From our founding through today
In August 1957, ten members of the White Plains Community Church, together with others from the Croton area, met to establish a Unitarian Fellowship in Croton-on-Hudson. Initially, services were held at the Croton Community Nursery School. The first order of business was to set up a religious education program for about 35 children. Adult programs were added in early 1958. By the fall of 1959, religious education enrollment had grown to such an extent that the Fellowship moved to larger quarters shared with the Bennett Conservatory of Music.
In 1961, the American Unitarian Association and the Universalist Church of America merged, creating the Unitarian Universalist Association. As a result, on May 3, 1963, our congregation formed the “Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship of Briarcliff-Croton-Ossining, Incorporated” as a religious corporation dedicated to “further[ing] the principles of Unitarian-Universalism, including individual freedom of religious belief, devotion to truth and the advancement of the brotherhood of all mankind.”
In June 1963, with a mortgage from the Veatch Fund and the North Shore Unitarian Society, Inc. we were able to purchase our present building, built in 1926. The space served for many years at the Boscobel Methodist Church.
In the early days, members arranged all the Sunday programs. Guest ministers from different faiths as well as psychologists were frequently asked to speak at services. Our first part-time minister was Rev. Dana Klotzel, director of the UN office of the Unitarian Universalist Association. He is remembered for his strong stand against the Vietnam War. After his sudden death in 1972, members once again arranged all our Sunday services. Initially, ministers of all faiths were invited to speak once a month, but later invitations were extended only to Unitarian ministers. When the Hastings Unitarian Society hired Rev. Jason Hays as a part-time minister, our Fellowship arranged to have him conduct one service a month. Memories of our members during the early years include: an active arts program, interfaith balls, wine and cheese parties, book groups, movie series, lively discussions, dramatic performances, a fund raiser led by an authentic Vermont auctioneer and even a guest speaker’s glider plane parked alongside the Fellowship.
After Rev. Hays left, the Fellowship was fortunate to find Jim Covington, a pastoral counselor and family therapist. In 1990, we invited Jim to lead worship two Sundays a month. In 1994, Jim began conducting more services. After 20 years of service with our congregation, Rev. Covington retired in June 2011.
In 2012, we entered the formal search process to find a settled minister. In May of 2013, we called the Rev. Dr. Sarah Lenzi to serve our congregation as its first full-time minister. In the spring of 2014, we held our congregation's first installation service to mark this new phase of our congregation's history.
In June of 2014, during our annual meeting, the congregation voted to adopt a new name. We are now the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Hudson Valley.