Universalism is a liberal religion, embodying principles compatible with the
discoveries and methods of science and employing the methods of education.
Universalism is a total approach to life, drawing inspiration and knowledge from
the arts, sciences, and religions of the world, and knowing no parochialism or
partialism. Naturalistic in orientation, it represents a valid alternative to
orthodoxy in every form. It aims to assist each human being in achieving a full,
mature and wholesome life. The response throughout the world to the liberal
church commends a study of this pamphlet by you.
AN EVOLVING RELIGION
The Universalist idea has an honored tradition. Its evolutionary process may
be traced back throughout recorded history: to Ikhnaton, the 14th century B.C.
Egyptian pharoah; Moses, the Hebrew monotheist; Socrates, the Greek
individualist; Lao-tze, the Chinese mystic; Amos, Hosea, Micah, Jewish prophets
of justice, love and charity; Buddha, Zoroaster, Jesus, men of hope and
compassion; Gandhi, Hindu saint; Schweitzer, Christian physician; to Protagoras,
Ingersoll, Galileo, Erasmus, Emerson, Sophocles, Thoreau, Origen, Milton,
Darwin, Freud, Whittier, Da Vinci, Copernicus, Lincoln, Paine, Spencer, Russell,
Jefferson, Mill - to countless men, contemporary with us and of generations
past, who have sensed the spiritual truths and world hope in Universalism.
Universalism is a body of principles and attitudes among which are these:
- The universe is a natural process, a dynamic unity.
- The life-force, or impulse, of which man is a product, is one aspect of
the natural universal process.
-Man is an evolving creature, potentially markedly different from other
creaturesyet, too, brother of the dust with them-in that his ability to
reason, to transmit his accumulated knowledge from generation to
generation, and to plan for the future enables him to exercise a measure of
control over his destiny.
- Man's hope lies in his ability to translate his great ideals into action.
- His knowledge and inspiration are drawn from countless ages and many
traditions, tested by his experience, and fused into a "one world view."
- The Universalist is not a partialist-he knows but one human race of
brothers; is not dogmatic-more truths are to be discovered; does not divide
his world into the sacred and the secular-his faith is involved in all the
arenas of life.
-He is a firm believer in freedom, the educational and scientific methods,
and individual responsibility.
This is honest religion, facing up to life as it is and prepared to meet the
strenuous demands of this age. Universalism is always contemporary because it is
always growing, always alert to the advances of human knowledge and
understanding in every age.
A WORLD MOVEMENT
Throughout the world - in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas - there are
groups of liberals drawn together by a common desire to share their points of
view and to work toward a better humanity and world.
The tragedies of war have greatly affected Universalist activity in Korea.
Here a Korean Universalist teaches a church school class in braille.
Officers of a Japanese Universalist group get ready to make their plans.
The Universalist Church of America is such an organization on the North
American continent and has been organized here, in fact, since before the
American Revolution. The Universalist minister, John Murray of Gloucester, was
the Chaplain for the armies of Generals Washington and Greene. Generations ago
American Universalists guided the organization of the Dojin Shadan (the
Universalist Church of Japan); within recent years they have assisted in the
organization of the Universalist Church of the Philippines. Other countries have
Universalist movements with whom are enjoyed fraternal relations: Korea,
England, Holland, and so forth.
A fellowship in the Philippines where Universalists now number over 2,000.
In the United States and Canada, The Universalist Church of America is one of
the smaller of the large denominations, or one of the larger small
denominations, depending upon one's perspective. As of this writing some 70,000
persons give formal affiliation to Universalist principles.
IN YOUR COMMUNITY
There may be a Universalist Church in your community. If so, its address is
imprinted on the last page of this pamphlet. You are invited to request
information about the church and to visit it and its people.
Because the Universalist Church is a free church, local parishes vary from
location to location as each group engages in the search for truth and meaning
according to its own interests and experiences. No denominational authority
compels conformity either to practices or state
ments of belief. The forms of worship, the manner of stating ideals, the
specifics of approach are left to these free churches to determine for
In many communities where no Universalist Church exists groups of liberals
have gathered together into so-called "Fellowships." Again; if such a group does
exist in your community, its address is imprinted on the last page of this
The Fellowship program is an expanding program involving many hundreds of
religious liberals the world over. If neither a church nor a fellowship exists
in your community you may want to give particular attention to the possibility
of initiating such a program as outlined below.
THE "FELLOWSHIP" IDEA
Many thousands of people are Universalists in spirit and practice. Many of
them have been universalists, with a small "u," for years. In recent years a
significant number of such persons have come to realize the importance of
joining their fellow liberals in some kind of primary, face-to-face, group
As a result of this movement Universalists have embarked on a "Fellowship"
program, assisting in the organization of groups of religious liberals in
communities where no Universalist Church exists. Any group of 10 or more persons
may gain affiliation as a Universalist Fellowship with The Universalist Church
of America or with one of its affiliated state organizations.
The Fellowships are unique in that they are usually led and planned by the
lay persons themselves. The Fellowship exists for its members, to meet their
religious needs as they determine them. Existing Fellowships are frankly experi
mental. Few of the mores of the prevalent orthodox churches hamper these groups.
Since the essence of Universalism is the search for better or alternative
understandings of life and man, one may raise questions and express ideas that
are prohibited elsewhere.
Too, a dynamic Universalism must have the best thinking of men and women of
science, of labor, of art and literature, from all ethnic strains, those
experienced in theory, those close to the soil. The Fellowship is a democratic
forum in which no one's ideas are scoffed at or unimportant.
16 ACRES, SPRINGFIELD, MASS.
A large house, a spacious living room, a fireplace -this fellowship has an ideal
setting. A converted three-car garage gives additional church school space.
The give and take of regular exchange is an important aspect of the
Fellowship program. Members may also want to set aside times for worship, daring
to experiment with new forms and expressions compatible with their ideas.
Perhaps they will want to extend a platform to persons whose special knowledge
or talents will cast needed light amid the darkness. Some members discover
community projects begging for leadership from those with idealism and
aspirations. Nor will many Fellowships long neglect the opportunity present for
the religious education of its children-one which harmonizes with democratic
principles and the natural world about us.
Thus far most Fellowships have had their beginning in someone's living-room
or basement playroom. Later, they move to rented quarters, and some eventually
purchase or build permanent meetinghouses. The essential qualities, however, are
not lost in growth. Wherever they meet and regardless of size, the program is
always one which will meet the original purposes-a common search of the good
life, a sharing of hopes, interests and faiths, a unison attempt to contribute
to the uplifting of human dignity and aspiration.
No two Universalist Fellowships are quite the same, nor are any two at
exactly the same state of growth. Some have hired ministers, built
churches and reorganized themselves as Universalist Churches. Some have more
elaborate structuring or programming than others. Some are in large metropolitan
centers, some on college campuses, others in the suburbs, a few in rural areas.
Some are made up of specialized scientists, others are more cosmopolitan. All of
them are fun.
They are fun because they are dynamic. Something happens which is worthwhile,
whether it be while enjoying a high-flying panel of one's peers or a cook-out.
One's faith comes alive. There is no longer a feeling of being a liberal by
oneself. There is a new sense of significance in belonging to a movement made up
of people who are not afraid to face up to life and who are not afraid to stand
off from the status-quo.
ORGANIZING A FELLOWSHIP
Gathering a group of liberals into a Universalist Fellowship is not
difficult. Moreover, it is a project which brings one a sense of worth and
- Write to the Director of Extension, The Universalist Church of America, 16
Beacon Street, Boston 8, Massachusetts, indicating your interest and describing
the area in which you hope to contact potential members. The Director will
either plan for assistance by regional workers or from himself. -Ask for
Universalist literature, organizational guides, religious educational materials,
- Use the outline in the organizational guide, or one of your own, for the
formation of a Fellowship. Write often to the Director for suggestions and
-In personal contact stress potential existing for religious education, forums,
discussion, freedom and integrity in religious beliefs.
-If a Universalist minister or layman is desired for initial or subsequent
meetings, every effort will be made to supply you.
The organizational guide, "A Universalist Fellowship," is a 250-page handbook
containing detailed information about organization, program, religious
education, adult activities, newspaper and other promotional media, and a
variety of other important items. Questions not
answered or areas inadequately treated should be brought to the attention of the
Director since new material is continually being developed.
Further, several men and women are constantly "in the field" serving
Universalist Churches and Fellowships in all areas of program and organization.
One or more persons will be in your area each year. If you would like their
assistance, every effort will be made to meet your requirements.
THE IMPORTANT THING
The important thing, of course, is you. The Universalist Church of America
exists only to serve you and to assist you in the discovery of ideals and their
implementation. As an institution, it is a service agency for the furtherance of
the most important basic human ideals and aspirations. The church does not
formulate beliefs; you do that. It does not tell you what to believe; you arrive
at your beliefs through your own experiences and reasoning ability. A Church or
a Fellowship is not a building, or by-laws, or doctrines; it is people who
believe in the potential goodness of man, in the scientific search, in the
educational process, in freedom, in the democratic approach to decision, in art,
poetry, literature, history, music, drama, the physical and social sciences as
being contributors to knowledge; it is people who have grown up from the ages of
superstitution and primitive theologies and who search for the intelligent
alternatives to orthodoxies of all kinds.
As with any growth, the growth toward Universalism is exciting, fun, and
rewarding. It is an adventure in life where the ending need not be pessimistic.
This faith can be yours.
Cover Photo Credit:
The cover photo is the Worship Center of the Charles Street Universalist Meeting
House, Boston, Mass.
Department of Extension
The Universalist Church of America
16, Beacon Street Boston 8, Massachusetts