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History of Unitarian Universalism


We are part of a local, statewide, continental, and worldwide association. We are glad that you found us!

Our denomination combines two traditions: the Universalists, who organized in America in 1793 and see good in everyone; and the Unitarians, who organized in 1825 and see us all as one world. Both groups trace their roots in North America to the early Massachusetts settlers and to the founders of the republic. These groups merged in 1961.

Overseas, our heritages reach back centuries to religious pioneers and reformers in England, Poland, and Transylvania. On a global scale, we bond with all those who stand for freedom, reason, tolerance, and love.

The religion's philosophical roots may be traced to:


  • The Universalist ideas that emerged in Ancient Greece in the 5th century B.C.E. (Before the Common Era.);

  • The Jewish belief in one God;

  • The life and teachings of Jesus;

  • The Unitarian ideas of Arius at the Council of Nicea in 325 C.E. (Common Era) that God is one;

  • The Protestant Reformation when Unitarians became part of the protest for religious freedom;

  • The concept of a loving God as preached by Universalists in England in the 18th century;

  • The use of reason in religion as fostered by Unitarians in North America in the 18th and 19th centuries;

  • The rise of humanist thinking and new calls for social justice in the 20th century; and

  • The return towards earth-centered spirituality.

As diverse as our beliefs are, many renowned people have been and are Unitarian and Universalists: Clara Barton, John Quincy Adams, Julia Ward Howe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, e. e. cummings, Florence Nightingale, Adlai Stevenson, Robert Fulghum, May Sarton, Kurt Vonnegut, Ted and Jillian Sorenson, to name a few.

Tarpon Springs is the oldest UU congregation established in Florida in 1885. Then followed Orlando (1912), St. Petersburg (1914), Miami (1939), Palm Beaches (1953), and Lakeland (1955). In 1999 our most recent community, River of Grass, was born and became known as one of the fastest growing congregations in our denomination.

Please read about the Unitarian Universalist principles that we covenant to affirm and promote.

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