History

First UU began in 1958 as the Unitarian Fellowship of Indiana County. After years of meeting in member’s homes and rented space, in 1984 the small, but strong group incorporated as the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Indiana, and began a journey to attain a church home and increased ministry.

Through hard work and dedication our church building was dedicated in 1991.
The highlight of our sanctuary is the stained glass chalice window designed and created by deceased member Susan Litteral.

Throughout the years, First UU has reached out and received support from area ministers as guest preachers, ministers of record, and consultant ministers. The Rev. Joan M. Sabatino also began her journey with our congregation as a consultant minister, but was ordained and installed as our settled minister in May 2007.

Today First UU is focused on Growth and Vitality – individual spiritual growth, increased vitality and music ministry in our worship services and religious education programs.

Read through our timeline for more information on our history.

1958 – Organizational meetings to form a Unitarian Fellowship in Indiana held at the home of Allan and Priscilla Mewha. Ongoing guidance provided by Dr. Irving R. Murray, First Unitarian Church, Pittsburgh.

1958 – Nov. 5, The Unitarian Fellowship of Indiana County established. Bi-weekly sessions were held during the academic year with guest ministers and local leaders. Priscilla Mewha was the first DRE. Meetings held in various locations including Beth Israel Synagogue, the American Legion, The Odd Fellows Building, and the Youth Recreation Center on Philadelphia Street.

1961 – American Unitarian Association and the American Universalist Convocation merge to form the Unitarian Universalist Association.

1962 – Rev. Philip Silk, associate minister First Unitarian Church in Pittsburgh agrees to lead services the first Sunday of every month and provide ongoing guidance.

1963 – Adopted Nigerian Village Project with Dr. Norah Zink raising support money.

1964 – Name changed to The Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship.

1965 – Local Civil Rights leaders march in memory of UU minister James Reeb murdered in Selma, AL. Steve Cord and Esko Newhill initiate actions to integrate Mack Park Pool. The Human Relations Committee is formed

1971 – Rev. Jesse Caviller from the Allegheny Church, Pittsburgh, agrees to lead services and provide guidance.

1974 – Rev. Chancy Rawleigh, IUP Sociology, contracted as Minister of Record.

1980 – Receive inheritance from Mrs. Glen Harkum Miller.

1988 – Name changed to First Unitarian Universalist Church of Indiana, PA. Board of Trustees formed. Renewed search for building and expanded ministry.

1990 – Covenant church with Habitat for Humanity.

1991 – Dedication of property, May 19, Rev. Carol Brody, District Executive presides.

1991-1998 – Partnership Church Program with Romanian Sister Church.

1992 – Building Capital Campaign Kickoff, October 30.

1994 – First service in building, Easter. Dedication of sanctuary in June.

1995 – Building Dedication, February 19, UUA President, Rev. John Buehrens delivered the sermon.

1996 – Rev. Steve Furrer becomes Consulting Minister.

1999 – Rev. Kirk Loadman-Copeland becomes Consulting Minister providing supervision for Ministerial Intern, Joan Sabatino. Elizabeth Amanecer becomes Commissioned Lay Leader.

2000 – Rev. Priscilla Richter becomes first called minister (serving half-time). Installation, August 26, 2001.

2003 – Rev. Joan Sabatino returns to serve as half-time minister.

2006 – Completion of Welcoming Congregation Program. Rev. Keith Kron delivered the

2007 – May 7, Rev. Joan M. Sabatino Ordained and Installed as second called minister.

2009 – Building Mortgage completed. Rev. Joan Van Becelaere delivered the sermon on January 25 and led the mortgage burning ceremony.

2009 – John Grauer dies and bequeaths to the congregation a majority of his estate.

2010 – Begin three-year initiative to grow the congregation.  John L. Grauer Endowment created.

2011 – Cremains of founding members Allan and Priscilla Mewha are returned to the church grounds for internment in our Memorial Garden.

2012 – First annual disbursement of Grauer Endowment Gift.  With Endowment money and two-years of collections at the church, First UU donates money to purchase electronic display board for the Indiana Free Library.  Also seeded money for a piano and audio visual equipment to be HUB for satellite congregations in rural western PA.  Chosen for Chalice Lighter Grant Opportunity from OMD to support satellite ministry.

2013 – Changed fiscal year to calendar year, built RE Teen Cabin, purchased new Ivory Yamaha piano

2014 – Hired Penny Vick as Director of Religious Education, performed first LGBT church wedding in Indiana County in our sanctuary

2015 – Year-round (including summer) Religious Education programming, Board appoints Building Expansion Committee.