A Brief History 

Part I. Monroe Husbands

From 1948-1973, Monroe Husbands, the “Johnny Appleseed of Unitarianism,” met with people who were interested in liberal religion and Unitarian Universalism in towns across the western US and Alaska. Over 700 UU Fellowships owe their existence to him. He helped these newly founded UU fellowships with modes of organization, new procedures and methods of service, and creative new worship programs.

Part II. Founding of UUFF

In 1956, Monroe Husbands placed an ad in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner saying “Are You A Unitarian Without Knowing It?” Art Bruhn, who is still a member of UUFF today, remembers seeing that ad. A small group began to meet in Fairbanks, and began registering official members with the first signing of the membership book taking place on April 29, 1956.

Part III. Early Years

Through the late 50s, 60s, and 70s, Fairbanks UUs met in a variety of places, including each others’ homes and in various rooms they could rent around town in such venues as the Masonic Temple and the Fairgrounds.  For a period of time, a liberal Army Chaplain from Fort Wainwright was engaged to provide Sunday services. The group remained fairly small, but steady, although there is some speculation of a temporary cessation of meetings during the Vietnam War.

In the early 80s, they met for three years in the chapel at Pioneer Park, and for the next three years at the Jack & Jill Preschool. Several current members were part of the Fellowship during those years.

Part IV. Log Cabin

In the late 80s, Fairbanks UUs began meeting at a log cabin on Noble Street, in downtown Fairbanks. It was owned by member Susan Johnson who generously made the building available without charge beyond property and utility costs. In 1988, the Fellowship purchased the building from Susan, and continued to meet there until 1995.

Part V. Move to Pikes Landing Road

By the mid-90s, the steadily growing Fellowship had again outgrown its location and members started looking for a new UUFF home. In 1995, they found the current location and purchased it, not only for the existing building, but also for the excellent location and the perks of the property, including the surrounding forest, the close proximity to the Chena River, and the potential for expansion whenever the need arose.

From 1995 until 2005, the Fellowship held Sunday services in the basement of the building. Upstairs were rooms for Religious Exploration (RE) and a kitchen for coffee hour.

Again, as the congregation grew, the need for expansion into a larger meeting space was evident. The congregation, with the help of a Chalice Lighters grant from the Pacific Northwest District of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) began the process of building its new sanctuary in 2004. With all but the finishing touches done, the congregation began holding services in the new sanctuary in September of 2005.

Part VI. Building a Sanctuary

Since September of 2005, membership at UUFF has continued to grow. On many Sunday mornings, the building is almost full and we wonder how on earth we could have stayed in the small basement any longer.

The new sanctuary provides a beautiful space for old-timers and newcomers alike to meet for Sunday services, committee meetings, celebrations, and observances of important events in our lives and in the life of the Fellowship. The space is occasionally rented out to others as needed for concerts, weddings, memorial services, etc. We currently rent part of our building out weekly to a local Buddhist group for their meetings. The Fairbanks Community Peace Choir rehearses each week in our sanctuary.

With the completion of our building, attention turned to landscaping the outdoor area, including the creation of a labyrinth, outdoor seating areas, plantings, and the children’s playground.

Part VII. 50 Years and Growing

In 2006, UUFF celebrated its 50th anniversary and also began holding Sunday services during the summer, so now our doors are open year ‘round on Sunday mornings. We are delighted to greet fellow UUs and other visitors to Alaska who happily find us open and welcoming to them during their stop in Fairbanks on their summer vacation.

In 2007, UUFF officially became a Welcoming Congregation (to GLBT members and visitors), having achieved all the steps required by the UUA to be granted this status.

Current membership is just under 100 members. We continue to grow, and with that growth, we learn more and more about what it means to be a liberal religious congregation, loving and supporting each other on our own spiritual journeys.

Part VIII. Today

We meet for Sunday services every Sunday morning from 10:30 until 11:45 with coffee hour afterwards. Children attend the first part of Sunday services, hear a Children’s Story, and then go to their Religious Exploration (RE) classes. Childcare is available during service for toddlers and preschoolers.

We are a democratic congregation, with decisions being made by board members, who are elected by congregational vote at our annual meeting in April or May. Our bylawsmission and articles of incorporation guide their decision-making. The most important issues are decided directly by members at the annual meeting or at special meetings, which can be called by the Board for that purpose. The majority of the fellowship’s budget is funded by annual pledges made by UUFF members. The balance of funds comes from weekly offerings (“the plate”), and from fundraisers including hosting Whale Coast visitors each summer.

Since 2010, we have had a part-time minister serving the congregation. Other services during the year are lay led and coordinated by a Program Committee that schedules speakers and plans other Sunday services. The UUFF Choir performs during services and leads the congregation in hymns. Talented musicians from within our congregation, as well as the larger community, often perform special music for our services. Many members of the UUFF choir also participate in the Fairbanks community Peace Choir, which performs and practices in our sanctuary.

We also have a variety of social and educational programs for adults that change from time to time. At least once each year, we offer Chalice Circles  where those who are interested in making deeper connections than are possible on Sunday mornings get together biweekly for small group discussions in each others homes. We have also offer book discussions, a supper club (in which members meet at a local restaurant once a month), and a social action group.

We have a Care Committee to help meet the needs of Fellowship members who are going through a rough time or who have experienced a life-changing event (a birth, a serious illness, a death) and need extra TLC.

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