History of Unitarian Universalism

Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion and is the result of the merging of two religions, Unitarianism and Universalism. Their roots date back to Europe, hundreds of years ago.

The Early Church

325 Nicene Creed adopted at the Council of Nicea under the emperor Constantine; establishes the dogma of the Trinity and suppresses the lower Christology espoused by Arius and his followers.
544 Another church council condemns as heresy the belief in universal salvation, a teaching traced back to second-century theologian Origen of Alexandria.

Reformation Europe

1531 Michael Servetus (1510-53) publishes On the Error of the Trinity
1539 Katherine Vogel of Krakow, Poland, burned at the stake for denying the Trinity; birth of Paustus Socinus, leader of the Polish Unitarian (Socinian) movement (d. 1604).
1553 Servetus burned at the stake in Calvin's Geneva.
1566 Francis David preaches against the doctrine of the Trinity of Transylvania.
1568 King John Sigismund of Transylvania, under the influence of David, issues the earliest edict of religious toleration.
1579 Francis David, condemned as a heretic, dies in prison.
1654 John Biddle, founder of English Unitarianism, banished to the Scilly Islands.
1568 The Polish Diet banishes Socinians.

18th Century

1703 Thomas Emelyn imprisoned at Dublin for anti-Trinitarian beliefs; birth of George de Benneville, early Universalist advocate.
1723 De Benneville preaches Unitarianism in Europe; birth of Theophilus Lindsey, later leader of London Unitarians.
1741 De Benneville emigrates to Pennsylvania; birth of John Murray, founder of organized American Universalism.
1770 Murray emigrates to America; preaches in Thomas Potter's chapel at Good Luck, N.J.
1779 First Universalist congregation in America gathered at Gloucester, Mass., with Murray as minister.
1785 Liturgy of King's Chapel, Boston, revised to omit references to the Trinity.
1787 King's Chapel congregation ordains James Freeman as its minister, becoming "Anglican in worship, congregational in policy, and Unitarian in theology."
1794 Joseph Priestley, British Unitarian minister and scientist, emigrates to Pennsylvania.
1796 First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia organized with Priestley's encouragement.

19th Century

1802 The oldest Pilgrim church in America (founded at Plymouth in 1620) becomes Unitarian.
1803 Universalists at convention in Winchester, N.H., adopt a confession of faith.
1804 President Thomas Jefferson compiles his own version of the Gospels, inspired by Priestly.
1805 Universalist Hosea Ballou publishes A Treatise on the Atonement, rejecting the doctrine of the Trinity; Henry Ware, St., a Unitarian, elected Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard.
1819 William Ellery Channing preaches "Unitarian Christianity" in Baltimore, helps gather first Unitarian Church in New York City.
1825 The American Unitarian Association founded.
1833 The General Convention of Universalists in the United States founded.
1838 Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Divinity School Address" at Harvard.
1841 Theodore Parker's "Transient and Permanent in Christianity" preached in South Boston.
1850 Death of Margaret Fuller, author of Women in the Nineteenth Century.
1863 Ordination of Olympia Brown as Universalist minister, first woman to be regularly ordained by any denomination.
1864 Death of Thomas Scarr King, Universalist minister and pastor of the First Unitarian Church of San Francisco, who "saved California for the Union."
1865 National Conference of Unitarian Churches, organized by Henry Whitney Bellows, gives Unitarians a more effective denominational structure.
1866 Organization of the Universalist General Convention (renamed in 1942 the Universalist Church in America).
1867 Organization of the Free religious Association.
1884 Death of Emerson; American Unitarian Association becomes a congregational and representative body, later absorbing the National Conference; publication of Ten Great Relations, by James Freeman Clarke.
1890 Universalists establish churches in Japan.
1893 World Parliament of Religions held in Chicago, organized by Unitarian minister, Jenkin Lloyd Jones.
1899 A joint commission first discusses merger of Unitarian and Universalist movements.

20th Century

1900 The International Congress of Free Christians and Other Religious Liberals formed (later the International Association for Religious Freedom).
1902 Beacon Press launched, broadening the American Unitarian Association's publishing program.
1908 Unitarian Fellowship for Social Justice organized by John Haynes Holmes (also a founder of the NAACP, the ACLU, and the Fellowship of Reconciliation).
1917 William Howard Taft, fifth Unitarian president, serves as moderator of the American Unitarian Association.
1921 Universalist women acquire Clara Barton homestead (later a camp for diabetic girls).
1931 Second Commission on Unitarian-Universalist merger.
1935 Washington Statement of Faith adopted by Universalists.
1936 American Unitarian Association Commission on Appraisal issues report.
1937 Frederick May Eliot elected president of AUA (d. 1957).
1939 Unitarian Service Committee organized.
1944 Church of the Larger Fellowship organized to serve Unitarians living areas without Unitarian congregations.
1950 A. Powell Davies, minister of All Souls, Washington, D.C., inspires the founding of ten suburban congregations; fellowship movement organized under Monroe Husbands.
1961 Unitarian Universalist Association formed, with Dana McLean Greeley as first president
1963 Hymns for the Celebration of Life published.
1965 James Reeb killed at Selma, Alabama.
1969 Robert Nelson West elected second UUA president; controversy over black empowerment vs. integration.
1977 Paul Carnes elected third UUA president; dies in office.
1979 Eugene Pickett elected fourth UUA president.
1985 William F. Schulz elected fifth UUA president; new statement of Principles and Purposes adopted.
1990 Rebecca Parker becomes president of Starr King, and first American woman to be president of a theological school
1993 John Buehrens elected sixth UUA president.
1993 The hymnal, Singing the Living Tradition, published.
1995 The International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU) is an umbrella organization founded in 1995 bringing together many Unitarian, Universalist and Unitarian Universalist organizations. The size of the member organizations varies widely. Some member groups have only a few hundred members; while the largest, the Unitarian Universalist Association, has over 200,000 members and is larger than all the other member groups put together.

21st Century

2000 The International Congress of Free Christians and Other Religious Liberals formed (later the International Association for Religious Freedom).
2000 Canadian Unitarian Council withdraws from the UUA
2000 La Sociedad religiosa Unitaria Universalista de Espana (SUUE, the Unitarian Universalist Religious Society of Spain) was founded in Barcelona. It traced its origins directly to the liberal Spanish writer and former priest Jose Maria Blanco-White (1775-1841). It joined the ICUU in 2005.
2008 UUA officials visit emerging African UU congregations