William Ellery Channing (April 7, 1780 – October 2, 1842)William Ellery Channing was the foremost Unitarian preacher andclergyman in the United States in the early nineteenth centuryHe was known for his articulate and impassioned sermons and publicspeeches, and as a prominent thinker in the liberal theology of thedayChannings religion and thought were among the chief influences onthe New England Transcendentalists, though he never countenancedtheir views, which he saw as extreme
Biography• He studied theology at Harvard University and became a successful preacher. From 1803 until his death he was pastor of Bostons Federal Street Church• He began his career as a Congregationalist but gradually adopted liberal and rationalist views that came to be labeled Unitarian• In 1820 he established a conference of liberal Congregationalist clergy, later reorganized as the American Unitarian Association known as the apostle of Unitarianism• He also became a leading figure in New England Transcendentalism, and his lectures and essays on slavery, war, and poverty made him one of the most influential clergymen of his day
Views and BeliefsIn opposition to traditional American Calvinist orthodoxy, Channingpreferred a gentle, loving relationship with God.He opposed Calvinism for… proclaiming a God who is to be dreaded. We are told to love and imitate God, but also that God does things we would consider most cruel in any human parent, "were he to bring his children into life totally depraved and then to pursue them with endless punishment" (Channing 1957: 56)
Views and Beliefs (Cont.) In 1803 Channing was called as pastor of the Federal Street Churchin Boston, where he remained for the rest of his life.He lived through the increasing tension between religious liberals andconservatives and took a moderate position, rejecting the extremes ofboth groupsIn 1815, Channing engaged in a noted controversy on Unitarianismwith Samuel Worcester. A review, attributed to Jeremiah Evarts, hadbeen published in the The Panoplist in June 1815 of a pamphlet onAmerican UnitarianismChanning objected to the way Unitarians in the United States wereportrayed in the review
Cont…In later years Channing addressed the topic of slavery, although he was never anardent abolitionist. He held a common American belief about the inferiority of Africanslaves and held a belief that once freed, Africans would need overseers.He often chose to remain separate from organizations and reform movements. This middleposition characterized his attitude about most questions, although his eloquence and stronginfluence on the religious world incurred the enmity of many extremists. Channing had anenormous influence over the religious (and social) life of New England, and America, in thenineteenth century.Towards the end of his life Channing embraced immediate abolitionism. His evolving viewof abolitionism was fostered by the success of British abolition in the British West Indies in1834 and the lack of the expected social and economic upheaval in the post-emancipatedCaribbean.Channing wrote extensively about the emerging new national literature of the United States.He wrote that national literature is "the expression of a nations mind in writing" and "theconcentration of intellect for the purpose of spreading itself abroad and multiplying itsenergy.
Transcendentalism Transcendentalism was a philosophical movement that wasdeveloped in the 1830s and 1840s in the Eastern region of the UnitedStates as a protest to the general state of culture and society, and in particular, the state of intellectualism at Harvard University and the doctrine of the Unitarian church taught at Harvard Divinity School.
Core BeliefsCore beliefs was the inherent goodness of both people and nature.Transcendentalists believed that society and its institutions—particularly organized religion and political parties—ultimatelycorrupted the purity of the individual.They had faith that people are at their best when truly "self-reliant"and independent. It is only from such real individuals that truecommunity could be formed.
Cont…Transcendentalists were strong believers in the power of theindividual and divine messages. Their beliefs are closely linked withthose of the RomanticsThe movement directly influenced the growing movement of"Mental Sciences" of the mid-19th century, which would laterbecome known as the New Thought movementNew Thought considers Emerson its intellectual father. Emma CurtisHopkins "the teacher of teachers", Ernest Holmes, founderof Religious Science, the Fillmores, founders of Unity, and MalindaCramer and Nona L. Brooks, the founders of Divine Science, wereall greatly influenced by Transcendentalism
CriticismNathaniel Hawthorne wrote a novel, The Blithedale Romance (1852), satirizing themovement, and based it on his experiences at Brook Farm, a short-lived utopiancommunity founded on transcendental principles.Edgar Allan Poe wrote a story, "Never Bet the Devil Your Head", in which heembedded elements of deep dislike for transcendentalism, calling its followers"Frogpondians" after the pond on Boston Common.The narrator ridiculed their writings by calling them "metaphor-run" lapsing into"mysticism for mysticisms sake" and called it a "disease."
Effects on American Culture The movement directly influenced the growing movement of "Mental Sciences" of the mid-19thcentury, which would later become known as the New Thought movementpromotes the ideas that Infinite Intelligence, or God, is everywhere, spirit is the totality of real things, truehuman selfhood is divine, divine thought is a force for good, sickness originates in the mind, and "right thinking" has a healing effect
Unitarian-Universalism Unitarian Universalism is a theologically liberal religion characterized by a "free and responsible search for truth and meaning". Unitarian Universalists do not share a creed; rather, they are unified by their shared search for spiritual growth and by the understanding that an individuals theology is a result of that search and not a result of obedience to an authoritarian requirement. Unitarian Universalists draw on many different theological sources and have a wide range of beliefs and practices. Contemporary Unitarian Universalism espouses a pluralist approach to religious belief, whereby members may describe themselves as humanist, agnostic, deist, atheist, pagan, christian, mon otheist, pantheist, polytheist, or assume no label at all. As of 2006, fewer than about 20% of Unitarian Universalists identified themselves as Christian.
BeliefsThere is no single unifying belief that all Unitarian Universalists (UUs) hold, aside fromcomplete and responsible freedom of speech, thought, belief, faith, and disposition.Unitarian Universalists believe that each person is free to search for his or her ownpersonal truth on issues, such as the existence, nature, and meaning oflife, deities, creation, and afterlife. UUs can come from any religious background, and holdbeliefs and adhere to morals from a variety of cultures or religions.Concepts about deity are diverse among UUs. Some are monotheistic. Some have no beliefin any gods (atheism); others believe in many gods (polytheism). Some believe that thequestion of the existence of any god is most likely unknowable (agnosticism). Some believethat God is a metaphor for a transcendent reality.Some believe in a female god (goddess), an Abrahamic god, or a god identified with natureor the universe (pantheism). Still others may hold with the Deist notion that a creator Godexists, but does not intervene in the world or reveal itself, and can only be apprehended (ifat all) through the use of reason. Many UUs reject the idea of deities and instead speak ofthe "spirit of life" that binds all life on earth. UUs support each persons search for truthand meaning in concepts of spirituality.
Diversity of Practices and HeritagesUnitarian Universalists believe that the divine can be found in all people and in manyfaiths. Unitarian Universalists draw inspiration from a variety of other faith traditions.Many Unitarian Universalist churches celebrate observances associated with otherreligious traditionsThere is great variety among Unitarian Universalist congregations, with some favoringparticular religious beliefs or forms of worship over others, with many more home toan eclectic mix of beliefs.Regardless of their orientation, most congregations are fairly open to differing beliefs,though not always with various faith traditions represented to the same degreeBoth Unitarianism and Universalism were originally Christian denominations, and stillreference Jewish and Christian texts
Rituals and BeliefsUnitarian Universalist worship and ritual are often a combination ofelements derived from other faith traditions alongside originalpractices and symbols.In form, church services might be difficult to distinguish from thoseof a Protestant church, but they vary widely among congregationsTranscendentalists were strong believers in the power of theindividual and divine messages.Their beliefs are closely linked with those of the Romantics.
Symbol The most common symbol ofUnitarian Universalism is the flaming chalice, often framed by twooverlapping rings that many interpret as representing Unitarianism and Universalism The flaming chalice was initially the logo of the Unitarian ServiceCommittee during the Second World War, The holy oil burning in it is a symbol of helpfulness and sacrifice.
Services of worshipReligious services are usually held on Sundays and most closely resemble theform and format of Protestant worship in the Reformed tradition Services at avast majority of congregations utilize a structure that focuses on a sermon orpresentation by a minister, a lay leader of the congregation, or an invitedspeaker.Sermons may cover a wide range of topics. Since Unitarian Universalists do notrecognize a particular text, inspiration can be found in many different religiousor cultural texts as well as the personal experiences of the ministerThe service also includes hymn-singing, accompanied by organ, piano, or otheravailable instruments, and possibly led by a song leader or choirPastoral elements of the service may include a time for sharing Joys andSorrows/Concerns, where individuals in the congregation are invited to light acandle and/or say a few words about important events in their personal lives
Contribution to PoliticsHistorically, Unitarian Universalists have often been active in political causes,notably the civil rights movement, the gay rights movement, the social justicemovement, and the feminist movement.On June 29, 1984, the Unitarian Universalists became the first major church "toapprove religious blessings on homosexual unions.“Unitarian Universalists have been in the forefront of the work to make same-sexmarriages legal in their local states and provinces, as well as on the national level
Unitarianism Today in USAUnitarian Universalist congregationshold growing appeal throughout the U.S.De Lee is one of a growing number of Unitarian Universalists, a group of people who believe in organized religion but are skeptical about doctrine. The denomination grew nationally by 15.8% from 2000 to2010, according to the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies.
Sources"Transcendentalism." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 19 Mar.2013. Web. 19 Mar. 2013"William Ellery Channing." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 19Mar. 2013. Web. 19 Mar. 2013"Unitarian Universalism." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 19 Mar.2013. Web. 19 Mar. 2013"William Ellery Channing." William Ellery Channing. N.p., n.d. Web.19 Mar. 2013"Unitarian Faith Growing Nationwide." USA Today. Gannett, n.d.Web. 19 Mar. 2013