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History of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Meadville
The Unitarian Church of Meadville was established in 1825 and was formally organized in 1829 as the independent Congregational Church. A subscription list of thirty-two names attached to a statement of Fundamental Principles included representatives of the Huidekoper, Cullum, and Shippen families. These three families had important roles in the church's early history: Harm Jan Huidekoper established the chuch; Margaret Shippen and Harm Jan Huidekoper provided the congregation with land; and George W. Cullum designed the building which is now its home. (Note: George W. Cullum also revised plans when a portion of Fort Sumter was rebuilt.)
The building is a bold and imposing example of the Greek Revival style, which was widely popular in the early nineteenth century for churches, buildings, and homes. The present condition of the church is remarkably true to its original aspect of 1836.
The name of Meadville became widely known in liberal religious circles through the existence here of an important religious institution, the Meadville Theological School, founded in 1844 in great part through the efforts of Harm Jan Huidekoper and his sons. Meadville thus was the temporary home of hundreds of young men who became Unitarian ministers and supplied pulpits all across the nation. The school remained here for 82 years, but in 1926 was moved to Chicago as an entity of the Federated Theological Faculty of the University of Chicago, where it preserves the town's memory in its name: the Meadville Lombard Theological School.
The importance of Meadville as the site of a vigorous early Unitarian community and as the location of an important theological center is still recognized today in the name of the Unitarian-Universalist denominational division in which we are located: the Ohio-Meadville District.
Longer Histories of the Unitarian
Universalist Church of Meadville:
Other Historical References:
A Historical Sketch of the Independent Congregational Church, Meadville, Pennsylvania, 1825-1900. Earl Morse Wilbur, Meadville, 1902.
Harm Jan Huidekoper. Nina More Tiffany and Francis Tiffany. Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1904.