Universalist National Memorial Church

Universalist National Memorial Church
The Universalist National Memorial Church seen facing 16th Street Northwest
38°54′51″N 77°02′12″W / 38.914289°N 77.036712°W / 38.914289; -77.036712Coordinates: 38°54′51″N 77°02′12″W / 38.914289°N 77.036712°W / 38.914289; -77.036712
Location Washington, D. C.
Country United States
Denomination Unitarian Universalist Association
Previous denomination Universalist Church of America
Website universalist.org
Status Cathedral
Founded 1930 (1930)
Functional status Active
Architect(s) Charles Collins and Francis Allen
Architectural type Cathedral
Style Romanesque Revival
Pastor(s) David Gatton
Deacon(s) Richard Hurst, Perry King, Clinton McCully, Sue Mosher, Jennifer Sandberg, David Skidmore

Universalist National Memorial Church (UNMC) is a Unitarian Universalist church located at 1810 16th Street, Northwest in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C..[1] Theologically, the church describes itself as "both liberal Christian and Universalist".[2] Originally a member of the Universalist Church of America, it became a member of the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1961 when the former merged with the American Unitarian Association to form the UUA, and in 2003, UNMC strengthened its ties to the UUA.[2]


Universalist ministers visited the Washington area from at least 1827, and in the late 1860s, Universalists began organizing a permanent church. In 1869, The Murray Universalist Society was founded, named in honor of the centenary of John Murray's arrival in North America and the Church of Our Father (First Universalist Church of Washington, D.C.) was founded the following year.[3]

Universalist National Memorial Church was established to serve as the official representative in Washington, DC, of the Universalist General Convention, later known as the Universalist Church of America. In 1921, the Universalist General Convention approved funding for construction of the church. The first services were held in 1925, although at a different location than the present facility. The first service at Universalist National Memorial Church on 16th Street, NW was held on Palm Sunday, 1930, with Frederick Williams Perkins as its first minister.[4]


UNMC is an example of Romanesque Revival architecture and was designed by Charles Collins and Francis Allen, architects of the Riverside Church in New York City and Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago.[2][5] The four-story building, a contributing property to the Sixteenth Street Historic District, features a stained-glass window and a stone tower that reaches a height of 98 feet (30 m).[1][6]


UNMC is a member of the following organizations:

In 2003, UNMC hosted the Revival conference of the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship.


Church of Our Father (First Universalist Church of Washington, D.C.)
  • Rev. A. C. Barry: February–May 1870
  • Rev. C. H. Day: 1873–1877
  • Rev. Alexander Kent: 1877–1890
  • Rev. A. A. Whitcomb: 1890–1892
  • Rev. A. G. Rogers: 1892–1897
  • Rev. Leslie Moore: 1897–1899
  • Dr. John van Schaick, Jr.: 1900–1918; emeritus: 1923–1949
  • Rev. William Couden (acting): 1917–1918
  • Dr. Levi M. Powers: 1919–1920
  • Dr. John van Schaick, Jr.: 1920–1922
  • Dr. Clarence Rice: 1922–1926
  • Dr. Fredrick W. Perkins: 1927–1930
Universalist National Memorial Church
  • Dr. Fredrick W. Perkins: 1930–1939
  • Dr. Seth R. Brooks: 1939–1978; emeritus: 1978–1987
  • Dr. William L. Fox: 1978-1988
  • Rev. James Blair: 1989–1993
  • Dr. William L. Fox: 1993–1998; current emeritus
  • Rev. Vanessa R. Southern: associate, 1995–1998; sole pastor: 1998–2000
  • Rev. Scott Wells: 2000–2004
  • Rev. Lillie Mae Henley: 2006–2011
  • Crystal Lewis: 2014–2016
  • David Gatton: 2014–present


  1. 1 2 Wasserman, Paul (2003). Washington, D.C. From A to Z: The Look-up Source for Everything to See. Capital Books. p. 366. ISBN 1-931868-07-7.
  2. 1 2 3 About Universalist National Memorial Church
  3. UNMC: A brief history
  4. "Universalist Church of America. National Memorial Church. Records, 1921-1955". Andover-Harvard Theological Library. Retrieved 2008-06-04.
  5. Morgan, David (2001). The visual culture of American religions. University of California Press. p. 75. ISBN 0-520-22522-8.
  6. "Universalist National Memorial Church". Emporis. Retrieved 2008-06-04.
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