Frequently Asked Questions


What’s the difference between “Unitarian” and “Universalist”?

Both Unitarianism and Universalism have contributed fundamental theological concepts that remain central to Unitarian Universalism. Originally, all Unitarians were Christians who didn't believe in the Holy Trinity of God but believed instead in the unity, or single aspect, of God. Later, Unitarian beliefs stressed the importance of rational thinking, a direct relationship with God, and the humanity of Jesus. Universalism emerged as a Christian denomination with a central belief in universal salvation, that is, that no one is born into sin, and that all persons eventually would be reconciled with God. To see names of notable Unitarians, Universalists, and Unitarian Universalists, click here.

Is Unitarian Universalism a new religion?

No, its roots go back to 16th-century pioneers in England, Poland, and Transylvania (now Romania). Our liberal religious tradition formed from the consolidation of Unitarianism and Universalism, both of which came from Jewish-Christian roots. In America, they trace their roots to early Massachusetts settlers and to founders of the Republic. (The Universalist Church of America was founded in 1793, and the American Unitarian Association in 1825.) The two consolidated in 1961, forming the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA).

What connects Emerson Chapel with other Unitarian Universalists?

We belong to the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), an association of more than 1,100 congregations—all self-governing—in the U.S. and beyond. Headquartered in Boston, the UUA provides services that congregations cannot provide for themselves. We also belong to the MidAmerica Region of the UUA, which provides a variety of consulting services to us and 199 other congregations in 13 nearby states.

What is Emerson Chapel’s history?

Emerson Unitarian Universalist Chapel held its first service in 1984, in west St. Louis County. Supported by First Unitarian Church in St. Louis and Eliot Unitarian Chapel in Kirkwood, Emerson Chapel began with 18 charter members in 1985. In 1992, after meeting successively in four rented spaces, the congregation purchased property with two existing buildings in Ellisville. In 2002, it completed the building of its Sanctuary. In May 2014, Emerson Chapel decided to sell its property and become a renting church, choosing to focus on its mission and vision rather than the upkeep of bricks and mortar. For information on the major roles Unitarian Universalists have played in the history of St. Louis, click here.