Sixty Years of Fellowship

A Brief History of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Stony Brook

1962-1971 First Decade

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.

suffolkmuseum1963Spring 1963: The first public meeting is 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).

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.

1964: Our first home is rented. 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. Volunteer teachers are public school professionals. We start a youth group. Huntington Fellowship, Rev. Stutzman, preaches at our Fellowship, too.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.

1972-1981 Second Decade

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

1973 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. Dorrie Prouty writes a play about a Unitarian Unicorn.

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.

1982-1991 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.

1992-2001 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. Imagination Pre-School begins renting our classrooms.

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, led by Ed Mikell, 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, but it falls short of its goal. We revise our plans and, with the help of a $700,000 loan from the UUA, start construction in April 2004. Kate takes a half-year sabbatical. An office assistant is hired: Laurie Lockwood in 1999- worked to April 2001.

2000 Kate trains Pastoral Assistants.

2001 We seek a mortgage for our construction. Banks turn us down. UUA grants a loan so we can proceed.

2002-2011 Fifth Decade

2002 In July we hold our 14th 1890’s Fair. We get the go-ahead on Building Expansion Construction. In our Religious Education program, DRE Linda Volkersz initiates the Love and Help Program for 2nd to 4th graders. In October we have our 40th Anniversary Celebration.

2003 The Board of Trustees signs a Construction Contract with Lettieri Contacting and we vote to close on $700,000 Construction Loan. Our singles group, In Other Words, celebrates their 25th Anniversary. There is no 1890’s Fair because of construction. Our office assistant leaves; Debra Hoffman is hired on 10/7/2003 but leaves again 11/16/03 (1 mo.). We hire Pat Kaminski 11/17/2003. We reach 230 members.

UUFSB building2004 This is the Year of the Shovel: Construction begins and the building is completed in December of 2005. There is no 1890’s Fair, because of the construction all year. The Labyrinth constructed to be part of the sanctuary floor. Our Fellowship to continue under the name “UUFSB.”

2005 The Rev. Kate Lehman announces her plans to retire and the Board votes to go ahead with hiring of an Interim Minister. Kate establishes a Life-Span Enrichment Committee (Educational Assistants). Gil Hanson starts an adult program called a Transcendentalist Seminar which began in January. The Worship Assistants vote to change their name to Worship Associates. Kate Lehman marries Stan Reimer. Our Fellowship requests recognition as a Welcoming Congregation after year-long study. A Time Capsule is assembled and placed under Fellowship floor. The Committee On the Ministry of the Congregation does a Congregational survey.

2006 Our new addition is utilized; now landscaping and plans for additional storage begins. Our 15th annual 1890’s Fair is held. Our minister, the Rev. Kate Lehman, is nominated for Minister Emerita, and Kate retires on August 30, 2006. The Board hires the Rev. James H. Macomber as Interim Minister on September 1, 2006.

2007 Rev. Kate Lehman named as Minister Emerita. We elect a Search Committee led by Joanne Hammer to identify another settled minister. Our 16th 1890’s Fair is held. The DRE, Linda Volkersz, plans a three-year RE program to study: UU Identity, Judeo-Christian Heritage, World Religions. UUFSB is certified as a Welcoming Congregation and as a Green Sanctuary: Stefani Scott, who was the major force behind the Green Sanctuary project, is honored at the General Assembly. Our Social Action Committee initiates the “Journey Toward Wholeness” program. Rev. James Macomber’s service as Interim Minister ends August 30, 2007. Rev. Dr. Barbara Coeyman’s service as Interim Minister begins September 1, 2007. Pat Kaminski, office assistant, leaves but after 8 months, is rehired 11/5/2007.

2008 This year, our pledges cover 60% of Fellowship costs, a major milestone. We hold our 17th 1890’s Fair. The Rev. Carol Wolff begins service as Consulting Minister September 1, 2008. A Historian (Archivist) is instituted as part of the Fellowship: Milly Michos, archivist. She will be converting archives to electronic files. The Green Sanctuary committee is made part of the Social Action Committee.

2009 Our 18th 1890’s Fair held, and it so happened, it was the last Fair. On September 15, 2009, Gil Hanson began the Transcendental discussion group, an adult program series. Our long-time DRE, Linda Volkersz, receives her Credential from the UUA and is honored by the Metro NY District with their “Award for Excellence in Religious Education.” Linda retires on June 30, and a party is held in her honor.

2010 The search for new DRE begins, while volunteers maintain the Religious Education program. Nancy Hunter and Michele Maggio are R.E. Committee co-chairs. A “Small Group Ministry” (Sharing Circles) begins. The Ministerial Search Committee becomes the Transition Committee to support Rev. Margie. Rev. Carol Wolff’s service as Consulting Minister ends August 15, 2010 and on the same day, Rev. Margie Allen’s service as Consulting Minister begins. Our first folk music festival, called the Woodlands Festival, begins. Nancy Lynch is appointed as Acting DRE. The “Grounds and Sounds Cafe” coffee house is started by Greg Gallucio.

2011 A new DRE, Gretta Johnson-Sally, is hired in January. The 50th Anniversary Committee begins to plan for the celebration. Gil Hanson begins a Seminar on Humanism in February. The Second Woodlands Festival is held and “Grounds and Sounds” celebrates its 2nd year. Le Petit Salon de Musique, a classical music program, is started by Ed Mikell. Shawl Ministry begun by Rev. Margie.

2012-2021 Sixth Decade

2012 Marriage Equality passes: Margie & Linda Anderson are married legally on Feb. 12, 2012. Successful Season Two for Le Petit Salon de Musique. End of Life Seminar – hosted by the Pastoral Assistants May 6, 2012. Joys and Concerns board put up – designed by Linda Mikell, constructed by Mike Serie. DRE Linda Volkersz is granted emerita status and presented with a shawl. Our 50th Anniversary Celebration week-end is held Oct. 19-21. Greeters Team in Membership Committee started Dec. 2012.

2013 We call Margie Allen to be our minister Jan. 13, 2013. UUFSB was chosen in 2011 as a Threshold Congregation in CERG. (Central Eastern Regional Group) UUFSB was awarded the O. Eugene Pickett Award, which honors us as having “contributed significantly to the growth of the District.” Woodlands Folk Festival: Saturday, June 29. Ushers Teams begin for Membership Committee led by Linda Volkersz – Early & Late Ushers added to Greeters.

David Kirk presented a matching challenge – $51 K given to the UUFSB Endowment. Margie’s Installation – Sun., Oct. 20. DRE Gretta Johnson-Sally called on to serve in Trauma Response Ministry.

2014 COMC Assessment of the RE Program. Board creates Making Room Task Force: How to deal with crowding. Rev. Margie receives Final Fellowship at GA June 27. Earthkeepers Committee conducts a capital campaign for our Solar Panels Project: they raise $36,000. Pat Killian & Andy Collver sell 90 panels – they are installed on July 22 2014. The People’s Climate March in NYC joined by many UUFSB members. DRE Gretta initiates Mystery Buddy Program that pairs adults and children.

2015 Witnessing Whiteness Workshops begin. Rev. Margie receives the June Z. Gillespie Award. Rev. Linda Anderson designated Community Minister. The Board of Trustees has integrated long time policies into a new policy book. The Board approved the purchase of two storage sheds at a cost of over $7,000. An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is instatlled. AED Training on July 8 at the Fellowship. DRE Gretta holds Kids Night Out -Saturday, December 12. New playground tower purchased.

2016 Vespers services offered once a month begins January 15, 2016. Peter Winkler, Deede Cook & Pat Killian will play. The COMC & Board worked to assist in the development of the Mission -Vision process. Transformation of Julia’s Garden into Nature Discovery Garden by Stefani Scott & Pat Killian. Sitting on the Dock of the Bay Concert – Claudia ‘s band plays – June 4 at the Seppala’s. The Black Lives Banner placement approved by congregation at the Annual Meeting. BLM Banner defaced and stolen; finally taken down under threat of legal action by our pre-school renter. Congregational Meeting on Dec. 4 called by the Congregation because of budget concerns.

2017 The Board makes the difficult decision of terminating our relationship with our long term renter, Imagination Pre-School. In order to balance our budget, the position of the DRE is terminated and Gretta Johnson-Sally is let go, and volunteers take over the RE program. Board goals are to: Examine the roles of the governance committees, and evaluate them, choose responsible people and charge committees with their work. The Board will create a policy around social justice ministry and will create a bylaws review. We decide to keep the current Mission Statement. The Board honors two couples for their Distinguished service: Ed & Linda Mikell and Bill & Nancy Lynch.

2018 The Board finds new renters! The roles of governance committees are examined & a new policy for social justice ministry devised. A Congregational Meeting is held to decide on a new sign to replace Black Lives Matter. It includes statements such as Love is Love, Climate Change Is Real, along with Black Lives Matter. Sadly, some members leave the congregation due to this decision. The Board approves the recruitment of a part-time DRE, a part-time Religious Education Assistant, and a part-time Nursery Coordinator. Dan Bartley will form an Organizational Review Task Force to clarify our governmental structure. The bylaws will then be revised. The Rev. Linda Anderson leads a Buddhist Sangha on Saturdays as well as 3 Death Cafes & two bereavement groups. The COMC finalizes their report on our congregation’s involvement in Social Justice.

2019 The Board hires Deb Little as a half-time DRE and Wendy Engelhardt as a part-time Nursery Coordinator. Nancy Hunter and Michele Maggio are thanked for their service of leading the religious education program last year. In the fall, we unveil our new colorful sign on Nicolls Road listing six values. The Board sponsors a winter fundraiser to raise $5,000 to: a) refurnish the Minister’s office; b) repair the furnace; and c) purchase a computer for the DRE. We also raise funds to resurface the parking lot and upgrade the back lot parking area. While Margie Allen is on her 3-month sabbatical, volunteers, led by John and Sara Lutterbie, replace the flooring, painted the walls, and replace most of the furniture in the minister’s office.

2020 March 15. Our building is closed down and services are canceled due to the COVID Pandemic. The Board sets up a Pandemic Response Team to advise them on guidelines and how to keep the congregation safe. Joanne Hammer is chair. Pastoral Associates begin making support calls to all Fellowship members. Those who are over 70 and living alone are given weekly calls. DRE begins plans for virtual classes. Musicians and Worship Associates begin planning virtual services. Due to the pandemic, we lose income from Le Petit Salon de Music and Grounds & Sounds coffee house as well as our usual Goods and Services auction.

2021 October we return to in-person services with requirements that all be vaccinated and wear masks. When COVID cases rise in December, we are forced to close again for two months. In March, we resume in-person services.

2022-2031 Seventh Decade

2022 In January, our settled minister, Margie Allen, announces her retirement to begin in August of that year. The Board sets up a Search Committee for an interim minister. Pastor Madelyn Campbell is hired for two years to be our interim minister.


Edith Hull wrote a more detailed history of the First Fifty Years of the Fellowship, which can be found by clicking here. For a list of our Fellowship Presidents, click here.

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