In the 90s we held Youth Religious Education classes during both services year round. Our summer services became full services, early and late, instead of the early service consisting of discussion time. With these changes and the yearning for more spirituality in our community life, our worship has become more fulfilling to the community as a whole.completed a ministry survey to aid in the selection of a new minister, and started discussions about our growth and facility needs.
The care committee was revitalized to take care of pastoral needs while Morris was on sabbatical leave. After the cottage meetings, it became clear that many Fellowship members continued to feel left out in times of need. With the leadership of intern minister Lillie Henley and the support of member Arlene Jarvela, a Care Umbrella was created. Arlene led the effort for the last two years of the 90s as a reemphasis on our caring for each other took hold.
Lay ministry has been a strong tradition at UUFR, but the 90s brought the need for more than one full-time minister. In 1990, with a membership of 288, Morris Hudgins was in his third year as minister. Within two years, we gained our first intern minister, John Graves, who worked with the Fellowship for several years before dying of AIDS. Following John were interns Julie Denny-Hughes, Lillie Henley, Marcia Curtis and Carol Jackson.
In the 90s, we hired our first professional music director, Bill Yocum. Before the decade’s end, Bill was leading choirs during both services and providing thoughtful musical additions and accompaniment to Sunday services.
Again we turned our outreach to refugees. We helped bring a refugee from Burundi to North Carolina. Eraste Nzeyimana arrived in 1998 and lived with UUFR member Mary Watson Nooe before becoming a student at St. Augustine’s College.
Long Range Planning
The long-range planning process included cottage meetings held in 1996. Many of us expressed a hope for increased spirituality in the life of our community. At the urging of Morris, a group led by Pat Feltman, Shelley Colvin and Linda McCarley worked with a committee of many others to plan the first All Fellowship Spirituality Retreat. Its purpose was as a community-building event where members and friends could discuss and share spiritual beliefs and practices. It would also be an opportunity for all to participate in intergenerational activities. The successful weekend retreat was held at Camp Sertoma in April 1998. It was replicated in 1999.
UUFR’s adult religious education offerings had been present throughout the 90s but infrequent and uneven. In 1997 under the chairmanship of Jim Flanagan, the adult program began regular discussions groups every Sunday morning. It became known as the Adult Enrichment Class and filled a need for learning and discussion felt by a number of our adult members. The 90s also brought strengthening and growth to the young adult group known as Young Adult Unitarian Universalists. They began holding monthly meetings called Unitarian Universalist Expressions, a forum to discuss articles, art, philosophy, other world religions, new age and ancient topics such as acupuncture.
The Care Committee, as it existed in 1990, served the purpose of helping in emergency situations such as illnesses, accidents and deaths.
LARGEST IN THE DISTRICT
One area in which we have had explosive growth is our youth religious education program. It more than doubled and has become recognized as the largest in the Thomas Jefferson District. At the beginning of the 90s, one part-time staff position existed for the department. In the early 90s, Elizabeth Swope was hired as Director of Religious Education and before the end of the decade, she was a full time employee. Three part-time employees assist her in managing the 250-plus youth.
Two new youth groups were formed in 1994: Just UUs for fifth and sixth graders and Little Women for third to sixth grade girls. In that same year the Coming of Age program was re-established. As our religious education program for the youth has grown so has their involvement in the larger community. Along with several intergenerational services throughout the year, the youth are with the whole Fellowship for a
THE CONSTANT OF CHANGE
In February 1998, Morris announced that he had accepted a call to a congregation in Cincinnati, Ohio, and would be leaving in July. The Fellowship entered a process lasting more than a year to find a new full-time minister.
During that transition, we called Rev. Michael Boblett as our interim minister. In the end, we called an old friend,Rev. Julie Denny-Hughes, who had served as our student minister in the spring of 1995. One thing with which Julie did not return was her penchant for always wearing tennis shoes, but she did return with her warmth, life experience and the desire to be the full-time minister of a large Unitarian Universalist church. Julie joined us in Raleigh in August 1999.
1999 also became the year in which the congregation stated our intentional desire to be designated a Welcoming Congregation – one that welcomes all persons regardless of their sexual preference.