Unitarian Universalism – The Uncommon Denomination
Unitarian Universalism is a faith guided by comprehensive principles founded on love and respect. Unitarian Universalists trace their roots to the earliest days of the Christian Church. Unitarianism and Universalism emerged from the Protestant Reformation as separate churches. Unitarianism flourished in Eastern Europe as people there sought freedom from religious dogma.
In the United States, both Unitarianism and Universalism branched off from the Congregational Movement founded by the Puritans in 1648. This movement rejected the hierarchical structure of both the Anglican and Catholic church and formed local congregations who were bound to no hierarchy but rather governed by the members of the congregation. This created freedom to attend whichever local congregation people wanted, as well as the right to call their own minister (with the ministers having the right to apply for or leave the church as they felt called).
The Universalists were the first to break free from the Congregationalists, officially forming as their own denomination in 1793. Universalists believe there is no hell, and that a loving God would welcome everyone. As such, the Universalists were actively involved in civil rights issues from the start, believing all are equal. They were the first denomination to ordain a woman to the minister, Olympia Brown, in 1863.
Unitarians formed the American Unitarian Association in 1825. They did not believe in the Trinity of God as found in the Nicene Creed, and instead insisted God is one and the main focus of religion should be to the works of Jesus with little attention paid to the miracle stories. As such, they too, were very active in civil rights issues from their inception.
Many of the founders of the United States of America and those who were involved in the struggle for social change have either been Unitarian Universalists or have had close ties with them, such as Horace Mann, Thomas Jefferson, Susan B. Anthony and Clara Barton.
Unitarians and Universalists formally united in 1961 as the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and continue their work in social justice issues to this day. Read about the chalice, the Symbol of the UU Faith.
All Souls—the Voice of Liberal Religion in Colorado Springs since 1891
The present All Souls congregation was formed in 1891 after Unitarian minister Samuel A. Eliot came to Colorado Springs through an exchange program and motivated the Unitarians to reorganize, which they did on February 25, 1891. The congregants initially held services in a variety of places around Colorado Springs—including Odd Fellows Hall, Weber Hall, and the old Presbyterian Church, until they purchased the lot at 730 North Tejón Street for the sum of $4000.00.
The cornerstone for this building was laid on July 2, 1892, with prayers by the Rev. J.B. Gregg of the First Congregational Church and Rev. Dr. Richard Montague of the First Baptist Church. The building was completed and dedicated on Sunday morning, January 8, 1893 (reportedly one of the first Unitarian churches built west of the Mississippi River). The total cost, including the building, lot, furnishings, and heating units was $22,460.66. The church wasn’t electrified until the turn of the 20th century.
Since its inception, All Souls has proudly carried on the tradition of social justice activism, with members of the church helping to found the Colorado Springs Day Nursery and other local non-profits. Additionally, All Souls gave voice to the protests of a nation, hosting Paul Robeson and Joan Baez at different times, as well as providing a place for activists who were organizing against the repressive Amendment 2. When the movie, The First Temptation of Christ, was released, every theater in town refused to run it. All Souls opened our doors to Richard Skorman who had a movie projector, and we showed the film for seven nights, two shows a night, to standing room only, in the face of nightly protestors and a bomb threat.
The most recent act of justice was to vote to become a host sanctuary congregation in May, 2017. Since then, we have hosted one immigrant and his young son and are working with a coalition to provide not only hospitality, but advocacy for immigrant rights.