The seed of the UU Fellowship of Galveston County was planted by the H. A. Orrell family of Galveston who placed the following ad in the Galveston Daily news on Sunday November 11, 1951:
What's your idea of religion? Unitarianism is a way of life; life of vigorous thought, constructive activity, of generous service -- not a religion of inherited creeds, dead heroes and saints or holy books. Unitarianism is not an easy religion. It demands that people think out their beliefs for themselves and then live up to those beliefs. The stress is placed upon living this life nobly and effectively rather than on the preparation for an afterlife existence. If you have 'given up religion' or despaired of finding a faith that makes sense in this modern world, hear Monroe Husbands.... at the YMCA.”
An accompanying article stated the "Unitarians believe that intelligent reasoning should be used in religion, submitting religious tenets to the same critical test that scientists use examining a theory."
On November 25, 1951, fourteen people gathered at the Orrell's home and organized the fellowship, which was recognized by the American Unitarian Association in January of 1952.
By May there were nineteen members who met in homes, the YWCA, and other public spaces. Membership grew over the years and there was an active children’s program. In 1958 members purchased a building in La Marque. Modifications to the building over time maintained its adequacy for the needs of the congregation. Visiting speakers provided Sunday services and the congregation hired teachers for children’s religious education.
In 1961, the fellowship became part of the merger of the Unitarian and Universalist churches and became the UU Fellowship of Galveston County. 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.
Throughout the 1980's, membership remained high, but the number of children in religious education declined. Changing demographics and the creation of more Unitarian Universalist groups in the area made a move back to Galveston island desirable. In 1993 the Fellowship purchased a former church on Avenue 0, and sold the LaMarque building. Fundraising and “sweat equity” completed renovations to the new building, including creation of the stained glass window that adorns the present sanctuary. Membership continued to grow although the children’s program did not.
In 1994 the Fellowship received notice that the Galveston Independent School District claimed the right of eminent domain and obtained the property to be used as a parking lot. A new home was not quickly available and meetings were moved to rented space in the Senior Citizen’s Center, with a rented a storage locker as the location of books and other property of the “church in a box”. Visiting speakers continued to provide services for the lay-led congregation and there was a small children’s program. In 1995 the congregation purchased the present property at 502 Church Street. Renovations created a building large enough to house a religious education area for the children, a library, a kitchen, and an office in addition to the sanctuary. Administrative assistance and children’s religious education were provided by part time employees. In 1997 the congregation elected to have a part-time minister, but later returned to being lay-led with a variety of visiting speakers.
Major renovations in 2003 provided a beautiful large new sanctuary and remodeled other space to provide rooms for religious education. Administrative tasks have been managed by a combination of volunteers and paid staff. Children’s religious education continues under a certified teacher. Our lay-led congregation continues to grow. Community outreach and social justice activities allow the community to become acquainted with UU principles and the value of a free and responsible search for truth and meaning.