The History of Unitarian ­Universalism


Unitarian Universalism is a progressive spiritual movement that was created from the consolidation of two different religions:

Unitarianism and Universalism. In practice, we use the word “Unitarian” as a shortcut for “Unitarian Universalist”. Both religions have long histories and have contributed important theological concepts that remain central to our movement.

The History of Unitarian ­Universalism:


Unitarian Universalism is a progressive spiritual movement that was created from the consolidation of two different religions: Unitarianism and Universalism. Both began in Europe hundreds of years ago: Unitarianism in the 1600s and Universalism in the 1700s. After consolidating in 1961 in the U.S., these faiths became the new religion of Unitarian Universalism through the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). In Canada, Unitarian and Universalist congregations have been active since the mid­1800’s. The Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) includes congregations that call themselves Unitarian, Universalist and Unitarian Universalist (UU). In practice, we use the word “Unitarian” as a shortcut for “Unitarian Universalist”. Both religions have long histories and have contributed important theological concepts that remain central to our movement.

Historically, all Unitarians were Christians who didn’t believe in the Holy Trinity of God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), but in the unity, or single aspect, of God­­­that’s why they got called ‘Unitarian’ (rather than ‘Trinitarian’). Later, Unitarian beliefs stressed the importance of rational thinking, a direct relationship with God, and the humanity (not divinity) of Jesus.

Universalism emerged as a Christian denomination with a central belief in universal salvation; that is, that all people will eventually be united with God. As Unitarians encountered other world religions, they expanded the sources (hyperlink to the sources section of the website) they turned to for inspiration, including the findings of science, truths from various world religions, and spiritual practices of earth­based traditions. So, now in a Canadian or American Unitarian Universalist you will often find people with various beliefs: those that believe in the God of their understanding, those for whom the concept of God is not useful, Unitarian Christians, practicing Buddhists (and from other world religious traditions), earth­based spiritual practitioners, those who draw from various sources, as well as those still seeking to form their beliefs. All religions and spiritual traditions arise from a common root: human encounter with what is ultimate in reality. We look for those truths, as each of us understand them, and then come together to support one another to live them in the world so it can be come more just, caring and peaceful.

Learn more about the history of our denomination from the UUA, and learn more about other Unitarian congregations in Canada and around the world, as well as notable Unitarians.

View the events calendar to find upcoming workshops.

Go to Events Calendar