"To God, To Truth, and to All that Enobles Humanity"
Providence’s exquisite jewel box of a French neo-classical temple, the Bell Street Chapel, was built in 1875 for art dealer and engraver James Eddy after a design by storied Providence architect William R. Walker. Eddy dedicated his church “to God, to Truth, and to all that ennobles Humanity.” Eddy was a radical progressive for the time, participating in the causes of temperance, women’s rights, and the abolition of slavery. He rejected the organized religions of his day, but could find no one to lead a congregation according to his vision. The church remained empty until after his death in 1888. The first service was Eddy’s memorial, featuring reformer and activist Anna Garlin Spencer, who organized an independent church in accord with Eddy’s thoughts and was Rhode Island’s first female ordained minister. Spencer fought against misogyny, racism, and poverty. Among her friends were history’s greatest fighters, including Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass. Spencer was a groundbreaker. Today’s Unitarian Universalist congregation continues the fight for social justice with Reverend Margaret Weis at its helm.