Unitarianism began in 1568 in Transylvania. Early Unitarians were named for their belief that God is a unity, rather than a three-person trinity. In New England, Unitarians were the liberal wing of a split around 1800 in the congregational churches.
Universalists in the 1700’s were named for “universal salvation,” the idea that a loving God would save all people and damn none. Later they emphasized the universal aspirations shared by the world’s great religions. The two groups merged in 1961 as the Unitarian Universalist Association.
Today we believe that life’s beauty is too great to be squeezed into narrow creeds or doctrines. We welcome all people without a doctrinal test for membership.
In Ellsworth, religious liberals organized the Unitarian Society of Ellsworth in 1835. They ordained Rev. William Daniels Wiswall in 1837, but abandoned their efforts in 1839. The First Unitarian Society was re-established in 1865. On Feb. 9, 2014, our Church Historian, Dr. Wayne H. Smith, made a presentation about the transition from our earliest church, in the 1830s, to the reestablished church in 1865. Click the following link to read it: Transitions. Our first church building was located at the corner of Oak and Main Streets (now the site of S. K. Whiting Park). It was dedicated in 1867.
In 1963 Rev. Rhys Williams and Rev. Ralph Helverson, who both summered in the area, instigated the idea of a Summer Visiting Ministers’ Series.
In 1971 it was voted to sell the old church, and the present building was dedicated in 1973. In 1982 the Ethel Schwalbe Community Room was added, and in 1999 the Carl Stehmann Religious Education Wing was completed.
The Rev. Sara Hayman became our 34th minister in September, 2011.
Church Records Page:
Our Original Church: Completed in 1867, torn down in 1971:
S. K. Whiting Park now occupies the spot where our old church stood. At least it’s still an inviting place. Our present building sits just outside town, in a much quieter woodsy setting.