Unitarian Fellowship of Hollywood
In February 2017 the Fellowship merged with the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ft Lauderdale joining our energies together. We honor the history of this long-time beacon of Unitarian Univeralism in South Florida.
The story of our Fellowship starts where all beings start and that is at conception. Our conception was back in March 1961. When I refer to the conception, I mean when one man came up with the idea that he wanted to start a Unitarian Fellowship in South Florida. That man was Dr. John J. Latini. He first placed an ad in the newspaper in March 1961 asking for people to come together to create a Unitarian Fellowship in North Dade.
This first Fellowship was eventually formed and called the North Dade Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. Even though the concept came about in March of 1961. For legal purposes, the actual founding date is November 6, 1961. This is the date that our founding members signed the Articles of Incorporation. These founding members were Dr. John J Latini, Angela Latini, Charles Fair, Larry Blalock, Doris Blalock, Walter Wagner, Mary Wagner, Sidney Teller, Ethel Teller, Carl Hazelwood, William Dawson, Arlene Goodwin, Archie Goodwin, Salvatore Santaniello, Alma Santaniello, Peter Lehmann and Esther Lehmann. So these people would all be considered our founding fathers and mothers.
It is interesting to note that the UUA was founded on May 15, 1961.
Now back to our story, in our early years our little Fellowship wandered between several places. It first met in people’s homes. Then it moved to a nursery school, a bowling alley, Kiwanis club and a few other places. They finally purchased their first building in 1966. This was located at NW 22nd Avenue next to the Palmetto Expressway. Of course, at this time, Dade County was very much different. In fact, looking back through old papers, I found a drawing that showed the property was surrounded by woods.
Through all of this time, the Fellowship had been entirely ley led. The speakers were either various members or even guest speakers. It was quite an active and lively bunch that they had.
In 1971 another Unitarian Fellowship formed in the area. This one was called Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Broward County. There isn’t much paperwork on this Fellowship. I do know that it was founded on October 22, 1971. It didn’t last long at all though. It merged with the North Dade Unitarian Universalist Fellowship on April 15, 1973. It was at this time that we became known as the Unitarian Fellowship of South Florida.
Shortly after this time, that original building was sold. There were several other interim buildings that were purchased. It wasn’t until 1986 when we finally came to live here in our current building.
Not only has our building changed quite a bit, but our leadership as well. From our first days of being ley led, we have had several ministers come and go through the years. There was mention of a Teamster union member, turned minister who led the congregation in the early 1970s.
However, it isn’t as much the building as the people who truly make us who we are. Our members have come and gone (some returning after years of absence), but each one leaves a lasting mark upon our hearts.