Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Stanislaus County
History, 1993 - 2000: The Challenging Years
Rev. Joe Cherry
Adult Classes and Groups
Faith in Action
FAQ for Visitors
History of UUFSC
Rev. Joe Cherry
Rev. Grace Simons
Tours of our:
Why I Joined
Comments, questions or problems? E-mail our Web Wizard:
A liberal religious voice in the Central Valley since 1953.
The years from 1993 to 2000 were challenging, productive and innovative. There was high participation by members. Committees grew and, in general, worked effectively. Member pledges increased. Sunday morning services averaged from 65 to 70, but lessened in 1998 and into 2000.
Although we had a steady flow of new members, we also had members who moved away, or moved on, so our membership numbers stayed about the same.
The demographics of the congregation began to change with a strong emphasis on Religious Education. A part time Director of Religious Education, a hard-working committee, and dedicated teachers, plus effective programs proved to be very successful. This effort brought in a number of new families with young children, increasing the need for more Religious Education space, which was already limited. These families became active, contributing members of the Fellowship.
We hired a Secretary/Administrator in 1993; she started out at 5 hours a week. In 2000 we increased the position to 18 hours weekly. We also put a part-time Director of Religious Education in our budget in 1993, although we didn't fill the position immediately.
Marcia (Nogee) Olsen served as our first Intern Minister from 1995 to 1997. In 1999 we selected Rev. Leslie Heyboer to be the Fellowship's first full time Interim Minister. She served a two- year term, which gave us time to select a new minister to begin the fall of 2001.
On May 23, 1993, the Fellowship celebrated its 40th anniversary and 29 years at the Kiernan Road address.
From 1993 through 2000, the Fellowship lost two charter members, Lois Le Baron and Hazel Hall. We lost a number of long-time active members: Roy Hall, Fred Johnson, Bill and Kathleen Sousa, John Potter, Charles Spencer, Thelma Zingel, Lee and Willodean Binna, Jerry Pickford. Sadly, we lost two young girls, Kendall Sparkman and Martha Johnston.
We held our second octogenarian Party, celebrating members age 80 or over, in 1991. We honored Mary Johnson, Willodean and Lee Binna, Bill Sousa and Dorothy Walser. We honored Howard Ten Brink at a Fellowship party on his 80th birthday in 1994. During these years three long time members left generous bequests to the Fellowship: Don Cantwell, Charles (Spence) Spencer and Thelma Zingel. Rev. Shipley gave a sermon twice a month, while the Worship Committee arranged for two services. We continued to hold the traditional conversation circle ("Talkback") after the service.
Rev. Shipley introduced a number of innovational services and group participation programs. For several months in 1993, she held weekly Vesper Services. In 1995, a number of monthly Sunday morning forums were held in the sanctuary before the Worship Service. She also arranged occasional Sermon Suppers, with a chosen theme to be developed from member ideas and delivered on Sunday mornings. In 1996, we held Adult Religious Education classes before the church service. Weekly Breakfasts with Jody began in 1998. In 1994, in preparation for her sabbatical, Rev. Shipley organized a Sermon Seminar to encourage lay members to develop sermons to be delivered on Sunday mornings. This seminar proved so effective it continued for the next five years. During her ten years with us she set out to create a lay/clergy ministry. In 1999, Rev. Shipley resigned to work with and develop a program for UU Community Ministers who work as chaplains, teachers, pastoral counselors, and social justice workers.
We held a number of traditional services yearly: the Easter Flower Service, Christmas Eve, Solstice Celebrations, UU Guest at Your Table, and occasional New Member Sundays and Child Dedications. In 1999 nine of our member couples renewed their marriage vows at a Sunday service. In 1999 we started an "Ingathering" service, which continues. On the first Sunday in September, members bring a vial of water from their summer vacations. We pour the water into a bowl and tell the congregation where it is from. We've held an October celebration of the "Day of the Dead" for several years, with the children's participation. We held our first teen Coming of Age service in 2000.
Prior to 1995, summer services consisted of members attending a number of designated local churches. We held Brown Bag family services, led by members, in 1995 and in 2000 we started weekly summer services, again lay-led.
During these years we expanded and diversified our Adult Education programming. Our minister led some groups, but members led most. Great Decisions, which began in 1993, has continued. Older members continued to meet on alternate Wednesdays at Casa de Modesto. Among other programs offered were: Comparative Religion, Relating to Your Adult Children, Building your own Theology, Working Through Grief, a Jesus Seminar, Cakes for the Queen of Heaven, UU History. In 1997 we held a Sunday morning Meditation group in the Johnson Room before church. For several years Tai Chi classes were offered.
In 2000 Rev. Heyboer held a weekly Evensong Service. The Men's Group continued to meet until 1999. We formed a chapter of CUUPS, the Covenant of UU Pagans, in 1993. The Children's Religious Education program continued to grow and space became a problem. We renovated and redecorated the nursery. We added partitions to the Johnson room to divide classes, and for a time, we used a motor home for the teen group. After we repaired the Mustard building, it became the teen's place.
In 1992 and 1993 we hosted a weekend district conference for Directors of Religious Education.
Children continued to attend the first part of the service on first Sunday of the month. Starting in the fall of 1999 the children stayed in for the first part of every Sunday. Sleepovers continued and Secret Friends began in 1992. We celebrated Chinese New Year for several years by designing and building a dragon that they paraded through the sanctuary. The children themselves started a Kid's Club.
VASSCO, the Valley and Sierra Small Congregational Organization for teens, formed in 1996. Although there was enthusiasm for a time, the Fellowship discontinued participation in 1999. For a short time in 1994, the teens merged with teens from the College Avenue Congregational Church for special social activities.
Unlike the early years when social activities revolved around adults, the focus changed to family centered activities. Circle dinners, which began in 1972, continued with an added group for families. Kickoff Pledge Drive Dinners continued, some at the Fellowship and a few at local restaurants. We held the first Fellowship Campout on Labor Day weekend. Summer family campouts have continued, as have October campouts for women. We held a multigenerational tea celebrating Mother's Day for two years. Father's Day picnics continued to be held at member's homes until 1999, when the picnic moved to the Fellowship's backyard. Several Thanksgiving Day dinners were held at the Fellowship. In 1999 we revived the monthly after church potlucks. Social Action, now called Social Justice, became more hands-on and community oriented, helping a local flood family in 1997, adopting a needy family at Christmas and boosting our support for Inter Faith Ministries. Rev. Shipley served as a board member of Haven Women's Center. For several years we held a Community Service Sunday, which involved table displays from non-profit agencies for which our members volunteered.
In the early 1990's we budgeted $500 for five agencies: Peace Life Center, Inter-Faith Ministries, Children's Crisis Center and Latin American Aid. In 1997 a Fellowship committee addressed a UUA Racism Task Force.
During the early 1990's, the Ways and Means Committee was a strong, effective and hard working group, raising funds to help meet budget demands in a number of ways: Gourmet Sandwich Lunches, Mystery Dinners, a Progressive Dinner, spring and fall auctions, Dining Out coupon books. Finally we decided to cut back on fund raising if enough people increased their pledges to help meet the current budget. We kept the spring auction. The amount raised had escalated to $6,000. We introduced Scrip, which became a successful money raiser.
Because of the need for more seating area, we rearranged the sanctuary, sold the grand piano and bought a keyboard. Victoria Caldwell and Gary Wheeler spearheaded a huge (for us) project to restore the Mustard Building. Most of the able-bodied members helped.
The next year Elaine Arnold organized and led a group of just about everyone who could wield a paintbrush or write a check. They painted and re-carpeted the sanctuary. Members strengthened the underpinnings of the church. We renovated one bathroom, making it accessible to wheelchairs. In 1997, a dedicated group of members developed the backyard, creating a space for outdoor activities, in a garden environment.
In 1995, we wrote Mission Statement. A member renamed the newsletter to In FocUUs in 2000.
In April 1999 our web site debuted, at www.thevision.net/uufofsc. It had eight pages, hosted for free by a local ISP. Our Historic Headings page will show you our headings from the time and has a link to the Internet Archives (AKA "The Wayback Machine"). They in turn have archived hundreds of our web pages over the years.
We had known for a number of years that Highway 219 would eventually be widened, making it a major link, connecting Highways 108 and 120. Cal Trans began to contact landowners in 1999. Because the widening of Kiernan Road would affect the church building, the Fellowship was faced with the challenging decision of moving the building back to the area planted with almonds, which we purchased in 1978, or relocating to a more urban area. In October 2000, we voted to stay at the present location. We formed a Long Range Planning Committee, which began to look into a number of possibilities, including an addition to the sanctuary and planning a Lifespan Religious Education Building. We formed a Capital Campaign Committee in the fall of 2000 to help raise $60,000 to $80,000 in the next five years.
[Debra Heins wrote this section. Much of the information came from two of Rev. Grace Simons' sermons and interviews with Marian Erikson.]
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.