A Brief History of our Fellowship:
After meeting for a few years in people’s homes, a group of University of Colorado students and community members decided in 1948 to affiliate with the American Unitarian Association. They proudly received the first fellowship charter in the country as the Unitarian Fellowship of Boulder. Ten years afterwards, the Fellowship renamed itself the Unitarian Church of Boulder. A new church building broke ground in June, 1963, at 5001 Pennsylvania Avenue, and many of the members invested much time and effort toward the building project. Several years later, the congregation voted to rename itself the Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder.
In the late 70s, there was a conflict over sexual misconduct by the minister, and when it could not be resolved, 42 members left to form a new congregation. In April, 1979, they signed the membership book to begin the Boulder Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. The Rev. Rudy Gilbert served as guide and ministerial leader as the new Fellowship was established.
Nan Hobart served as part-time minister from 1984 until 1991, becoming Rev. Hobart when she was ordained by the congregation in 1989. As membership grew, a religious education program for children was started, the Gilbert Fund was established to support local social services programs, and the congregation supported and sheltered an El Salvadoran family.
The Fellowship called the Rev. Catharine Harris as a part-time minister in September 1993, and two years later she became the full-time minister. At that time, BUUF had 86 members and 15 children. During her tenure, several programs were developed by the congregation: the annual auction, the choir, covenant groups, and more. The Fellowship became an official Welcoming Congregation to the LGBTQ community, and an Endowment Fund was established. A Director of Religious Education was hired as well as an Office Manager. The congregation chose as its vision, “Bringing Love and Reason to Life.”
The Fellowship met in several rental spaces, finally settling into the Masonic Lodge in Boulder. The congregation purchased and moved into its current home on Ceres Drive in Lafayette in 2004. After Rev. Harris retired two years later, the congregation honored her ministry by giving her the title, Minister Emerita.
In the spring of 2007, members changed the name to the Boulder Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship to reflect the new location in East Boulder County. A few months later, the congregation called the Rev. Lydia Ferrante-Roseberry as settled minister.
Reverend Lydia’s dynamic leadership, as well as strong involvement of committed members and several talented intern ministers, led to steady growth, many internal activities, and involvement in and service to the community. The congregation expanded its vision statement to “Bringing Love and Reason to Life; Building a Just and Compassionate World.”
Katie Covey, Director of Religious Education, retired in May 2016, after fifteen years. Children and youth programs had grown as she led the transformation of the religious education program into the cutting-edge “School of the Spirit,” featuring holistic multigenerational programming.
Also in 2016, the congregation clarified and embraced its strategic direction as one of “Inner Depth and Outer Focus,” and set a goal to create a center for spiritual exploration and justice making. “Inner Depth” refers to the spiritual growth of members and friends through thoughtful Sunday services, our adult covenant groups, and other multi-generational religious education opportunities. At this time, and toward this goal, we expanded our inspiring music program by hiring Music Director Tad Koriath, at first part-time, and eventually grew that into a full-time position.
“Outer Focus” is exemplified by our work with community partners: the Boulder Valley Community Action Network (BVCAN), Together CO, and immigration and racial justice organizations. For example, we held a White Supremacy Teach-In, displayed a “Black Lives Matter” banner on the building, and now continue to support the Mountain Top, a UU BIPOC community on the Front Range. Members demonstrate for LGBTQ+ rights, serve meals at a homeless shelter and a safe lot, walk to fight hunger, support the I Have a Dream Foundation, and give half the Sunday offering away to community organizations that share our values. Together with UUCB, our congregation formed the Longmont UU Presence (LUUP), an innovative, multicultural, and multigenerational spiritual community.
By 2018, our congregation had grown to 289 members, and 123 children and youth, so we were bursting at the seams in our current building. A Building Committee determined that expanding and extensively remodeling the current building in Lafayette would be our best option. An anonymous donation of $1,000,000 kick-started the capital campaign, which eventually raised over $4,000,000. Ground was broken in February of 2019, and our congregation moved our services to a neighboring Methodist church. Committees met in coffee shops and online, while construction continued for over a year. Jessica Laikeman was hired as Director of Lifespan Faith Formation in the midst of this upheaval.
Just as we were about to take occupancy of our long-awaited new space in Spring of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced a lockdown and prevented us from doing so. Services and other gatherings were held virtually over Zoom, and we set our singular goal to stay connected and keep our members safe during this historic event. All of these activities would not have operated as smoothly without our office staff, led by Carol Pranschke, Office Manager.
In November of 2021, we finally began holding in-person Sunday services in our new sanctuary and moving into the rest of the space as much as public health guidelines allowed. Today, staff, members, and friends are using and enjoying this beautiful new building, which we hope will be a resource for our congregation and the larger community for years to come.
This 17 minute video was produced by Scott McCollom and Dianne Ladd for our 35th Anniversary celebration and includes footage of interviews with founders and other significant people in our congregational life.