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5 Yr. Strategic Plan
Strategic Plan Overview
Fellowship Short History
[The following is derived from "A Short History of the Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship" by Lillian Adams. For a more detailed history of the Fellowship, see the History of the Fellowship. Some photos of the Fellowship's 2003-04 building project may be viewed at The Fellowship's Building Project. For the history of the CUF organ, see the The Fellowship Organ.]
Unitarianism and Universalism. Unitarianism and Universalism have their origins in the first three centuries of the Christian era. The term "Unitarian" originally meant a Christian believing in the oneness of God. Early Unitarians thus rejected the divinity of Jesus, regarding him instead as the human source of a uniquely important moral message guiding their lives. Throughout the early history of Christianity those holding Unitarian beliefs were persecuted as heretics and as enemies of what was regarded as the "true faith." These persecutions continued until the 18th Century. A "Universalist" in the early stages of Christianity endorsed the basic goodness of all human beings, and thus rejected the doctrines of Original Sin and of God's damnation to Hell of all but the fortunate "elect." Both Unitarianism and Universalism took root in Colonial America, with Universalism being officially organized in 1793 and Unitarianism later in 1825. In 1961 the two organizations merged to form the Unitarian Universalist Association. Today the UUA has over 1,000 congregations in the United States, and is represented by its symbol of the flaming chalice all around the world. For a more complete account of this history see Unitarian Universalist Origins by Mark W. Harris. Also available online are biographies of notable Unitarians. Included are biographies of two past members of the Carbondale Fellowship, Buckminster Fuller and Henry Nelson Wieman.
The Carbondale Fellowship: Early Years. In 1950 Delyte Morris
became President of Southern Illinois Normal University. Carbondale
was a town of about 5,000, not counting students, and the "Normal" started
hiring new faculty members, enlarging various departments, and making
the school a full-fledged university instead of the teachers' college
it had been. As part of this development President Morris recruited distinguished
retired faculty from other universities. Many of them were to join
the Fellowship, especially those who had been colleagues or students of
Growth of the Fellowship. Use of the rented building became
quite unsatisfactory, and members of the Fellowship looked around for
a building that could be bought and adapted to their needs. In 1956
a building located at the corner of Elm Street and University Avenue,
which had been built as an Episcopal church around the turn of the century
and then sold to the Carbondale Public Library District, came on the market
as the Library started a new building. As soon as the library moved
out, the Fellowship moved in, and found there was a tremendous amount
of work to do on it: cleaning, painting, restructuring. Members
of the congregation pitched in. All the work was done by members,
who held their first service in the new building on March 3, 1956. Services
ran concurrently with the University semesters, and the last meeting for
the season was a picnic which was held for many years at the Adams farm
near Ava. Later the picnics were held at Evergreen Park.
Planning for the Future. Membership in the Fellowship had
stayed relatively constant at around l00 until the mid-'90s, with people
leaving (primarily because of leaving town) and others joining.
Many of the new members continued to be mostly young people with children
who wanted a non-traditional religious education for them. In 1997
it became very apparent that a new building was needed, since the present
one was in bad condition and would take a great deal of money to fix.
Plans for this new building were begun, and property on the corner of
Sunset Avenue and Parrish Lane was acquired as its site.
Construction on a new building for the Fellowship was begun in June, 2003. Less than a year later in March, 2004, this construction was completed. Photos of this construction can be viewed at the Fellowship's Building Project. The first Sunday service was held in the new building on March 28, 2004.
**Last update 12/18/12 ymp**
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