The Universalist church in Harriman, Tennessee

I’ve known for years that there was a Universalist Church in Harriman, Tennessee, and that it was proposed in 1890, Young People’s Christian Union (the Universalist young adult organization) as a domestic mission.

But why Harriman, Tennessee? Why not its larger neighbor, Knoxville? Indeed, why the then-stony soils for evangelism called Tennessee?

I found a clue in a guide for the YPCU 1896 Jersey City, New Jersey meeting. One of the sponsored events was a visit to a new development on Staten Island: Prohibition Park, a wholesome place for non-drinkers to live. Harriman, too, was established in 1898 as prohibition town with a national scope and an eye to honest industry. Universalist grain magnate Ferdinand Schumacher was an investor. So I’d think settlement utopianism was the attraction.

The church is long-gone, but understand that one of its windows survives in the United Methodist church in Winterville, Georgia, near Athens.

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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