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Unitarian Universalism

Unitarian Universalism is a liberal, non-creedal religion with Judeo-Christian roots. Unitarianism is based on the unity of God, denying the Trinity; Universalism is based on the doctrine of universal salvation. The Unitarian Universalist Association, headquartered in Boston, was formed in 1961 by the consolidation of the American Unitarian Association, organized in 1825, and the Universalist Church of America, organized in 1793. The UUA represents more than 1,000 self-governing congregations worldwide and nearly 150,000 adults and church schoolchildren in the United States and Canada.

In 2002, there were five Unitarian Universalist congregations in West Virginia, with a total of 230 members. By 2023, five congregations still existed in West Virginia, although the total number of members is unknown.

The Ohio Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation was founded in 1975 and chartered by the Association in 1976. It succeeded a fellowship active until the 1960s. It serves a Wheeling-area congregation, with its church building on the Ohio side of the river since 1989. The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Morgantown was founded in 1954. At first, the meetings were held in private homes, then in a rental building. The present church was dedicated in 1963. In Beckley, the New River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship was established in 1961 as a Sunday morning discussion forum that gathered in a local newspaper office. In 1992, the congregation purchased a meeting house but sold it in late 2021 and became essentially an online congregation with occasional picnics and other events. The Unitarian Fellowship of Huntington is located on Sixth Avenue.

Although the present Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Kanawha Valley dates back only to 1953, there was a group of Unitarians in Charleston from about 1916 to 1918, under the leadership of Julian R. Pennington, a Harvard Theological Seminary graduate. When the Reverend Pennington left the state, the group dissolved and sold its property. Unitarians regrouped in Charleston in 1953, and purchased land where the members designed and erected a building. The present building was completed and dedicated in 1994.

The Universalist Meeting House at Fork Ridge in Marshall County was erected in 1835. An additional larger building was erected in 1872. At the turn of the 20th century, two women served as ministers. This congregation was disbanded in 1998.

Written by Jill Thompson Decker


  1. Buehrens, John A. & F. Forrest Church. A Chosen Faith. Boston: Beacon Press, 1998.