The history of our liberal religious community in Urbana stretches back more than a century. The First Universalist Church was founded on May 17, 1859 and the Unitarian Church was founded on February 9, 1907. The churches merged in 1957, choosing our current Green and Birch location.
Our Community: Over the years, our church community has played a pivotal role in community and even national events. In 1945, Unitarian minister Phil Schug helped Champaign resident/New York native, Vashti McCollum file suit in the landmark Supreme Court case McCollum v. Board of Education regarding separation of church and state in public schools. Our ministers and members advocated strongly during the 60's and 70's for racial integration in Illinois — a legacy that continues today. In 1995, we became aWelcoming Congregation to make explicit our alliance with the LGBTQIA community; and June 1, 2014 was a big day for our congregation as we celebrated the legalization of same-sex marriage in Illinois.
Our Building: The original Universalist church, built of brick in 1871, was torn down in 1913. A cornerstone for the new structure was laid on November 30, 1913. The current limestone church was built on the brick foundation of the original Universalist church. The footprint from the original church was expanded at both the front and the rear of the building, along with the side entrance and bell tower on Birch Street. The building was fully completed and dedicated in September 1914. In 1964, we expanded our Religious Education wing to accommodate the increased membership caused by the Unitarian Universalist denominational merger.