“We think that two defects in the methods and formalitics of the Universalist Church can be pointed out–First, an almost general lack of heartiness and amplitude in our customary mode of public worship and religious observance; and, Second, a want of uniformity in the ministrations of different churches.
The first defect is felt by many sensitive persons, and goes not a little way toward accounting for the alienation of many young people from our communion. A large class of worshippers feel far more than they can express or clearly conceive; and such natures long to find somewhere provided expressions for their religious emotions, better than they can themselves devise. Moreover, where such a want is not felt, there often exists the unrecognized need of educational influence which such forms might exert, wakening new fervor in the worshipper’s heart by the very fervor of the worship in which he is invited to participate. Just in this way our Master bids us pray ‘forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors;” not because we habitually do forgive our debtors, but because He would have the prayer He bids us repeat suggest the spirit in which we ought to pray.
The second want hardly needs explanation. Whoever has sometimes attended the services of churches not familiar to him, has noticed how the novelty of strange forms distracts the attention, and how they lack for a while the power he is used to feel in the prayers and praises of his spiritual home.”
–J. Smith Dodge Jr., J. W. White, and H. L. Hayward, “Report on the State of the Church,” Proceedings at the Universalist Centennial. Boston: Universalist Publishing House, 1870: 14.