Timeline of Unitarian Universalist
Congregation of Fort Lauderdale (UUCFL)
1957 - Present
The UU Church of Fort Lauderdale began when Philip Godfrey and Fred Stanton met. Godfrey had worked with Stanton's uncle in reviving All Souls Unitarian Church in New York before moving to Florida. Stanton's parents had been married and buried at All Souls so his contacts had been deeply rooted. A planning organization had been formed in Dade County consisting of 3 ministers, Canfield, Hoffman and Rollins and 2 lay people, Godfrey and Rosen. At the suggestion of Rev. Rollins, Stanton, a resident of Broward County, was added to the committee November 27, 1957. The committee, together with the staff of the First Unitarian Church of Miami, sent letters to 80 families announcing the formation of a Unitarian Fellowship in Broward County. Thirty replies were received. A meeting was called for December 19, 1957 at Church-by the-Sea (Presbyterian). Godfrey and Stanton shared the chair at the first meeting, which was attended by 30 people from Broward County. Some of these people had read about the meeting in a feature article in the Fort Lauderdale News.
On January 20, 1958 the ensuing Executive Committee arranged to hold meetings each Sunday at the Church-by-the-Sea from 2-4:15PM.for $25 per week. The speakers included people from the University of Miami, First Unitarian Church in Miami and clergy from local churches and temples. During this time Godfrey and Stanton would huddle together after the plate was passed each Sunday to count the income to see if there was enough money to pay the next weeks speaker. If not, a member would take the pulpit. With 34 charter memberships, this ambitious group discussed professional music and further advertising. The fledgling congregation moved to the recreation center provided by Mr. And Mrs. Donald Moore at Trail's End while searching for suitable permanent church and school facilities. We began our part time minister at this same time. Walter Jolly, a charter member, was a graduate of St. Lawrence Theological School a nd was living on his boat here in Fort Lauderdale with his wife Helena. He was asked to serve as part-time Minister from December 1958 to May 1964. His salary was $265 per month. The American Unitarian Association granted application for ordination.
Full church status was applied for from the A.U.A and received. The Circuit Court approved State Charter for the Unitarian Church the following month. Fred Stanton reported to the Secretary of Florida Council of Liberal Churches -- "Attendance 80, low 64 -- high 119, Church school 30." Rev. Jolly was called to be full-time minister in May at the salary of $6000 per year. The Women's Alliance was organized this January and filled many functions. They organized dinners and party's and raised money. They became a separate pledging unit one-year. One year they added $900 to the general fund to send one of our teens to a Blue Ridge Camp, contributed to the Children's Aid Society and also to a Scholarship fund at Dillard High School for nursing. This group disbanded in 1969.
1960 - 1962
At a January meeting the congregation voted to approve the Unitarian and Universalist merger and appointed a Planning Committee to work out expansion plans. The question was to build or to buy. Our coffers were low but our hopes ran high. (A tradition held on to today) The Nazarene Church at 300 SE 6th Street in downtown Fort Lauderdale went on the market at this time but they were appalled to think they might sell to Unitarians. Negotiations were stalled when the Nazarenes had trouble buying land for their new property but they went ahead and de-dedicated their previous property (some suggested de-sanctified) in preparation of the Unitarian take over. The fund raising and planning took over 3 years and we spent some of that time housed in a former honey factory on Riverland Road. The first mortgage of $60,000 at 6% was placed with Atlantic Federal Savings and Loan and a second mortgage was held by charter member Philip Godfrey after a $10,000 gift from him. Many stories were told about that initial fund raising. One of the favorites was about Jeanette Jones and her husband Willard was going shopping for a new car. He suggested a Cadillac and Jeanette suggested a Buick and put the $2500 difference into the building fund.
After much painting, cleaning and renewing, the new church was dedicated January 27. Soon after that, the arms of the Christian Cross, atop the tower, were blocked out, at member request. Between January and May of that year, 156 visitors signed the guest book and seven joined. We struggled to support our church and pay our minister. Fred Godfrey forgave his loans to the church and Jeanette Jones continued with special gifts including her home in Ohio.
Rev. Jolly accepted a call to a congregation in Corpus Christi, Texas, as he sought increased income and new challenges. He left with the heartfelt thanks to our congregation for our years together. Rev. Weston was called to our church to serve as minister for a salary of $8,000 per year and a parsonage for living quarters. During the next few years, we went from dire financial straights to being solvent with 160 members and 83 children. Church school included Sunday school, a discussion group, study group and book review group. Each Sunday a Speakers Forum was held featuring paid and unpaid speakers. Dr. Weston gave a short sermon weekly on WLFM. We contributed toUUA, Starr-King theological seminary and started a savings account.
Rev. Weston resigned to move to California to be near his son. He was beloved and missed. Rev. David Sheyer was called to our church in November 1967 at a salary of $10,000 per year. Church membership was 225 with 107 children registered in R.E. The U.U. Service Committee became active at our church with Noralee Traylor as our local representative.
In August of 1968, a preoccupation with financial matters became a way of church life. We were in arrears in current bills and struggled as our indebtedness grew and credit rating dropped. The congregation suffered with low morale, poor communication, disorganization and discouragement. There was discontent surrounding Rev. Sheyer's ministry. Under the joint auspices of the Florida District Board of UU Ministers Association, a minister-layperson team offered to resolve stress in a non-judgmental fashion. The Board accepted the offer.
The focus of one of our social justice concerns this year was the "Zero population Growth Issue" and Joyce Tarnow was a leader. Many people in our congregation were concerned about this issue.
The UU Church of Fort Lauderdale accepted Rev. Sheyer's resignation.
Thirty-three members and Rev. Sheyer applied for fellowship status from the UUA to begin again. The UUA approved fellowship status for them after receiving approval from the Ft Lauderdale congregation. This group of dissenters started out west and later joined with the Unitarian Fellowship of South Florida in Hollywood, which continues today.
Difficult financial issues continued for the Fort Lauderdale Church and there were frequent discussions about selling the church or finding the resources to upgrade and repair it. We hired our first paid Religious Education Director at this time. It was Sue Badger and she was paid $100 per month. Church school attendance was at an all time low of 10-20 children.
Dorothy Page becomes the first woman President of our church.
Jack Daniel is called to be our minister
George Pinneo starts Friday Night Coffee House in September. 1973 was the last year UUCFL shut down for the summer.
The Stained Glass Flaming Chalice given in loving memory of Rick Page by his parents, Dorothy and Richard Page. Dot Muise shares her musical talents directing music and choir. Our Social Hall is officially named "Godfrey Hall" after charter member and benefactor Philip Godfrey. At our Oakland Park church, our patio is named for Mr. Godfrey
Our congregation was socially active this year. We held a "Celebration of Peace and Vietnam War protest", and Father Berrigan spoke at UUCFL. The National Organization for Women (N.O.W.) Broward Chapter organized and met in our church. They had trouble finding a place that they were welcome elsewhere.
Rev. Stephan Papa is called as our minister. Kip Barkley assumes leadership of 9:30 am Sunday Sounding Board.
Activity in support of Farm Workers is sponsored at our church and spearheaded by member Dr. Georgianna Lowen. Wayside Pulpit is built by Dick Boyce and sponsored by Mary Smithwick.
Our UUCFL Charter was changed to reflect a more inclusive language concerning non-heterosexuals. Rev. Daniel led Unitarian Universalists and the community in Farm Workers Rally. Rev. Papa answers Religious Right in an article in the local paper including a photo with a bumper sticker "The Moral Majority is Neither". Thelma Daniel is featured inSun Sentinel for her activism in N.O.W. and Pro-ERA. Members create the first UUCFL Banner for public demonstrations and six members create the World Faith banners that hang in our sanctuary today. The quilters were Deborah Holt, Rachel Donelson, Louise Mitchell, Deanne Smith, Betty Kearns and Bob Yoho.
The Broward Committee for Nuclear Freeze met at UUCFL Debbi Holt, Patty Prevost and Bud Whitney presented the congregation with the montage of "Famous UU's" that hangs in our entrance hall today.
25th Anniversary of UUCFL
UUCFL Endowment was incorporated with charter members Kip Barkley, Gary Jarvela, Rey Hyde, Mark Myers, Walt Gore and Jack Anker. Thelma Daniel was voted Feminist of the Year for Broward County by N.O.W. Rev Don Marshall is called as Interim Minister.
Broward County Blood Mobile began its first drive at UUCFL. Ruth Pearl continues this good work today. Rev. Kit Howell is called to serve as our minister. We sold our downtown property and moved to temporary site at Temple Emanu-El. We began our building drive. UUCFL opened its doors for A.A. meetings. UUCFL member Arlene Goodwin founded Broward Citizens for Peace and Justice. This year we began a long tradition of "Bazaar" fundraisers started by Debbi Holt and carried on for many years by Judy Pine.
Peace Place began in the Broward County Library by UUCFL Member Georgianna Lowen and staffed by many other members. This became a resource for teachers and families to learn non-competitive games and fun. After eight years, Kip Barkley presents last Sunday 9:30 am Sounding Board.
Members Annette VanHowe and Wilma Greban founded The Broward County Women's History Coalition.
In April, the congregation moved to our newly built church in Oakland Park. The Tree of Life sculpture, hanging on the back wall of our sanctuary, was designed by member Jon Kitner to thank supporters of the building fund. NoraLee Traylor founds MoonPath CUUPS.
Our congregation votes UUCFL property to become a Nuclear Free Zone. Food is collected for the Cooperative Feeding Program. Arlene Goodwin initiates this.
Third Sunday Dinners are offered to the congregation by Marno, Dennis and Bobby West and Martha and MacKenzie George to promote fellowship. These continue until 1996 and were a source of fun and community and it was also a gateway for new members and friends to join us. Activists Joyce Tarnow, Cam Enright and Dot Muise along with other members become involved in Patient Escorts, a pro-choice group. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are being prepared after church by Arlyne and Archie Goodwin for the Cooperative Feeding Program. This continued for about ten years.
This is the year of our first Mothers Day Spring Concert with our music director Dot Muise. Rev. George Briggs is called as our interim Minister. Kathleen Rhoad raises our consciousness as a Sierra Club activist.
Sean Spivey, Eagle Scout and Lee Wandel build our Memorial Garden as a Scout Project. Jon Kitner designed the plans for it. Two of our members, Felix Mitchell and Lynn Kurpiewski become active in Habitat for Humanity.
Rev. Liz McMaster is called as settled minister for UUCFL.
Member Annette VanHowe is president of Broward Planned Parenthood. Member Steve Jens-Rochow founds the Bi-sexual Network Support Group and it meets at UUCFL.
Member Deb Launer brings her adopted children with AIDS to our church and our parents learn safe ways to welcome and live with her family in the childrens' Sunday school. Dan McGrath brings music to our church with Hot Java on Saturday nights. UUCFL sponsors a fundraiser to fund a permanent location for the controversial Judy Chicago's Dinner Party. The Racial Diversity Task Force brings Dr. William Jones to speak on Black Empowerment. My God, featured in the Sun Sentinel showcased drawings of how children see God and UUCFL's Avril McGrath's work was chosen.
Sean Spivey resigns from the Boy Scouts of America in protest of their policy of excluding gays. He declined the Vigil Honor. UUCFL members march outside of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church to protest Dan Quayle and Family Values agenda of the Religious Right. Our children in R.E. declared us a Hate Free zone this year. Feminist of the year as appointed by N.O.W. was Dorcie Gallagher, a member. Voice for Choice, lead by Annette VanHowe, was active in the abortion issue.
The adults declared our location a Hate Free Zone. Churches in Conversation began; this is now Churches in Cooperation. We celebrated Jeanette Jones 100th birthday with her. She was one of our most generous supporters over the years from the very beginning. A panel was added to the AIDS Quilt project from UUCFL with the names of members and friends who have lost their lives to AIDS and AIDS related illnesses. Our quilters were Deb Holt, Eric Belfi, Ruth Pearl, Rachel Donelson, Bill Marx and Adele Alexandre. Etz Chaim, a Jewish congregation, begins to rent space at our church this year. NoraLee Traylor passes leadership of MoonPath CUUPS to Kip Barkley.
Ruth Waskey organizes cooking for the homeless; Steve Jens-Rochow helps to rebuild Black churches burned in the South. Vision Night brainstorming introduces the idea of expanding UU presence in Broward County with a church out west.
This was our tenth Anniversary of our home in Oakland Park. Debi Holt compiles a timeline and gathered much of the information in this history. River of Grass UU Congregation begins planning. Our congregation starts the hard work of birthing a new church.
Rev. Matthew McNaught is called as Interim Minister. Our first Annual Witches ball held on October 31.
The Tower Project is installed comprising of pavers and a mosaic of the Flaming Chalice at our church entrance. The design contest winner was Kathy Jens-Rochow. Gail Tapscott is called as our settled minister. Eileen Donahoe is our new Director of Religious Education. Sophia Letourneau organizes first August Lammas Ritual and then September Pagan Pride Day.
River of Grass, the new UU Congregation in western Broward County is dedicated.
The Long Range Planning Committee delivers its report to the congregation. Mary Spivey Teslow elected President. Together we begin the next chapter as a thriving voice for liberal religion in Broward County.
Gary Ladka elected President.
Money problems on-going; bequests help. Building expansion dropped. Robby Greenberg started Labyrinth Café. UU Sisterhood started with Rita Goodwin, Collette Killarney and Jane Townsend.
We have 123 members. Sandy Harris started the homeless shelter program. Bingo was approved. The first Tri-Choir performance ( of combined choirs of Fort Lauderdale, River of Grass, and Boca Raton) was January 25, 2004 at UUCFL. Wisdom Wednesday Classes are well received. Wind in Our Sails Awards presented to exceptional members and friends of the church. Guest speaker Mara Taub of the National Coalition for Prisoners Rights and author of Juries: The Conscience of The Community spoke about the jury system and the need for prison reform in our country.
We began Searching for the Future workshops with UUA Consultant Dave Rickards. To foster an atmosphere of
fellowship, the board voted that the hours between 10:45AM and 12:45PM on Sundays are a time for worship service and a time to share with our church family and friends. No Meetings or business during these hours. The Sisterhood, Book Group and Young Minds in Fellowship were popular groups. Our First Annual Poetry Service is presented by David Fisher.
Erik Anderson elected President. Empty Bowls Fundraiser was a success. Additional playground equipment was purchased thanks to some very generous donors.We participated in Earth Day Beach Cleanup.
We begin to look at Covenant Groups as a possible new program to add. Rev Gail's Surviving in Jesusland classes prove popular. 5th Annual Empty Bowls Fundraiser(An Event originally spawned at UUCFL expanded to three locations this year and yielded over $6,000.00 in funds to benefit the Cooperative Feeding Program. This combined with over $3,000.00 raised by the newly added Organ Players Benefit concert brings the total to a hearty $9,000.00 in fundraising thus far this year. Rededication of our church as a Hate-Free Zone. Funds for a new Wayside Pulpit sign and parking lot lighting donated by a generous congregant member. UUA’s Florida District Welcomes New District Executive The Reverend Kenneth Gordon Hurto. UUCFL Interweave group reforms. ”That 70’s Con” Florida District TeenConference held at UUCFL. Rev Gail brings her love of Mary Poppins to the pulpit.
We had a float(Gary Ladka's van with a PA System, Bubble Machine and the words of 'I Have a Dream' playing with music and announcements in the MLK Day parade. We got the crowd worked up along the route. Our Endowment was generous in awarding grants. EFI gave $600 to Hospice of the Gold Coast so Silver Nightingale can serenade their clients, $600 to ARC Broward for their Senior Day Program, $750 to ChildNet, $500 towards awning repair to Lucanus. This gets their aging clients out of the rain. They also gave $400 for books for Bennett Elementary gives to students learning to read, $500 to Schott Ministries for their Literacy Camp, $500 for a new student PC to ACTs, and finally gave $2,000 to the Cooperative Feeding Program. With DRE Tracey Milarsky, the New and Improved Teen Room is Coming along with new furniture, paint, and a working stereo system was just donated for the room. Tracey had our children celebrating different holidays including Mardi Gras and Shogatsu - the Japanese New Year. We continued our involvement with the Cooperative Feeding Program with Filling Empty Bowls Dinner and with the Coalition to End Homelessness. Church programs like Friendship Sunday, Labyrinth Cafe Concerts and Rev Gail's Wisdom Cinema Series were a success
February saw our aunnual Rummage sale as a success. Participated in Earth Day 2008. Demonstrated to have Burger King raise wages of tomato pickers, signed petitions, and otherwise supported the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. Hosted homeless families for the Coalition to End Homelessness and Interfaith Hospitality Program. Held an Empty Bowls dinner to raise money for the Cooperative Feeding Program. Protested against union-busting action at NOVA Southeastern University. Carried a banner for Marriage Is a Civil Right. At the National UU Association General Assembly in Fort Lauderdale, David Fisher served as coordinator for the District. Other members served as coordinators for Ambiance, Special Events, and Service Projects, DJ and sound master, plenary delegates, youth caucus attendees, speakers, t-shirt producers, and volunteers. Thanks to genrous donations, the church erected a new street-visible sign. The first videos from YouTube about Unitarian Universalism are added to our website. Judy King facilitated Evensong Class series. Long time church member, Susan Dirgins-Friend, became our new Director of Religious Education as Tracey and her family started their new chapter in St Louis.
Ken Beier was our President. We marched in the MLK Day parade again this year and were received by cheering fans along the way. On January 24, we held our 50th Anniversary Jubilee Celebration. Music, speeches and skits were the highlight of the evening coordinated by our beloved Choir Director David Fisher. A new Time capsule was created and we opened the time capsule that was created by our predecesors. We were thrilled to welcome back some of our UUCFL faces of the past to attend this great celebration. Our after service lunches and Sunday Enrichment Programs saw people staying longer into the afternoon for fellowship and inspiring discussions. Bill Schoolman presented ACLU Freedom Video series. A Wednesday Summer Camp was held for the children in the religious education program. Our Teen group to the trip to Boston with advisors Gary Ladka and Laura Lange. They visited the places of the roots of Unitarian Universalist history as well as US History, and some fun local attractions and restaurants in the area. It was the first church event that was documented on the fledgeling Facebook format as the trip progressed. Judy King in cooperation with webmaster Kip Barkley gave our website a new look. Our church presence was felt at the Stonewall parade with many of our members participating and carrying banners. Susan Friend and Rev Gail ran a successful program entitled Transformative Tuesdays and Rev Gail Bingo was tried as an ongoing fundraiser and social outlet. Our Annual Stewarship campaign saw Rev Gail as our Shepherd. This year, the church also joined Share Florida as a food distribution site, participated in a holiday gift wrapping fundraiser and collected gifts for ChildNet children in Broward Foster Care.
Rev. Gail and our Student Minister Jan Tadeo shared the pulpit together through her service time in May and offered classes together. Sunday Enrichment and Transofrmative Tuesdays were very popular. Our Rummage Sale was spearheaded by Colette Saucier while Jack and Dorothy Bellick organized a Service Auction. Laura Lange and Susan Friend organized UUCFL as a Share Florida food network location for people in the community to purchase discount grocieries for their families. The church hosted several familes for a week in onjunction with the Coalition to End Homelessness coordinated by Nicole Shulman. Janine Griffiths saw to our participation in Earth Day cleanup at John U Lloyd Park. Rev. Gail delivered an an inspiring sermon at the UUA Florida District Meeting attended by several of our members. UUA Moderator Gini Courter advised the groupon “Crafting Potentially Great Meetings” and Betty Brantley was elected for a three year term to the Florida District Board of Directors. A workshop was held by the UU Southeast Cluster on the status of Same Sex Couple adoption in Florida. Rev Gail's classes on Changing Habits proved popular. Susan Friend began our 3rd Friday Vespers Services as a new way of spiritual connection for the congregation. Interweave chair Dani Apter coordinated our participation in the Stonewall Pride Parade. Book discussion groups took place monthly headed by Melanie Taffel. UUCFL Volunteers helped coordinate a Crock Pot Cooking Day event in partnership with Broward County’s Cooperative Feeding Program. People were provided with Crock Pots and low cost recipe ideas. A concert to benefit Haitian earthquake relief was held in conjunction with our reters the International Baptist Mission. As part of our successful Labyrinth Cafe Concert Series, we were graced to have Dar Williams as one of our performers for a sold out evening. A beautiful memorial service was held for our beloved Choir Director David Fisher.
Larry Wilkner starts our Book Club. Rev Gail offers What Moves Us, Symbols and Meanings, and UU Look at the Bible series of classes. Articulating Your UU Faith classes offered by Larry Wilkner and Victor Garlock. Bingo fundraiser returns for another try. Colette Saucier is elected president. The church embarks on the nationwide social justice campaign Building the World We Dream About headed up by Betty Brantley. Rev Gail and other church activists got to Tampa to protest on behalf of the Coalition of Immokolee Workers to fight for just pay and working conditions. We participated in the US Postal Service Stamp Out Hunger program. Our Adopt a Wish program collecting holiday gifts for the children on Broward's ChildNet program is a success thanks to our most enthusiastic elf, Cam Enright. Our very popular Electronic Picture Frame is added to our lobby so we can relive some of our best moments. Judy King and Colette Saucier and a large group of volunteers head up a very successful Rummage Sale fundraiser. Empty Bowls are filled again with our fundraiser for LifeNet 4 Families. Sleep, Dreams and Self-Hypnosis Workshop is offered by our in-house expert Victor Garlock. District Executive Rev Kenn Hurto visited to give a presentation on Stewardship. Steve Lange ran a workshop about the possibility of our purchasing the property next door to the church. UUCFL officially joins BOLD Justice (Broward Organized Leaders Doing Justice) to work collectively with other faith organizations to better the community. Jeff Hutt runs our Follow the Yellow Brick Road themed stewardship.
Classes on Prophetic Imperative are offered. A special concert Tribute to Phil Ochs is very well attended and received. !0th Annual Filling Empty Bowls Fundraiser took place as well as our 9th Annual Earth Day cleanup at John U Lloyd Park. An Interfaith Seder for Freedom and Peace was held and was very successful. Rev Gail and Gary Ladka attend Justice General Assembly in Phoenix. There was call to boycott Phoenix this year due to the recent passing of the SB 1070(Show Your Papers) bill, but instead the UUA decided to go on with GA and include a very well orchestrated protest of Sheriff Joe Arpio's Tent Prison where immigration detainees are held. Myra Simons becomes President. The Book Club is now facilitated by Molly St Cavish. Soul to Soul Class series offered by Rev. Gail. Our Stewardship Campaign goes retro 60s with the Age of Aquarius championed by Victoria Abbott including a rousing performance of the theme song by our Choir of Hippies (See Choir Performances under Music at UUCFL tab above). Our Interweave group is revitalized with Nicole Rivera.
Victor Garlock elected President. Victor also began our church's Men's Group which has proven popular and helpful in bonding the community of men in the church. Bob and Patty Bender worked to promote discussions and workshops on The New Jim Crow and ending Mass Incarceration. They were also instrumental in organizing War vs Human Needs and the Occupy Fort Lauderdale movement. Rev Gail's education series included classes on A New View of World Religions and another on Spiritual Practices. Ben Cohen of Ben and Jerry’s fame and his Stamp Mobile on his cross country tour working to Stamp Money Out of Politics made an appearance at the church. The stamp mobile is a Rube Goldberg-esque machine which takes a bill through the ringer to legally stamp it to read “NOT TO BE USED FOR BRIBING POLITICIANS.” UUCFL made a prominent appearance with a booth and a float in the Pride Parade - an effort organized by Nicole Rivera. We continued to support LifeNet4Families with monthly work at the Cooperative Feeding Program facility and our Annual Filling Empty Bowls fundraiser. Rev. Gail reluctantly joins Facebook and pens an article about the experience called "Opening the Gates of Hell" - (See Journey Newsletter 6/13 in the archive)
Gary Ladka Elected President. A Long Range Plan began to take steam and the church decided to consult with the Rev. Dr. Randy Becker to take a look at our vision of the direction we wanted to go in the future as a congregation. The Long Range Plan saw surveys taken among the congregation and compiled into a plan of action. The Long Range Plan was adopted and the congregation also approved a starting fund of $25,000.00 for improvements around the building and grounds to be shared by the Building Fund, Endowment Contribution, and other fundraising. BOLD Justice declared victories in the area of Education.Rev. Opal Murray helped organize our First UU Wisdom and Enlightenment program entitled which focussed on Happiness.
Dave Griswold elected President. Many capital improvements are taking place around the building and grounds.
Some of the projects include upgrading lighting to more energy efficient and brighter more natural light, playground revitalization with fundraising for new equipment and mulch while reviving some of our classic pieces that generations have enjoyed, a new design for our sanctuary providing expanded use of our kitchen, a sound booth and much needed storage. Also working on improvements to the rest rooms to make them more accessible and pleasant including the addition of baby changing tables in each. BOLD Justice declared victories in the areas of Nursing Home care and curbing the criminalization of children for non-violent offenses. Our first ever Pajama Party was held (the brainchild of our President-Elect Jim Giblin) and was an enormous success.
Jim Giblin elected President. Sanctuary improvements started taking shape with draped wings installed on either side
of the pulpit allowing for some additional storage and entry points to the stage area. After 17 years of loyal service,
Rev Gail Tapscott completed her settled ministry at the church. A large gathering of church members, colleagues and
the greater community took place to celebrate the occasion with words, music, photos and reflections. Rev Gail was awarded Minister Emerita status by a grateful UUCFL congregation. Rev Gail delivered her final service under her ministry on June 26 entitled 'Toward a Good Goodbye and the Art of Living in Liminal Space.' Another less formal celebration of Rev. Gail followed that day's service.
After holding the position for an unbelievable amount of time - 42 years - since 1974 - our beloved Dot Muise announced her retirement as the church's Music Director.
The Rev. Susan M. Smith was hired as Developmental Minister for the church. She began her ministry on August 1.
Starting in January, major renovations to the church began as polished concrete floors were created in the Sanctuary
and hallways creating a whole new look. Audio Visual upgrades included 2 video monitors on either side of the pulpit to enable more multi-media dynamics to the services and other programming. Other improvements included new front entrance doors and our Endowment funded brand new chairs for the sanctuary. Our chairs that we had that were still in good condition were sent to the sister church in Haiti of long time renters at UUCFL the International Baptist Ministry.
In February 2017 the Unitarian Fellowship of Hollywood merged with the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ft Lauderdale joining our energies together. New programming including the Fellowship's signature Eclectic Mind Shoppe was added. We honor the history of this long-time beacon of Unitarian Univeralism in South Florida. Click here for the history of the Hollywood Fellowship. Our Loaves and Fishes Christian Study Group returned to UUCFL organized by Cathy Waltz. Sandy Lange was elected President of the congregation.
For the first time, we experimented with a UUA Bookstore at the church and it was successful. It made some current titles and other items available to congregants. In February we saw the return of our Rummage Sale as a fundraiser.
We participated once again in BOLD Justice which took on the issues of Civil Citations vs arrest for non-violent youth offenses, Elder Care, and police response training for mental health cases. BOLD also addressed gun violence in the wake of the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. New energy was found at the church and a weekly Daytimers group was formed by Molly St. Cavish. The group meets socially and also performs some much needed projects around the building and grounds. We faced a challenge of being "cool" as our air conditioning unit for the sanctuary suffered catastrophic failure. Thanks to portable high tech handheld cooling devices (paper fans) and some electric fans, we all endured while getting bids and designs for the new system. Doug Friend is credited with tons of leg work and time to get us to be cool again. New sound equipment was installed in the sanctuary by Gary Ladka and team. Rev. Susan now is using a high end Britney Spears-like headset microphone for services. Our Labyrinth Cafe Concert Series continued under Susan Moss' lead and saw some magical musical moments throughout the year.
UUCFL participated in a Black Lives Matter/Repeal Stand Your Ground event organized by Bob and Patti Bender that received a good deal of print and TV coverage. Marty McAnulty was elected President of the congregation. Our weekly Vespers service moved to Sunday afternoon activities melding with Eclectic Mindshoppe which now encompasses
2nd Sundays -Spiritual Philosophy, 3rd Sundays Plarning (Making sleeping mats for the homeless), and 4th Sundays Casual Contemplation(The new Vespers). In continued work on developmental ministry at UUCFL, Rev Susan held Listening Sessions with the congregation to review the long range plan and to see how we are doing and what needs to be done next. In an historic congregational meeting in September, we voted to change the official name of the organization to the more inclusive title of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fort Lauderdale to be more welcoming to people of all faith or non-faith backgrounds.