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The Early Church
325: Nicene Creed, adopted at the Council of Nicea under the emperor Constantine, establishes the dogma of the Trinity and suppresses the lower Christology espoused by Arius and his followers.
544: Another church council condemns as heresy the belief in universal salvation, a teaching traced back to second-century theologian Origen of Alexandria.
1531: Michael Servetus (1510-53) publishes On the Errors of the Trinity.
1539: Katherine Vogel of
Birth of Faustus Socinus, leader of the Polish Unitarian (Socinian) movement (d. 1604).
burned at the stake in Calvin's
1566: Francis David preaches against
the doctrine of the trinity in
1568: King John Sigismund
1569: King Sigismund publicly declares himself a Unitarian.
1571: Unitarianism is declared one of the four official “received” faiths of
King Sigismund dies two months later.
1579: Francis David, condemned as a heretic, dies in prison.
1654: John Biddle, founder of English
Unitarianism, banished to the
1658: The Polish Diet banishes Socinians from
1703: Thomas Emelyn
Birth of George de Benneville, early Universalist advocate.
1723: De Benneville
preaches Unitarianism in
1741: De Benneville
1779: First Universalist congregation
1785: Liturgy of King's Chapel,
1787: King's Chapel congregation ordains James Freeman as its minister, becoming "Anglican in worship, congregational in policy, and Unitarian in theology."
1794: Joseph Priestley, British
Unitarian minister and scientist, emigrates to
1802: The oldest Pilgrim church in
1803: Universalists at convention in
1804: President Thomas Jefferson compiles his own version of the Gospels, inspired by Priestly.
1805: Universalist Hosea Ballou publishes A Treatise on the Atonement, rejecting the doctrine of the Trinity.
Henry Ware, a Unitarian, elected
Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard, establishing Unitarianism as the
dominant theology at
William Ellery Channing preaches "Unitarian Christianity" in
1825: The American Unitarian Association founded.
1833: The General Convention of Universalists in the
1838: Ralph Waldo Emerson, a Unitarian minister, delivers his "Divinity School Address" at Harvard, calling for major reforms in Unitarianism.
1841: Reverend Theodore Parker preaches
"The Transient and Permanent in Christianity" in
1850: Death of Margaret Fuller, a Unitarian and author of Women 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 Scarr King, Universalist minister and pastor of the First
Unitarian Church of San Francisco, who "saved
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
1867: Organization of the Free Religious Association.
1884: Death of Emerson; American Unitarian Association becomes a congregational and representative body, later absorbing the National Conference.
1890: Universalists establish churches in
1893: World Parliament of Religions held
1899: A joint commission first discusses merger of Unitarian and Universalist movements.
1900: The International Congress of Free Christians and Other Religious Liberals (later renamed the International Association for Religious Freedom) formed with the aid of prominent Unitarians and Universalists.
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).
1917: William Howard Taft, fourth
Unitarian president of the
1921: Universalist women acquire Clara Barton homestead (later a camp for diabetic girls).
1925: Earl Morse Wilbur publishes his
two-volume A History of Unitarianism,
the first comprehensive history of Unitarianism in
1931: Second Commission on Unitarian-Universalist merger.
1935: Universalists adopt the Washington Statement of Faith.
1936: American Unitarian Association’s Commission on Appraisal issues its report, “Unitarians Face a New Age,” inspiring reforms and a new vibrancy among Unitarians.
1939: Unitarian Service Committee organized.
1944: Church of the Larger Fellowship organized to serve Unitarians living areas without Unitarian congregations.
1950: A. Powell Davies, minister of
Fellowship movement, which founded many new Unitarian churches across the country, organized under Monroe Husbands.
1963: The hymnal, Hymns for the Celebration of Life published.
1965: UU minister James Reeb killed at
1969: Robert Nelson West elected second UUA president.
UUA struggles with internal controversy over whether its civil right efforts should focus on black empowerment or integration.
1971: Beacon Press publishes The Pentagon Papers despite threats and intimidation by the FBI.
1970: UUA General Assembly passes resolution calling for an end to discrimination against homosexuals and bisexuals.
1973: General Assembly votes to create the UUA Office of Gay Affairs (later renamed the Office of Bisexual, Gay Lesbian and Transgender Concerns).
1977: Paul Carnes elected third UUA president; dies in office.
1978: Eugene Pickett elected fourth UUA president.
1984: General Assembly endorses the practice of UU clergy performing Services of Union for same-sex couples.
1985: William F. Schulz elected fifth UUA president; new statement of Principles and Purposes adopted.
1993: John Buehrens elected sixth UUA president.
The hymnal, Singing the Living Tradition, published.
1995: International Council of Unitarians and Universalists founded to promote cooperation among Unitarian Universalists worldwide and help spread their message.
2001: William Sinkford elected seventh UUA president, the first African American to hold that office.
Timeline adapted from A Chosen Faith by John Buehrens and