Fifty-Three Years of Fellowship

A Brief History of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Stony Brook


Fall 1962 - An enthusiastic group gathers at the home of Joan and Dick Feyk, Stony Brook, and conceive the idea of forming a Unitarian Fellowship in the Three Village area.webapril-1963-feyk

November 1962 - Organizational charter drawn up and approved by 17 founding members. Eleven UU families adopted by-laws of the Unitarian Fellowship of the Three Villages on November 27, 1962. Charter was issued in Boston on January 11, 1963.

suffolkmuseum1963First Ten Years: Spring 1963 The first public meeting was held at the American Legion Hall, Main Street, Setauket. Early public meetings and services were held Tuesday evenings at the Suffolk Museum (now TV Garden Club Exchange).

Spring 1963 Local philanthropist Ward Melville offers five five-acre sites on Nicolls Road at a the bargain price of $10,000. Charter members contact the Veatch Committee in Plandome, which advances funds to secure this property.

Many homes: We rent a small five-room house on Cedar Street, Stony Brook; adult services are held on Sunday evenings. With a first enrollment of 31 students Religious Education classes are held on Sunday mornings. fellowshiphousecedarst63-672

1965 We grow to 44 members, 26 families. Space crunch leads to a discussion of needs, costs, and architectural styles for a building on the Nicolls Road plot. Our architect prepares two-story building plans which are submitted, as required by deed, to the Ward Melville Corporation. Unfortunately, the plans are not approved. Seven modifications later there is frustration and disagreement and the building plans are laid aside.

1967 Fifty members, 30 families, no room. We buy an eight-room house on the corner of Bayview Ave. & BAYVIEW225A, East Setauket. It is our home for 9 years. Photo We rent space to liberal organizations and Art Barn classes; Coffee House for college students; annual Holiday Fair begun.

1968 We are up to 75 members.

Second decade:

1973-74 We participate in the "Sharing in Growth" program which analyzed how our Fellowship could function better and grow.

1975 We are 106 members and 60 families.

1973 We hire part-time Director of Religious Education Linda Volkersz. Fall 1973 space needs force us to rent the Slavic Center theater,SLAVIC2 Port Jefferson for Sunday morning adult services; Bayview space is used for the growing Children's R.E. activities. Because the locations are two miles apart we reassemble for coffee hour. We decide to find roomier quarters.

1974 We decide to build on Nicolls Road property. We chose Stanmar Associates who use prefab techniques and design structure. We sell the Bayview house and get substantial bank mortgage plus an interest-free loan from the Veatch Committee.

1975 The congregation votes to sign contracts. Construction began in August and was completed in December.

fellowship-bldg401976 January We move in! Children and adults participate in a service of songs and smiles.

1976 February 29 Representatives of local churches, Unitarian churches and fellowships, LIAC (Long Island Area Council), and UUA, attend our Service of Dedication. The unicorn, representing fulfillment of our building dreams, appears in original plays and becomes a symbol of the Fellowship. Increased space allows more activities: Person-to-Person (later to be called In Other Words -- IOW) is started; we host LIAC & Metro NY District affairs, UUFSB-sponsored monthly art exhibits and other Fellowship activities. Outside groups begin to use the facility. We are growing fast!

1980 We add a Parish Assistant, Sue Serie, to the salaried staff. The congregation is still lay-led and we continue to grow.


Third Decade: In preparation for hiring full-time minister, we participate in the UUA initiated and promoted Minister-On-Loan program which brings Fred Muir and family to us for six weeks, from January - February 1982 The response is enthusiastic and we call Steve Edington as extension minister in September 1984. We celebrate our 25th Anniversary. Participants include an active Liberal Religious Youth group MORE.

1988 After an intensive search, we call the Rev. Kate Lehman as full-time minister to the renamed Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Stony Brook. Her vision and spiritual leadership and enthusiasm foster even more growth.

1989 An idea is conceived to utilize our beautiful sylvan woods for an 1890s Summer Fair, which is held the July 4th weekend. Due to the enthusiastic community response we decide to offer this family entertainment annually. Members share in the community effort and we are soon raising money for the building fund.

1990 After planning with an architect for enlarging our building, the feasibility study concludes that we do not have the required number of pledge units to start a building expansion. We go on double session for Sunday services and rent a trailer for added R.E. space. Our salaried staff expands to include Laura Puchalski as Administrative Assistant
Fourth Decade:

1992 We celebrate our 30th Anniversary.

1993 Renters who contract for long-term use include a private nursery school which rents the building during the week.

1994 We have 111 pledging units.
1997 We hire Susan Catanzaro to be our new part-time Administrative Assistant. We hold our first Goods and Services Auction which annually raises money for building fund. We celebrate our 35th Anniversary. A Comprehensive Planning Committee (CPC) is formed to assess space needs.

1998 We hire a UUA development consultant who spends a weekend leading our members through the steps of a successful building expansion, from writing our own mission statement to assessing our financial resources, to raising the capital. CPC becomes the Dream Team, with financial, capital campaign, building, exterior and interior components. Chaleff & Rogers are hired as architects. They design a handsome, functional building.

1999 Capital Campaign is launched. Kate takes a half-year sabbatical.

2000 Kate trains Pastoral Assistants. An office assistant is hired.

2001 and beyond - highlights coming soon

Past Presidents
UU Fellowship of the Three Villages (1962-1988)
UU Fellowship at Stony Brook (1988-Present)

1962 - Irma Peters
1963 - Ed Fiess
1964-65 - Richard Mould
1966 - Vincent Cirillo
1967 - John "Jack" Stehn
1968 - 69 - Jim Crane
1970 - 71 - Oscar Haac
1971 - Roy MacDougal
1972 - Dorrie Prouty
1973 - Nedra Carlson
1974 - Lou Cherry
1975 - George Michos
1976 - 1977 - Evert Volkersz
1978 - Margaret Townsend
1979 - 1980 - Lang Prouty
1981 - 1982 - Edith Hull
1983 - 1984 - Lynn Buth
1985 - 1986 - Andy Hull
1987 - 1988 - Harold Kirk
1989 - 1990 - Laetitia Bradley
1991 - 1992 - Marie Baltz
1993 - 1994 - Al Saubermann
1995 - 1996 - Megs Shea
1997 - 1998 - Joanne Hammer
1999 - Greg Maggio
2000 - 2002 - Edith Gordon
2003 - 2004 - Barbara Coley
2005 - 2007 - Pat Killian
2007 - 2008 - Megs Shea
2008 - 2009 - Greg Maggio
2010-2012 - Dixie Comeau

                                                                     2012-2013 - Rich Hall

                                                                2013-2015 - Maureen Shaiman

                                                                2015-2017 - Joanne Hammer

Further Reading

A Precarious Path: The Bold Experiment of the Fellowship Movement

Unitarian Universalist Origins: Our Historic Faith (Mark W. Harris)

UU History in 8 Minutes

History of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Stony Brook