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Dietrich Centennial Portal


As Rev. David Breeden indicated in a 2016 post-election commentary: “At FUS we espouse very lofty values. . . . Humanism saved me from my childhood prejudices. I know that we have a saving message. Now is no time to speak quietly among ourselves. Now more than ever people need to hear our message of inclusion and see our values in action.”

John Dietrich

John Dietrich

As we celebrate 100 years of religious Humanism at First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis — a concept that was started when the First Unitarian Society called minister Dr. John Dietrich in 1916 — this section on the website enables us to share some of our history and evolution as a humanist society, as well as to share special events, resources and futuristic discussion questions that honor our roots.

“Humanist Pulpit” blog

Click for a series of excerpts from our Humanist ministers, including founder Dr. John Dietrich, whose widely popular addresses led First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis to become a center of religious liberalism in the 1920s and 1930s. (Minneapolis celebrated Rev. John Dietrich Day on Nov. 1, 2016.)

Dietrich 100 Address-of-the-Month Discussion

To mark the 100-year anniversary of Rev. John Dietrich’s arrival at FUS, we’ll be looking in-depth at one of his addresses each month on the third Sundays, noon, generally in Dietrich Room. Participants will benefit from reading at least an excerpt or full transcript of the talk beforehand. Schedule-to-date:

  • November 20: “What if the World Went Humanist?,” led by Adele Hansen. You can pick up a book of the address for $1 at FUS. “We are precisely like a group of men and women isolated on an island in the Pacific who, instead of dreaming of what they would do if they ever escaped, set to work in the endeavor to make the place habitable and living comfortable.” THIS ONE WILL BE HELD IN HERITAGE ROOM.
  • December 18: “What and Why is Christmas?” (1924), led by Phil Duran. “To the Christian, Christmas is the birthday of Jesus, just as February 22 is Washington’s birthday. But people who think and speak like this only betray their religious and historic ignorance. The only thing specifically Christian about Christmas is the name.”
  • January 15: “Thoughts on God,” led by Nick Rowse and Mikki Morrissette. “The placement of man or the state at the heart of the universe results in a paralyzing self-glorification and mass selfishness, and the first signs of it are already frighteningly evident. It is high time to realize that the man-society relationship is not enough, but in order to save our civilization we need to restore the man-universe relationship.”
  • February 19: “How the Gods Were Made,” (4/18/1926) led by Martha Hardesty. “When the predominating characteristics of man were jealousy and cruelty, the gods were jealous and cruel; and only as man sloughed these off, and developed within himself a sense of justice and righteousness, did the gods become just and righteous; so that at any period of man’s development the gods or God simply represent an idealized and glorified type of man’s own character, a projection of his moral ideals, moulded into a definite form as an object of worship.”
  • March 19, 2017: “Can the God-Idea Be Saved?” (12/14/30) led by Frank Hanson. “… one wonders if the God-idea, which has persisted through the centuries of human history, can be saved, or indeed if it is desirable that it should be saved? To this question there are just three answers among modern thinkers: 1) atheism, which says that it cannot and should not be saved; 2) theism, which says that it can and should be saved; and 3) Humanism, which teaches that the God-idea has been greatly overstressed, and that it is not important whether it be saved or not.”

“The Future of Humanism” conference

In honor of 100 years of Humanism in Minneapolis, FUS hosted on October 15, 2016 a well-attended and diverse audience for a day-long workshop that featured several notable speakers and breakout sessions.

Speakers: Dr. Anthony Pinn, Professor of Religious Studies, Rice University, Houston, TX; Dr. William D. Hart, Professor of Religious Studies and Dr. Sonita Sarker, Professor Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Macalester College, Minneapolis, MN; Dr. Philip Zuckerman, Professor of Sociology, Pitzer College, Claremount, CA, and Chris Steadman, Humanist Chaplain, Yale University, New Haven, CT.

History: First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis

Current minister Rev. David Breeden is President of the UU Humanist Association and serves as co-dean of the Humanist Institute.


Explore ALL of Dietrich’s work at The FUS Archives!

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