Beginnings of Unitarian Universalism



What is Unitarian Universalism?


Unitarianism as an organized movement traces its roots to liberal religion in Transylvania in the 16th century, during the Reformation. As its name implies, Unitarians believed in the unity of God and in the inherent goodness of people.  Universalist theology had English roots and, as its name implies, Universalists believed in a universal salvation for all.  Both Unitarianism and Universalism grew out of the Jewish and Christian traditions.


John Murray is considered the founder of Universalism in the United States, and William Ellery Channing, for whom Channing Memorial Church is named, is credited with having most successfully articulated Unitarian thought in the early 19th century. Later in the century, Transcendentalist thinkers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Theodore Parker emphasized the natural dimension of religion over the supernatural and, in the early 20th century, religious humanism gained prominence in Unitarian thought.


In 1961, the Unitarians and Universalists formally merged and established the Unitarian Universalist Association. Today, Unitarian Universalism embraces the liberal religious traditions of both heritages and welcomes all who search for a community of religious freedom.