The First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia is a Unitarian Universalist congregation located at 2125 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As a regional Community Center it sponsors cultural, educational, civic, wellness and spiritual activities. On June 12, 1796, twenty of Philadelphia's intellectual leaders formed the First Unitarian Society of Philadelphia, becoming the first continuously functioning church in the country to name itself "Unitarian". The founders were directed and encouraged by the Unitarian minister Joseph Priestley, and its first settled minister was the Rev. Dr. William Henry Furness.
Notable Events :
The day after John Brown was executed his body was greeted by William Henry Furness in Philadelphia for a private vigil before heading to North Elba, New York
where Brown is buried. When Martin Luther King Jr. was a seminary student in nearby Chester
, he attended a lecture about how Mohandas K. Gandhi integrated Henry David Thoreau's theory of non-violent civil disobedience that inspired King's non-violent protests for civil rights. This lecture is reputed to have taken place at the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia.
In April 2006, the church officially became a Welcoming Congregation to the Bisexual, Transgender, Lesbian, and Gay community. In 2007, Nathan C. Walker became the first openly gay minister to be called to the serve the church. In July 2006, executives from Monsanto visited the church to discuss the adoption of a code of ethics for the field of biotechnology, a sort of Hippocratic oath, akin to a doctor's pledge to 'do no harm.