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All Souls NYC:
our history told in timelines


The 2022 Bellows Lecture was given on Nov.13th by

Professor Lydia Willsky-Ciollo:

Strange Bedfellows?

Henry David Thoreau and Unitarianism

The recording is available here







Henry David Thoreau left the Unitarian church in his early 20s, and famously found his church out in nature, where "Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads" as he wrote in Walden.  He has been viewed by scholars and popular audiences alike as anti-religious.  However, his calls to a more simple life, the preservation of nature’s resources, a free and responsible search for truth and meaning, and the use of reason and conscience as a guide, are now all reflected in our Unitarian Universalist Principles.  The lecture explored Thoreau's relationship to his nineteenth-century Christian, specifically Unitarian, context, positing that perhaps Thoreau was not so far from those who sat in the pews on Sundays, as many imagine him to be.


Dr. Lydia Willsky-Ciollo is an historian of American religion, with a focus on Early Republic and antebellum religious movements, particularly Unitarians, Transcendentalists, and new religious movements. In her work she seeks to expand the traditionally Christian narrative of American religion to include those often excluded due to gender, race, class, ethnicity, or religious tradition.

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The Unitarian Church of All Souls NYC was founded on November 15th, 1819.  From its humble beginnings in a downtown parlor to its rise as a flagship of Unitarian Universalism, it has been a beacon for liberal religious thinking for more than two centuries. 


This website was created as a place to find out about, and share memories of, the history of our church.

We also publicize our events on All Souls Connext, our private social network.

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