Fourth Universalist Society in the City of New York was founded in 1838 and moved to its current location on Central Park West in 1898, when we were known as the Church of the Divine Paternity. Our historic building was modeled after the tower and buildings of Magdalen College in Oxford, England and is built in the English Perpendicular Gothic style. Since our religious tradition is non-creedal, our spiritual focus is on deeds, not creeds; for more than a century, our clergy, members, and friends, have spoken clearly and bravely for human rights and dignity- opposing slavery, opposing unjust war, defending immigrants’ and workers’ rights, and supporting civil rights and equality for racial minorities, women, and GLBT people. Our congregation was also active in founding the Chapin Home for the Aged, as well as two separate neighborhood settlement houses, and a Fresh Air Farm in NJ. Today, our congregation is involved in creating a better world with racial justice work, GLBTQ support and activism, environmental sustainability, Black Lives Matters and art-based activism to end gender based violence.
Universalism as an organized religious movement began in this country in the eighteenth century, when the first Universalist church was founded in 1774 in Gloucester, MA. Universalists taught that a loving God would never condemn a soul to an eternity in hell- that all souls would eventually be saved. This loving, inclusive faith spread throughout the country and by the nineteenth century, Universalists were the country’s ninth biggest denomination. In the twentieth century, Universalists became interested in the world’s religions and increasingly began to expand their vision beyond our Jewish and Christian roots to appreciate the wisdom found in other spiritual traditions. While honoring our past, Universalists, who merged with the Unitarians in 1961, are heirs of a living tradition that encourages us in our search for truth and meaning, and which recognizes that all of humanity has a common source, and a common destiny.
If you’re looking for a spiritual community we encourage you to come and visit us on Sundays at 11:00 AM. Whether you’re a seeker, Christian, Jewish, Humanist, Buddhist, or eclectic, you’re welcome here, and we hope to be a place of acceptance and spiritual growth. In the words of the nineteenth century Unitarian minister Theodore Parker,
Be ours a religion which, like sunshine, goes everywhere;
its temple, all space;
its shrine, the good heart;
its creed, all truth;
its ritual, works of love;
its profession of faith, divine living.