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Local History
 

This is an abbreviated history primarily intended to put the Unitarian Fellowship of Fredericton in a geographic and historical context. Please visit the Canadian Unitarian Council web pages, the Unitarian Universalist Association web pages or others on our Affiliations Page to obtain more detailed information.

Beginnings:

While the Protestant Reformation began in 1517 when Luther posted his theses at Wittenberg, it was only fourteen years later that Servetus in 1531, by publishing his first book in criticism of the doctrine of the Trinity, initiated the movement now known as Unitarianism. It began in England with Lindsay's Unitarian Chapel in London in 1744 and in America starting with disputes at Harvard Divinity School in 1805 and a famous Address by William Ellery Channing at Baltimore in 1819.

There are presently over one thousand Societies and Congregations in North America affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association with about two hundred thousand adults and children as members.

In Canada:

There have been Unitarian churches in Canada for well over a century, but it was only recently that the movement began to gather strength in this country. In 1957, when lines of communication were opened by the regular publication of The Canadian Unitarian, there were around twenty-five Unitarian Churches and Fellowships. There are now almost double that number. A three day Annual Meeting, open to all Unitarians, is held at a different location each Spring organized by the Canadian Unitarian Council, an umbrella organization representing all Unitarian societies in Canada. There are over five thousand adults and children who are members of Canadian Societies.

Atlantic Provinces:

In 1965 the Atlantic Council of four members, representing Halifax, Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton, was formed. A Fellowship was formed on Prince Edward Island in 1988. The Fellowship in Moncton decided to become inactive in 1995. Unitarians in the Atlantic Provinces gather from time to time, for conferences, workshops and fun.

Fredericton:

Our Fellowship had its beginning when advertisements were placed in the local newspaper and a public meeting held on October 20, 1960, because of the interest shown, a steering committee was appointed. On October 23, 1960 the Unitarian Fellowship of Fredericton was organized, with sixteen members. We now have over seventy-five members.

Early meetings were held in the N.B. Teachers Association building with the children meeting at the old YMCA; and then meetings were held in the new YM-YWCA building. Membership gradually increased. Unitarian House, a home for our growing Unitarian family was acquired in December 1962. In the Summer of 1988 all outstanding debentures were paid off and clear and full title to the property was held by The Unitarian Fellowship of Fredericton Inc.

In the beginning, Sunday services were lay-led, with members taking turns leading services, discussion groups, and workshops. Over the years we have been served by visiting ministers and a series of part-time ministers.

Recognizing the need for professional leadership, in 1996 we hired the Rev. Nancy Anderson as our first full-time minister. Since that time our congregation has continued to grow, and in 1997 we moved our worship services from our house on Charlotte Street to temporary rental space prior to acquiring our new home at 874 York Street at the close of 1999.