Free Pulpit Ministry
UU Church Today, Spirituality & Theology, Society & Culture, Practice & Voice

Salted with Fire: 98 Years of the Free Pulpit

In 2000, I arrived at All Souls having only about eight sermons under my belt. On day-one, I knocked on the Minister Emeritus Rev. Dr. John B. Wolf‘s door and entered the home of a colleague who was renowned for his exultant oratory as well as his pastoral heart and powerful activism. I remembered feeling like I was following in the shadow of giants. Both Dr. Wolf and Rev. Dr. Brent Smith were theologically sophisticated, spoke with booming voices and stood over six feet tall.

A legacy of ministers over the past 98 years.

Perhaps sensing my cold feet, Dr. Wolf immediately began telling me how intimidated he was when he arrived in town. Rev. Robert Sonen proceeded him at All Souls and according to John, “Bob Sonen was the best preacher this congregation has ever had.”

Members who were around in the late 90’s often say that Rev. Susanne Meyer was perhaps the most engaging writer and sermonizer of us all.

I once officiated the wedding of an octogenarian who, before entering my office, pointed to the photographs of four of my predecessors beginning with Rev. Alfred Von Stilli. Rev. Von Stilli had performed one of her four previous marriages. I officiated number five.

Rev. Barbara Prose: The preacher, pastor, organizer and activist

Rev. Barbara Prose minister sitting in the Memorial Garden

I will begin my 20th year at All Souls this summer. I have had the privilege to work with some outstanding ministers and interns. Chief among them is Rev. Barbara Prose. She is a pastor, preacher, organizer and activist.

Barbara came to us with experience as a mother, a midwife, a religious educator and an interfaith minister. She speaks many languages, plays piano and sings. She is a poet and a person who cares deeply about others.

As we honor the 98-year heritage of liberal clergy and the free pulpit, we will install Rev. Barbara Prose. It was at last year’s Heritage Sunday service that the congregation voted unanimously to make her an Associate Minister. After eight years with us, Barbara holds the title of Executive Minister. She is the Chief of Staff and leads our Executive Team even as she continues to teach, preach, and care for our community.

Celebrate Heritage Sunday

If your life has been impacted or inspired by a minister of All Souls over the past ten decades, please join us on Sunday, March 24, 2019 at 10:30 a.m. CST for a very special Heritage Sunday service. The sanctuary will be filled with music, stories, and messages from Rabbi Marc Fitzerman, B’nai Emunah Synagogue, and the Charge to the Minister will be led by Rev. Cathey Edwards, Hope Unitarian Church. Other clergy participating include Rev. Gerald Davis, Church of the Restoration UU, Carlton D. Pearson and our Art and Panny McElroy Intern Minister, Em Kianka.

It will be a Sunday to remember followed by a special reception in Emerson Hall. If you can’t join us in person, please join us via live stream at

Heritage Sunday: Celebrating 98 years of Ministry and the Installation of The Reverend Barbara Prose 
Sunday, March 24  |  10:30 a.m.  |  One Service For All 

Join us in celebrating 98 years of liberal ministers in Tulsa including Alfred von Stilli, Robert Sonen, John B. Wolf, Brent Smith, Suzanne Meyer and others as we honor a proud heritage of ministry and celebrate the official installation of The Reverend Barbara Prose. 

Heritage Sunday Ministry

Cover Image: All Souls congregation in 1931 after church.


  1. Rev. John Biedler

    First attended All Souls in 1982 and as a former Worldwide Church of God pastor, I found here acceptance & solace.

    1. <3 We love that you are a part of our All Souls family Rev. Biedler.

  2. MacDonald grew up in the Congregational Church, with an atmosphere of Calvinism. However, his family was atypical, with his paternal grandfather a Catholic-born, fiddle-playing, Presbyterian elder; his paternal grandmother an Independent church rebel; his mother was a sister to the Gallic-speaking radical who became moderator of the disrupting Free Church, while his step-mother, to whom he was also very close, was the daughter of a Scottish Episcopalian priest.

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