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This page was last modified 12/15/06

The following Chronology has been modified from 
A Chosen Faith
by Buehrens and Church 
Unitarian Universalism: A narrative history
by Bumbaugh.

182-251 Origen of Alexandria proponent of universal salvation, i.e., universalism.

318 Arius taught that Jesus was not co-equal to God the Father,  not quite human nor divine. Followers were known as Arians

325 Nicene Creed  which established the dogma of the Trinity was adopted by Council of Nicea under Constantine the first Christian Roman emperor. Unitarianism "the Arian heresy" was no longer allowed.

 544 Universalism, the belief in universal salvation, was condemned as heresy by EmporerJustinian in his Declaration of Faith. Those who were Unitarians or Universalist were persecuted for centuries after.

1531 Michael Servetus publishes On the Errors of the Trinity

1539 Katherine Vogel burned at the stake in Poland for denying the Trinity.

1553 Servetus burned at the stake in John Calvin's protestant Geneva for denying the Trinity. His death convinced many that one should not be killed because of religious beliefs.

1566 Francis David preaches against the doctrine of the Trinity in Transylvania.

1568 King John Sigismund of Transylvania, a unitarian, issues the Declaration of Turda an edict of religious tolerance. However, he dies shortly after.

1579 Francis David, condemned as a heretic, dies in prison.

1579 Faustus Socinus arrives in Poland

1654 John Biddle, founder of English Unitarianism, banished to the Scilly Islands.


In Eighteenth-Century England and America 

1703 Thomas Emelyn imprisoned at Dublin for anti-Trinitarian beliefs; birth of Georges de Benneville, early universalist advocate .

1723 Georges de Benneville preaches universalism 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, NJ.

1779 First Universalist congregation in America gathered at Gloucester, Mass., with Murray as minister. 

1782 Judith Sargent Stevens (later Murray) publishes a Universalist Catechism

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 polity, and unitarian in theology.

1790 Universalists adopt Philadelphia Articles of Faith

1794 Joseph Priestley, British Unitarian minister and scientist, emigrates to Pennsylvania.

1796 First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia organized with Priestley's encouragement.

In Nineteenth-Century America

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,
The Jefferson Bible, inspired by Priestley.

1805 Universalist Hosea Ballou publishes A Treatise on the Atonement, rejecting the doctrine of the Trinity; 
Henry Ware, Sr., 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 one of the key originators of  American Transcendentalists presented the  "Divinity School Address" at Harvard.

1841 Theodore Parker's "Transient and Permanent in Christianity" preached in South Boston.  

1844 Meadville Theological School a Unitarian school established in Meadville PA

1850 Death of Margaret Fuller, author of Woman 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 Starr 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.  

1881 Lombard College's  Universalist Divinity School established in Chicago.  Meadville joined Lombard in Chicago in 1926 to form Meadville Lombard Theological School.

1884 Death of Emerson; 
American Unitarian Association becomes a congregational and representative body, later absorbing the National Conference; 
Publication of Ten Great Religions, 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.

In Twentieth-Century America

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). 

1923 Norbert Capek's Service of Flower Communion first celebrated in Prague

1931 Second Commission on Unitarian-Universalist merger.

1933 Human Manifesto I published

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. They adopted the Flaming Chalice as their logo.

1944 Church of the Larger Fellowship organized to serve Unitarians living in areas without Unitarian congregations.

1946 The Universalists adopt the Off-Centered Cross as their symbol

1950ís A. Powell Davies, minister of All Souls, Washington, D.C., inspires the founding of ten suburban congregations; fellowship movement organized under Monroe Husbands.

1961 The Consolidation of the Unitarian and Universalist Faiths resulting in the Unitarian Universalist Associationwith 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.

1973 Human Manifesto II published

1977 Paul Carnes elected third UUA president; dies in office in 1979.

1979 Eugene Pickett elected fourth UUA president.

1985 William F. Schulz elected fifth UUA president; new statement of Principles and Purposes adopted.

1993 John A. Buehrens elected sixth UUA president. Denise Davidoff elected fifth moderator.
Singing the Living Tradition published.

1995 Statement of principles and purposes amended to include the sixth source, the spiritual teachings of Earth-centered traditions.

2003 Humanist Manifesto III published