Are You a Transcendentalist?

By Joseph Plummer 

Eastern Massachusetts is the epicenter of American Unitarianism, emerging there some two centuries after its nontrinitarian doctrine first sprouted in Poland in the mid-1500s, and then migrated to Transylvania in the 1600s, and England in the early 1700s. In this UUFSMA Sunday Service, the Reverend Tom Rosiello, Fellowship Minister, will outline the development in the United States of this liberalizing Christianity, which became rooted in the new republic right after the American Revolution. From the pulpit of King’s Chapel, Boston, in 1784, it then radiated throughout New England and the Mid-Atlantic region, spreading rejection of the harsh doctrines of Calvinist Puritanism and inspiring congregations to build a faith based in enlightened reason. 

“The new religion continued to spread and expand with new thoughts,” Reverend Rosiello says. “In the early to mid-1800s, a seismic shift within this new faith tradition occurred. Its new thinkers moved beyond Christianity to incorporate ideas from eastern thought, and the German and English Enlightenment.” 

Unitarian faith no longer relied upon revelation through the Bible. Access to faith could be gained in one’s direct experience. The Bible and other religious texts became secondary rather than primary sources. While Puritans considered the natural world to be an evil to conquer, nature became the Unitarians’ great teacher. Leaders of this new school of naturalists – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, Bronson Allcott, and many others like them who adopted Unitarianism – also called themselves «Transcendentalists” and centered their lives in and around Concord, Massachusetts. 

A devotee of the region, Rev. Rosiello is also Minister-Emeritus of the First Parish of Stow and Acton in Stow, Massachusetts, close to the homeland of Transcendentalism. Spending part of his summer amid the natural beauty that inspired the Transcendentalists, he will lead this service from Concord, bring their words to life, and invite Unitarian-Universalist participants in the service to consider whether they, too, might be Transcendentalists.   

Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion inviting its community to come together around a set of harmonizing values and principles for living. Our UU Fellowship welcomes people of all ages, races, religions, sexual orientation, and gender identify. Belief in a divinity is not the central issue around which we gather for worship and generous action. Rather, we come together with a belief in community, love, compassion, social justice, and reverence for nature, all within the interconnected web of existence.

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To participate in our online Sunday Service, visit and click on the Zoom Service button on the home page. If requested, enter password: 294513. Sign-in from anywhere Sunday mornings between 10:15-10:25 am CST. 

In addition to continuing live Zoom services, UUFSMA has returned to in-person Sunday services. Reservations are no longer necessary. 

*Joseph Plummer is the UUFSMA Board Secretary

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Sunday Service

“Are You a Transcendentalist?”

Reverend Tom Rosiello

Sun, Aug 14, 10:30am

Zoom link:  

Password: 294513