Home
Newcomers and Guests
Our Beliefs
Our History
Membership Resources
How to Get Connected
Monthly Newsletters
Contact Us
UU Link List
Map to Fellowship

 

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE UU FELLOWSHIP
     OF GALVESTON COUNTY    

November 11, 1951 The Galveston Daily News carried the ad, "If you are a ... UNITARIAN, CONGREGATIONALIST or UNIVERSALIST [come next Sunday to] hear Monroe Husbands, Fellowship Director of the American Unitarian Association speak on 'Who Are These Unitarians?"' The ad, which had been placed by Mr. and Mrs. H. A. Orrell, also stated that following the talk plans would be made to establish a Unitarian Fellowship in Galveston.

November 18, 1951 Another ad appeared in the News - "What's your idea of true religion? Unitarianism is a way of life, a life of vigorous thought, constructive activity, of generous service . . ." Of the twenty-eight people who attended the meeting, sixteen indicated interest in forming a Fellowship.

November 25, 1951 Fourteen people joined together at the Orrells' home to officially found the Fellowship. Harry Levy, jr. wrote the original statement of purpose-. "In the discipline of Truth, irrespective of its source, and in the spirit of universal brotherhood, undivided by nation, race or creed, we unite to foster liberal religious attitudes and living - through group study, worship of God and service to humanity. We affirm the right and obligation of each individual to develop his own concept of the nature and destiny of man and the universe."

January 4, 1952 The Fellowship is officially recognized by the Unitarian Association.

May 18, 1952 The nineteen fellowship members hold their first annual congregational meeting, and vote to start a Sunday school in the fall to serve the members' nine children.

When the Fellowship grew too large to continue meeting in members' homes, they met for several years at the Galveston YWCA, but because they were not part of the Christian faith, they were asked to find another place to meet. In 1958, after meetings at the Jean LaFitte Hotel and various lodge halls proved unsatisfactory, they bought the old telephone building in LaMarque. Over the next two years, several portable buildings were purchased for the Sunday school.

January 31, 1959 The congregation approved a national merger of the Unitarians and the Universalists, and changed their name to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Galveston County. At this time there were almost fifty children attending Sunday school.

January, 1961 Because of rapid growth, the congregation voted to buy two acres of land at the intersection of HWY 1764 and the Gulf Freeway, in order to build a new sanctuary in a few years.

March 3, 1963 The Fellowship hosts an evening reception for President of the Unitarian Universalist Association, Dr. Dana McLean Greeley. Fellowships in Beaumont, Lake Jackson and Baytown are invited.

October 29, 1967 The congregation votes to explore the possibility of building a new sanctuary. The Sunday school continues to be popular, though there is some problem in securing enough teachers; there is an active interest.

March, 1969 A decision is reached to remodel the existing building rather than constructing a new one.

November 29, 1970 A dedication ceremony of the newly remodeled Fellowship Building is held, with The Reverend Russell W. Lockwood, Interdistrict Representative of the UUA officiating. There are about sixty members, with religious education attendance of around twenty children. The Fellowship engages an RE director with a small salary so that the program will be more professional.

Summer, 1975 The Fellowship building is used to shelter a group of Vietnamese refugees.

November, 1976 The Fellowship celebrates its 25th Anniversary with a cake, a special Sunday service, and a reunion of former members.

1981-82 The Fellowship joins the denominational Growth Program, engaging Rev. Don Beaudreault of the New Orleans Community Church to visit for two weekends of intense analysis of our needs. At the May, 1982 meeting, members vote to join in a shared ministry with Bay Area and Wirt Road Fellowships" over the next three years the Rev. Stanley Aronson will serve the Galveston Fellowship on a one-fourth time basis.

Throughout the 80's, membership remains in the sixties, but the number of children in religious education declines precipitously. Changing demographics and the creation of more Unitarian Universalist groups in the area make a move back to Galveston Island desirable. The Freeway property is sold and a search begins for a building in Galveston. In the early '90's the first Sunday service of each month is held in Galveston at the Moody Transitional Learning Community, with services on other Sundays continuing at the LaMarque building. There is no children's program.

April 18, 1993 The congregation votes to buy a former Church of Christ sanctuary on Avenue 0 in Galveston. Although the existing building fund is sufficient to purchase the building, a Genesis Fund is established to pay for renovations which could not be completed with UU sweat. A favorite inheritance from the Church of Christ is the very large baptistery behind the pulpit- a stained glass window to fit the opening between the pulpit and the bapistery is designed especially for our congregation. During the next year, membership continues to grow, even though we are unable to revive the religious education program.

June, 1994 We receive notice that the Galveston Independent School District plans to take our building under eminent domain. The congregation goes through all stages of grief: anger, denial, sadness, acceptance. A committee formed to find new property works hard, but in vain. With orders to vacate the property by October 31, 1994, and no satisfactory replacement in sight, we rent space in the Senior Citizen's Center on a weekly basis. We move furniture, books and other church property to a storage locker, and become a "church in a box."

Throughout Fall, 1994 and most of 1995 our Sunday services at the Senior Citizen's Center continue to attract new members. We arrange for Rev. Mike Thompson to speak one Sunday each month, and always have a covered-dish lunch following this service. We begin regular children's programs, but space limitations make this unsatisfactory.

October 5, 1995 we purchase our present property at 502 Church Street, and once again use a combination of paid contractors and UU sweat to renovate a building. We began regular meetings at this site on December 3, 1995 with a sermon from an old friend, Rev. Frank Schulman. Both general membership and participation in the religious education program continue to increase. We start a choir, host a community garden, and celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a barbecue in our yard.

June 2,1996 DEDICATION OF OUR NEW SANCTUARY

FALL, 1996: We finish to a year of organization in our new building. Mike Thompson continues speaking on a monthly basis, sometimes more, with excellent lectures the other Sundays, all organized by the Program Committee and under the superb direction of Ed Langlois. Mike has been speaking once a month since 1994, but now his Beaumont Texas Fellowship has called him full time. He gives his last scheduled presentation in May 1997. He agrees to come back as often as he can to be with us.

SPRING 1997: The Fellowship voted unanimously to pursue a part time minister with eventual full time employ

JUNE 1997: The swell of enthusiasm and the quality of new members indicates a bright future. There is a confidence in the Fellowship that we have great potential to flourish with creative thought and imagination by improving social issues and social justice in our community.

 

(The rest of this history, from June of 1997 until January of 2005 is currently being compiled from archive records.  Check back here soon to see the completed version of the history!)

Back to the top

502 Church St.   Galveston, TX 77550  Tel. (409) 765-8330

If you have comments about this website please click here to contact the webmaster.