UU History

History of Unitarian Universalism

Unitarian Universalism was formed from the consolidation of two different religions, Unitarianism and Universalism. Both these religions began in Europe centuries ago, but in America, the Universalist Church of America was founded in 1793, and the American Unitarian Association was founded in 1825. After consolidating in 1961, these faiths became the new religion of Unitarian Universalism through the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA).

Unitarianism and Universalism contributed important theological concepts to today’s Unitarian Universalism. Unitarianism was named for its understanding of God as one person, in direct contrast to Trinitarianism, which defines God as three persons coexisting in one being.  Later, Unitarian beliefs stressed the importance of rational thinking, a direct relationship with God, and the humanity of Jesus. Universalism first emerged as a Christian denomination with a central belief in universal salvation; that is, the belief that all people will be reconciled with God.

Famous leaders from our past include Thomas Edison, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Susan B. Anthony, Joseph Priestly, Henry David Thoreau, P.T. Barnum, Jane Addams and Alexander Graham Bell. Since the merger of the two denominations in 1961, Unitarian Universalism has expanded its Christian Unitarian and Universalist heritage to welcome people of all religious traditions who affirm its seven principles.

Learn more about the History of Unitarian Universalism here. Or watch this two-minute video: