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Liberal Church of America, Inc. - General History

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The Liberal Church was an independent church founded in Denver, Colorado on 23 February 1923 by Frank Hamilton Rice. He was born in 1881 in Danville, Illinois and originally was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1915 he and his family moved to Denver from Oklahoma where he was employed by the Colorado Manufacturer and Consumer as its editor. He served the Grant Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church as a Sunday School teacher and lay minister. In 1922 he advocated that the church sponsor weekly dances for young people as a means of combatting the influence of the public dance halls. After a vigorous debate his idea was soundly defeated and he left the MEC. He was left with a distaste of organised churches and thought he would start his own scaled down, more liberal oriented denomination.

Rice's views on the nature of the church and society were in line with those of the retired Anglican bishop of Arkansas, the Rt. Rev'd William Montgomery Brown (1855 to 1937). The two men began a correspondence which resulted in +Brown consecrating Rice on Sunday, 30 March 1924 in Denver. The following day, on 31 March 1924 the Liberal Church of America, Inc. was incorporated with the following board members: Frank H. Rice, Lee B. Craig, Edwin N. Burdick, Barney Haughey, Cora Gott, Martha Burdick-Newby, and Grace Bonnett. (Lee B. Craig [1889 to 1971] was later consecrated a bishop by +Rice but left the church in 1939.)

Bishop Rice died on 26 February 1945 at the age of 64. His successor as head of the Liberal Church was the Rt. Rev'd Albert Nawyn, who presided over Bishop Rice's funeral. The funeral was one of the most impressive funerals Denver ever saw. "Among those present were Larimer Street down-and-outers, justices of the Supreme Court, cripples in wheel chairs, heads of corporations, blind men led by children, professors of universities, police officers, state legislators, children, lawyers, and representatives from every segment of Denver life." By 1957 the church seems to have only existed on paper.

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