Our Fellowship will celebrate its 60thAnniversary in 2019.
The very first meeting we ever held was on May 17, 1959. Several weeks later, on June 7, 1959, the “Unitarian Fellowship of Redwood City” was formally established. Bylaws were written, discussed, and adopted, and 42 individuals signed the Membership Book. Surviving the ups and downs, challenges and changes of sixty years is really something to celebrate!
To help us do this, long time member John Cooney is creating a UUFRC History Book. You may have heard about the Monday night “Army of Readers” events in which people from the Fellowship donated hours of time reading through our 60 years of newsletters to capture highlights of our history.
I agreed to read through the first seven years of newsletters. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but became enthralled following the stories of this absolutely committed and dedicated group of people who gave their all in developing this Fellowship from the ground up.
Not usually one to be a history buff, I reveled in reading that our first Sunday school program started in Sept 1959 with eight classes, and that within one year our Church School had 88 students officially signed up but over 100 actually attending. Our first Social Action project in the community started the same fall with adults being “Hospital Moms and Dads” to sick children at Sequoia Hospital.
The details of our first Pledge Drive included a projected budget of $3,455! I smiled to learn that our beloved Social Hour tradition of coffee started in January 1960 with coffee served once per month.
We had no home to call our own in those days, and met at the YMCA and then the Seventh Day Adventist church in RWC, followed by the Peninsula School in Menlo Park (until the Fire Department condemned the building!) and then the Menlo Park Civic Center. The stories go on…
What I really want to bring forward from reading the beginnings of our history is this: We had many serious challenges in our first years (financial, finding meeting places, growing membership for survival and more) and we met every single one of them. We kept working and searching, talking, and exploring, until we found our way forward.
And more than this: the challenges weren’t the focus. The focus was on creating a liberal religious community in an area they felt lacked this option. They knew our Unitarian values were something needed in the world and they wanted to offer this possibility to others who had similar values. People who “might be Unitarians and not even know it.” Their belief in what Unitarianism offered was their focus, and translated into energy, enthusiasm and great senses of humor in doing all the work that constituted creating our Fellowship.
As we continue on in Interim Ministry with Rev. Gretchen, knowing we have much work ahead of us in growing into the best that we can be, and in searching for a new minister, I am going to work on a different focus, and invite you to join me.
I am going to focus on the lessons of our history: that hardships and challenges have never stopped us before. They’re not even the main event. The main event is my belief – I hope our belief – that what we have here at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Redwood City is important enough to share with this community and beyond, and that if we continue to keep talking and working with one another, with energy, enthusiasm, and senses of humor, we will find our way forward. Hopefully for at least another 60 years and beyond.
With gratitude for each of you,