In January, 1956, the first small fellowship began meeting with Curtis Crawford as minister. Five months later, on May 2, 1956, twenty-two persons officially signed as the Charter Members; by-laws were adopted; a budget was approved; and six persons were elected to the Board of Trustees. The organization was designated the Annapolis Unitarian Fellowship. In February, 1959, we officially became the Unitarian Church of Anne Arundel County and the following September, our second minister, Carlyle Meacham, was installed.
In 1961, the congregation purchased the old Weems Creek Baptist Church and dedicated it on October 29th as the first permanent home. On September 29, 1963, William Barnett was installed as our third minister. In 1965, we bought just over three acres at our present site (333 Dubois Road) and undertook construction of the current church building which was dedicated on October 5, 1969.
A defining tragedy occurred on November 22, 1974, when an arsonist-set fire gutted the building. The congregation worked together to rebuild and the repaired building was opened in September, 1975.
Seven years later, William Barnett retired as minister from a congregation that had grown to two hundred members. Horace Westwood served as interim minister for seven months. The congregation called Fredric Muir in the summer of 1983 and he remains our minister today.
By the late 1980’s, we again felt the need for additional space and broke ground in 1991 for additional offices and RE classrooms. Shortly after completion in 1992, we entered the Decisions for Growth program to better plan and manage our growth spurt to over 350 members.
In 1994, in response to an unexpected opportunity the congregation purchased adjacent property which included the Fahs House and over 6 acres. The house has been used for classes, civic group rentals and non-profit offices.
After several years of education and discussion regarding our deep desire to be more inclusive towards bisexual, gay, lesbian, and/or transgender people, the congregation voted to become a Welcoming Congregation in April 1997 and has remained socially and legislatively engaged in affirming promoting the “The inherent worth and dignity of all” at the local and state levels.
Following the UUA General Assembly’s commitment to anti-racism, anti-oppression and multiculturalism (1996), UUCA created a Journey Toward Wholeness Committee. This committee eventually made the transition to being the congregation’s Anti-Racism Transformation Team. Now the Anti-Racism Council, it continues the work of its predecessor groups as the congregation keeps alive it’s commitment to multiculturalism.
1997 saw the congregation’s first full time intern arrive. Since then, UUCA has hosted more than a dozen student interns, representing six theological seminaries. This highlights our commitment to being a teaching congregation.
After serving as its choir director for over 25 years, the congregation ordained Betsy Jo Angebranndt as its Minister of Music on December 12, 2004. While the ordination is largely honorific, it recognized the profound respect and thanks UUCA has for her contributions to the heart and soul of the church.
In 2005 the Board of Trustees recognized the overwhelming need for a second minister. The Rev. Amber Beland was hired to focus on Adult Faith Development and Family & Youth Ministry. She concluded her ministry in June 2008.
By 2006, nearly 600 members and many more friends and guests composed the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis. As a result, UUCA developed and adopted a Strategic Plan for future growth and direction.
In 2006 UUCA was named a Breakthrough Congregation by the UUA. This special honor is for congregations that exhibit excellence in worship, strong family ministry, and growth in membership. Due to UUCA’s thriving ministry while navigating several size transitions and remaining a Fair Share Congregation with UUA and the District, the UUA’s recognition and award were well deserved.
In recognition of the changing size and structure of the church, in 2006 the Board of Trustees began to focus its attention on governance. It now works under a version of policy governance. The Board’s global ends statement is: “The Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis exists to create the beloved community by inspiring and empowering all souls to live bold and compassionate lives”.
April 2006 saw the 50th anniversary celebration of the congregation. A year-long recognition included the monthly return of each FAIMster (Former Annapolis Intern Minister). The celebration culminated in a weekend of festivities highlighted by two worship services with participation from UUA President William Sinkford.
In 2007, the UUA introduced the Diversity of Ministry Initiative (DOMI) as a way of addressing its failed history of sustained and successful parish ministries by Ministers of Color. UUCA was one of three congregations asked to participate in DOMI. Following a year of study and assessment, the congregation voted in 2008 to participate in the DOMI and elected a Search Committee to call an Associate Minister. On June 21, 2009 the congregation overwhelmingly voted (98%) to call the Rev. John T. Crestwell as Associate Minister.
Fran Ateto’s 20 years of service as the congregation’s Director of Religious Exploration was recognized and celebrated in November 2009. Fran supervised a growing and deepening program.
We ordained and added Rev. Christina Leone Tracy to the staff in 2011 as the new Faith Development Minister, overseeing the Religious Exploration program for children and youth, so beautifully developed by Fran Ateto, as well as coordinating the Faith Development for all ages, young and old.
The future looks bright here at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis!