Unitarian Church.Unitarianism today is believed to have resulted from the general movement of thought that gave rise to the Protestant reformation, being a later development of the changing religious ideas of that period. One of the first definite affirmations of the doctrines now known as Unitarian was made in 1546 at Vicenza, Italy, when a society or club, of some 40 members, among them the leading scholars of northern Italy, was formed to discuss the anti-trinatarian views. It was soon dispersed by the civil authorities, but a few of the members escaped to Switzerland and Poland, where they at once began to teach the new doctrine.
The name Unitarian was first applied in 1568, as the title of a religious body, arising from the fact that certain bodies formed a union and pledged themselves not to persecute each other on religious grounds. From Poland and Switzerland the movement spread to Transylvania and also found a ready reception in England. During the 17th century persecution of the Unitarians began on the continent and in England, but Unitarianism was maintained throughout the years of struggle and lived to become one of the churches of today. It was first established on American soil in the Plymouth colony in 1620, at Salem in 1629, and in Boston in 1630. In Bradford's History the covenant of the Salem church is given, which reads, "We covenant with the Lord and one another." It is now believed that Unitarianism in America was a development from the Congregational order and not a secession as in England. Unitarianism was brought to Kansas by the first free-state settlers in the early territorial period. The first church of this denomination was established at Lawrence in 1855, but one year after the town was settled. E. Nute, a missionary sent out by the American Unitarian association, was influential in perfecting the organization of this pioneer congregation. At first, meetings were held in the open air until a building could be procured. Mr. Nute was assisted by E. B. Whitman of Massachusetts, and through the missionary association $5,400 was raised in the Eastern states for church and school buildings, which were completed in 1857. In Aug., 1871, a Unitarian society was established at Topeka. Articles of association were adopted in November and the first minister there was George Patton. A hall was used as a meeting place for some time but a church was built later on Topeka avenue. An attempt was made to establish a church at Ottawa, but it failed and the third church in the state was established at Wichita in 1887. The growth of the church has been somewhat slow in Kansas, as there were but 4 church organizations in the state in 1906 with a total membership of 345.Page 826 from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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