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With its congregation gathering in 1852 and the first wooden building being constructed in 1868, the First Universalist Church is one of the earliest Universalist churches in the Northwestern Ohio region. Its construction aided in the development of the town of Lyons, OH and its still active congregation is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Association.

The current exterior of the Church.

Sky, Cloud, Window, Stairs

Historical plaque erected outside the church by the Fulton County Historical Society in the early 2000's.

Rectangle, Font, Commemorative plaque, Wood

A copy of a photo of the church prior to the 1904 renovations.

Tree, Font, Rectangle, Hut

The top portion of the front facing stainglass window first constructed with the 1904 rennovations.

Window, Fixture, Interior design, Stained glass

The bottom portion of the front facing stainglass window.

Fixture, Art, Interior design, Window

View of the current interior of the church from the upper balcony, facing the altar.

Furniture, Picture frame, Houseplant, Building

View of the current interior of the church from the altar, facing the congregation.

Building, Lighting, Interior design, Window

Official incorporation certificate of the church, dating to August 1950.

Font, Paper, Parallel, Paper product

The history of Unitarianism and Universalism Christianity is heavily intertwined. Both emerged in early to mid 1750's in England and Western Europe as a rejection of the strict theology of predestination Calvinism. Unitarian's base their faith primarily around a rejection of Trinitarian concepts, believing instead that god exists only in one form. Similarly, Universalists also believe in the concept of a singular deity though they draw inspiration from a variety of texts including the New Testament, scientific documents, and writings from other faiths around the world such as Islam, Zoroastrianism, and Hinduism. The two sects merged in 1961 to become the Unitarian Universalist church.

Unitarianism and Universalism spread to North America during the late 1770's with the first Universalist church being established in Gloucester, Massachusetts in 1779. Universalists first appeared in the Northwest territory, which later became the state of Ohio, in the 1800's with over 50 Universalist churches having been established by 1850 and Unitarians taking up prominent residence in several of Ohio's largest cities such as Nathan Guilford of Cincinnati whom helped push for free public education in the state. The First Universalist Church in Lyons, Ohio was one of these early churches and the first church in the township. The congregation first began meeting in 1852 in what was then called Morey's Corners. Local historian Naomi Twining claims that during this period the community was also active with the underground railroad in helping escaped slaves reach Canada via its first reverend, Lucian Lathrop between 1852 to 1862. In 1867, the congregation recorded 34 charter members and the current reverend, Samuel Binns, ordered construction of a church building to be started. Jenks Morey, hotel keeper, founder of Morey's Corners, and an Universalist, donated the lot for the construction and the church finished construction and was dedicated in October of the same year.

The church's membership allowed for the area's population to grow and for the township to receive a post office and attention from the Richardson brothers seeking to build a road from Sylvania, Ohio to Morenci, Michigan. The name "Lyons" came about as a nickname from the builders and in 1904 the population of Lyons had grown enough that the church was renovated from its original wooden structure into the building seen today, with a partial basement, stainglass windows, and a furnace being installed. This structure is the same that can be seen today as the church continues to serve the Lyons community, having celebrated its 150th birthday in 2018.

Values in Our History, Unitarian Universalist Association. Accessed August 11th 2021.

Ohio History Connection. Unitarian Church , Ohio Central History. Accessed August 11th 2021.

Ohio History Connection . Universalist Church , Ohio History Central. Accessed August 11th 2021.

Ingall, Doris. The History of Lyons, Part 1. Lyons, OH. 1987.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Kyle Driscoll

Kyle Driscoll

Museum of Fulton County

Kyle Driscoll

Kyle Driscoll

Kyle Driscoll

Kyle Driscoll

Kyle Driscoll