History of the UUFC
In 1950 John and Myra Bregger and Ray and Muriel Rutledge joined with ten Unitarians in Greenville to form the Unitarian Fellowship of Greenville. For a time the two couples journeyed to Greenville, but eventually there were enough Unitarians in Clemson to organize the Unitarian Fellowship of Clemson, South Carolina in March 1954 with twelve charter members. Meetings were held in the homes of various members.
For the first ten years, through 1964, Ray Rutledge served as President and John Bregger as Secretary. In 1958 the Fellowship began meeting in the Clemson Y.M.C.A. In 1964 the membership still stood at twelve. However, through the untiring efforts and enthusiasm of the members, by 1974 the membership had increased to fifty, and had outgrown the facilities at the 'Y.'
The decision to buy a lot on Pendleton Road and build a church was reached in 1978 and immediately fund raising efforts were started. Construction was begun in 1979 and completed in 1980. On April 20, 1980, the members celebrated the dedication of the new Clemson Unitarian Fellowship building. Rapid growth of membership resulted in adding the Religious Education wing in 1984 and an enlarged parking lot in in 1986-88. Merrill and Charlotte Palmer brought a regular music program to the congregation in the 1970s. In 1987 Dillman Sorrells, a longtime member, was ordained to the Unitarian Universalist Ministry by the Fellowship of Clemson.
In 1988 the congregation changed its name to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Clemson, South Carolina, to reflect the previous merging of the national Unitarian and the Universalist Associations. In 1994, the present meeting room was added along with substantial renovations to the existing building in order to accommodate a growing congregation. The congregation had several short-lived experiments with professional ministry in the 1980s. In 1996 the congregation voted to initiate a process of seeking a full-time minister. As a result of that effort, with the support of the UUA and a grant from Chalice Lighters in the Thomas Jefferson District, Reverend Cynthia Prescott was appointed Extension Minister by a vote of the congregation in December 1997 and began her shared ministry with the congregation in February 1998. She was called as a settled minister in 1999.
Another important addition to staff was a Director of Religious Education, beginning in 1999 with Janie Shipley as a consultant, followed by Georgeanne Stafford in the dual role of administrator and DRE and then Ginny Parrish Loy as our third DRE.
In 1999 the congregation had the opportunity to buy the two lots next door, one fronting on Pendleton Road and one fronting on Gregory Street. In 2001 UUFC purchased the adjacent building now known as Founders' House, built an environmentally responsible parking lot with grassed parking spaces supported by plastic grids, and renovated the building to use for office and meeting space.
Other important milestones in recent years were earning the designation as a Welcoming Congregation in 2005 and a Green Sanctuary in 2007. These two efforts reflect the congregation's long history of commitment to social justice and environmental responsibility, values that we try to live in our individual lives as well as in our fellowship life.