Once upon a time--actually the time was May 1978--three hopeful Unitarian-Universalists decided to try starting a Fellowship. An ad in the paper collected about 15 people at the old Harvest House Senior Center in Temple, and it was decided to try meeting two Sundays a month, but where? Harvest House and the Cultural Activities Center both cost money--an item of which they were regrettably short. They tried meeting at different peoples' houses, but it was confusing to have to remember not only *when* church was, but *where.*
At last, in 1979, one lucky family bought a house with a large enough sunroom for meetings and a big enough bedroom for the Junior Fellowship and they settled for 14 years into the house on 3rd St. They held their first Flower Communion and their first memorial service. They had live music and started a tradition of having members speak one Sunday a month--in-house services--and guest speakers the other Sunday--referred to as out-house services. Because they had a program chair who was able to trade in on his very active political work in the 1960s, they heard people like Sarah Weddington, Ann Richards, and Molly Ivins speak.
But they were crowded, and when, in 1993, a brave president found a rather run-down dentist's office on 2nd St. for cheap rent, the great move was made. They replaced the broken bottles and trash in the planter with bushes that are still growing, laid tile and carpet, started lighting the chalice and even singing--a talented accompanist had turned up. They started their first social service project, cleaning up the highway 4 times a year--a project that continues to this day. They struggled with a leaky building, a makeshift kitchen so small that the donated refrigerator had to live in the hallway. And of course, with rent and utilities, they needed a budget--so they struggled with that too. And they were growing too big for the space.
In 1996, a committee was formed to look for a larger place to buy--they visited warehouses, run-down churches, and even houses with large rooms. At last a member offered his real estate office in Morgan's Point at a reasonable price and--with a generous loan from another member and a lot of traipsing from bank to bank filling out forms--in 1997, they became the proud owners of our present-day church building.
They pulled down walls, moved in a coffee counter, painted, laid tile in the kitchen, raised money to buy two more wooded lots--and built trails through them--and expanded their outreach to include ringing bells for the Salvation Army, helping with Habitat for Humanity, and redecorating a room for Families in Crisis. The younger members decorated their classrooms with handprints and spatters. They held services ranging from a memorial for 9/11 to a recognition of their animal friends (including horses, roosters, gerbils, goats, rabbits, dogs, and cats) and they thought they were settled.
But they were getting crowded again, and a new sanctuary became a persistent dream. Even when the architect's plans turned out to be three times the budget, they didn't give up. With a lot of help, they redesigned, and endured dust, bathroomless Sundays, chaos and confusion until they had a sanctuary complete with a stained glass window. They began to be joined by parents of young children and even started a choir.
Where the story will end, only time will tell, but it will depend on all who enter our doors...
Our stained glass chalice window, in our sanctuary.
The front entrance.