Our Story

Who We Are

Union is a progressive, multicultural faith community in Boston with a 200-year history and commitment to Christian love, social justice, and radical hospitality. We are an urban and LGBTQ-affirming church that strives to be a spiritual home and church family for all people. Our Africana celebration-style worship is dynamic and fresh, inspiring the Union community to make a substantial difference in the world around us.

We are a vibrant and vital congregation. We are blessed that God empowers us to be Christian witness in a broken world. Worship @Union is an uplifting encounter with God and neighbor. Our music makes you stand up and rejoice and our preaching proclaims Good News! We gather for Sunday School, Bible Study, and prayer…children are learning about the faith; young people exploring spiritual disciplines together meet-up at local taverns for “Theology on Tap”; and our men’s and women’s group connect for fellowship and service. We like to say, “At Union, you’re family!”

Union is making bold witness of our faith: monthly our food pantry serves over 150 families; annually our MLK Memorial Breakfast convenes a thousand dreamers to seek justice; and our radical hospitality provides safe space for LGBTQ people.

Our Mission

The mission of Union is to nurture followers of Jesus Christ who transform the world through love, justice, and service.

Our Vision

At Union, we’re family—members, worshippers, and guests experience Union as a spiritual home grounded in the unconditional love of God. An individual who is a part of Union will be transformed personally and empowered to do good in the community.

Our Core Values

We proclaim the good news of love, hope, and justice.

  • We trust in a living God, embodied in Jesus Christ and empowered in the Holy Spirit.
  • We depend upon the scriptural witness recorded in the Bible and know that God is still speaking today.
  • We ground our contemporary witness in the celebration-style of worship, radical hospitality, and commitment to social justice that emerges from the Africana and Wesleyan traditions.
  • We disturb, dismantle, and disrupt oppression and take seriously our urban responsibility to advocate for the marginalized.
  • We welcome people of all ages, colors, races, bodies, and sexual and affectional orientations as uniquely created in God’s image.
  • We strive to foster community and connection with God and with one another.
  • We honor tradition and embrace change, while encouraging curiosity, spiritual growth, theological inquiry, and faith development.

Our History

Union’s story begins in 1796 when a group of African-American believers began meeting for study and worship on Beacon Hill. As the faith community grew they requested their first pastor, Samuel Snowden—a former slave turned abolitionist—and formed the May Street Meeting House. David Walker, who published the influential “Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World,” was a member of this congregation.

They soon outgrew this space and built a larger church that was a station along the Underground Railroad. With the migration of Boston’s black population, the congregation moved from Beacon Hill to Roxbury and then to its current home on Columbus Avenue in Boston’s South End—and taking the name “Union.” Educator and activist Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, aunt to our pastor, was the keynote speaker formal opening May 8, 1949.

Throughout the decades Union has hosted the NAACP convention (1950) that voted to pursue Brown v. Board and the Duke Ellington Sacred Jazz Orchestra (1966). In the 1970s, Union led the development of Meth-Union Manor, a four-building affordable housing cooperative in the South End. During the 1980s and 1990s we fought against apartheid in South Africa and for economic equality for all at home. In 2000, Union voted officially to become what it had been for decades: a safe space for LGBTQ persons.

Today, we continue this rich legacy, and each year we co-present Boston’s premier and the nation’s longest running MLK Memorial Breakfast, which unites the “beloved community” for peace and justice.