2011 was a Triple Anniversary year for the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley: 120 years as a congregation, 50 years at the Kensington location, and 50 years since the merger of Unitarians and Universalists. The theme of our year-long celebration was “Looking Back, Looking Forward: Honoring a Proud Tradition.”

As part of our “Looking Back,” members Grace Ulp and Kay Fairwell asked present and former members for help in telling UUCB stories. We asked for memories, anecdotes, and reminiscences about events and activities over the past 120 years. Keep in mind that the history you see here is a collection of memories; the definitive history is yet to be written.

We hope that you will view this as a living collection. As you read through the many entries, may the fire of your memory be stoked and you be inspired to add to this collection. If so, please send your memories to Kay Fairwell or Grace Ulp. We will be periodically updating the anecdotal history page.

In some places you may note that dates are missing or noted with question marks. If you can fill in any such information, we’d love to have it. If there are any specific areas that you feel have been overlooked or neglected, please also let us know about those, especially if you have such information or know who might. If you are looking for mention of specific groups, programs, individuals, or events (or to find your own entries!), you can use the search button to locate this information.

The chapter on “Personal Stories and Miscellaneous Musings” holds those entries that seemed to be more reminiscences than reporting—and those entries that fit into more than one category. We have made every attempt to include all submissions; if yours was inadvertently overlooked, please let us know this also.
The history is categorized as follows:

  • Looking Back

    A26-old-church-interiorXWhat Was Berkeley Like in 1891?

    by Maizie Newman

    Berkeley was an isolated village, with the new state university not long established. It was separated from Oakland by a train ride, with several other isolated ...

  • Personal Stories…

    …and Miscellaneous Musings

    This section contains personal stories, anecdotes, and miscellaneous entries that don’t fit easily into one category. The entries are in alphabetical order by last name of contributors. Note that these authors may have entries in other sections of this history.

    Lindsay Staubus Alger

    I was a member of the church school starting when ...

  • Arts at UUCB

    This section on the arts includes articles on art objects, poetry, choirs and musical groups, dance, drama, music in general, and musicals and concerts. (Note: See the Appendices for a list of Musical VIPs and Scott Merrick’s List of Events, which includes musical performances.)

    Art and Poetry

    Art Objects at the Church

    by Grace Ulp

    The bronze bird ...

  • Ministry – Historical Notes

    Select these links for information about our current ministers and community ministers.

    communitymins3Community Ministers

    by Rev. Jane Ramsey

    To my knowledge UUCB’s first community minster was Rev. Mary Kapper, a hospice chaplain in the mid-nineties, followed by Rev. Patty Franz, ...

  • Worship

    …and Spiritual Development

    2009worship01Notes on Worship and Spiritual Development at UUCB

    by Kay Fairwell

    Addition of a Second Service

    Our Governance Document features a Global End, or goal, for worship: “UUCB is a spiritual ...

  • Education

    Summer Workshop in International Living

    by Elaine Miller

    1960s at UUCB (then FUCB) During the summer the kids would have—I forget what it was called but it was something like a day camp—based on a country. I think we did Russia one year, and maybe Greece another year. Maybe they were called ...

  • Social Action

    …and Service

    fm-5Bring Your Weight in Food

    by Rev. Barbara Hamilton-Holway

    In 2002 UUCB held an Oxfam Hunger Banquet with Lee Lawrence as organizer. Bill and I also invited people to join us ...

  • Governance

    looking-back-07Name Change

    by Grace Ulp

    Along with the coming of the Hamilton-Holways to our church came the feeling that we really should reflect the name of the denomination in our church name. Previously it was the First Unitarian Church of ...

  • Stewardship

    Taking Care of the Church

    history-stewardship-volunteersThe Office in 1973

    by Grace Ulp 

    Most of the equipment in the office was just about what had been down at the “old church” in 1961 when we came up the hill. A spirit duplicator ...

  • Groups at UUCB

    This section is a potpourri of groups that have existed at UUCB, some of which may still exist. There are individual descriptions of groups and individuals remembering one or more groups.


    by Grace Ulp

    Abraxas, called the “Congregation of Abraxas” by the UUA, was a group of ministers and lay people interested in the form, art, and experience ...

  • Partner Church

    by Jay Hanks

    Early in 1990, partnerships began forming between UU churches in America and Unitarian Churches in the Transylvanian region of Romania. In August 1990 the UUCB Choir and a few others toured Eastern Europe and made the first visit to our partner church in the ...

  • Retreats

    All-Church Retreats

    by Grace Ulp

    From time to time there were all-church retreats held at some of the pleasant retreat places around the Bay Area. Freestone retreat was used several times—a sunny day would give views over the valley and of the turkey vultures riding the updrafts, companionship, lunch on the deck, and worship and discussions.

    Several times ...

  • Appendix: Interns, etc.

    Interns, Ministers in Training, Starr King Students Employed at UUCB, and Some Other Staff Positions

    Name                                                        At UUCB             Ordained        Comments, Ministry Locations

    Prosser, Loring                                          1968–69                1970                Ministerial Assistant;
    Buffalo NY, Elkhart IN, Indianapolis, IN. Emeritus at Oaklandon UU Church

    Schuler, Michael                                       1974–76                1976                MIT 1974–75, Intern ...

  • Appendix: Mileposts, 1991

    Mileposts from the Centennial Calendar, 1991

    July 19, 1891                     Rev. Thomas Van Ness gives “right hand of fellowship” to the 32 members

    July 26, 1891                     First Board elected and met: 7 men

    August 2, 1891                 Music Committee appointed, $2.25 given to them for music

    August 9, 1891                 First 30 pledges received (called “subscriptions”)

    October 18, 1891              Edward B. Payne called ...

  • Appendix: UUCB Ministers

    Edward B. Payne, 1892–1897

    In 1891 the AUA—American Unitarian Association—offered to contribute $1,000 toward a minister’s salary for the first year. However, they meant it to be $500 for a minister’s salary, and $500 salary for the proposed seminary. The church had found its own minister, and insisted on the full sum. With $500 from the ...

  • Appendix: Music VIPs

    Music VIPs


    Directors of Music

    Years                                      Directors

    4/1/1962                                  Harold Hawley

    11/26/61 to8/31/82                   Phyllis Wells

    1970s                                       Ron Daniel

    Interim 9/82 to 1/83                   David Swayne

    2/83 to 9/87                             Edwin Barlow

    1/88 to 8/92                             Simon Andrews

    9/92 to 4/93                             Jay Kawarsky

    5/93 to ...