Early History of the UUFCC
The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Centre County has its roots in a Unitarian student society at Pennsylvania State University, and was founded as a Fellowship in 1950. In the early years of our Fellowship, services were held in the homes of members. Besides providing range of Sunday topics, the congregation organized activities that we still have today – children’s Sunday School (RE), book discussion groups, choir, and a coffee hour following service (a perpetual favorite).
In 1960, after a successful capital campaign, the Unitarian Chapel on Glenn Road in West College Heights was built and dedicated. Six year later, RE classes were first held in the newly constructed Religious Education Building two doors down from the Chapel. In 1970, after working with a lay minister, the congregation decided to shift toward ministerial leadership, and Rev. Richard Weston was called as our first settled minister in 1971. During his tenure, both local and international community activity flourished at UUFCC: The first daycare center in State College was organized by members and held in the RE Building, “Extended Families” were developed to promote community, and the congregation sponsored a project to aid Vietnamese refugees settling in the State College area. It was also during this time that the first Sunday Service “sharings” of personal beliefs and experiences became a frequent and well-loved part of the schedule.
Recent History – Accomplishments and Milestones
In the last 25 years, UUFCC has grown by leaps and bounds. Here are the highlights:
- By the 1990’s, we had outgrown our space. Members formed a building committee, held a successful capital campaign, purchased land, sold the Religious Education Building to the Korean Church of State College, and constructed our current building.
- Recognizing our commitment to music as a vital part of our spiritual lives, we hired a part-time Music Director.
- We became certified as a Welcoming Congregation.
- In 2000, we called Rev. Mark Hayes as our sixth settled minister, ushering in the 21st century and 15 years of successful ministry and congregational development.
- Recognizing the importance of religious education, we expanded the Director position to full-time, and expanded the job to encompass lifespan learning.
- In 2005, UUFCC developed a system of Hospitality Teams. These groups of members serve as greeters, ushers, coffee makers, and cleanup crews on Sunday mornings, creating an efficient and effective way to take care of all the volunteer aspects of morning service. Hospitality Teams also provide another opportunity for our members and friends to strengthen their sense of community within small groups.
- We established First Sunday Plate Collections. On the first Sunday of each month, the Sunday offering is earmarked for a predetermined local, national or international nonprofit organization.
- In 2009, the Social Action Committee organized the first social justice trip to Puerto Rico. Social justice trips now take place on a yearly basis, and a group will be traveling to Panajachel, Guatemala in March.
- Recognizing the need to expand our building to meet our program needs, we held a successful capital campaign that raised over $1,215,6000 in pledges. In 2013, we dedicated our beautiful 6,500 square foot building addition.
- To provide a more welcoming and attentive environment for newcomers, and to help members stay connected and involved, we created the position of Membership Coordinator, filled by Olivia Harper in 2016.
- Our goal of becoming a certified Green Sanctuary Congregation was met in 2018, following stringent guidelines from the UUA.
- In 2018, Ashley Hamlin joined us as our current Director of Lifespan Religious Education.
Our most recent settled minister, Rev. Mark Hayes retired with Emeritus status in 2015. His successful ministry over 15 years of growth and development bracket our recent history. Upon his retirement, we hired Interim Minister Rev. Gabi Parks to lead us through our transition. And in 2017, we will welcomed our settled minister, Rev. Carol Thomas Cissel.