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Spiritual Education & Exploration
history: UU pioneers

Unitarian Universalism has a deep and diverse history, dating back to sixteenth century Transylvania (our Unitarian side) and to eighteenth century America (our Universalist roots in this country).

As Mark Harris writes in his pamphlet, Unitarian Universalist Origins: Our Historic Faith, people who expressed a belief "in free human will and the loving benevolence of God, eventually became Unitarian. During the first four decades of the nineteenth century, hundreds of congregational churches fought over ideas about sin and salvation, and especially over the doctrine of the Trinity. In 1819, Unitarian minister William Ellery Channing delivered a sermon called 'Unitarian Christianity' and helped to give the Unitarians a strong platform. Six years later the American Unitarian Association was organized in Boston, Massachusetts."

Of our Universalist history, Harris writes, "From its beginnings, Universalism challenged its members to reach out and embrace people whom society often marginalized. The Gloucester church included a freed slave among its charter members, and the Universalists became the first denomination to ordain women to the ministry, beginning in 1863 with Olympia Brown. Universalism was a more evangelical faith than Unitarianism. After officially organizing in 1793, the Universalists spread their faith across the eastern United States and Canada," promoting the belief that all people are the children of God, rather than a chosen few.

Since 1961, Unitarian Universalism has followed in the footsteps of its Unitarian & Universalist heritages to provide a strong voice for social justice and liberal religion. Some Unitarian Universalists of whom you may already have heard include Tim Berners-Lee, Paul Newman, Christopher Reeve, May Sarton, Pete Seeger, & Kurt Vonnegut.

The links on these pages are from They will tell you more of the story of Unitarian Universalism; introduce you to some of the most famous and influential Unitarian Universalists -- both those of days past and present. The pages will provide you with sites where you can learn much more about this rich faith which embodies many strands of Judeo-Christian teachings and the influences of the world's great religious traditions.

Dictionary of Unitarian & Universalist Biography

Famous UUs

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