THEN AND NOW
Early Universalism in Ohio emerged from years of argumentative but generally fair-minded differences of opinion among Universalists and other denominations. It was a forum for the exchange of theological thought sustained in large part by circuit preaching and part-time ministry. Early church organization was frequently unstable and temporary. Gradually, the various Universalist churches and societies merged into the more settled nomenclature of “churches”. The ultimate tier of organization was the formation of representative bodies composed of delegates from the associations. At first, this collective melding was known as the General Convention of the Western
States. It was later renamed as the Ohio Congregation.
In the early 1800’s, Universalism proliferated mightily throughout Ohio. A century later, the number of Universalist churches had dwindled considerably amidst the cross-currents of other growing denominations and the rise of secularism. Nonetheless, the Universalist Church wherever located remained true to its principal themes of inclusivity, a benevolent and loving God, and universal salvation.
In his book, The Universalist Church in Ohio (1923), Elmo Arnold Robinson addresses the changes to the denominational landscape and the dwindling presence of Universalism writing from his early twentieth century vantage point:
“And so the history of Ohio Universalism has been a story of a changing church. Today is not yesterday. The heritage of the past is not forgotten, the old spirit remains but the tasks are ever new.”
The Eldorado Universalist Church was organized June 14, 1849 with thirteen charter members. Reverend Elihu Moore was the founding pastor. Since then, three church buildings in three different locations in Eldorado have served our congregations. The cornerstone for the present and third building was laid on June 6, 1909 and formally dedicated on October 10, 1909. The then presiding minister, Reverend Sara L. Stoner spoke at both the cornerstone and dedication events. Over the course of its century and a half plus history, the Eldorado Universalist Church has been pastored by a succession of Universalist and Unitarian Universalist ministers as well as those of other denominational backgrounds. Reverend Kathy Brawley has been our consulting minister since 2010. When she is not speaking, guest speakers deliver the message for the day.
In recent years, voices from the pulpit are interwoven in a tapestry of theological thought; sometimes Universalist in tone and bent, and sometimes more Unitarian: intellectual, agnostic, and humanist. All the while, presence has been made for those of other mainline, Eastern and Quaker faith persuasions. Sermons tend towards an integrated blend of scripture, literature, philosophy, inter-faith theology, and contemporary issues. Congregational discussion following each sermon is anticipated and open to audience participation.
Though our name is historically and officially the Eldorado Universalist Church, sometimes referred to as the First Universalist Church, we are affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations. We are slightly off the main thoroughfares but within an easy scenic commute of anywhere in the greater Miami Valley. If you are searching for a progressive and inclusive faith tradition, why not consider joining us for a most satisfying worship experience?