Beliefs & History


Welcome & A Brief History





Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion that emerged from the Jewish and Christian traditions. Originally taking the form of heretical ideas rather than an organized group of people, Unitarianism rejected the doctrine of the Trinity (“Father, Son, and Holy Ghost”) and Universalism rejected the doctrine that some human beings are “predestined for hell,” embracing instead the belief in universal salvation for all human beings. Both Unitarianism and Universalism started in Europe hundreds of years ago. First Unitarian Church honors this history through its current partner church relationship with the Prague Unitarian Congregation in the Czech Republic.

The Universalist Church of America was founded by 1793, and the American Unitarian Association in 1825. In 1961, these denominations consolidated to form the new religion of Unitarian Universalism. Once united, these two streams of our faith took on the symbol of The Flaming Chalice.


The congregation of the First Unitarian Church of Rochester has always taken seriously its role as a religious community with a civic circumference. Our history is one of activism and issues, of challenges and community. We hope that learning something of our past will assist in achieving our visions for the future.

We welcome you to read a recent account of our congregational history. Earlier histories of our church (written in 1881, 1906, 1929, 1954, and 1975) can be found among our historical documents.

For an interesting look at some of the historical documents relevant to the First Unitarian Congregation, please see the catalog of our archival material in the Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation department of the University of Rochester.

Other UU History Links:

Unitarian Universalist History

Notable Unitarians for Social Change

UU Women’s Heritage Society

Extensive Wikipedia page