Unitarian Universalist History


Rev. Kelly Dignan      Email: kdignan@iliff.edu Cell: 303-257-5449

Photo of Transylvania where Unitarianism originated. https://uupcc.org/partnerships/country/transylvania

Welcome to Unitarian Universalist History.

This course will help students become familiar with Unitarian, Universalist, and Unitarian Universalist (UU) history and absorb the key events that influence our faith tradition today. The materials are contextualized by connecting our religious history to the eras of American history and our involvement in and reaction to significant historical events.

Course Objectives

At the end of the course, students will be able to:


It is important to review and agree to the Learning Agreement.  Also review Discussion Guidelines thoroughly.

Iliff's Policies and Services will be upheld.

Introductions: In order to form a cohesive cohort, you are asked to introduce yourself using provided prompts and then respond to all classmates' introductions. (4% of your grade)

Discussion Forums: This course relies heavily on online discussions. Here we share ideas, ask questions, and deepen our understanding of course concepts. Details are provided in Discussion Guidelines. These conversations are worth 40% of your grade.

Assignments: There are four key assignments during the quarter: one artistic integration projects (5% of grade), a historical sermon (20%), a competency essay (18%), and a timeline of key events (5%).

Zoom Meetings: There are two required one-hour Zoom meetings during the quarter - one in Week 1 and one in Week 6. There will be two date and time options for each of those meetings so you can choose one to accommodate your schedule. Sign up links are provided. Each of these is worth 2% of your grade, a total of 4%. 

Covenant Groups: The glue that holds Unitarian Universalists together is covenant - a promise to stick together in love and loyalty. Covenant groups or small group ministries are a common and important way that UUs live out this promise. As part of this course, you will participate in a covenant group with at least two other of your peers. Groups will be assigned. Your group will meet during Week 2, Week 4 and Week 7.  Gatherings will be one hour, scheduled by your group based on your schedules, and held by Zoom using one of your group members' accounts. The focus will be spiritual growth and mutual support. The instructor will provide suggested guidelines for your group and prompts for each gathering. By the Saturday of those weeks, one group member will "submit the assignment" to let your instructor that the group met. Only one person needs to submit.  If a particular member is not participating on a regular basis, other group members should let the instructor know. (6% of grade.)

Extra Credit Integration Projects: You may earn 5% extra credit for submitting your historical sermon on video.  And there is one exercise that offers you the opportunity to consider how our UU ancestors can support your spiritual growth and vocation. More detail will be provided during the first Zoom call; also 5% of your grade.

Optional Gathering Days Meeting with Kelly has been cancelled due to Iliff's closure through May 16th in response to the COVID 19 virus. 

Required Texts

All of the texts are on the Ministerial Fellowship Committee's reading list. While we will not read all of them in their entirety, we will reference each of them throughout the course. Every effort has been made to make this course as accessible as possible at the lowest cost to students, but some book purchases will be needed. In general, when only a portion of a book is required for the course, scans will be provided on Canvas. When entire books are required you will need to get a copy, either by borrowing or purchasing it. You can often find copies of used books for reduced prices at www.bookfinder.com.

Black Pioneers in a White Denomination, Mark D. Morrison-Reed, Boston: Skinner House Books (1992),  258 pages, ISBN: 9781558962507  (Scans provided by instructor - no need to purchase.)

Darkening the Doorways: Black Trailblazers and Missed Opportunities in Unitarian Universalism, Mark D. Morrison-Reed, Boston: Skinner House Books (2011), 343 pages, ISBN: 9781558966109 Editions: Paperback and Kindle

For Faith and Freedom: A short history of Unitarianism in Europe , Charles A. Howe, Boston: Skinner House Books (1997), 211 pages, ISBN-10: 1558963596, ISBN-13: 978-1558963597, Editions: Paperback

Universalists and Unitarians in America: a people’s history , John A. Buehrens, Boston: Skinner House Books (2011), 274 pages, ISBN-10: 1558966129, ISBN-13: 978-1558966123, Editions: Paperback and Kindle

A Documentary History of Unitarian Universalism: Volume One from the Beginning to 1899 , Dan McKanan, editor, Boston: Skinner House Books, (2017), 501 pages, ISBN-10: 1558967893, ISBN-13: 978-1558967892, Editions: Paperback

A Documentary History of Unitarian Universalism: Volume two from 1900 to the Present , Dan McKanan, editor, Boston: Skinner House Books, (2017), 565 pages, ISBN-10: 1558967915, ISBN-13: 978-1558967915, Editions: Paperback

Before the class begins, please review the Overview of Statements of Competence and Required Readings and Areas of Competence for UU Ministry found in APPENDIX: Required Forms for Unitarian Universalist Ministerial Fellowship.

Be sure to let me know if you have any questions about the course content and process. I'm also available for 30 minute phone or video connections throughout the quarter. Schedule here.



Rev. Kelly Dignan is an ordained Unitarian Universalist (UU) minister and holds a Master of Divinity from Iliff School of Theology. She has served as minister at three UU churches, most recently, as Lead Minister of the UU Church of Boulder.

Currently, Kelly is a UU Community Minister offering spiritual direction and companioning to individuals. She also serves as a “justice chaplain” for advocacy groups and leaders as they embody spirituality in their work for justice and collective wholeness. Her website is www.kellydignan.com

Mar 24, 2020TueLearning Agreementdue by 05:51AM
Mar 24, 2020TueIntroductionsdue by 05:59AM
Mar 29, 2020SunReading & Discussion for 1517-1630 due by 05:59AM
Mar 29, 2020SunZoom Meeting- Week 1due by 05:59AM
Mar 31, 2020TueReading & Discussion for 1517-1630 Continueddue by 05:59AM
Apr 05, 2020SunReading & Discussion for 1631-1814due by 05:59AM
Apr 05, 2020SunCovenant Group 1due by 05:59AM
Apr 07, 2020TueReading & Discussion for 1631-1814 Continueddue by 05:59AM
Apr 12, 2020SunReading & Discussion for 1815-1847due by 05:59AM
Apr 13, 2020MonArt Integration Assignmentdue by 05:59AM
Apr 14, 2020TueReading & Discussion for 1815-1847 Continueddue by 05:59AM
Apr 19, 2020SunReading & Discussion for 1848-1870due by 05:59AM
Apr 19, 2020SunCovenant Group 2due by 05:59AM
Apr 21, 2020TueReading & Discussion for 1848-1870 Continueddue by 05:59AM
Apr 26, 2020SunReading & Discussion for 1871-1904due by 05:59AM
Apr 28, 2020TueReading & Discussion for 1871-1904 Continueddue by 05:59AM
May 03, 2020SunReading & Discussion for 1905-1928due by 05:59AM
May 03, 2020SunZoom Meeting 2 in Week 6due by 05:59AM
May 04, 2020MonHistorical Sermondue by 05:59AM
May 04, 2020MonExtra Credit - Video of Historical Sermondue by 05:59AM
May 05, 2020TueReading & Discussion for 1905-1928 Continueddue by 05:59AM
May 10, 2020SunReading & Discussion for 1929-1945due by 05:59AM
May 10, 2020SunCovenant Group 3due by 05:59AM
May 12, 2020TueReading & Discussion for 1929-1945 Continueddue by 05:59AM
May 17, 2020SunReading & Discussion for 1946-1970 due by 05:59AM
May 18, 2020MonCompetency Essaydue by 05:59AM
May 19, 2020TueReading & Discussion for 1946-1970 Continueddue by 05:59AM
May 24, 2020SunReading & Discussion for 1971-2000due by 05:59AM
May 25, 2020MonUU History Timelinedue by 05:59AM
May 26, 2020TueReading & Discussion for 1971-2000 Continueddue by 05:59AM
May 30, 2020SatReading & Discussion for 2001-2020due by 05:59AM
May 30, 2020SatReading & Discussion for 2001-2020 Continueddue by 05:59AM
May 30, 2020SatExtra Credit due by 05:59AM