S. Berliner, III's sbiii.com Unitarian Page keywords = Unitarian Universalis Muttontown Plandome Shelter Rock Huntington Long Island Unitarian Universalist Fellowship MUUF church denomination district UUA Metro religio philosoph histor

Updated:   24 Dec 2015; 14:45  ET
(Page converted 26 Dec 2010)
[original AT&T Worldnet Website begun 30 May 1996.]
URL:  http://sbiii.com/uu.html
[was at "home.att.net/~Berliner-Ultrasonics/uu.html"]

S. Berliner, III
Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
"changing materials with high-intensity sound"

[consultation is on a fee basis]

Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Rail, Auto, Air, Ordnance, and Model Enthusiast
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher

note - The vast bulk of my massive Web presence (over 485 pages) had been hosted by AT&T's WorldNet service since 30 May 1996; they dropped WorldNet effective 31 Mar 2010 and I am scrambling to transfer everything.  Everything's saved but all the links have to be changed, mostly by hand.  See my sbiii.com Transfer Page for any updates on this tedious process.

S. Berliner, III's

Unitarian Page



(the Unitarian Universalist movement)

This site has now been visited times since the counter was installed.



Doxology (follows)
UU History
    (continued on U.U. Contunuation Page 1)
Sojourner Truth - "Ain't I a Woman?"
Olympia Brown - first ordained female minister
Purposes and Principles of the Unitarian Universalist Association
Local UU Churches in my area of Long Island, New York
    (moved to UU Long Island Page 08 Oct 00)
Other Unitarian Groups
UU Christian Fellowship
UU Principles and Purposes
Personal - Readings, Sermons
        (including Thomas Jefferson disclaimer)
    "Eternity and the Horseshoe Crab"
Huntington Universalist Society
    (moved to UU Long Island Page 08 Oct 00)
BenedictUUs III


More on Universalism - Thomas Potter, John Murray, and Murray Grove.
Additional Wayside Pulpit Sayings.

Boston/North Shore UU History.   new (16 Nov 2013) Boston/North Shore UU History
Local UU Churches in my area of Boston's North Shore
King's Chapel


Long Island UU History
Local UU Churches in my area of Long Island, New York
(moved from UU Page 08 Oct 00)
Huntington Universalist Society     (moved from UU Page 08 Oct 00)

See also the UU Partner Church Program in Erdély (Transylvania); there is a large and historically-significant Unitarian presence there and we try to maintain close contact with our brothers and sisters in Erdély.  An expanded history of Unitarianism, especially of its founding in Transylvania, appears there.


    From all that dwell below the skies
    let faith and hope with love arise;
    let beauty, truth, and good be sung
    through every land, by every tongue.

This is the version, of so many, that I prefer; my children were dedicated (akin to baptism) to

"beauty, truth, and good".

Many UU churches had (some may still have) a signboard out front, called the Wayside Pulpit, with pithy sayings meant to entice the passerby; consistent with our adogmatic (is there such a word?) faith, my all-time favorite remains:


[SB,III - I am a seeker after truth
but I sure wouldn't want to find it
(and I probably wouldn't believe it if I did}!]

{and it would no longer be truth by the time I got there!}

(Illustration by and © S. Berliner, III - all rights reserved)
[Thumbnailed image - click on picture for larger image; or
click HERE for HUGE 1.5Mb imageyou can print out
at 8" x 10" to post in your own church.]

[For other "Wayside Pulpit" sayings that might catch my eye,
click HERE (on UU Cont. Page 1).]

Unitarianism dates back to the mid-Sixteenth Century, springing from the Protestant Reformation.  It arose simultaneously in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Transylvania [a Magyar(Hungarian)-speaking principality now part of Romania].  Shortly after, it sprang up in England, again independently, as the Non-Conforming Church, where famed scientist-cleric Joseph Priestley became one of its leading lights until he was burned out and fled to Northumberland, Pennsylvania (where his original house and reconstructed laboratory stand today).  Unitarianism still flourishes in Transylvania and in England and elsewhere (see below).

(Uh, oh!  An image from whence?)
Dávid Ferencz
[Francis David]
Founder of Unitarianism

{well, at least in Transylvania}

Unitarianism in the United States was active at the time of the American Revolution and was primarily an outgrowth of old New England Congregationalism and was primarily intellectual and urban, the religion of many of the founding fathers, such as the Adamses, for example.  Universalism began on the New Jersey shore somewhat later and was more agrarian in appeal.  The two joined forces in 1963 as the Unitarian Universalist Association, primarily for administrative reasons and to make their Service Committee efforts more efficient.  More on these histories will follow.

U. S. and Canadian Unitarian Universalists have worked closely, with a common organization, although Canadian sentiment favored a separate-but-affiliated Canadian association.  This latter came to pass as the 1961 Canadian Unitarian Council/Conseil Unitarien du Canada (q.v.) became autonomous at the 2002 GA in Québec, while maintaining its affiliation with the UUA.  Where does that leave our Canadian Universalist brethren and sistren, eh?  Well, the very first congregation in Canada was Universalist, and the CUC name is historical, but I am assured that the welcoming mat is out equally for those who still identify themselves as primarily or wholly Unitarian or Universalist, as well as for those who feel Unitarian Universalist!

UNIVERSALISM - although heavily submerged in Unitarianism today, Universalism, originally the belief that every person is born capable of salvation, flourished primarily as a religion of agrarian people, of the heart; Unitarianism was more of an urban, intellectual religion.

Let me hasten, belatedly, to add that, while I do not hold to their original belief, I treasure the Universalist heritage and applaud their tenacity and integrity in maintaining their identity without being absorbed by, or subsumed into, the UUA.

The story of the founding of Univeralism (in the Americas) is so fantastic that it beggars belief, yet it is quite true.  It has been moved to U.U. Page 1.

Universalists are represented in New York State by the New York State Convention of Universalists.

There is also more specific history of Unitarianism and Universalism on Long Island on the UU Long Island page.

Speaking of "intellectual religion", there is that famous old gag that Unitarians, whose denominational headquarters has always been in Beantown, do in fact have a creed:

        "I Believe in the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of Man,
and the Neighborhood of Boston

Which, of course, leads to that other famous Unitarian gag about the medallion people wear which reads variously as:
"I am Catholic; in case of an accident, call a priest."
"I am Protestant; in case of an accident, call a minister."
"I am Jewish; in case of an accident, call a rabbi."
Go on, you guessed it!
"I am Unitarian; in case of an accident, call a doctor."

07 Feb 99 brought this (which, happily, only applies in some UU churches):

A follower of orthodox Christianity had had it with the Trinity and visited the local Unitarian church; after the service, he was greeted and asked how he liked it.  He replied that it was rather nice but he was somewhat puzzled that there was only one mention of Jesus Christ the whole time, and that only when the janitor fell down the stairs!

Jesus of Nazareth, who wasn't born in 0 B.C./A.D., was not born on 25 December, either, but Socrates was!

Jan 01 - A dissatisfied, arch-conservative Unitarian (sure sounds oxymoronic) splinter group co-opted the honored historic name of one of the two UUA predecessor organizations, the American Unitarian Association, and the UUA interposed legal objection; this matter has been amicably (?) resolved; the group now calls itself the American Unitarian Conference.

Sojourer Truth

One famous American woman, Sojourner Truth (1797-1883), who wasn't even a Unitarian or Universalist, is so burned into my mind that I mistakenly claimed her as such, even as the first ordained female minister, no less (she SHOULD have been all those, eh?).  Since I did so on my religion and philosophy page, writing about the SOJOURNER vehicle wandering around on Mars, I'd better set the record straight there and here.  Quoting directly from Raquel Cruz-Carter Sneed, of the Sojourner Truth Congregation in Washington, SW, DC, who set me straight:

"Sojourner Truth was born as Isabella into slavery in upstate New York.
 A first generation African American.  After being promised her freedom
 twice and working hard to achieve it, she walked out of slavery with her
 two children.  She lived with a Quaker family who eventually bought her

 Her spiritual journey was diverse and she may have been a minister in a
 Utopian community to which she belonged.  Finally she decided that she
 could only speak to her God out in a natural environment.

 She spent her life trying to prove that if she could have her rights as
 a double 'minority,' everyone would have their rights.  She spoke at
 conferences where she was berated and ridiculed.  She never learned to
 read but she used the English language to teach 'educated' people the
 Truth of social justice.  Once when a man challenged her 6' womanhood,
 she exposed her breast to show where she suckled her slave children in
 dispair.  He was the one embarrassed.

 Her tie to Universalism is that she gave her most famous speech 'Ain't I
 a Woman?' at a conference in a church in Ohio."

Per NEWSDAY, 28 Feb 99, page D28, Sojourner Truth was 6' tall and originally spoke Dutch, not English, and so spoke later with a heavy accent in her high voice; Lucy Coleman, the fiery white abolitionist, got her in to see President Lincoln, but quickly pulled her out of the room when he addressed Sojourner as "Aunty"!

The Mars rover vehicle was named SOJOURNER for Sojourner Truth.

Spurred by Black History Month, I thought I'd add that Sojourner Truth was on Long Island in 1843, walking from New York City to Huntington (about 40 miles) to preach about God and advocate abolition, women's right, and other causes (per NEWSDAY, 03 Feb 98, page A28).

However, Olympia Brown, ordained by the Universalists in 1863, is usually recognized as the first woman ordained with full denominational authority.  She was ordained in upstate New York soon after graduating from St. Lawrence University (founded by the Universalists); she served churches in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Ohio, and Wisconsin.  Antoinette Brown Blackwell was ordained by a Congregational church in 1853, but the Congregational General Conference protested the action and later rescinded it.  She was eventually ordained by the Congregationalists and later fellowshipped with the Unitarians.  Celia Burleigh was the first woman ordained by the Unitarians (1871).

This information is provided courtesy of the Archivist of the Unitarian Universalist Association; if you're interested in further information, "Universalist and Unitarian Women Ministers" by Catherine Hitchings is recommended reading.

Also re Black History Month, from NEWSDAY (03 Feb 98, pages A28-29), Lewis Howard Latimer (1848-1929) of Flushing (Long Island) worked with Alexander Graham Bell on patent drawings and patented carbon filaments for light bulbs.  His grand-daughter, Winifred (Winnie) Latimer Norman, was very active in our UU Metro District and the UUA.  NEWSDAY went on to give Latimer a full page feature in "Long Island - Our Story" for 08 Apr 98, page A19. " Recognizing A Luminary", in which he is described as the son of runaway slaves, a Navy veteran of the Civil War, a draftsman when blacks just weren't, an employee of Hiram Maxim and then of Edison, and a founder of the Flushing Unitarian Church.

    See also the Flushing Remonstrance, an early American declaration of religious freedom;
    there is reference to Latimer's house, still standing in Flushing, there.

Local UU Churches in my {former} area of Long Island

(moved to U.U. LONG ISLAND PAGE 08 Oct 00.)

There are three major churches and one very small one in this immediate area (northern Nassau County, Long Island's north shore, the so-called "Gold Coast").  The three big congregations are the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock (formerly Plandome), in East Hills, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Huntington, and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Central Nassau in Garden City, and the small one is the Muttontown Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.  They can be reached (and linked) as noted on the U.U. LONG ISLAND PAGE.

These churches are all members of the Unitarian Universalist Association, and of its Metro New York District.  Although we are non-creedal, we subscribe to certain mutually-accepted purposes and principles.  These purposes and principles by which we abide follow:

The Principles and Purposes
     of the Unitarian Universalist Association

     The Principles of the Unitarian Universalist Association

     We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist
     Association, covenant to affirm and promote
          The inherent dignity and worth of every person;
          Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
          Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual
          growth in our congregations;
          A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
          The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process
          within our congregations and in society at large;
          The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for
          Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we
          are a part;

     The living tradition which we share draws from many sources:
          Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder,
          affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit
          and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
          Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge
          us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice,
          compassion, and the transforming power of love;
          Wisdom from the world's religions which inspires us in our
          ethical and spiritual life;
          Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God's
          love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
          Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of
          reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries
          of the mind and spirit.
          Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate
          the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the
          rhythms of nature.

Grateful for the religious pluralism which enriches and ennobles our faith, we
are inspired to deepen our understanding and expand our vision. As free
congregations we enter into this covenant, promising to one another our
mutual trust and support.

The Purposes of the Unitarian Universalist Association The Unitarian Universalist Association shall devote its resources to and exercise its corporate powers for religious, educational and humanitarian purposes. The primary purpose of the Association is to serve the needs of its member congregations, organize new congregations, extend and strengthen Unitarian Universalist institutions and implement its principles. The Association declares and affirms its special responsibility, and that of its member societies and organizations, to promote the full participation of persons in all of its and their activities and in the full range of human endeavor without regard to race, color, sex, disability, affectional or sexual orientation, age, or national origin and without requiring adherence to any particular interpretation of religion or to any particular religious belief or creed. Nothing herein shall be deemed to infringe upon the individual freedom of belief which is inherent in the Universalist and Unitarian heritages or to conflict with any statement of purpose, covenant, or bond of union used by any society unless such is used as a creedal test.

Other Unitarian Groups

There are a goodly number of Unitarian groups all over the world, especially in England (the old "Non-Conforming" church), Czechoslovakia (more on this to follow), Hungary and Transylvania (covered herein), etc.

A rather interesting group exists in India.  Courtesy of John Gibbons, First Parish, Bedford, Massachusetts, here is a description of them.

"There are about 9000 Unitarians with 32 churches in the state of Meghalaya in the Khasi Hills of India - the far northeast corner of India, between Bangladesh and Bhutan.  Khasi culture is tribal and matriarchal.  Most of the people are farmers and their village life reflects deep respect for the earth.  Khasi is their principal language, though many people with secondary education also speak English.

In the late 19th century, their founder Hajom Kissor Singh rejected the Calvinism of Christian missionaries and learned of Unitarianism from British and American visitors.  From the 1930's until her death in 1973, an English Unitarian minister named Margaret Barr lived among the Khasi's, began a medical clinic and, like Gandhi, promoted principles of village self-sufficiency.  Khasi Unitarianism today is an indigenous, unique and vigorous blend of traditions.  Though they do not have ministers as we do in the UUA, they have strong lay leaders and every church sponsors a school."

For persons not residing near a Unitarian Universalist church or fellowship, but who may be interested in participating in UU programs, please consider joining the Church of the Larger Fellowship, "Your church at home anywhere in the world".  Visit the CLF website and just click on the many links thereon.

Unitarian Universalist
Christian Fellowship

It grieves me terribly that the majority of NYC-area UUs not only don't accept that UU Christians exist and have a right to do so but that they actively denigrate UU Christian beliefs.  I, myself, am not a UU Christian but I like their thrust and have always championed their movement at Plandome (now Shelter Rock) and at Muttontown (where our excellent Christian minister, Sandy Olsen, was "drummed out" by area and district opposition).  The UUCF has a most thoughtful, thought-provoking, and fine UUCF site within the UUA site; it's well worth a look.

I visited the Southold (Long Island) church ( The First Universalist Church of Southold - UU) on 06 Apr 98 (and several times since); then-Consulting Minister Sarah Barber-Braun, who took up ministry at 50 and is a cracker-jack firebrand in her 70s, gave a wonderful service.  Not only are they unafraid to call themselves a "church", they even talk freely of "God".  WOW, what freedom!  The building was started in 1834 and finished in 1837!  Now, this is a church; wish it weren't nearly 100 miles away!


Disclaimer re Thomas Jefferson

It bugs me mercilessly when UUs claim Thomas Jefferson as a Unitarian!

Thomas Jefferson, liberal and wonderful (in most respects - there is always Sally Hemmings and the other slaves*) as he was, was NOT a Unitarian.  In his own words (from my memory - I haven't yet relocated the exact citation), he said "Were I not what I am, I would be Unitarian" ("what I am" being Anglican).

* - There is an interesting theory afloat - the manumission laws required that freed slaves leave the plantation
and Jefferson certainly wouldn't have wanted to lose Sally and their children!

Further, and I'll have to get provenance, he apparently asked for a Unitarian minister
and was turned down as living too distant from any then available.

[Oh, where was the CLF (see above) when he needed it?].

In a letter to one James Smith of Ohio on 08 Dec 1822, he prophesyed: "I confidently expect that the present generation will see Unitarianism become the general religion of the United States"!
HA! - was he ever off on that one!

Interesting aside, here; Hemming descendants are having a lock of Jefferson's red hair analyzed for DNA
and matched to theirs to set this nonsense to rights, once and for all
(IF you'll believe the lab findings when they are released).


Last night, as I stood on the sea wall at the beach and wondered at the suck of the Sound and the color and organisms that, accelerated by the incredible heat, multiplied to form a "red tide", there came the great grand-daddy of all horseshoe crabs.

Floating along listlessly, propelled hither and yon by the waves, he was the biggest specimen I ever recall seeing; so big that he had a mantle of good-sized barnacles, some fifty to a hundred of them, which in no way diminished his appearance, but rather emphasized it. There was a hole in his carapace, rough shaped, about the size of a nickel, and the seawater squirted in and out with each wave. The littoral drift carried him along slowly and the waves pulled him back and forth. His enormity in shape and age pulled at me and I toyed with the idea of lifting him from the water. Would he desiccate properly before rotting? What would I do with such a giant, anyway? Had he died long since of the blow that holed his back or had the red tide done him in? Had he, perhaps, died of sheer old age, which well he might have done? So many unanswered and unanswerable questions, as in all of life!

So, I stood there, still unmoving, and thought of time, of the immense span which this once-living fossil represented, of the great changes which have been wrought in his own lifetime, and, of course, of the changes sweeping over me, here and now.

And, as I pondered weightily on such matters, he slowly turned away and sculled gently but powerfully against the tide into deep water. Perhaps he was aware of me, looming above him and decided that, since I made no move, I was not alive and, therefore, not worth the attempt at communication after all.

All rights reserved - S. Berliner, III
Sea Cliff, Long Island, New York, 23 July 1980

[The foregoing was given publicly first as a reading for a
service presented by the author at the North Shore Unitarian
Universalist Church in Plandome, Long Island, New York, on
10 August 1980 and again at the Muttontown Unitarian Universalist
Fellowship in Muttontown, Long Island, on 17 January 1988.
It was also published in the 1985/86 issue of OUTGROWTH,
a literary journal from Plandome Press.    (Rev'd. 24 Dec 2015)

- - - * - - -

An interesting aside here:  on 07 Apr 98, I saw two horseshoe crabs that had evidently (by the bootprints around them) been kicked over by a passing fisherman under the Bayville Bridge; after a while, I noticed that the larger one was still alive, moving feebly, so I climbed down and flipped them back and pushed them into the tide.  The smaller one was probably dead but the larger one, a jumbo crab, was reviving when I left (the tide was coming in).  Although I very much doubt the big one survived, hey, you NEVER KNOW!

If you've read this far, you might enjoy my Religion and Philosophy page.

Huntington (NY) Universalist Society

(moved to U.U. LONG ISLAND PAGE 08 Oct 00.)

BenedictUUs III

SB,III - Aug. 1980
(after Numbers VI: 24-26, adapted)

May we bless one another and keep one another;

May we make our faces to shine upon one another
  and be gracious unto one another;

May we lift up our faces unto one another
  and give one another peace,
  this day and forevermore.


  What happens to all this when I DIE or (heaven forfend!) lose interest?  See LEGACY.


See Copyright Notice on primary home page.

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