Founding to 2007
Following World War II, the leaders of the American Unitarian Association realized that their small denomination was concentrated in large urban centers or regions, particularly in the Northeast, and set about to widen the Unitarian presence with emphasis on the West. The very first of these small groups, called Fellowships, came into being in Boulder, Colorado, and was followed by hundreds more throughout the United States and Canada. The Boulder Fellowship thrived, built its own building, and became the Unitarian Church of Boulder.
In 1977, a number of members felt that the Unitarian Church of Boulder did not meet their spiritual needs and began to gather within each other’s homes to hold religious services. During this period, retired UU minister Rev. Rudolph Gilbert “retired” to Boulder after a long and distinguished career. Encouraged by his presence – and inspired by his sermons – the group decided to officially form “Boulder Unitarian Fellowship.” These new congregants met at the Niwot farm of Earlene Busch and held their first service on Easter Sunday, April 15, 1979. Forty-two people signed the brand new membership book.
In 1980, the congregation determined that it required a more “formal” ministry. Rev. Gilbert, who best exemplified a the desired qualities needed, stepped out of retirement to lead the Fellowship. After failing health forced him to retire at the end of the 1982/83 calendar year, Board President Susan Lemp arranged for services and maintained continuity for the congregation.
In 1983, the Fellowship’s Board of Trustees set up a long-range planning committee to find a part-time minister. A second search committee presented Nan Hobart to the congregation October 21, 1984. In the meantime, the Fellowship continued its slow but steady growth as the new minister took over.
The congregation ordained Rev. Hobart on May 14, 1989. During her tenure, she established a religious education program, an Endowment Fund, and the Fellowship outgrew two temporary locations before renting the Masonic Hall in Boulder in March 1990.
The Rev. Catharine Harris was called as part-time minister in September 1993, moving to full-time in May 1994. Rev. Harris graduated in 1985 from Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, California.
At the time Rev. Harris heeded the call to minister to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Boulder, 86 members and 15 children attended on a regular basis. One of Rev. Harris’s priorities focused on creating a caring community through religious education programs and hiring a part-time office manager and singers director.
We continued to add more programs as our congregation grew: the annual auction, adult religious education programs, Fellowship Singers, and more began to shape our congregation. In 2001, the congregation chose their vision: bringing love and reason to life.
After renting space in Boulder for many years,the Fellowship attained its long-term goal to purchase our current spiritual home in Lafayette in 2004. Rev. Bill Sinkford, UUA President, preached at the Dedication service March 6 of that year. In Fall 2005, we began to hold two services per Sunday.
Rev. Catharine Harris retired July 1, 2006. Before that, the congregation voted to make her minister emerita, an honor granted to UU ministers for long and meritorious service to a congregation. Arthur G. Severance acted as interim minister for the 2006-07 calendar year before Rev. Lydia Ferrante-Roseberry became minister effective August 1, 2007.