Center for Free Religion


The Center for Free Religion was founded in 1983 to address the paradox of religion’s tension between being a major force for freedom and liberation and its history of contributing to conflict and repression.

The Center for Free Religion reflects the principles of Ralph Waldo Emerson, the American Transcendentalist who helped begin the American Free Religious Association in 1856, and of Shinichiro Imaoka, whose Zen meditational practice and Japanese Unitarianism led him to follow Emerson and start the Japanese Free Religious Association in 1926.

CFR works on the assumption that interfaith understanding and cooperation will reduce tensions in any area of the world.  And where this occurs, work for peace and social betterment naturally follow.  Accordingly, work in interfaith understanding and cooperation is a primary and necessary starting point for world peace and prosperity.

Co-directors George M. Williams, professor of Asian Religions, and Judit Gellérd, MD (specialties in neurology and psychiatry) and daughter of martyred Transylvanian minister Rev. Imre Gellérd, are currently focusing most of the Center’s work on Eastern Europe.  They lead an entirely volunteer movement--not one cent of any contribution is used for administration or salaries.  This has inspired a large number of volunteers to contribute time, money and equipment for this unique interfaith work.

The Center for Free Religion has conducted spiritual renewal and psychotherapy workshops for religious leaders and their families in Transylvania.  Helping those who struggle for real democracy and renewal within church life, CFR has established two foundations in Hungary and Romania and publishes a bilingual newsletter for UUA-Transylvanian Partner Churches.  CFR continues to raise money for direct relief of struggling churches and families, seminary students and retired clergy, as well as for reconstructing churches and rebuilding  the infrastructure of the Transylvanian Unitarian Church in the post communist era. 

CFR is sponsoring expanded educational opportunities for seminarians and it is gradually introducing academic study of religion into Hungary’s greatest universities.  This will lead to greater interfaith understanding and cooperation.  The Center for Free Religion’s main focus is publication of primary Unitarian materials in both English and Hungarian.  Further, by placing desktop publishing systems and sponsoring workshops on their use, CFR has enabled religionists, cultural leaders and visionaries to establish a free press.  Making sure that the best voices are empowered is a wise investment in the future.

CFR has negotiated for three years with both Hungarian and Romanian Academies of Sciences, and can begin electronic archiving of rare religious manuscripts and publications.  The focus will be on the centuries old, confiscated libraries and archives which are the most vulnerable.  The first publication of this archival work will honor the 425th anniversary of religious freedom’s first pronouncement, the 1568 Edict of Torda.  A catalog of the nearly 3000 manuscripts of the Transylvanian Unitarian College Library and Archive is scheduled for completion by the end of 1994.

In 1993 CFR was asked by IARF to coordinate its social service network in Transylvania and Hungary.

Donations to the Center for Free Religion are tax deductible (501c).


Address, etc. 



            Center for Free Religion

            1012 Bryant Ave

            Chico, CA 905926


            916 - 895 3222

            916 - 895 0430 FAX

            e-mail:    or


Thanks must be expressed to all Unitarian Universalist ministers and lay members who through many inspiring ways and mobilizing means have served the cause of saving Transylvanian Unitarianism.  Special thanks to those who honored the 425th anniversary of the Transylvanian Unitarian Church by contributing their sermons to this volume.


 Center for Free Religion’s publications

(or Unitarianism in Transylvania an Hungary



General Editor:  Prof. George M. Williams

Translator from Hungarian:  Dr. Judit Gellérd


1.  Imre Gellérd,  Truth Liberates You:  The Message of Transylvania’s First Unitarian Bishop, Francis Dávid

 2.  Imre Gellérd,  A Burning Kiss from God to Preach Truth:  Four Centuries of Transylvanian Unitarian Preaching

 3.  János Erdö,  The Transylvanian Unitarian Church.  A Chronological History and Other Essays

 4.  József Ferencz, (edited by Prof. John Godbey and B. Carl Miller)Unitarianism  in Hungary in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

 5.  Imre Gellérd, Beszédek  [Sermons, Hungarian]

 6.  Imre Gellérd, Esszék  [Essays on Practical Theology, Hungarian]

 7.  Judit Gellérd (compiler),  Guidebook for UU Partner Churches