Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Stanislaus County
History, 1989 - 1992: Change Again
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A liberal religious voice in the Central Valley since 1953.
After long hours of thoughtful consideration, the Ministerial Search Committee, with Marcia Gilbert as chair, proposed the congregation call Rev. Jody Shipley to be our full time minister. Jody accepted. In 1989 we welcomed her and her partner, Marilyn Gentile, into our Fellowship. Hiring Reverend Shipley caused some controversy, since she was a lesbian and we were a predominately heterosexual congregation in a small town in a conservative part of the state. We lost a few members over the issue, just like we did over the almond orchard purchase. However, the overwhelming majority of our congregation welcomed Jody and Marilyn, and we gained some new members.
Jody and Marilyn have both have been active UU's for most of their adult years. From 1970-75, Jody had been the only staff person coordinating and providing denominational programs for the 37 churches and fellowships in the PCD, the Northern California UU District. After graduating from the Starr King School for the Ministry in 1978, she became the minister at Midland, Michigan until 1982.
She returned to Berkeley and helped found the Society for the Larger Ministry (SLM). As a result of that work, the UUA by-laws were changed to recognize the over 200 community ministers who serve as chaplains, teachers, pastoral counselors, social justice workers and in many other forms of UU ministry outside the church.
From 1984-90 she acted as Chaplain to the Stebbins Community and continues to serve on that staff. Jody was one of the first co-chairs of the Women and Religion Task Force in 1978 and now is on the Steering Committee for the newly founded UU Women's Caucus.
She and Marilyn have, from previous marriages, seven grown children, eight grandchildren and now in recent years two great-grandchildren.
Marilyn has served as the chair of the UUA Women and Religion Committee for the last five years. She continues to maintain her psychotherapy practice in Berkeley and Modesto.
Rev. Shipley's installation took place April 27, 28, and 29, 1990, with Jack Mendelssohn set to speak. He lost his voice, the first time ever in his career. Regardless, the program carried on in good humor with the theme "Golden Hope and Dreams", involving many in the Fellowship and attended by family and friends from all over. Jody and Marilyn gave the birdbath on the patio as their installation gift.
Rev. Shipley is especially interested in helping welcome the new families who come to our Fellowship, supporting a cooperative lay/clergy ministry and in developing a strong educational Life Span program for all our members. With her encouragement, the Fellowship is beginning to look ahead and face the issues of growth with long term planning.
She has recommended we attend at Growth workshops, and suggested we hire both a part time R.E. Director and a Secretary / Administrator. She has held poetry workshops, sermon suppers and ordinations for new members. She also attended PCD and GA meetings, and reinstated the circular seating for Sunday talkbacks. She continues our "communion coffee".
Marilyn volunteered to spend a year helping us set up an office and guiding us into a professional direction.
In 1992 year Kathy Moncrief became our first paid Secretary/Administrator.
The backbone of this Fellowship, the program committee, continued to provide many quality programs each year. Since we adjourn for the summer, some of the members carried on with the tradition of visiting other religious groups in the community.
In 1991 Pat Norman supervised a crew that modified and redecorated the Solar room. We mounted a plaque and held a ceremony officially naming it the Johnson Room, in memory of Fred Johnson. We upgraded the rest rooms and made one handicapped accessible. We repaired the arbor. All this was accomplished with money from the Johnson Memorial Fund. In the Fellowship building, Gordon Durham donated an Organ, and we installed hard of hearing equipment.
Debbie Swearingen held the first sleep over, formed an over-8 travel group and purchased new curriculum, with 10-13 children in attendance. Jody held a Religious Education teacher's training workshop and made it apparent that Religious Education was a top priority by committing many of her free Sundays to be with the children.
In September 1992, Sharon Arpoika, a long time Religious Education volunteer, became the paid part time Religious Education Director.
Jody implemented many adult Religious Education programs; Cakes for the Queen of Heaven (with Marilyn's help), a seven-week course on "Discovering Your Own Theology" and a Renaissance module on UU Identity. Kathy Moncrief was heard saying we have a "Womb to Tomb" Religious Education program. Jill Souza established a Memorial fund for her parents, Bill and Kathleen Souza, reserved for Religious Education use only.
The congregation supported Interfaith Ministries, Children's Crisis Center, Peace Life Center, earthquake relief for needy UU churches in the Bay area and granted Red Cross use of the fellowship facilities in event of a disaster. We made a special Sunday contribution to aid the victims of the L.A. riots. Sylvia Daniel attended a workshop in Washington, DC on Social Justice. The Social Action Committee established a congressional letter writing table at the Fellowship and hosted a dinner recognizing the individual contributions many members make to the community.
We continued to have potlucks and swim parties. We added an opera night with Spence Spencer and a movie night with Fred Herman. We held an Octogenarian Birthday Party in October 1991. It honored Mary Johnson, Willodean Binna, Lee Binna, Dorothy Walser and Bill Sousa. The old favorites continued; stone soup lunch on the day of the walnut harvest, Thanksgiving dinner, tree trimming, caroling, Christmas Eve and the 12th night party.
Larry Moncrief formed a ways and means committee to coordinate and finance future events. Fund raising carried on; we sold UU sweatshirts, cards, books and calendars. Marsha Gilbert organized an entertaining production of "Driving Miss Daisy" by the Modesto Community Theater with refreshments sold during intermission and the youth group provided after sermon luncheons.
2172 Kiernan Avenue
Modesto, California See a map
We have no mail service on Kiernan;
PO Box 1000
Salida, CA 95368
We are a liberal church and the only UU congregation in Stanislaus county. We serve Ceres, Denair, Escalon, Hickman, Hughson, Keyes, Manteca, Modesto, Oakdale, Patterson, Ripon, Riverbank, Salida, Turlock and Waterford. We welcome Agnostics, Atheists, Buddhists, Christians, Deists, Free-thinkers, Humanists, Jews, Pagans, Theists, Wiccans, and those who seek their own spiritual path. We welcome people without regard to race, physical ability, ethnicity or sexual orientation.