Mainline churches need a usable past, a sense of their own history that is honest and morally complex. It needs to be more compelling than lists of "famous firsts" or names and dates: history for grown-ups will provide tools for respecting the legacy of the past without devolving into ancestor worship. My project will provide a model of how that might be accomplished, integrating serious historical scholarship with a working group of clergy and church people. The scholarly project will take a critical look at the history of Congregationalism from the 1870s to the 1950s-a vastly understudied and terribly important time period for
understanding contemporary mainline Protestantism. It will be written in conversation a small group of creative clergy people who will imagine what liturgical and worship resources would look like if they were to take history seriously. The grant will allow me to have a three-four month sabbatical away from my current responsibilities, it will support a short research trip, and it will cover costs of convening the clergy group twice. All of the resources we produce - scholarly and liturgical - will be available to the public through the Congregational Library's web site and other means of dissemination.