A slide show featuring many figures from our UUCL History.
New pictures were added 10.05.17.
New pictures were added 10.05.17.
In October of 1977 a group of about 30 people (called the Hilton Head Island Unitarian “Inclinationists” by Dick Caldwell) gathered at the home of Frances and Richard Caldwell to discuss establishing a liberal religious organization in the Low Country. A subsequent meeting was held during which the group decided to apply to the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) for a charter to become the Unitarian Fellowship of Hilton Head Island. Fifteen people signed as charter members (including Hank Haskell’s parents).
The church was recognized November of 1977.
For the next 12 years, members met in a variety of places, including Sea Pines Academy, Montessori school, a restaurant, the Methodist Church, the Marriott Center office building, and finally, in 1991, entering into a contractual relationship with Temple Beth Yam which lasted for 16 years.
Ministry was provided much as it is today by lay leaders, a variety of speakers, plus a seminary trained minister contracted to lead a Sunday service monthly and to provide other leadership service as needed on that Sunday. In 1981, Rev. Manuel Holland was hired and served until 1985. He was elected Minister Emeritus, a position he retains.
In 1988 Rev. Frank Anderson was hired as half-time minister. Under his leadership and that of newly hired Religious Education Director, Anne Harrison, the church membership grew to over 100 members. As Rev. Anderson had no interest in administrative work, in 2001, Rev. Nan White was hired to provide administrative and some pastoral duties and to preach at one service per month
In 2003, Rev. Anderson died. Rev. White continued to serve the congregation as we struggled to determine how we should move forward. Two questions confronted the membership: (1) should we call a full-time minister in consultation with the UUA; and, (2) as our children’s religious education program was outgrowing the facilities at Beth Yam, should we build/buy our own facility?
After much study and discussion, in December of 2003 the Unitarian Fellowship of Hilton Head Island made one of our most important decisions since it’s founding. We approved a Search Committee to hire a minister and developed a capital campaign to build a new church. We received affirmation from our district director who wrote, “Initially there was some concern about proceeding with both a ministerial search and property acquisition. However, they have defied the odds and seem more than capable of carrying out their vision for growth. I am a believer.” She was correct. The congregation was united, enthusiastic, and determined to bring both projects to a successful conclusion.
In 2006, Rev. Thomas Schmidt, a new UU minister from California, was called as our first full-time minister. In early 2007, we moved into our new building and changed our name to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Low Country.
Unfortunately we were unable to sustain the continuing financial burden of both the facility and the minister and were eventually forced to cut Rev. Tom’s time back to a half-time position. This resulted in Rev. Schmidt’s eventual resignation. The positive aspect of this difficult decision was that our community rallied. Although we lost several members, we did not split apart as many religious communities do during conflict.
During the Ministerial Search process, the UUA had asked , “Does the UUCL have a Mission? Not just a Mission Statement but a glowing coal at its core. If so, what is it?” We answered, “Our ‘glowing coal’ is a deep commitment to Unitarian principles and the desire to provide an emotional, intellectual, and a spiritual home for religious liberals in the Hilton Head area.” That belief carried us through a very difficult period.
Rev. Manuel Holland stepped into the breach assuming the role of quarter-time minister, while we persevered to get our finances under better control. We are now on a better financial footing and, although many of us may still wish for a full- time minister, we also enjoy the fact that we have the opportunity to hear a variety of speakers bringing different and far reaching ideas to us.
Understand that this is just a bare bones time-line of our history over these 36 years. Unfortunately, this story leaves out those many every day activities that add color and depth to our church life: participation in Family Promise, the theology study group, the book group, the documentary film group, the really fun fund-raising galas, pot-lucks and picnics, the knitting group, and small group circles
Finally, our volunteer commitments tell the story of our work in the world. The following organizations were actually started by members of the UUCL congregation: Hilton Head for Peace, a local chapter of the ACLU, AWARE (Advocates working for Animals and respect for the environment,) Habitat for Humanity, Chamber Music Hilton Head, the SC Repertory Theater, and the Sandlewood Pantry.
The UUCL is a living, creative, growing community…our story is still being written.
1977 – Chartered as the Unitarian Fellowship of Hilton Head Island
Allen Jones became the first President.
Mission Statement adopted:
To enrich and clarify our understanding of religious thought;
To provide experiences for spiritual growth;
To encourage and protect the right of individual freedom of belief;
To promote the democratic process in human relations; and
To advance these principles for the benefit of each other, our community and our world.
1981 – 1985 Rev. Manuel Holland serves as part-time minister. Elected Minister Emeritus 1987.
1988 - Rev. Frank Anderson serves as part-time minister.
1991 – Contracted with Beth Yam to use their facility as a meeting place.
Created position of Director of Religious Education; Anne Harrison hired in Mid 1990’s.
2001 - Rev. Nan White serves as half-time minister to supplement Rev. Frank Anderson.
2003 – Rev. Anderson’s death.
Congregation decides to call a full-time minister and to build its own facility.
2006 – Rev. Thomas Schmidt called as first full-time minister.
2007 - Move from Beth Yam to our new facility on Malphrus Road.
Name changed to Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Lowcountry.
2011 – Rev. Schmidt resigns.
Rev. Holland returns as part-time minister.
2014 – Congregation votes to become a Welcoming Congregation.
2015 – It’s Up to You UU’s!!!