History of MVUUC
During a party for members of the fellowship group of the First Unitarian Church of Toledo hosted by Phyllis and Ford Cauffiel at their home, a handful of folks decide to begin serious discussions about forming a new Unitarian Universalist Church in Northwest Ohio. Twelve people attend the first planning meeting at the home of Lynn and Steve Israel. The group begins by sharing the religious and spiritual pathways that each has taken. Steve records information on a large piece of paper that became a familiar sight at future gatherings. One person starts referring to it as the “Sacred Scroll” and the name sticks. At a business/planning meeting, Lynn Israel teaches the group the song “Inch by Inch” (really named “The Garden Song”) and it becomes our unofficial anthem.
A meeting is held with Bill DeWolf, consultant from the Ohio-Meadvilled District office of the UUA, and plans are initiated to affiliate with the UUA.
From April to September, members continue to host Friday evening meetings in their homes for the purposes of planning for the new church and nourishing the collective spirit. Occasionally, meetings are held at friendly Perrysburg churches such as St. Timothy’s Episcopal and First Presbyterian. The nomadic lifestyle makes it necessary to store and transport all-important supplies (like a coffee pot) in a car trunk, leading the group to start calling themselves “The Church in a Trunk.” In late September, the group begins to hold services on Sunday evenings at the Perrysburg Recreation Center (a.k.a. “The Beehive”) in downtown Perrysburg. By November, the meetings move to Sunday mornings. At the first Sunday morning service, there is a candlelighting ceremony and the group sings “We Gather Together.”
The group votes to adopt the name Maumee Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation. The MVUUC adult service moves next door to Schaller Hall. Religious Education classes and child care remain at the Beehive. The first official pledge party is held at the home of Ron and Jan Partin in BG.
On March 2, MVUUC officially applies to the UUA for membership. On April 7 at Schaller Hall, Bill DeWolfe officiates as thirty-eight charter members sign the MVUUC membership book. On April 20, MVUUC is chartered and is officially confirmed as a member congregation of the UUA. MVUUC has its first Labor Day weekend retreat at Lakeside , a historic community located on the Marblehead Peninsula, halfway between Toledo and Cleveland on Lake Erie's south shore. This activity continued for many years. After a May visit and service by Rev. Bob Hadley, the congregation votes on June 7, 1984, to accept Bob as our extension minister. He came to us as part of the UUA New Congregation Ministerial Program. This program matched us with Bob and provided substantial funds to help pay his salary. He remained MVUUC full-time minister until 1991 when he returned to his east coast roots to serve as minister for a UU Church in Provincetown, MA.
MVUUC forgoes having a minister, relying instead on lay-led services and hired speakers/programs. The “Church in a Trunk” fades into memory when we open our very own, brand new and custom-made building, having successfully raised more than $200,000 in pledges to make it a reality. An overflow crowd joins the UUA president, Rev. John Buehrens, at the Sunday dedication ceremony. Pam Allen-Thompson, formerly a member of MVUUC, returns from the west coast for a ceremony completing her ordination into the UU ministry, held at and hosted by MVUUC. MVUUC recognizes member Barb Applebaum for achieving certification in the Commissioned Lay Leader program of the Ohio-Meadville district. Rev. Ken Phifer, retired from more than 20 years of ministerial service to the Ann Arbor UU church, serves as quarter-time consulting minister for MVUUC.
MVUUC is officially designated a “ UU Welcoming Congregation” after developing and implementing an extensive action plan and completing the application process. The program is for Unitarian Universalist congregations that want to take intentional steps to become more welcoming and inclusive of people with marginalized sexual orientations and gender identities.
Rev. John McCarthy serves as half-time consulting minister.
In 2011, MVUUC votes to install Rev. Lynn Kerr as three-quarter time minister. Our spectacular new electronic sign is installed, thanks to the generosity of Ford and Phyllis Cauffiel and the coordinating efforts of Steve Israel.
In 2019, MVUUC transitions back to a lay-led congregation.