The Unitarian Universalist Church of Amherst can trace its roots to the circuit riding ministry of Rev. Stephen R. Smith who is credited with spreading the message of the fledgling religion of Universalism throughout central and western New York during the early 1800s. Rev. Smith gave his first sermon on Universalism in Williamsville in 1816. A Universalist congregation was formed in1823 and lasted about 5 years. In 1831, a Unitarian and a Universalist church were organized in Buffalo. These congregations merged in 1953 and began services at the structure built as the First Unitarian Church, now known as the Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo. This preceded the national merger of these two denominations in 1961.
In 1957, in response to the growing suburbs around Buffalo, the UU Church of Buffalo organized the Amherst Parish Council. Rev. John Kolbjornsen was called as the first minister for UU Church of Amherst (UUCA) in 1958. The congregation met in a church on Los Robles in the village of Williamsville. (insert pix of church and bench) In 1961, the property at 6320 Main St. was purchased. It included the mansion, carriage house and several acres of land. The current chapel was built during 1963 and services began in 1964. The RE wing was completed in 1967. The latest addition to our campus was the Emerson Room, completed church year 2001-2002. Our Green Sanctuary committee spearheaded the addition of solar panels. Our campus also includes a nature preserve, a Memorial Garden and a meditation garden.
In keeping with the strong legacy of social action by both Universalism and Unitarianism, the UUCA has been committed to social justice since its inception. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, the UUCA was in the forefront of improving race relations. In 1981, the Social Concerns committee started a local chapter of Remove Intoxicated Drivers (RID) that evolved into a community-based organization focused on instituting tougher laws and law enforcement in the area of drinking drivers as well as on offering support to victims of drunk drivers and their families. The UUCA received international media attention in 1987 when our minister, Rev. Carl Titchener, distributed condoms during Sunday service to emphasize the need to deal with the problem of AIDS.
The UUCA continues to be committed to Social and Economic Justice. We actively support the LGBTQ community. We are a recognized Welcoming community and have sponsored GAY PROM and participated in the Gay Pride Parade. We are members of VOICE-Buffalo (VOICE) an interracial, urban-suburban coalition of faith-based congregations and community, business and labor leaders of Buffalo and Erie County focusing on bringing local issues (such as restorative justice, education, public transit) that urgently affect Erie County to the forefront of public discourse and to promote social change that is in the best interest of the whole community.