Universalism

Universalism

Universalists are Christians who believe in universal salvation. They don't believe that a loving God could punish anyone to hell for eternity. Instead, they believe that everyone will be reconciled with God eventually.

Universalists have been influential throughout American history. Some famous Universalists include Clara Barton, Olympia Brown, Thomas Starr King, Horace Greeley, George Pullman, Mary Livermore, and Benjamin Rush.

While Universalist beliefs have been proclaimed for thousands of years, starting with Origen in 200 CE and continuing through to James Relly in the sixteen hundreds, the faith didn't have the opportunity to form into a widespread religious movement until English Universalists came to America in the late 1700s to escape religious persecution.

Because of its loving and inclusive doctrine, Universalism quickly became popular throughout the United States, especially in rural areas and the expanding western states.

The Universalist denomination, called the Universalist Church of America, was formed by 1793. Universalists including Hosea Ballou, John Murray, and Benjamin Rush helped to spread and develop their faith's teachings throughout the denomination's early years.

Universalists were best known for supporting education and non-sectarian schools, but they also worked on social issues including the separation of church and state, prison reform, capital punishment, the abolition of slavery, and women's rights. In 1863 the Universalists became the first group in the United States to ordain a woman with full denominational authority.

The Civil War unfortunately destroyed many Universalist churches and killed many Universalist ministers who had served as chaplains for the armies. Soon after, a softer approach to the idea of damnation became popular throughout the US in the mid to late 1800s, making the Universalist denomination less unique in its teachings. The denomination struggled for many years as membership waned.

After growing increasingly theologically and ethically close, the Universalist and Unitarian denominations consolidated in 1961 to form the new religion of Unitarian Universalism. Unitarian Universalism no longer solely holds traditional Universalist or Unitarian beliefs, but does draw directly on its heritage for much of its inspiration and grounding.

There are some Universalist congregations today outside the US that consider themselves to be part of the Unitarian Universalist community. The largest concentration of Universalists outside the US is in the Philippines. There are also Universalist organizations that are not affiliated with Unitarian Universalism, most of which call themselves Christian Universalists. You can search the internet to find more information on these groups.

Source:
http://www.uua.org/visitors/ourhistory/6904.shtml