I just recently wrote to a list I have been quiet on, and at the end of it, I asked if anyone wanted to see my SC Universalist history blog, to let me know. My old friend, Dr. Jerry B - who Ive known for 35 years or so (although weve never met), said
and then I thought about this blog.....
When I first started this, I really really planned it just for my recent notes ---
then I made a Freudion slip and let it out - on the website of one of the 4 people in the world who would be intersted.....
-- and the problem is exactly that - without context, who would care except those 4 people (and who knows how much they care - maybe its just three)
-- but if I add context - then it becomes unpaid writing -- and I could use the money for paid writing! but without context - then it is gosip about strangers....
so - a small bit of context:
Universalism is the belief that God will save everyone.
there are different views on how from the redemptionists (which the Charleston SC group apparently was) to the Ultra- Universalist (which Hosea Ballou up in New England was). Universalist as a denomination traces itself back to John Murray (former associate of Methodist John Wessley) who came from England to the USA in the years before the Revolution --- There is even an Universalist miracle story tied in with him... but he was in New England.
In South Carolina (and a few miles up the road from me) was Elehanan Winchester, Baptist minister in the 1700s - who converted to Universalism while a preacher in SC (and while visiting a friend in NC), he moved back up north and started the Universal Baptist denomination in Philadelphia.
BUT.... the German Baptist Brethren (now the Church of the Brethren) was strong believers in Universalism and there were clusters of GBB in both Carolinas in the mid 1700s. Two things started happening aroun 1795-1805 , the GBB begain to become more like the English Baptists, and Universalism begain to be frowned on - and both GBB and Quakers begain to move out of the Carolinas to Ohio and the midwest; at this point the remaining GBBs in SC (i am less sure about NC- but it seems likely there too) begain to slowly affliate with the Universalist Church.
In the 1820s-1850s, the migration west became strong - and the various Carolina families took Universalism with them to Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas.
Some local ministers, but mostly northern born circuit riders.
However the 1860s and that war almost ended Universalism in the south. the south hit an economic downturn that took decades to recover from... and
Daniel Bragg Clayton, grandson of Baptist preachers, converted to Univeralism, became a preacher, and circuit rider in South Carolina and then Mississippi. During the war and the destruction of his house and all his belongings, he returned to SC, and once he had saved enough money (bi-vocational ministers were around then too) became a freelance circuit minister - at one time the only one in the Carolinas - traveling from his base in Columbia to NC, Florida, Missisppi, restarting churches and preaching continously. The three Universalist churches surving in the Carolinas had his input -- one being named for him.
Circuit riding ministers continued in the 1900s- Thomas Chapman for one(born near Saluda SC). the depression started in SC in the early 1920s - and whole neighborhoods left their old communites - not taking their churches with them....
NC was sponsored as a mission project by the Womens Mission Association (note: this isnt the name of the association)
Ive yet to study the effects of the segregation struggles on southern Universalism - but these folks werent perfect people, so you bet there was some.
the early 1960s saw the Universalists and the Unitarians merge...
the three surving churches are still struggling, still rural - but still surving.
there's a lot more one could say:
who is Hannah Powell? the Rev who ran the church in the mountains of North Carolina - and believed by some - to be who the female lead in the novel COLD MOUNTAIN was based on (the male lead's real life brother was an Universalist minister).
is Universal Salvation all that Universalist believe? No, most of the old U Churches have there their strong belief that "god is love"....
etc etc, hopefully this gives some context.....