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Religious Education Association Records - Addendum A

Call Number: RG 74A

Scope and Contents

This addendum to the archives of the Religious Education Association consist of over 300 files in 28 archival boxes and about 14 linear feet of material dating primarily from 1982 to 2003, although there are some files from earlier decades, including a complete collection of the newsletter, REACH, from its beginning in 1971, the material commissioned to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the organization in 1978, and a number of photos. This collection completes and supplements Record Group No. 74, which covers the development of the REA from 1903 to 1982 (although the call to the founding convention was issued in 1902). It is very appropriate that the REA archives are stored at Yale, since the office was located on the YDS campus from 1973 to 1997. In addition, Randolph C. Miller, Yale Ph.D. 1936 and YDS professor, was the editor of the journal for twenty years, 1958 to 1977, served as interim executive secretary for over two years, and was the managing editor of the journal for many years. Yale graduates who were leaders of the REA in the last decades of the 20th century were Boardman Kathan, YDS ‘56; General Secretary from 1970 to 1982, Kenneth Stokes, YDS ‘54; John Peatling, YDS ‘52 and ‘53; Sara Little, PhD ‘58; and William B. Kennedy, PhD ‘57. An executive of the Association of Professors and Researchers in Religious Education (APRRE) in the 1990s was Charles Melchert, Yale PhD ‘68.

Series I, Organizational and Policy Records, contains a diverse collection of files and documents relating to the structure, tax-exempt status, membership, staff and operations. Of particular interest are several studies of the organizations and attempts at restructuring. This series concludes with the process leading to merger with the Association of Professors and Researchers in Religious Education (APRRE).

Series II, Board and Committees, deals with the minutes and mailings of the Board of Directors and the various committees, especially the Executive Committee (sometimes called the “Steering Committee” in the late 1990s) and the Editorial Committee. One can see a continued interest in a review of the purpose and goals of the organization, and its vision for the future.

Series III, Secretarial Files, includes not only the records and correspondence of the staff, but also those of Presidents and Editors, especially Mary Elizabeth Moore, Hanan Alexander and Ronald Cram.

Series IV, Meetings, is devoted to the conventions and conferences of the REA from 1983 to the 100th anniversary celebration in 2003. Most noteworthy were the Tri-Lateral Conferences held from 1991 to 1994. Some of the papers are included in the files, but they were never published, because not enough permissions were received from the leaders.

Series V, Regional Work, is focused on the metropolitan and regional chapters, which were encouraged by the REA. Included here is the conference sponsored by the chapter in Houston, Texas.

Series VI, Publications, contains a complete set of the newsletter, REACH, and the publications which grew out of the 75th anniversary of the REA in 1978: the anthology, Who Are We? The Quest for a Religious Education, edited by John Westerhoff and published by the Religious Education Press in 1978; the festschrift for Herman Wornom, Pioneers of Religious Education in the 20th Century, edited by Boardman Kathan as a special issue of the journal in 1978; and A History of the Religious Education Association by Stephen Schmidt and published by Religious Education Press in 1983. Also included is an anthology of articles from the journal, Religious Education in Adulthood, edited by John L. Elias. The journal, Religious Education, is cataloged in the main library holdings of the Divinity School.

Series VII, Research, contains the files and reports of the major research project during this period, Faith Development in the Adult Life Cycle, directed by Kenneth Stokes. There is a copy of the book, Faith Development in the Adult Life Cycle, edited by Stokes and published by W.H. Sadlier in 1982. There is also a copy of the report by the Princeton Religion Research Center, “Faith Development and Your Ministry,” reports of the Module I and Module II research, and a copy of the book, Faith is a Verb: Dynamics of Adult Faith Development, written by Stokes and published by Twenty-Third Publications in 1989. Also included is a copy of Volumes I and II of the Annual Review of Research, published by the Character Research Press, Schenectady. NY. and edited by John Peatling, who served as chairman of the Research Committee.

Series VIII, Financial and Promotional Records includes financial reports, promotional work and some funding sources. Most important for the future of the REA was the establishment of an Endowment Fund in the early 1990s, which was helped considerably by a bequest from the estate of Herman Wornom after he died in 1992 and a bequest from Ruth Hagedorn, a long-time supporter of the REA through her friendship with an earlier leader, F. Ernest Johnson.

Series IX, Memberships, contains several membership lists, including the 2001 one, filed alphabetically and by country and zip code.

Series X, Photographs, consists of files in alphabetical order of REA staff, officers, members, and leaders at the numerous conventions, as well as photos from conventions in the 1970s and a large collection of color photos of later conferences and meetings.


  • 1952-2003


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Deposited by the Religious Education Association


  1. I. Organization and Policy Records
  2. II. Board and Committee Records
  3. III. Secretarial Files
  4. IV. Meetings
  5. V. Regional Work
  6. VI. Publications
  7. VII. Research
  8. VIII. Financial and Promotional Records
  9. IX. Memberships
  10. X. Photographs

Related Materials

This collection completes and supplements Record Group No. 74, which covers the development of the REA from 1903 to 1982 (although the call to the founding convention was issued in 1902). It also complements Record Group No. 154, the archives of the Association of Professors and Researchers in Religious Education, and Record Group No. 262, the archives of the National Council on Religion and Public Education, which was founded by the REA in 1971. Other record groups at the Yale Divinity School library complement the REA archives, especially the papers of leaders of the movement in the first half of the 20th century: George Albert Coe (RG 36); Frank Knight Sanders (RG 122); Hugh Hartshorne (RG 30); and those of Luther Weigle (MS 1042), which are in the Sterling Library at Yale. Other leaders whose papers are at YDS are Paul Vieth (RG 59) and Randolph Crump Miller (RG 173).


14 Linear Feet (28 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The papers document the history of the REA primarily from 1982 to 2003, when the organization merged with Association of Professors and Researchers in Religious Education (APRRE). They are an addition to Record Group No. 74, which covers the years primarily from the founding of the organization in 1903 to 1982. There is some overlap and duplication between these two collections, since it includes the complete newsletter, REACH, from its beginning in 1971, plus publications from the 75th anniversary in 1978 and some photographs from the earlier period.

Biographical / Historical

During this period of time the Religious Education Association, chartered in 1903 in Illinois, continued to publish its journal, Religious Education, and its newsletter, REACH, to hold conventions and other conferences in cities of the U.S. and Canada, granted awards to outstanding leaders, encouraged local and regional chapters, and sponsored a research project on Faith Development in the Adult Life Cycle.

By 1999 the journal became known as "An Interfaith Journal of Spirituality, Growth and Transformation." John Westerhoff of the Duke University Divinity School served as the Editor-in-Chief for ten years, 1978-1987, and was followed by Rabbi Jack Spiro of Virginia Commonwealth University in 1988 and by Hanan Alexander of the University of Judaism, Los Angeles, in 1993. At the beginning of the 21st century the position was filled by Theodore Brelsford of Candler School of Theology, Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Randolph Crump Miller of Yale Divinity School continued as managing editor until the late 1990s when the position was contracted out, along with that of copy editor. The newsletter was expanded to a quarterly and was edited by the executive staff until 1997, when it too was contracted out. By 2000 the newsletter took electronic form. However, in the 100th anniversary year, 2003, a special 26-page edition was published with articles from the REA's past, In Retrospect, and its future, In Prospect. This special issue ended with a two-page listing of all the leaders of the organization since 1903.

Conventions and conferences were held in a number of places: Anaheim, California (1983); Washington, DC (1986); Toronto, Ontario (1987); Boulder, Colorado (1990); Indianapolis, Indiana (1992); Chicago, Illinois (1994); New Orleans, Louisiana (1996); Orlando, Florida (1998); Atlanta, Georgia (2000); and the 100th anniversary celebration in Chicago in 2003. These meetings were generally planned in tandem with the Association of Professors and Researchers in Religious Education or other groups. The 1986 meeting was held in conjunction with the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion and the Religious Research Association. Most noteworthy during this period was a series of Tri-Lateral Conferences in the years 1991-1994, which brought together a number of Christian, Jewish and Muslim educators. Originally called “Educational Conferences on Religious Differences,” they were funded by a $50,000 grant from the Lilly Endowment. Eight conferences were held in various places in the U.S. and Canada: Houston, Texas (1991); Claremont and Los Angeles, California (1992); Stony Point, NY (1993); Oklahoma City (1993); Windsor, Ontario (1994); Villanova, Pennsylvania (1994); Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1994); and a conference for women at Stony Point, NY, in 1994.

The REA continued to present its most prestigious award in memory of William Rainey Harper, who was instrumental in calling the founding convention in 1903. Previous recipients of the Harper Award were Marshall McLuhan, Elie Wiesel, Margaret Mead, Randolph C. Miller, and Fr. Johannes Hofinger. In 1983 it was presented to Paulo and Elza Freire of Brazil; in 1992 to John Hull of Great Britain; in 1994 to Martin Marty of the University of Chicago; and in 2003 to Gabriel Moran and Maria Harris. In addition, after the death of Herman Wornom, its long-time General Secretary, the Wornom Award was instituted in order to honor institutions of great service to the religious education profession. In 1992 it was given to Craig Dykstra and the Lilly endowment, and in 1994 to Will Kennedy and the Union Theological Seminary of New York City.

Metropolitan and regional chapters were not as successful. One chapter in Houston, Texas, held meetings and sponsored a regional conference. Activity was also reported in Dubuque, Iowa, Honolulu, and even Korea. When Sherry Blumberg was REA President, a clergy institute was co-sponsored in Dayton, Ohio, and a regional gathering in Marblehead, Massachusetts. The REA co-sponsored a program at Wainwright House in Rye, NY, and a conference at Spertus College in Chicago in 1988. A Study Tour to Israel, Rome, Geneva and Milan was conducted on November 16-30, 1985, under the leadership of Kenneth Stokes. Delegates were sent to the annual meetings of the National Council on Religion and Public Education, which had been organized by the REA in 1971, and to the Centennial Parliament of World Religions in Chicago in 1993.

The major research project in this period was on Faith Development in the Adult Life Cycle, directed by Kenneth Stokes. It began in 1979 and sponsored a national symposium, 23 regional workshops, a national conference in Canada, and in-depth research program in two “Modules,” a “Seminar-at-Sea,” and saw the publication of two books. The project had become a separate organization by 1988 with the name, Adult Faith Resources.

There were some important changes in the REA. First, there was a decline in the total membership and library subscriptions from a combined high of 5,000 in the 1960s and 1970s. Secondly, there was a change from a full-time General or Executive Secretary to a part-time one. Following the full-time service of Boardman Kathan from 1970 to 1982, Randolph C. Miller was the part-time executive from 1982 to 1985, followed by Dorothy Savage of the National Council of Churches from 1985 to 1987. The last Executive Secretary was Donald Russo, a teacher at Xaverian High School in Brooklyn, from 1987 to 1991. Subsequently, the work was carried on by Executive Administrators: Barbara Ryan, to 1997; Ronald Cram, Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia, 1997-1998; two graduate students at Emory University, Robin Ficklin-Alred, 1998-1999, and Kimberleigh Buchanan, 1999-2001. The last Executive Administrator was Eugenia Freiburger, Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia, for a brief time in 2001. Following this, leadership was provided by the REA Presidents, Ronald Cram of Columbia Theological Seminary and Anne Wimberly of the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta. Third, the location of the REA office was changed. Since 1973 the office had been located on the campus of Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut. However, by 1997 Yale had decided that it would no longer rent space to outside organizations so that it could prepare for a major renovation. The office was moved to Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia, in 1997, and then the following year space was rented in the Oakhurst Baptist Church in Decatur and in 1999 in the Virginia-Highland Baptist Church in Atlanta. In 2001 it was moved to Richmond, Virginia, but this was short-lived. Subsequently, it was located in the homes and offices of the REA Presidents.

A fourth change was the publication of the journal as a quarterly rather than as a bimonthly, starting in 1983. After many years with the Oberlin Printing Co. in Ohio, the work was done by the William C. Brown Co. in Iowa, then by Scholars Press in Georgia and finally by Taylor and Francis in Philadelphia. Finally, the executives of the Association of Professors and Researchers in Religious Education took over more of the leadership of the REA, especially under Charles Melchert and Randy Litchfield. The two organizations had coordinated their meetings since the early 1970s, the journal had become a joint venture by 1980, and a committee was appointed to explore the merger of the two groups by the start of the 21st century. Together, the two organizations celebrated the 100th anniversary of the REA with a three-day conference in Chicago in November on the theme, “Embracing the Past, Envisioning the Future: Religious Education in an Age of Transition.”

Guide to the Religious Education Association Records - Addendum A
Boardman W. Kathan
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

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