UU History

Universalists and Unitarians in Early Eau Claire...

A Universalist congregation began meeting in Eau Claire in 1857. In 1864 they purchased a building which once stood about 100 yards from the current UUC building at 421 South Farwell.

In 1888 a Unitarian Society was organized in Eau Claire. The following year, they constructed a church, "First Unitarian," now the Christian Scientist' meeting place across the street from our current building.

Although dormant for half a century, the UU spirit once again emerged with the formation of the Chippewa Valley Unitarian Fellowship in 1950. Monroe Husbands, a Unitarian organizer from Boston, visited Eau Claire and helped form a Fellowship in the Chippewa Valley.

The meetings of the Chippewa Valley Unitarian Fellowship provided opportunities for members to explore issues important to them. Most meetings were held in Chippewa Falls. In the mid-1960's the Fellowship began to organize Religious Education classes.

In the summer of 1974, Eau Claire members of the Chippewa Valley Fellowship organized the present UUC. During its early years, the emphasis was mainly on Religious Education. This new Fellowship met in three different locations before purchasing the present building in downtown Eau Claire in 1981.

During its early years, the fellowship was entirely lay-led. We hired our first professional minister, The Reverend Mary Anne Hachten-Cotter, in 1985. She served on a part time basis from 1985 to 1988. From 1989 to 1993, the Reverend David Grimm served as a full time minister under the UUA Extension Ministry program. In 1993, the fellowship called our first settled minister, the Reverend Linda Bunyard. After Rev. Bunyard followed her heart out west in the fall of 1997, we were lay led for a period of about two years. In the spring of 1999 we called the Rev. Virginia Wolf. Rev. Wolf retired in 2008 and is currently serving as Minister Emerita. 2008-2010 The Rev. Wendy Jerome served as interm minister while we searched for a settled miniter. In 2010 we called The Rev. Julianne Lepp to serve as our full time Lifespan Minister.

A number of customs and traditions have emerged in our congregation. These have included Easter egg hunts in the 1960s and 70s, spaghetti dinners to honor the women of the church, and annual fall and spring picnics. Our annual Harvest Auction is the social highlight of the year, and spawns many dinners, social events and activities. Our Dinners for Eight series of small potluck dinner parties provides many opportunities to get to know each other better in the warmth of our homes. We've grown comfortably familiar with several special Sunday morning services held each year, including our Gathering of the Waters service at the beginning of each new church year, and our Winter Solstice service in December. Other activities include book group, a very active choir, family activities group, playgroup, pagan group, and a crafting group, to name a few.

In 2005 the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Eau Claire changed its name to Unitarian Universalist Congregation.

The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Eau Claire now looks back on almost 60 years of continuous activity in the Chippewa Valley. With a strong and growing congregation, the UUC is building its future on this tradition of involvement.