Our Fellowship History
What a strange trip
Congregations don’t create instantaneously!
In the late 1940’s, Gil and Clay Rowland had informal “discussions” in their modest house on W. Mountainview Avenue off of North Main Street. By 1950, Gil had been introduced to “Unitarianism” and thought “That sounds like something I could want to know about and might even like.” In December 1950, The “Unitarian Fellowship of Greenville” was accepted by the American Unitarian Association.
Clay Rowland credits Shree Yougue and Elaine Norwood with making her Unitarian life possible.
Bill Page remembered how diverse the meetings were in the 1950-60s, with Humanists not wanting any singing or inspirational reading or a collection, just a discussion of current events. What’s with paying for a place?
Joe and Vauda Allmon moved to Greenville in 1963. The fellowship was still meeting in the basement of the Jewish synogogue on Buist Avenue. Because of that, Joe was questioned about his beliefs in unions and religion by his superiors at work.
In 1964, a house on Buist Avenue was purchased. It became less of a group discussing topics and eventually, gained the formality of a “church”, with music and a “sermon”. Some did not like this change. The programs were always interesting: Joe Almon talked about human resources in manufacturing companies, a Mrs. Dodenhoff, gave a program about traveling in Turkey.
Bill and Lois Wunch attended the Fellowship starting in 1967, when we were meeting on Buist Avenue with only about 8 or 10 people attending. They were helpful in housing a Ugandan-Indian family of seven people.
Bill Wunch had the honor of doing the first Unitarian funeral in Greenville for a woman who’s family had just moved to town. Lois called Bill “Reverend Wunch” for a long time. Bill built and donated bookcases for the library on Hillcrest and then again for the State Park Road fellowship. (Bill also made the display for our Sunday name badges. Bill built much of the original UU World of Children rooms in the annex building – now extinct.)
As Lois stated, she became a Unitarian around 1953 when her daughter was born. “Unitarianism is a comfortable religion. You are not asked to mouth something that you can’t quite swallow”.
Hal Smith said “The people who founded the fellowship didn’t have any little kids. In the mid 1970’s, when people stared coming into the fellowship and they brought with them ready-made families or generated them on the spot, we started to try to become more inclusive of the children and the children’s activities.” “When our son Kevin started five-year kindergarten, a motivating factor was that our son would be asked about church and he was unchurched. The was the main motivating factor of our affiliating with the Unitarians – as an outside source of morality lessons for him and to keep him from feeling different from the other kids.”
Jennifer Slade, though not the first minister, was perhaps the most recognizable and most successful social outreach advocate for the fellowship. She was called in 1992.