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Bill Brewer Community Gardens.
Experience lay led Worship Services by an experienced team of trained lay Worship Associates.
Outdoor amphitheatre in the Holton Eco-Preserve.
Remembering our loved ones in our Memorial Garden.

UUCFM History Timeline


Timeline for UUCFM Beginning 1961 Through 2016


 

1961, June 20. Founding date, Fellowship Charter granted from UUA. We were the first church to be chartered by the newly formed Unitarian Universalist Association.

1961. Rev. Helen Ulrich gave the first sermon. She fought to allow African-Americans to purchase tickets to the SW Florida Symphony.

1965. The UUCFM Library is established by Virginia Seaman. It is named for her with a plaque and photo hanging in the library.

1966, November 11. Rev. Alfred Hobart is installed as our first settled minister. Our Fellowship Hall is named in his honor. He was a strong activist, counseling women where to get a safe abortion when it was illegal to get information on it in Florida. He retired in 1974 due to ill health and died January 16, 1985.

1966. UUCFM purchased building at 2335 Clifford St., Fort Myers, for $30,000.

1966, June 18. Rev. and Mrs. Hobart move into the parsonage at 1435 Terra Palm Dr. which is purchased for $18,300.

1967. The first issue of the Communicator is published to keep the flow of information.

1967. Beginning the year of The Federation, a fund-raising core-arm of UUCFM. Men and Women members did caring efforts, memorial services, and domestic life of the church. Its organization contributed funds for the courtyard pond, kitchen equipment, and many other needs. It also made donations to non-profits in the area. It became inactive in 2005 and eventually The Women’s Circle and Men’s Group evolved.

1967. Meadville Lombard Seminary awards Rev. Hobart an honorary doctorate for his Civil Rights work at his former UU Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

1974-1979. Rev. Richard E. Brenner's tenure at UUCFM. His youthful family and presence helped our RE Program to flourish and added active membership from 86 to 168. He helped form the present day Naples UU Fellowship.

1976. Dinners Go Round was formed to provide small group fellowship. It has continued each year.

1980-1982. Rev. Maryell Cleary was the settled minister.

1984, June. Groundbreaking ceremony for a new addition to the Clifford St. Church.

1984-1994. Rev. William Burnside Miller's tenure as settled minister. He was responsible for the large growth in membership and the move to Shire Lane. He was active locally in social justice issues, civil rights, combatting AIDS and other causes. Our Sanctuary is named in his honor with his portrait and accompanying plaques with his words located in the Narthex.

1985, March 17. Dedication of the new Clifford Street Church addition.

1985. John and Jean Pittman begin the Annual Service Auction to raise funds for a new piano and organ. This auction has been ongoing as a major fund-raiser for UUCFM with proceeds of many thousands of dollars.

1986. This year begins our annual participation in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade through downtown Fort Myers. We have often been cited as the largest marching group.

1987. Ten acres are purchased for $180,000 to begin our present campus on Shire Lane. Rev. Miller spearheads the need to accommodate a new building program.

1989. The UUCFM Bed & Breakfast program is begun where members host people in their homes. It continues to be a significant source of revenue.

1991. UUCFM is the largest UU Congregation in Florida with 360 members.

1992. Construction begins on Hobart Hall, the RE wing and Courtyard. Richard and Helen Campen donate funds to develop the Courtyard. There is a large Chalice in the NW corner noting their commitment.

1992. The first Planned Parenthood Clinic is established in Lee County after a major two year effort led by UUCFM, primarily by Phyllis Brewer and others in the area.

1992, Nov. 8. The new piano and organ are inaugurated with a plaque for Jules Chapman's memory for the piano. A plaque also is made for John and Jean Pittman's fund-raising efforts for the organ.

1993. First Sunday service in Hobart Hall by Rev. Miller. Services were held here until the Miller Sanctuary was completed in 1997.

1994, May 14. Rev. Miller dies of a massive stroke at 46 years of age. A Live Oak is planted in his memory by his family in the west parking, which provides shade for the Minister's Office.

1994-1996. Rev. Joshiah Bartlett became a two year Interim Minister. He arrived at a critical time when we needed to heal the congregation, keep the respect of the religious community and continue the confidence necessary for the building program at Shire Lane. Rev. Bartlett filled all those expectations and more. He was retired from Dean of Religion at Starr King Berkley, CA and was founder of the UUA Interim Ministry. More than 80 members joined his first year and more his second year. There is a plaque on the Sanctuary pulpit in his honor.

1994, July 18. First official meeting of CUUPS with the inclusion of its By-laws. Covenant of UU Pagans at UUCFM continues to be one of the largest groups of its kind in the UUA.

1994, February 25. Establishment of the Annual George Gauch Recognition Award to honor individual who demonstrates prolonged, extraordinary service to UUCFM. George Gauch was an exemplary of this until his untimely death in 1993. The Recognition plaques hang in the Narthex.

1995. Posthumous Recognition of Rev. Miller for the Righteous Gentile Award by the Jewish Community of Fort Myers. Rev. Miller led support for anti-semiticism in the area.

1995. Many Interest Groups were formed to serve over 360 members: Singles Group for mutual support, Hidden Friends, and intergenerational group, Common Grounds, a Friday night entertainment group by church members, and Wholly Wednesday, a weekly potluck group with discussion topics.

1996. There is a successful completion of 3 separate Capital Campaigns totaling over 1.3 million dollars for construction of buildings. All campaigns were led by Bud and Carol Lewis.

1996. Rev. Wayne Robinson becomes our settled minister.

1997. Dedication of William Burnside Sanctuary.

1997. The Miller Sanctuary was gifted with a rear wall of crafted wood chalices by Mark Dehus and Mark Preston. Mark Dehus also designed and donated the large wooden chalice for the center front area. It was seen by a UUA President who requested a replica to be hung in Boston's UUA Headquarters. Allan Richardson donated and designed two podiums and the Chalice Lighting Stand to complete the needs for our beautiful services.
1997. Paul E. Holton donates adjacent land of 2.5 acres which becomes the Holton Eco-Preserve.

1998-2008. The ongoing clearing of the North Woods and Holton land from invasive, non-native plants and trees making it more true to our Green Sanctuary designation. The effort has been led over the years by Charles Myers, Hartley Martin and Melissa Bell.

1998. Began Social Justice Project to work with local migrant farm workers and their families. It continues as an ongoing project.

1998. The Humanist Forum is begun by Ruth Ravitz and Charlene Bennet. It also continues as an ongoing Sunday morning feature of UUCFM.

1998. UUCFM wins a major lawsuit, as part of a Lee County coalition, Citizens For Quality Education. The Lee County School Board lost its case to introduce an unconstitutional Christian Bible class into the curriculum. One of the plaintiffs was our RE Director, Mark Ehman. The UUA gave UUCFM a $12,000 grant to help elect liberal school board members. The election was successful and we returned the unused portion of the grant to the UUA. This was said to be unprecedented!

1999. The Open Air Amphitheater is constructed at the entrance to the Holton Eco-Preserve. It was funded by Joann Orr and implemented by David Parton. It has been refurbished in 2016. There are plans to add a Fairy Grotto among the cluster of Live Oaks at the site.

2000. Rev. Wayne Robinson resigns.

2001. A significant number of members leave UUCFM at the recruitment of Rev. Wayne Robinson. Many others leave because of this loss of member stress on the congregation. Rev. Robinson's followers eventually became the All Faiths Congregation at 2756 McGregor Blvd, Fort Myers.

2002. The Sculpture Garden on the east side of the Miller Sanctuary is established with the gift of four large sculptures from Peggy Fuller.

2003-2006. Rev. Ken Hurto is the settled minister.

2003. Dedication of the Storage Building in Holton Preserve. It houses necessary equipment and a woodworking shop.

2005. UUCFM becomes a Welcoming Congregation.

2006, March. Carillon Bells are installed to chime the hour and half hour and provide music. It is a gift from Frances and Bill Klein.

2006, June. UUCFM received a Green Sanctuary status at the UUA General Assembly in Portland, Oregon. David Parton was mainly responsible for receiving this designation which included the planting of more than 220 trees and shrubs to enhance the native habitat of our entire UUCFM campus.

2006. The GRACE Project (Guatemalan Rural Adult and Children's Education) was established by Genelle Grant for Social Justice's commitment to prevent human trafficking in Guatemala and here in SW Florida. UUCFM members teach classes in Spanish-speaking neighborhoods on reproductive rights, domestic violence, family planning, and reading in the family.

2007, February. Three Royal Palms are planted in Holton Eco-Preserve near the NW corner of the Storage Building. Two palms were given in memory of Paul Holton by his family and one palm was in his honor from the Humanist Forum.

2007, May 25. Dedication of the International Peace Pole located in the Courtyard by the pond. It reads "May Peace Prevail on Earth" in different languages. It was given in memory of former past UUCFM President Ed Porteus by Phyllis and Bill Brewer.

2008. Rev. Allison Farnum became the settled minister.

2011, June 20. Our 50th year celebration. Lee County declares UUCFM Day in recognition of our services to the area over the past fifty years.

2011. A Time Capsule is buried in the Courtyard by the Campen Chalice. A plaque is attached to the chalice about it. The first Time Capsule of UUCFM that was planted at our groundbreaking ceremony has been lost in location!

2011. UUCFM joins with LIFE (Lee Interfaith For Empowerment), a consortium of local churches to work for a local social justice goal. Rev. Allison Farnum is Co-President 2013-2015.

2012. 15+ Advisory Council is begun for UUCFM members who have been present for at least 15 years. It meets periodically and was formed by Phyllis Brewer and Ellen Erickson.

2013. A video screen is installed in the front of Miller Sanctuary to aid in Sunday services.

2013. CUUPS establishes a rock medicine wheel with 36 rocks reflecting the cosmology of the earth. In the center of the wheel design are stones with names of UUCFM women of CUUPS who have been important to the group. A guardian angel statue is nearby.

2014. New roofs are installed for all buildings after a successful Capital Campaign.

2014. Boy and Girl Scout Troops are sponsored at UUCFM. They assist with maintaining the grounds.

2014. Frank Schooley donated the "Shelter For A Day" building. Frank designed, patented and manufactured it from recycled wood fiber. Built for temporary emergency housing and disaster relief, it is long-lasting, strong, can be shipped flat on a pallet, and easily built without power tools. UUCFM uses it for storage next to the Hobart Hall Screen Room.

2014, December. Complete remodel of Classroom 4 as an Eagle Scout Project by Ian Sexton.

2015, January 11. Celebrated Florida's new Marriage Equality Act by offering an afternoon of free marriages to SW Florida Couples. Rev. Allison Farnum performed many marriages with receptions afterwards in Hobart Hall.

2015, April. Installation of a Cell Tower on the NW corner of the property. Andy Erickson negotiated long-term income arrangements for our Capital Reserve Fund.

2015. A five year plan for Self-Sustaining Wildlife Sanctuary is developed by Walter Ittenbach. The Plan will be funded from the UUCFM Endowment Fund.

2015. Refurbished and upgraded kitchen with energy efficient refrigerator and stove. A new commercial ice maker was also added.

2015. Voted to establish a new Mission Statement for UUCFM. "Inspired by Love, we transform ourselves and serve others."

2015, September 12. Dedication of the Bill Brewer Family Gardens in the Holton Eco-Preserve. This project was developed by many working hands and primarily led by Bill Petrarca and Walter and Simone Ittenbach. Open to public use, there are 68 beds designed to represent a medicine wheel with the four corners landscaped to represent Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. An eagle Scout project assisted in the construction of anchoring materials for the four corners. Initially funded from a grant from the UUCFM Endowment, the Gardens are planned to be self-sustaining.

2016. Remodel of Meeting Rooms 6 & 7 with Frank Schooley's donation and installation of cabinetry.

2016. Installation of second video screen on the rear wall of Miller Sanctuary.

2016. A Tree House was designed and built as an Eagle Scout Project by Andrew Martin. It is located behind Hobart Hall.

2016. A large Fire Pit was designed and built as an Eagle Scout Project by Andrew Boyd. It is located in Holton Eco-Preserve just before the entrance to the Family Gardens. It is in a North Star pattern with an eight point star of multi-colored stones.

2016. The Nature Trail in our "North Woods" has been worked over the years. Now it has been newly cleared and a Trail Head sign makes it easy to find -- to the east, right of the Tree House. Boy Scouts worked on this under the leadership of Spencer Ford, who made it his Eagle Scout Project to make the looping path to the wetland cypress trees and to the hardwood stand. It will eventually hook up with the Family Gardens.

2016, Nov. 23. The First Interfaith LIFE Thanksgiving Eve Service was begun. We joined other church members at Temple Judea for the Service.

 

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Testimonials From Members - Why I Became A Unitarian Universalist

Joan Hickok
"A liberal religion compatible with my secular Jewish background is important to me."

Testimonials From Members - Why I Became A Unitarian Universalist

Antoinette Brown Blackwell (1825-1921), Unitarian minister.
“Throughout my life, I have addressed issues such as slavery abolition, temperance, and women's rights. In 1902, I helped found the Unitarian Society of Elizabeth, NJ, and served as its minister. In 1920, at age 95, I was the only participant from the 1850 Women's Rights Convention, in Worcester, MA, to see the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, giving women the right to vote.”