The story of Ron Hargis, the minister of religious education at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto (then called the Palo Alto Unitarian Church) from 1971-1977, offers an interesting insight into the changes facing congregations in the 1970s, particularly the decline in the number of children, and the emergence of new educational approaches.
Ronald Irving Hargis was born on May 26, 1924, in Battle Creek, Michigan. His father was Gerald C. Hargis (b. Aug. 18, 1896 in Des Moines, Iowa), and his mother was Marian Adelle Howard (b. Mar. 25, 1893 in Newark, New Jersey). I know little about his childhood except that he apparently was raised a Seventh Day Baptist; this denomination observes the sabbath on Saturday.
Hargis received an A.B. from Western Michigan University. He then moved to Connecticut, where he received a B.D. (1949) and an M.A. (1950) from Hartford Seminary Foundation. He did a student pastorate from 1948-1950 in Waterford, Conn. This congregation was founded in 1784, according to the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference Web site [http://www.seventhdaybaptist.org/content/churches accessed 12 June 2013 13:25 PDT] Then from 1950-1952, Hargis served as the Executive Secretary in Religious Education of the Seventh Day Baptist denomination. Continue reading “Ron Hargis, an obscure religious educator”