First Unitarian Congregational Society
First Unitarian Congregational Society in Brooklyn is a Unitarian Universalist congregation in Brooklyn, NY. The Society was established in 1833 and has been worshipping in its historic Gothic Revival Sanctuary since 1844. It is one of the earliest Unitarian congregations in the United States, established just 8 years after the American Unitarian Association was formed in 1825.
First Unitarian has a thriving and growing community of members and offers religious education and numerous social justice programs and initiatives. It also features a highly regarded music program, including weekly music presentations during services that range from traditional hymns and choral arrangements to jazz improvisations and special guest musicians. First Unitarian is also the home of an acoustic music festival, First Acoustics, featuring live folk and jazz concerts during the fall and spring.
The Congregation holds weekly services on Sundays at 11am in its Brooklyn Heights sanctuary, at the corner of Pierrepont Street and Monroe Place. The current Senior Minister is Rev. Ana Levy-Lyons.
Today, the church is a declared Peace Site as well as a Welcoming Congregation, affirming its support for Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian and Transgender people. First Unitarian is also a part of the Heights & Hill Council, serving the elder population of Brooklyn, and a founding member of the Brooklyn Interfaith for Action.
Tired of the ferry ride to Unitarian services in Manhattan, and weary of being rebuffed by other Brooklyn churches, the founders held the first Unitarian worship and Sunday school in August, 1833. After meeting in rented halls and buying a building on Adams Street, the members purchased the current site and secured Minard Lafever as architect. His design marks the beginning of the Gothic Revival in Brooklyn. The building was dedicated in 1844.
Over the years, three other Unitarian societies were formed, flourished and eventually rejoined the First Church. Samuel Longfellow, brother of the poet Henry and himself a noted poet, served the Second Unitarian Church (Brooklyn, New York). That church also ordained the first woman to the Unitarian ministry, Celia Burleigh. Prominent in the history of the First Unitarian Church is a tradition of social ministry that includes youth work, a settlement house for immigrants, support for the Civil Rights movement and opposition to the Indo-China war.
- Official website
- The records of the First Unitarian Congregational Society of Brooklyn from 1923-1940 are in the Andover-Harvard Theological Library at Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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