In 1961, a group of committed people formed a Unitarian Fellowship in the Copper Country in order to have a religious education program for their children, as well as to have a presence in the community. However, as the children grew up, the group dwindled and ultimately was dissolved in late 1969.
Fast forward to 1984! Carol Hepokoski, a recent graduate of Starr King School for the Ministry who was serving a Unitarian Universalist fellowship in Minnesota, visited Houghton with her folk-singer husband. She offered to speak about Unitarian Universalism at an open meeting, to be held in the Michigan Technological University Faculty Lounge.
Radio announcements were heard by many former UU members and others who expressed interest. About forty-five people attended the presentation, which resulted in a consensus to pursue the re-formation of a new Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in the Copper Country.
Rev. Hepokoski reported our interest to the Unitarian Universalist Association. They were sufficiently impressed to offer to subsidize quarterly visits by her to assist us in the formation of the new Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. Between her visits, we met twice monthly with services conducted by members and other visiting speakers, in a room at the MTU Nursery School, holding Sunday School for the children in one corner of the room. It was cozy!
A year later, in September 1985, we were formally accepted as a member congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Association, with forty-one charter members. The next step in our journey was an arrangement with Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, associated with the UUA, to occasionally have senior students come to conduct a service. This was the impetus for Meadville to formally establish a program of nine monthly visits with the same student traveling to Houghton once monthly during the school year. It was a serendipitous match, giving both the students and our congregation, a feeling for a more sustained ministry, and exposing us to the wide diversity of religious views shared in our denomination.
As we outgrew the MTU Nursery site, we moved to the newly built BHK Child Development Center, for which we helped to raise the funding, and where we have continued to meet.
The year 2004 was a watershed year for the Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, when we called our first full-time minister. The Reverend Sydney Morris had served us part-time for two and a half years. Under her capable leadership, our group grew to more than eighty members. The Religious Education program and other committees provide opportunities for growth, fellowship, and fun.
Rev. Morris departed in 2013 for a new position in Eugene, Oregon. The fellowship was lay-led for six months and, in January 2014, the Reverend Gabrielle Parks arrived as our interim minister.
In 2015, the Reverend Chris Rothbauer was called as our second settled minister. Reverend Chris brings an enthusiasm for social justice and shared ministry to our congregation as we enter a new chapter of our history.