LLOYD C DOUGLAS

Since 2005, I have been researching the Lloyd C Douglas Papers at the University of Michigan's Bentley Historical Library in preparation for a book I'm going to write about him. I have devoted a blog exclusively to that research: the Lloyd C Douglas Page on WordPress. You can click on the link to go there, but the links below are designed to map out the information on that site in a more logical way. Clicking on the links below will take you to those posts within the site.

INTRODUCTORY

About Lloyd C Douglas includes lists of the churches he served as pastor and the books he published (both fiction and non-fiction).

Introducing the Lloyd C Douglas Page tells a little more about him and about why I've devoted a site to him.

The Lloyd C Douglas Papers at the Bentley Historical Library tells about the variety of materials in the collection.

BIOGRAPHY
North Manchester, Indiana, 1903-1905

Although he was best known as a Congregationalist pastor, he earned his divinity degree from the Hamma Divinity School at Wittenberg College, in Springfield, Ohio, and served for several years as a Lutheran minister.

In The Early Years of Douglas's Ministry, I sum up the first six years of his career. He began his ministry in 1903, in North Manchester, Indiana, a town not far from his place of birth. Although he showed signs of brilliance, he had much more to offer than that little town gave him an opportunity to demonstrate. I talk about North Manchester in A New Dispensation... Douglas's Open Letters to the Shut-Ins... Douglas's Regret... and Greatness Trying to Break Out.
 

Lancaster, Ohio, 1905-1909

He began to make a name for himself in 1905 when he accepted a call as pastor in Lancaster, Ohio. (See Moving Up in the World.) In that place, he became recognized as a writer (see Dear Valentine) and a speaker (see A Sermon That Made a Difference, in which he used a special Thanksgiving service to plead for the establishment of a hospital, and Are You a Man? Then Read This, about how he made it fashionable for adult males to go to church).

Washington, DC, 1909-1911

In 1909 he was offered an unexpected opportunity: to replace the legendary J. G. Butler as senior minister at Luther Place Memorial Church in Washington, DC. I talk about the background leading up to that call in Going Places and An Unfortunate End to a Distinguished Career. After Dr. Butler's death, Douglas was invited to preach. Weeks later, Luther Place called him to be their new pastor, and although he was young and seemingly inexperienced, he took charge, first by winning over the local press corps and then taking steps to move the congregation past the scandal that had been dominating the newspapers over the past several months.

His wife Besse had firsthand experience with the local custom of women from the community “coming to call,” and Douglas received thanks from conservationist Gifford Pinchot when he mentioned him in a sermon.

Douglas also had a once-in-a-lifetime experience: the chance to give the benediction at the unveiling of a work of art in Statuary Hall, in the Capitol Building: the statue of Lew Wallace, the author of Ben-Hur. As a result, one of the local papers snapped a picture that, over 30 years later, would take on new meaning.

Living in DC was like a breath of fresh air for Lloyd and Besse Douglas; but the time they spent there was all too short... for on a Sunday morning in July of 1911, Douglas surprised everyone by announcing his resignation. I examine the complex web of reasons for his decision over the course of six blog posts:

Resignation

Talkin' 'bout the Y...MCA

Leaving the Lutheran Church

Shailer Mathews

Brave New World

What Douglas Wanted Most

University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, IL, 1911-1915

In 1911, Douglas began working for the YMCA at the University of Illinois. I tell about the campus in Tremendously in Touch with Life, and I talk about how Douglas kept a fairly low profile (Behind the Scenes). He was rethinking his theology, and we begin to see signs of that in the lecture series he delivered at other universities in 1912 (Douglas Is Coming! and Thinking His World Through).

I believe that he invested secretly in a local shopkeeper from 1912 to 1915, and I share my reasons in A Well-Kept Secret about Lloyd C Douglas.

His writing began to take off after this secret investment, first in a weekly column he wrote in the student-run newspaper at the University of Illinois, and then in a series of Pen Portraits he wrote anonymously for the student-run monthly magazine. He was accepted as a minister into the Presbyterian Church, then became a Congregational minister.

 

First Congregational Church of Ann Arbor, 1915-1921

After a few years working for the YMCA, he knew it was time to get back in the pulpit. In a rather provocative way, he introduced himself to the students at the University of Michigan, which was adjacent to the church. He grew a lot as pastor of that university church, especially due to the kinds of people who filled the First Congregational Church of Ann Arbor when he became their Senior Minister in 1915. You can read about the weekly column he began to write for a local Ann Arbor paper soon after he moved there.

As I continue to tell his story in future blog posts, I will provide links to them here.

GENERAL TOPICS

Douglas's Long Road to Fame is a brief summary of his life as a writer.

The Musical Side of Lloyd C Douglas tells about how he collaborated with the musical director at each of his congregations to create worship services that had a "symphonic" character.

The Secret Investment of Lloyd C Douglas: they kept this secret for over 100 years. I believe that Douglas made a costly investment (not with money but with something more ingenious) during his time with the YMCA at the University of Illinois. I've written a PDF booklet that tells the story, along with the detective work that made it possible for me to uncover their secret. For a free copy, click on this link and fill out the  form at the bottom of the page.

QUOTABLE QUOTES

The site contains a number of Quotable Quotes from his books and sermons:

The Church Could Lead the Way to Serenity... But Won't and Wanted: One Solid Hour of Peace and Quiet (from the Atlantic Monthly, 1928)

An Ironic Twist on 'They Know Not What They Do' (from These Sayings of Mine, 1926)

Instead of Counting Sheep (from a sermon preached in Montreal on January 26, 1930)

The Importance of Sportsmanship within the Church (from a sermon preached in Akron on October 31, 1926)

The Kind of Religion We Need (from an article in the Lutheran Observer, July 6, 1906)

The Family Drudge (from Invitation to Live, 1940)

On Following Jesus' Teachings Without Following Jesus (from These Sayings of Mine, 1926)

What Is the Gospel Doing for You? (from a sermon preached in Los Angeles on July 15, 1928)

Against a Parochial View of God (from a sermon preached in Akron on October 31, 1926)

Praying from the Pulpit As If Ordering Pork Chops from the Butcher (from the Christian Century, September 9, 1920)

Jesus' Interest in Everyday Problems (from These Sayings of Mine, 1926)

Ten Commandments for the College Church (from The Intercollegian, April 1919)

There He Stands (from An Affair of the Heart, 1922)

The Pastor is the Head Custodian, Like It or Not (from The Minister's Everyday Life, 1924)

The Influence of Jesus on Western Culture (from These Sayings of Mine, 1926)

ARTICLES BY LLOYD DOUGLAS

Thy Will Be Done (source and date unknown, but published between 1903 and 1905): Douglas argues that disasters are not "acts of God."

SERMONS BY LLOYD DOUGLAS

"Having Reserves on Hand" is his earliest sermon on record, Des Moines, Iowa, 1902

For a free PDF of the booklet, "The #1 Obstacle to Finding God in Everyday Life (And What You Can Do About It)," please fill in your name and email address here. I'll also send you a monthly newsletter updating you on my research and publications.

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