A Brief History of the First Universalist Church of Auburn, Unitarian Universalist
A small but influential group of early settlers in Lewiston, Minot, and Danville, Maine embraced the seeds that were sown in our area for Universalism, a religion that believed in divine love and mercy for all, known as the doctrine of Universal Salvation. In 1819 they founded the Christian Social Library, a religious community which flourished into a full religious society and spawned the Universalist parishes of Lewiston (Lowell’s Corner) and Auburn (Goff’s Corner) which both met in schoolhouses.
Early baptisms – for all members – were by immersion in the Androscoggin River, just above the falls…a practice that did not continue long. By 1839 members had built and paid for construction of a 56-pew wood-frame church on High Street in Auburn. Without a church organ, they formed a string orchestra to accompany the fledgling choir, and in the first year alone the average Sunday attendance was 200.
With growth and change came reorganization and a move to build at our present site at the corner of Pleasant, Elm, and Spring streets, Auburn. Today’s historic building in the Gothic Revival style was completed in 1876 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. It features stained glass windows, a Hook and Hastings organ, a 1,000 pound Meneely bell in the 100-foot spire, Harry Cochran murals, and an impressive Rose Window.
Our name – the First Universalist Church of Auburn, Maine, Unitarian Universalist – signifies the national merger of the Unitarian and Universalist faiths in 1961. There were major building alternations in 1964 and 2002 making the church handicap accessible with an elevator to the upstairs sanctuary. The church today is a liberal religious beacon in the Lewiston-Auburn communities.