Unitarian Universalism is a liberal, “non-creedal” religious movement that welcomes pluralism and diversity in its members’ beliefs and practices.
The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) was formed in 1961 by the merger of the Unitarian and Universalist denominations. Although historically rooted in Protestant Christianity, Unitarian Universalists do not regard their faith as a Christian denomination.
The doctrine of universalism has appeared occasionally in Christian theology since the early church. Origen of Alexandria (c.185-c.254) and Gregory of Nyssa (c.335 – after 394) are among its more famous exponents, although both spoke more in terms of hope and possibility than assured doctrine. In 1793, Universalism became a separate Christian denomination in the United States, which was eventually called the Universalist Church of America(UCA).
The doctrine of unitarianism (i.e. rejection of the Trinity) has also appeared occasionally in history, but it has been formally considered heresy since the Council of Nicea in 325. Unitarian churches were formed in the 16th century in Romania and Poland, and in 1553 Michael Servetus was famously burned at the stake for his unitarian views by John Calvin. In the United States, a Unitarian movement arose among Congregational churches in New England inthe late 1700s, causing a major dispute within the denomination. The American Unitarian Association (AUA) was founded as a separate denomination in 1825.
Over the years, both the UCA and AUA evolved into liberal, inclusive religions that shared much in common. In 1961, the American Unitarian Association was consolidated with the Universalist Church of America, forming the Unitarian Universalist Association.
Unitarian Universalists have historically been closely involved with civil rights and social justice movements. John Haynes Holmes, a UU minister, was among the founders of both the NAACP and the ACLU, chairing the latter for a time. Approximately 20% of Unitarian Universalist ministers marched with Martin Luther King, Jr., from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery. UU ministers have been performing same-sex unions since at least the late 1960s.
In 1995 the UUA helped establish the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU).