History of UUCE
In 1909, a small group of religious liberals led by the Rev. Stephen Peebles, a retired Unitarian minister, banded together to form the First Unitarian Church of Eugene. Within three years, they had erected a church building on the corner of 11th and Ferry. For the next 25 years the Unitarian Church grew slowly. Then, in the social turmoil of the Great Depression, the church first grew rapidly and then almost collapsed, actually shutting its doors for a short time during World War II.
Starting in 1948, under the leadership of Sidney Peterman, a young minister just finishing seminary, the church reestablished itself and began to grow again. This growth continued under three more young ministers and by the late 1950s the Unitarian Church had outgrown it’s first church. This building was sold and the congregation met for nearly three years in a school while money was raised and a new building was erected at 40th and Donald.
The ministry of the new church began under the leadership of the Rev. Carl Nelson during another period of social turmoil and war. This time the church weathered these challenges successfully and had grown so much by the mid 1990s that it became necessary to hold two services. The growth accelerated during the ministry of the Rev. Carolyn Colbert and it became clear that the Unitarian Universalist Church in Eugene, once again, needed a larger building. Many years of planning and hard worked culminated in the vote on November 1st, 2009 to buy the former Scottish Rite Mason’s building at the corner of 13th and Chambers.
Since that time the church has settled into its new location. Through a program with St. Vincent DePaul, we have four Conestoga Huts that each house a resident. When not in a pandemic we are active with a food ministry, sanctuary and immigration issues, earth justice and climate crisis, and racial and gender justice. There is a lively Faith Formation program for all ages. For a full list of UUCE’s Ministers since founding, click here.