for the Bicentennial Celebrations began in 2016. Many people contributed their time and efforts to make the Bicentennial a success.

The Bicentennial Planning Team consisted of:

Co-Chairs: Bill Bechman & Chris Goodwin

Advisors: Eileen Macholl, Rev. Audette, Rev. Galen, Beth-Ellen Keyes

Board Liaison: Carol Kirkman

Communications: Rachel Rosenthal

Auction Catalogue: Chris Vesenka

Writers: Mary-Ella Holst, Laura Pedersen, Melinda Beck, Laurie Noble, Lois Coleman

​All Souls 200 Website: Lois Coleman

Archives Coordinator: Barbara Deakin

Research and Design: James Moskin

Historical Society: Christina Bellamy, Mary Dugan, James Moskin

Artists: Pamela Healey, Barbara Hosein, Mitchel Gray

Archival Oral Histories: Jane Levenson

​Youth/Elders Interviews: Kate Phillips, Rev. Tracy Sprowls, Chris Vesenka

Showcase 3 Art Auction: Tom Creacy

Adult Ed: Rev. David Robb, Jane Furse-Friedman, Laurie Noble

Gala Planning, Nov 15, 2019: Cheri Henderson and Tom Blum, co-chairs

Music: Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez, Trent Johnson, Bryan McNamara


The Bicentennial Steering Committee:

Chris Goodwin, Dennis Thread,

Mary-Ella Holst, Eileen Macholl,

Bill Bechman (on the cellphone, calling from Florida),

and Neil Osborne

In 2017, All Souls member Heather Floyd set up a website on the Wix platform to publicize the activities of the Bicentennial Committee and the many events that they were planning.  Lois Coleman took over the website's development in 2018.


The Bicentennial website is archived at The timelines of All Souls history written for the Bicentennial website, initially by James Moskin and developed by Lois Coleman, Melinda Beck, Bill Bechman and Tim Kelley, are available at They are in PDF format and have many full color images.  The timelines were used as the basis for the historical section of our book, All Souls at 200.

2018 was an exciting year as we helped our congregation prepare for the 200th Anniversary of our founding.

Our Bicentennial tagline, “Honor the Past, Celebrate the Present and Shape the Future” inspired our activities. 

  • Melinda Beck spearheaded art auctions to finance our congregational celebrations.  Several artists contributed artworks.

  • She also created the Bicentennial Minutes, snippets of our history, that appeared periodically in Sunday Orders of Service.

  • We continued to develop the Bicentennial website to celebrate and record our activities, with an online album of stories and art to encourage people to share memories and photos.

  • We saved the historic Channing Lectern that had been commissioned by the First Unitarian Society of Plainfield. It was presented to the congregation at the 200th Annual Meeting. This significant artifact may be used on special occasions, such as the Bellows Lecture.  


Christina Bellamy, President of the All Souls Historical Society, unveiling the Channing Lectern at the 200th Annual Meeting of the Society, February 3, 2019.

Photo by Rachel Rosenthal

In 2019, we had many Bicentennial celebratory events planned. 

  • “Standing Before Us: The Indomitable Women of All Souls,” a series of lectures, was given by Laurie Carter Noble and Peggy Montgomery.
    The four lectures were:
    April 28 - Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Rev. William Ellery Channing and the Beginning of All Souls;
    May 5 - Louisa Lee Schuyler and the Rev. Henry Bellows: A Remarkable Friendship;
    May 12 - Three Recent Leaders Dedicated to Moving All Souls Forward:, Marietta Moskin, Phoebe Hoss, and Mary-Ella Holst;
    May 19 - Stand By This Faith: The Legacy of Olympia Brown and the Women Ministers at All Souls.

  • We were delighted to engage Lese Dunton of Dunton Publishing, and we published three books:

    • Mary-Ella Holst's The Senior Ministers of All Souls

    • A reprint of Rev. Walter Kring's Safely Onward (available on Amazon)

    • All Souls at 200, which will be available at church (while supplies last, $35.00), or can be ordered on Amazon (print-on-demand, $60.00).

Book Team.jpg

The Book Team: Melinda Beck, Eileen Macholl, Dick Leonard, Lese Dunton, Bill Beckman, Lois Coleman and Rachel Rosenthal


Barbara Hosein and Pamela Healey with their artwork in the Forrest Church Gallery, November 2019.

  • Barbara Hosein created her art piece, "Where the Stars Meet the Sea," representing the hundreds of 19th century members. Dr. Hosein also delivered a workshop at the UUA General Assembly in in June, titled "Planning for a Congregation’s Upcoming Major Anniversary" that highlighted the efforts we undertook at All Souls.

  • Mitchel Gray and Pamela Healey completed their artwork, "12 Ministers and 200 Years of History."  Click on the images to below to view larger versions in PDF format with more information.

Pamela Healey Panel 1 image.jpg
Pamela Healey Panel 2 image.jpg
  • Barbara Deakin took on the important role of Archives Coordinator.

  • James Moskin provided substantial research and design work.

  • We sponsored two small fundraising events: The Founding Ladies Tea, coordinated by Leesha Alemu, and a dinner/performance with the music of Johnny Mercer by Calvin Ramsey. Showcase 3, our third annual intergenerational potluck supper, was held in November, 2019. More than 200 people attended.

  • Marilynn Scott Murphy delivered a special tribute to Rev. Galen Guengerich honoring his 25th Anniversary and gave him a painting of the church by Enrico Miguel Thomas.

  • We restored the 1970s stained glass lightbox created by Rev. Kring and we made holiday ornaments and notecards as a limited run. 

  • The Bicentennial weekend was November 15, 16 and 17, 2019.

  • Friday, November 15: Gala Dinners took place in Congregants’ Homes, 6 – 8pm ($200, included Gala Reception; dinner tickets helped to make the weekend possible); Gala Reception with Desserts & Dancing in Reidy Friendship Hall, 8 – 11 pm ($50, reception only); Champagne Toast to the Church, 8:30pm.

This blessing by Audette Fulbright was read at the hosts' homes for our Bicentennial Gala dinners, November 15, 2019.

Bicentennial blessing.jpg

  • Saturday, November 16: A Potluck Lunch was held in Reidy Friendship Hall, 12 – 1:30pm (free admission) - old family recipes welcome; All Souls Trivia Contest; Open-Mic for All Souls Appreciations; Games and Activities for All Ages, 1:30 – 2:30pm; Barn Dancing, 2:30 – 3:30pm ;We Are… by Larry Reina, 3:30pm: a multi-generational reading; Celebrating the Heroic Women of All Souls, 3:45 pm: an open rehearsal for the tableaux vivants to be performed on Sunday



  • Sunday, November 17, Anniversary Sunday: Worship Services in Reidy Friendship Hall at 10 and 11:15am; Sermon by Susan Frederick-Gray, UUA President; Festive Bicentennial Coffee Hour, 12:15 – 12:45pm; Celebrating the Heroic Women of All Souls, 12:45pm - tableaux vivants with costumes and narration; William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878): First Citizen, 1:30 – 2:30pm: by Laura Pedersen (Narrator) and David Rockefeller Jr. as William Cullen Bryant, Abraham Lincoln and Henry Whitney Bellows.


  • Throughout the weekend, there was bidding on the Bicentennial Boutique with commemorative items and artwork, with a silent auction featuring unique experiences and opportunities from All Souls members and friends.

  • The Bicentennial Journal (download - PDF) was published as the keepsake souvenir of the Bicentennial Weekend, and includes an array of congratulations and dedicatory messages from individuals and organizations helping us to celebrate our Bicentennial.  

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