Unitarian Universalist History

Unitarian Universalists value the teachings of:

  • Origen (circa 185 CE) who stressed Jesus' humanity, and believed that God would receive all people into heaven.

  • Jan Huss, a Bohemian church reformer and martyr, burned at the stake in 1415 CE.

  • Michael Servetus who wrote "On The Errors of the Trinity" which led to his execution at the stake in 1553 in John Calvin's Geneva for his unitarian heresy.

  • King John Sigismund of Transylvania (now a part of Romania and Hungary) in 1568 issued the first edict of religious freedom. This allowed citizens to hold diverse religious beliefs and still be loyal to the state.

  • Writers, scientists, and others who promoted religious tolerance, including Alcott, Bryant, Holmes, Locke, Milton, Newton, Florence Nightingale, and Emerson.

  • American politicians such as John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Adlai Stevenson and William Howard Taft.

  • Hosea Ballou, author (in 1805) of "A Treatise on Atonement" which argued against the existence of miracles, the Trinity and of Hell. He is sometimes referred to as "The Father of American Universalism".

    The first church to call itself Unitarian was established in Transylvania, in 1638. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Universalist groups were formed in England. An organization which was to become the Universalist Church of America was formed in 1785. By 1810, there were 20 Unitarian churches in England. In the U.S., many churches were founded which were Unitarian or professed Unitarian beliefs. Theirs was largely a reaction to the rigidity of Calvinist belief in New England. These churches formed the American Unitarian Association in 1825. The first Unitarian church in Canada was established in Montreal in 1842. In 1961, after a democratic vote, the Unitarian and Universalist churches merged to become the UUA.