A historical sketch of Universalism in Norwich, Conn. : a sermon delivered before the Universalist Society in that place, on the 5th of May, 1844 / by R.O. Williams

Dublin Core


32 p. 22 cm


The Unitarian Universalist Church of Norwich began in 1820 as the “Society of United Christian Friends in the Towns of Norwich, Preston and Groton.” The Society erected a church in 1821, but did not have a settled pastor, the pulpit being occupied by temporary ministers. A church was finally organized in 1836, when the “First Universalist Society in Norwich” was established. A new brick church replaced the old one in 1841 on the same site on Main Street, facing Franklin Square. It was enlarged and rededicated in 1848. The church was demolished for the construction of the Chelsea Savings Bank. A new church, later called the Unitarian Universalist Church of Norwich, was erected in 1910 at 148 Broadway. Constructed of random granite ashlar, the church is also known as the Church of the Good Shepherd for the subject of its large stained glass window. The church’s bell, earlier located in the congregation’s Franklin Square church, was one of several bells salvaged from sacked churches after an uprising in Spain in 1833 that were shipped to New York for sale. With a dwindling congregation, the Unitarian-Universalists sold the church in 2009. It then became the Fount of Salvation Missionary Church.


The Universalist Church of America was a Christian Universalist religious denomination in the United States (plus affiliated churches in other parts of the world). Known from 1866 as the Universalist General Convention, the name was changed to the Universalist Church of America in 1942. In 1961, it consolidated with the American Unitarian Association to form the Unitarian Universalist Association.

The defining theology of Universalism is universal salvation; Universalists believe that the God of love would not create a person knowing that that person would be destined for eternal damnation. They concluded that all people must be destined for salvation. 

American Universalism developed from the influence of various Pietist and Anabaptist movements in Europe, including Quakers, Moravians, Methodists, Lutherans, Schwenkfelders, Schwarzenau Brethren, and others. Pietists emphasized individual piety and zeal and, following Zinzendorf, as a "religion of the heart." Early followers were most often German in ancestry. The majority of the early American Universalists lived in the Mid-Atlantic colonies, though Rhode Island also had a fair amount of followers.

The Universalist Church of America involved itself in several social causes, generally with a politically liberal bent.

Universalists, along with various other denominations, vigorously opposed slavery as immoral. They also favored postbellum legislation such as the Fifteenth Amendment and the Freedman's Act to enfranchise all American citizens.

Like many American religions, Universalism has generally been amenable to church-state separation. In New England, Baptists, Universalists, and Quakers provided some of the loudest voices calling for disestablishment of the government sponsored churches of the standing order.

On June 25, 1863, Olympia Brown became one of the first women in the United States to receive ordination in a national denomination, Antoinette Brown having been the first when she was ordained by the Congregational Churches in 1853.




F104.N93 W55 1844





Williams, Rufus Orland, 1805-1889. “A historical sketch of Universalism in Norwich, Conn. : a sermon delivered before the Universalist Society in that place, on the 5th of May, 1844 / by R.O. Williams.” Rare Books. WCSU Archives, 5 Dec. 2019. Accessed on the Web: 6 Dec. 2019.


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