Early Universalist witness in Virginia

There were two witnesses to Virginia Universalist before and at the 1790 Philadelphia Universalist Convention; this remarkable since Virginia was a very thin spot in the history of Universalism.

What I’ve been able to find of these little-known pioneers comes from an account in the first installment of Richard Eddy’s Universalist Conventions and Creeds (Universalist Quarterly, January 1875, pp. 12-13.)

The first was

Rev. David Thomas, in a letter from “Loudon County, North Fork of Goose Creek, Oct. 3, 1786,” gives an account of an Association recently held in his neighborhood, says that he preached ,”chiefly on Politics.” [He was an zealous Federalist.] “And Jerry Moore preached on Christ’s having two garments, one for himself, and another for him who had none. I calculated the number of the audience to be near two thousand.”

and the second was

Rev. Duncan McLean, writing from “Frederick County, Virginia, Mov. 13, 1788,” says, “I have embraced this opportunity to inform you of the state of the cause of truth here, in some small measure.” We are in number about eleven who have publicly owned the truth, one of whom has borne witness thereof in public, and I am in hopes will continue to do so. His name is Donald Holmes.”

Yeah, that’s how it was punctuated. I assume the whole thing is a verbatim quotation.

The Frederick County church — which could be in modern Frederick, Clarke, or Warren counties; west of what’s now known as “Northern Virginia” — sent seven members to the 1790 Convention: Angus White, William Castleman, Abner Osborn, Peter Glascock, William Alexander, Duncan McLean, and Rolin Smith.

Should be possible to guess where the epicenter of Federal-era Virginia Universalism was, but that task is for later.

Links referring to these men (individually):

Categorized as Universalism

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

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