The following are highlights from the rich history of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greater Naples (UUCGN):
1976: Charter granted to 46 signing members (some still with us).
1978-79: Dr. Ralph Halverson became our first full-time minister, with 62 members. Name became the UU Congregation of Greater Naples.
1980: Rev. Don Lawson became our part-time minister, and membership reached 85.
1982: Land had been purchased and two geodesic domes had been built, mostly by members.
1984: Rev Lawson retired; membership reached 110.
1986: Rev. Dr. Jay Abernathy came as a full-time extension minister, became settled, and remained until 1999. We continued to grow.
1993: Membership reached 149, and it was apparent that we were outgrowing our facilities.
1994: The new president, Jim Buckner, embarked on a program to solve the space problem by appointing a long-range planning committee.
1995: Focus groups were assembled and decided to first build a multi-purpose building and defer a “sanctuary” until later. A fund drive was conducted and $600,000 was raised.
1996: An architect was retained. The wish list grew; a realistic estimate for the building project was now about $900,000. Another fund drive produced almost $200,000 more; we decided to mortgage the remainder.
1997: Building began in June.
1998: Dedication and move-in was in March. About 220 people attended.
1999: Rev. Abernathy accepted a call to Rockville, MD, and Rev. Judith Morris became our interim minister.
2000: Rev. Morris moved to Norfolk VA and Rev. Dr. Peter Lanzilotta became our interim minister as we continued to search for a settled minister. Our membership passed the 200 mark in this year, attendance was approaching capacity in “season,” and we began to think about building the second phase.
2001: Our interim minister, Rev. Peter Lanzilotta, finished his term and took an interim position that returned him back to New England. After a 2-year search, our settled minister, the Reverend Kathleen (Katy) Korb, joined us on September 2. membership grew and averaged 285 during the latter half of Rev. Korb’s tenure.
2009: Through the generosity of a major donor and the full participation of the congregation, the congregation built The Betty and John Shepard Education Center, a multipurpose educational addition contiguous to the main building. It was completed in March 2009 and includes five classrooms and a fellowship room/lecture hall seating up to 100.
2012: Rev. Korb answered the call to become the minister for the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of St. Petersburg, FL. The Rev. Lyn Plumb served as the interim minister 2012-2014.
2014: On August 1, 2014, the Reverend Tony Fisher joined us. When he arrived, our membership was 284. By September 2018, membership was 337.