Church History

There are three phases of the church's history:

1818 to 1995 The Independent Congregational Society - Unitarian, corner of Union /Main Streets

Prominent among the early Unitarian ministers was Dr. Frederick Henry Hedge, a scholar and transcendentalist friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson. In the 1850's Rev. Joseph Henry Adams preached against slavery. Hannibal Hamlin, native of Bangor and vice president to Abraham Lincoln, was an active member. Rev. Stephen H. Fritchman assailed anti-Semitism and militarism in the 1930's. John Wood took part in the Civil Rights March in Selma, Alabama (1960's). In 1983 the murder of an openly gay young friend of the congregation solidified the church to advocate forcefully on behalf of human dignity. In 1991, Rev. Susan Jamieson began her ministry emphasizing personal and social healing and redemptive community. The Unitarians voted to consolidate with the First Universalist Church (and visa versa) in 1995.

1833 to 1995 First Universalist Society, 120 Park Street

The First Universalist Society met in various locations in the 1830's and 1840's, and built a small building in 1844. The church called Rev. Amory Battles, a staunch abolitionist in 1850. He was an eloquent educator and gentle pastor. The predecessor of the present building was dedicated in 1852. Succeeding years were devoted to worship, fellowship, community service, Bible study, and children's welfare. This latter was especially supported by Gen. Samuel Hersey, a prominent lumbering businessman and church member. Rev. Ashley A. Smith came in 1911 and only a few weeks after his installation the building was destroyed in the Great Bangor Fire. The church was rebuilt with outstanding stained glass windows creating a meditative atmosphere, memorializing the strengths of the previous century and reflecting its Universalist Christian beliefs. In 1924 Rev. Smith established the Dorothy Memorial Hall in memory of his daughter and featuring a window of Jesus and the children. Rev Milton McGorrill nurtured to completion, in the 1960's, the installation of modern memorial windows in the vestry. Depicted are Jesus' teachings, major world religions, women of the Bible, and women exemplars of Universalist ideals. In the 1980's, Rev. Gary Smith encouraged the congregation to join the Unitarian Universalist Association, and to affirm diversity. This was realized during the early 1990's through the ministry of Rev. Patricia Carol.

1995 to present Unitarian Universalist Society of Bangor, 120 Park Street

The two previously described churches consolidated and worshipped in the Park Street building for the first time on Sunday, September 17, 1995, thus becoming the present Unitarian Universalist Society of Bangor. Rev. Susan Jamieson served the combined congregations for four more years. Though painful, the Unitarian building was sold, but most of their cherished possessions were integrated with those of the Universalists. By combining staff and money the congregation could offer more and stronger programs and restore the aging building. The Unitarians' monthly free Bean Suppers for the hungry continued as a major community service.

This brief history was compiled and updated by Carolyn Kinnard Ziffer in June, 2003 from a more comprehensive one written by Dorothy A. Hawkes in 1999. Both women are members of the Heritage-Archives Committee of the UUSB.