Channing Church was named in the memory of William Ellery Channing, an ardent abolitionist and founder of the Unitarian faith in America.
Channing was born in Newport, Rhode Island in 1780. His grandfather, William Ellery, was one of the RI signers of the Declaration of Independence. Channing served as minister of Arlington Street Church in Boston from 1803 until his death in 1842.
His defense of human dignity inspired many, including Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller and Ralph Waldo Emerson. His views were grounded in his early training with the ministers of Congregational Churches, and thus, much of Unitarianism can be traced to Newport’s tolerant religious climate.
The Newport Unitarian Congregation was organized in the home of Channing’s grandfather, William Ellery, in 1835. This church was designed by architect Elbridge Boyden in 1880-1881. The memorial windows include two by John La Farge.
The large window on the street facade visible from Touro Park is titled, “Through the Valley of the Shadow.” Near the front door is a sculpture by Augustus Saint Gaudens of Charles T. Brooks, the church’s first minister.