Enjoy this 20 minute video slideshow that highlights the ways we have grown and changed over our 40 year history.
In 1948, a group of University of Colorado students and community members was encouraged and guided by Rev. Rudy Gilbert, minister of First Unitarian Society of Denver, to affiliate with the American Unitarian Association as the Unitarian Fellowship of Boulder. The Fellowship became the Unitarian church of Boulder in 1958. Some former and current Fellowship members were part of this congregation, which later became the Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder. They built the Church at 5001 Pennsylvania Avenue.
In 1977, some members of UUCB felt that their spiritual needs were not being met. Over several years, they decided to form a new Fellowship. On April 15 (Easter Sunday), 1979, 42 members signed the membership book to begin the Boulder Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. In 1980, Rev. Gilbert came out of retirement to lead the congregation, which he did until 1982.
1984-2007: Growth and Settling
From 1984 to 1991, Nan Hobart served as part-time minister. The congregation ordained her as Reverend on May 14, 1989. The congregation voted to establish an religious education program for children. They established the Gilbert Fund to support community social service agencies and created a Mitten Tree to support EFFA. They offered shelter to an El Salvadorian family.
The Fellowship called Rev. Catharine Harris as a part-time minister in September 1993, and two years later, she became our full-time minister. At that time, BUUF had 86 members and 15 children. During her tenure, the congregation decided to have a service every Sunday with forums following the service twice a month. Rev. Catharine added the singing bowl, meditation, a children’s time, and Community Candles (Joys and Sorrows) to the services. Several programs were developed: the auction, congregational singing, Fellowship Singers, and Covenant Groups. Under the leadership of intern Jude LaFollette, the congregation became a Welcoming Congregation. Max Grigg was hired as our first Director of Religious Education, followed by Katie Covey. Carol Presley was hired as our first Office Manager. An Endowment Fund was established. The congregation chose as our vision, “Bringing love and reason to life.”
We met in a series of rental spaces, eventually settling into the Masonic Lodge in Boulder. The Fellowship moved into its current home on Ceres Drive in Lafayette in 2004. After Rev. Harris retired in 2006, the congregation voted to honor her ministry by giving her the title, Minister Emerita.
In the spring of 2007, we took the new name of the Boulder Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. The Fellowship called Rev. Lydia Ferrante-Roseberry as permanent minister in August of 2007.
In the following years Reverend Lydia’s dynamic leadership, as well as the strong involvement of a legion of committed members and a string of talented intern ministers, led to steady growth and a plethora of both internal activities and involvement in and service to the community. The congregation voted to expand our vision statement to “Bringing Love and Reason to Life; Building a Just and Compassionate World.”
Although we said a sad goodbye to Katie Covey, our beloved long-time Director of Religious Education, when she retired in May of 2016, we were proud of how the program had changed and flourished under her guidance. During her 15 years with us, our children and youth programs grew and she spearheaded the transformation of our religious education program from an outdated model into the cutting-edge model, “School of the Spirit,” featuring holistic programming for people of all ages.
In 2016, the congregation clarified and embraced our strategic direction as one of “Inner Depth and Outer Focus,” and set a goal to create here a center for spiritual exploration and justice making.
2016: Inner Depth and Outer Focus
“Inner Depth” has been reflected in our solid attention to the spiritual needs and aspirations of all members and friends through the steady involvement of members’ collaboration with Reverend Lydia in presenting thoughtful Sunday services, along with a variety of opportunities for reflection and support of members. We are enriched by a wonderful music program featuring the Fellowship Singers, One Voice acapella ensemble, and many guests musicians. Covenant Groups commit to shared, deeply thoughtful gatherings centered around a specific theme. The multi-generational School of the Spirit introduces and supports our values throughout the lifespan.
In terms of “Outer Focus,” we have been drawn during the last decade to three specific activities areas, while also contributing funds and volunteer energy to a wide variety of causes. In collaboration with Together Colorado, Boulder Valley Community Action Network (BVCAN) helps local families and children access public health insurance and advocates for better mental health treatment and access. The Immigration Justice Taskforce educates our congregation about immigration issues and coordinates activities promoting equality and fairness for immigrants in our community. Our Racial Justice CommuniTeam hosts book discussions and film presentations, supported the White Supremacy Teach-In, and spearheaded the placement of a “Black Lives Matter” banner on the outside of our building.
In addition to these primary commitments, we promote our UU principles in other ways. We “stand on the side of love,” speaking out for the rights of LGBTQ+ people to live and love as we choose. We made a ten year commitment to support a Dreamer in the Phoenix class of the I Have a Dream program. We serve meals at the homeless shelter, walk to fight hunger, and support families in crisis through the Emergency Family Assistance Association (EFAA). Each week, we give half of our plate away to community organizations that are in line with our values.
2017: Celebration and Expansion
2017 was a banner year for us. We celebrated 10 years with Rev. Lydia and we leaped to a new level by bringing on board Rev. Ruth Rinehart as Assistant Minister. She had previously interned with us as she completed her studies at Iliff School of Theology.
Our growth continued, and we were busting at the seams, in the School of the Spirit wing and in the sanctuary with more congregants, coinciding with the election of President Trump. A Building Committee was established to examine possibilities for accommodating the growth, and it was determined that expansion and extensive remodeling of our current building in Lafayette would be our path for the next few years.
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.