Heritage of Heretics
It is the questions our Unitarian and Universalism progenitors asked that had them branded heretics by the body of institutionalized Christianity. The Reverend Kayle Rice was found of pointing out the simple root meaning of heretic was someone who is able to choose. That is just what our forbearer did, despite incredible political pressure and persecution, they choose a theology they found more reasonable and compassionate. the seeds of Unitarianism and Universalism where sown as early as the 3rd century C.E. Origen of Alexandria taught that God's love was so complete and all encompassing that salvation was for everyone, rejecting the necessity of hell, thus Universalism was born. Unitarianism likely began with Arius who rejected the trinity on the grounds that God is the one divine source of life and thus accepting the human nature of Jesus Christ. During the Council of Nicea in 325 C.E. Unitarianism and Universalism were rejected as options for the new state religion of Rome. Since then both factions where labelled heretics and apprehension towards these concepts continues into the present day.
During the sixteenth century, as Martin Luther was nailing the 95 Thesis to the door of the Castle Church of Wittenberg, Unitarianism had taken root in Eastern Europe. In Poland early Unitarians where imprisoned and executed for their heresy. In Transylvania (now a part of Romania) and Hungary Ferenc David who is known for the quote “We need not think alike to love a like.”, a well known proponent of Unitarianism and Bishop of the Hungarian Church of Transylvania, was appointed as the priest of Transylvanian prince John Sigismund. During Sigismund's rule as King of Hungary, he passed the first decree of religious freedom in Europe known as the Edict of Torda which established the Unitarian Church in Transylvania, which continues operation today. Through out the sixteenth and into the twentieth century Unitarianism spread through out Europe. Meanwhile, Peter Boehler began missions into the New World preaching on the Universalism perspective. The new atmosphere of liberal individualism in North America provided fertile ground for Unitarianism and Universalism and had great influence on the founding of the United States. Overtime the two movements slowly began to gravitate toward each other and merged in 1961 to create a distinct North American movement that is Unitarian Universalism. Today within Europe, Unitarianism retains its Christian heritage and is accepted within the ranks of Protestantism. Likewise, many churches through out Europe and North America identify with the Christian context of Universalism It is the interplay of Unitarian and Universalism with each-other which is the foundation of Unitarian Universalism as it is practices today. Our service structures are reminiscent of protestant traditions and our organisation methods draw from Congregational heritage.