History of Unitarian Universalist Association

Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religious tradition that was formed from the consolidation of two different religions: Unitarianism and Universalism. Both began in Europe hundreds of years ago. In America, the Universalist Church of America was founded in 1793, and the American Unitarian Association in 1825. After consolidating in 1961, these faiths became the new religion of Unitarian Universalism through the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA).

For more about the history of the UUA, click here.


History of Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Hillsborough

The origins of our congregation date back to March, 1993 when a dozen Hillsborough area Unitarian Universalists started getting together for a monthly potluck supper. We participated in the New Congregation Organizer Training offered by the Unitarian Universalist Association in Boston. The UUA followed this up with two $1,000 grants, one to help pay for our first “public” meeting and the other to help pay for publicity when we moved into our present building (including the sign on the corner).

By October, 1993 we were holding regular Sunday evening meetings in the parish hall of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church. We held our first “public” meeting at the New Hope Elementary School in March, 1994 and moved from St. Matthew’s to the Efland Ruritan Club. In August, 1994, we began meeting on Sunday mornings at the Carolina Friends School.

We adopted our first Articles of Association in April, 1995. Our first 35 “charter members” signed the membership book at a charter Sunday service on April 9, 1995. We were incorporated as a nonprofit religious organization in July, 1995 and became a member congregation of the UUA in September, 1995. Two of our neighboring UU churches—the Eno River UU Fellowship of Durham and the Community Church of Chapel Hill—provide support as our covenanting congregations.

In June, 1996 we signed a contract to purchase a 3-acre lot at the corner of Lawrence Road and Old NC 10 (just southeast of Hillsborough), and we dedicated this property on January 19, 1997. On January 10, 1999, we had our first worship service in our new building, which was built with the help of a contractor but finished by our members and friends. The formal dedication service was held May 2, 1999, with Ms. Denise Davidoff, Moderator of the UUA, as the guest speaker.

From 2002 to August 2006, The Reverend Dr. Robin Renteria was our part-time minister. On October 1, 2006, The Reverend Dick Weston-Jones became our consulting minister.

In September 2008, The Rev. Patty Hanneman became our consulting minister. We have also been fortunate to have 2 intern ministers, Steven Reinhartsen in 1996-7 and Don Garrett in 1998-9. Since the move into the new building, our average Sunday morning attendance has increased and the number of children attending has doubled. Our Sunday worship services feature messages by our minister, guest speakers drawn from our local universities, arts, and public service organizations, and members or friends having passions, insights, or experience to share.

UUCH’s growth and evolution continues today. As of August 2007, the congregation had satisfied the requirements to gain official recognition from the Unitarian Universalist Association as a Welcoming Congregation. This recognition means that UUCH educates and advocates for bisexual, gay, lesbian, and/or transgender issues both within our congregation and in the broader community.

In 2018 the Articles of Association were rewritten and adopted by the Committee of the Whole. The change brought clear delineation of decisions and responsibilities – making the called minister head of staff and able to make all hiring decisions for the congregation. Additionally, the duties and responsibilities of two councils were established baed on the Hotchkiss Model of Ministry and Governance. 

In 2020, due to the Covid pandemic and the need to move services online, UUCH was unable to support the cost of full-time ministry. As a lay-led congregation, once again, we focused on supporting the needs of our members and laying the groundwork to emerge from the pandemic as a healthy and strong congregation. We are currently searching for a minister to lead UUCH into the next phase of spiritual grounding and meaningful growth.