The Rev. F. Forrester Church, 61, a minister whose prolific writing and engaging sermons from the pulpit of All Souls Unitarian Church in Manhattan helped to define Unitarian Universalism and relate its beliefs to the larger culture, died Thursday of esophageal cancer at his home in New York.
Church, the son of the late Sen. Frank Church III, D-Idaho, was senior minister at All Souls for more than three decades. During his tenure, the liberal, affluent Upper East Side congregation, founded in 1819, grew from fewer than 400 members to more than 1,400.
Through his books, TV and radio appearances and newspaper columns, Church became a leading voice of Unitarian Universalism. He also led his congregation into areas of public service, including an AIDS task force formed in 1985, when the disease was little understood and greatly feared. In addition, he set up a shelter for homeless women in Harlem, helped organize 50 farmers markets in New York and started a scouting program for boys and girls at a welfare hotel.
Although he had little experience in the pulpit when he began at All Souls, he became one of the nation’s most quotable preachers.