U/U/UU History Notes

Too-Brief Outline of Unitarian, Universalist & UU History
collected & idiosyncratically presented by Rev. Chip Roush
06 February 2011

heresy is Greek for choice

c. 0 Jesus
<=232 Origen: bible as allegory; no hell
<= 336 Arius’ Unknown Unbegun; one Source (Jesus not coeternal w/G-d)
325  Council of Nicaea rules in favor of Trinitarians, Arius anathematized
<=418 Pelagius: no original sin; human agency
553 Second Council of Constantinople condemns universal salvation as heresy

[1517 Luther’s 95 Theses published]
1523 Anabaptists Menno Simons & followers move to Holland
16th c. Anabaptists: pacifist, adult baptism, separation of church & state
1539 unitarian Katherine Vogel burned in Krakow after 10 years in prison
1553 Servetus burned in Geneva – no biblical support for Trinity
discovered lung fcn, escaped Inquisition, critiqued Calvin
1557 Isabella decrees of toleration in Torda, Transylvania
1568 King John Sigismund amplifies the Edict of Toleration
1569 Rakow, Poland founded; Socinus settles
1579 Francis David is tried & convicted of “innovation”…dies in prison
1582 Robert Browne’s pamphlet on congregationalism 1590 prison 1633 dies
1589 Barrowe & Greenwood’s congregationalist pamphlet while in prison (killed, 1593)

1620 Pilgrims land in North America; church led by layman William Brewster
1629 John Endicott & other Puritans form first Christian church in NA—congregational
1648 Cambridge Platform adopted by MA synod
1662 unitarian John Biddle dies of illness contracted from fourth term in prison
1662 Half-Way Covenant adopted

1722 universalist George de Benneville pardoned on guillotine, France
173? wakes in coffin after 42 hours, w/vision of universal salvation, Germany
1745 begins preaching universalism in Pennsylvania
1734-40’s Great Awakening
1770 John Murray lands, preaches universalism in North America—Cranberry Inlet, NJ
       Thomas Potter’s promised preacher; ship aground until after he preaches 30.9.70
[1776 US Declaration of Independence]
1787 James Freeman resigns & is kept on by King’s Chapel; rewrites BoCP
1791 Joseph Priestley’s house & lab (disc. O2) burned; moves to USA
1792 Mary Wollstonecraft writes A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
            1797 dies giving birth to daughter: MWShelley
1793 New England Universalist Convention formed—becomes UCA

1803 Universalists’ Winchester Profession of faith adopted, with a freedom clause that asserted the profession was *not* to be used as a creedal test
1805 Hosea Ballou publishes Treatise on Atonement; within a decade, most Universalists are unitarian.  thrice-infinity.  not Arminian—benevolence trumps atonement
1805 Unitarian controversy—Ware elected @ HDS
            no pulpit exchange with liberals
1810 Maria Cook preaches to Universalist churches in western PA, NY
1819 WEC gives Baltimore sermon at Jared Sparks’ ordination; claims ‘Unitarian’
            published 8 times—most since Common Sense; pamphlet wars; really Arian
1820 Dedham parish keeps the assets when orthodox church withdraws
            81+ congregations, half a million dollars, over the next few years
1820 Thomas Jefferson finishes Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth [uni- not Uni-]
            1822 letter to Thomas Cooper: “Unitarianism…will, before long, be the religion of the majority from north to south, I have no doubt.”
1825 AUA formed
1826 Joseph Tuckerman & AUA create Ministry-at-Large; now UU Urban Ministry
1830 decade of Restorationist controversy ends in schism;
            many Restorationists join Unitarians; Ultras become Rest. post-Ballou
1833 Standing Order finally disestablished in Massachusetts – 14 years after NH
            antidisestablishmentarianism   address kept despite construction
1838 Abner Kneeland is the only Unitarian or Universalist of the modern era to be convicted of heresy. A Universalist minister and publisher, he denounced God,Christ, miracles, and the resurrection of the dead. He was immediately arrested and spent 60 days in prison for blasphemy-last person in MA to do so.
1838 RWE gives HDS commencement address—unitarian and pro-personal experience
1839 Margaret Fuller begins editing Transcendentalist journal, the Dial;
            1845 MF publishes Woman in the Nineteenth Century; paves way for 1848 Conf.
            1850 dies w/husband & baby returning from Italy, within sight of shore.
1841 T Parker preaches T&P: forms are transient; permanent written in indiv. hearts
            too radical for a cong, so new cong: 28th  First mega-church?!
1842 UUSG founded, as 1st Church Congregation of Geneva, Scotto Clark, et al
            building erected in 1843 & dedicated in 1844

1844 Harm Jan Huidekoper founds Meadville Sem in Meadville, PA
1840s Susan B. Anthony joins anti-slavery group at 1st Unitarian of Rochester
1848 Quaker E. Cady Stanton, et al, hold Seneca Falls Conference
1848 Universalist Thomas Starr King accepts pulpit at Hollis St. Unitarian
            God too good, they are too good…to be damned
            1860 goes to CA; helps elect pro-Union gov & legislature.  statues & 2 mts.
1840’s & 50’s Dorothea Dix works on prison & asylum conditions, here & abroad
1852 Western Unitarian Conf formed
mid-19th c. Universalism 6th largest denomination in USA (urbanization & mainstream)
1861? Universalist P. T. Barnum changes political affiliation, to pro-abolition
[1861-1865 Civil War]
1863 Olympia Brown ordained as Universalist June 25 1st well-known ordained female
            only major suffragist to live to see women allowed to vote
            cf. Lucretia Mott (1793-1880) political activist—Quaker, so not ordained;
Antoinette Louisa Brown (later Blackwell) ordained Congregationalist 1851
                        gives up pulpit in 1857; returns as Unitarian in 1878;
Lydia Ann Moulton Jenkins (1824/5-1874) ordained? Universalist 1858?
only one mention; no real proof.  Did co-minister w/husband 1860
Augusta Jane Chapin ordained Universalist Dec 1863 in Lansing MI
1865 Henry Bellows creates Nat’l Conf of Unitarian Churches a la Sanitary Commission
1866 move to strike “disciples of our Lord JC” from NCUC preamble fails; NCoU&IC
1867 FRA—Frothingham, et al
1871 Celia Burleigh ordained in Brooklyn, CT (1st woman Unitarian ordained)
1872 Universalist Clara Barton founds USA branch of Red Cross
1875 JLJones secy of WUC; Jones & Gannett tout ethical, creedless religion
1875 WUC rejects creeds, sends letters of goodwill to both NCUC & FRA
1880 Mary Safford ordained by Humboldt, IA, congregation (w/Eleanor Gordon)
            1880-c.1920 Iowa Sisterhood
1893-1899 Florence Buck & Marion Murdoch at 1UU Cleveland
            JLJ champions women; SAE does away with them
1886 WUC welcomes all who help establish Truth, Righteousness & Love
            (not only non-Christian, nontheist!)
1887 W.C. Gannet’s Things Most Commonly Believed w/naturalistic concept of G-d
1889 Jane Addams founds Hull House w/Ellen Gates Starr
            JA attended All Souls Unitarian in Chicago, but kept Presbyterian membership
1889 Joseph Jordan (jerden) ordained—1st black Universalist preacher
            converted from Baptism, he founded a church & day school in Norfolk
1893 World Parliament of Religions, in Chicago—Jenkin Lloyd Jones helps it happen
1894 eastern Christian Unitarians and western ‘radicals’ mostly reconciled

1909 Mary White Ovington, et al, found NAACP
1915 Clarence Skinner publishes The Social Implications of Universalism
            takes Universalism into this-worldly concerns; pacifist
1920 Curtis Reese’s Harvard address envisions “a religion that would not be shaken even if the old thought of God were outgrown.”
1921 Norbert & Maja Capek create Unitarian cong in world in Prague—3200 by 1941
            N dies in Dachau, 1941—3 hymns in our hymnal & invented flower communion
1926 Meadville Theological school moves to Chicago, with charter from Lombard
            College, in Galesburg, IL, since 1851; ML prof Charles Lyttle comes to UUSG
1933 Humanist Manifesto published, signed by Unitarians Dietrich, Potter & Reese
1935-6 JLA rescued at parade in Berlin, films Barth, Schweitzer in resistance church
            faculty at ML/UofC 1936-56; HDS 57-68; Andover & ML.  voluntary assoc!
1937-45 Sophia Lyon Fahs editor, AUA curricula: New Beacon Series
            children inherently important, discoverers of their own meanings & truths
1934-6 Commission on Appraisal to reinvigorate Unitarians; still ongoing activity
1937 Frederick May Eliot elected AUA Pres, after Joy’s charge of humanism backfires
1944 A. Powell Davies assumes pulpit at All Souls, WDC; spawned five more churches
1950s fellowship movement
1961 consolidation into UUA—after a century of talking about it
1965 James Reeb killed in Selma; MLKJr eulogy
1965 Viola Liuzzo killed in Selma  
1967-1970 “Black Empowerment Controversy”
            ‘67 BUUC (Black UU Caucus) formed, in Biltmore hotel, NYC;
                        demands creation of BAC (Black Affairs Council) & $1M over 4 years
                        (=12% of UUA budget); program designed for black self-determination
            ’68 BAWA (Black And White Action) formed—think BAC separatist & undemocratic
            ’68 BAC funded, at GA in Cleveland
            ’69 GA delegates walkout over agenda issues; BAC funded but BAWA not
            ’70 UUA proposes $1M over 5 years, instead of 4; BAC disaffiliates to fundraise
                        Seattle GA’s motion to keep 4 years defeated
            “first denom. to act for Black Empowerment…first to turn our backs”—H. Hampton

1969 David Eaton installed at All Souls, WDC—1st black Sr. Minister of large UU cong
1969 LRY (Liberal Religious Youth), following BAC lead, gains control of own funding;
            begins decade of increasing separation from UUA & local chapters
            1973-78 gets a little out of control…
            1982 YRUU (Young Religious UUs) formed from the ashes of LRY
1977 inclusive language adopted
1979 1st out gay man called to congregation: Mark Belletini, San Francisco
1984 1st out lesbian called to congregation: Barbara Pescan, Oak Park, IL
1986 Black Concerns Working Group holds its first meeting in Boston
1988 Beyond Categorical Thinking curriculum/program established
1989 The Welcoming Congregation program unveiled at Ministry Days
1989 How Open the Door? Afro-Americans’ Experience in UUism published (Morrison-Reed)
1992 Resolution on Racial & Cultural Diversity passed @GA, Calgary
1992 UUNIA (UU Network on Indigenous Affairs) formed
1993 Thomas Jefferson Ball at GA, Charlotte, NC
1993 Bill Schulz elected UUA president (then Amnesty; now UUSC)
1995 LUUNA (Latina/o UU Network Assoc.) formed
1995 International Conference of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU) formed, Essex, MA
1996 Weaving the Fabric of Diversity curriculum for adults published
1996 UUA affirms same-sex marriage
1997 “Toward an Anti-Racist UUA” business resolution passed @GA, Phoenix
1998 DRUUMM (Diverse & Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries) formed when “UU Religious Professionals of Color” changes name;  in ’99 they welcome lay members
1998, ’99 LUUNA publishes critiques of Anti-Racism efforts
1999 Thandeka explains “why anti-racism will fail” at GA
            classism, “whiteness” both privilege *and* penalty
1999 OWL (Our Whole Lives) sexuality curriculum published –UUA & UCC
            7th-9th grade core first, followed by K-1, 4-6, 10-12, adults
            1971 AYS (About Your Sexuality) first published
            1997 CBS’ Bryant Gumbel misunderstands AYS images & parental involvement

2000 DRUUMM YaYA – Youth & Young Adults of Color hold first conference, Atlanta
2001 Soul Work: anti-racist theologies in dialogue published
2001 UUA elects Bill Sinkford its first black president
2003 Asian/Pacific Islander Caucus (A/PIC) holds first meeting, Berkeley, CA
2004 A/PIC moves under DRUUMM umbrella
2005 “JUUST Change” Consultancy begins
2005 Allies for Racial Equity (ARE UU) forms at DRUUMM’s invitation
2005 Youth of Color treated disrespectfully at GA, Fort Worth; youth cancel closing night dance
            UUA Board appoints Special Review Commission, which reports in 2006
2009 The Arc of the Universe is Long: UUs, Anti-Racism and the Journey from Calgary published
2009 UUA elects Peter Morales its first Hispanic/Latin@ president
2010 UUs arrested protesting Arizona SB1070 (anti-immigration)

5 comments to U/U/UU History Notes

  • Since all history timelines are up to debate, and all “recent” history is by its very nature idiosyncratic, I will only suggest the following “recent” events

    1968 the UUA reaches his largest membership with 177,431 and with 1,135 congregations, this is followed by 15 years of decline
    1979 the UUA records it’s lowest number of congregations, with 988. the next year starts to reverse that trend.
    1982 the UUA reaches its lowest membership, 135,487. The following two decades see modest growth.

  • Thank you, Steven. We might also add the adoption of the UUA’s Principles and Purposes, in 1985, as well as the addition of the sixth source, “earth-centered traditions,” in 1995; all of which is well described in Warren R. Ross’ article.

  • Should have included a link to the UU Historical Society and the Dictionary of UU Biographies. They do great work!

  • SM

    Hi Chip. I’ve been wondering if you’ll post your notes from the second presentation at UUCOP? Your work has given me and my wife a lot to chew over and discuss. Thank you.


  • JacktheLeper

    When was the exact date they left Christianity and became heretics? 1817?

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