Rev. Dr. Charles Howe D.D., Ph.D., a Unitarian Universalist minister who wrote about denominational history, died last week, on Tuesday, August 10. Obituary from the Raleigh, N.C., News-Observer. Biographical summary at the UUHS Web site. Howe was originally trained as a chemist, and received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He left academia to become a Unitarian Universalist minister, and after a long career in the parish, turned to writing about Unitarian Universalist history. He was awarded the honorary Doctor of Divinity by Meadville Lombard Theological School.
Howe wrote two clear, concise one volume syntheses of topics in Unitarian and Universalist history. His The Larger Faith is a lucid, accurate, and concise introduction to North American Universalism; even though I own Russell Miller’s massive two-volume history of Universalism, I often find it’s quicker to look something up in Howe’s book. Howe’s For Faith and Freedom is another excellent one-volume summary, this time of European Unitarianism; although in this case, there is no other work that covers everything that Howe covers in this one volume. Howe was also an editor and complier, and in third major book, Clarence Skinner: Prophet of a New Universalism, he gave us a solid one-volume introduction to perhaps the major figure of Universalism in the 20th century, with excerpts from Skinner’s work, and essays on Skinner’s life and theology.