Out of Three Came One
Our community is the merging of three historic Brooklyn congregations, representing three progressive denominations in the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalist Association, and the Disciples of Christ.
Here's how it happened: The First Universalist Church of Williamsburg (later called All Souls Universalist Church) was founded in 1845. The Flatbush Christian Church, a Disciples of Christ congregation was formed in Park Slope in 1900 and later moved to Flatbush. Bethlehem Evangelical Church was founded in 1906. The latter two merged to form Bethlehem United Church and later merged with All Souls Universalist Church in 1998 to form All Souls Bethlehem Church.
Reverend Emeritus Bill Nye was pastor of ASBC from 1984-2004 and was instrumental in shepherding the two churches into one. Under Reverend Nye's leadership, ASBC moved into our house church in 1998. Reverend Tom Martinez came on board in 2004 bringing a social justice and arts focus. Pilar Millhollen served from 2017-2019.
The Unitarian Universalist Association
Late 1700s: John Murray led a revival in New England, preaching that all humanity was saved through the event of Jesus' life and death – hence the Universalists were born, believing in universal salvation. Historically progressive, the Universalists were the first denomination on the national level to approve the ordination of a woman in 1862!
In the early 19th century, the established churches of Massachusetts split over the question of original sin. The "liberal" churches took the name Unitarian, while the "orthodox" churches retained the name Congregational. Unitarians emphasized independent thought and religion without creeds, and in 1962, these two denominations merged to form the Unitarian Universalist Association. For more info, visit www.uua.org.
The United Church of Christ
1957: The UCC, a liberal Protestant denomination was formed by the merger of most Congregational Christian Churches with the Evangelical and Reformed Church. Congregationalists sprung from the Pilgrims at Plymouth (1620) and the Puritans of Massachusetts Bay (1630). As a progressive wing of Protestantism, they were active in Abolition, Women’s ordination (1853) and LGBTQ ordination (1973). The Evangelical and Reformed Church included historically progressive figures such as 20th century theologians Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich, who were ministers of this denomination. For more info, visit www.ucc.org.
The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
1800: Revivals broke out throughout the east coast emphasizing the Bible as the sole basis for faith and conduct, the right of each individual to interpret the Bible for him or herself, the rejection of human-made creeds, and the simple unity of all Christians. At first they called themselves simply "Disciples," but later took the name "The Christian Church, Disciples of Christ." For more info, visit www.disciples.org.