Our Congregation’s History
The Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse began in 1945 as the Channing Club, a discussion group that was founded by Dr.Willis Merriam, a geology professor at Washington State University.
By 1949, the group had become known as the Pullman Unitarian Fellowship. Meanwhile 12 miles East of Pullman in Moscow, Idaho, a fellowship was formed as an adult discussion group with John Brockelbank, a University of Idaho Law school Professor, as president.
The two groups somewhat merged by 1953, and began to meet jointly in Pullman, and in 1956, the Moscow-Pullman Unitarian Fellowship was legally incorporated. The group also purchased St. James Episcopal church in Pullman, but due to small attendance and maintenance problems the building was sold in 1971.
The first part of the seventies saw the fellowship meeting in small groups in private homes, and at the Campus Christian center on the U of I campus. But as attendance began to rise, the Koinonia House became the meeting place. In 1978 Harold Rosen was hired as a permanent part-time minister.
The fellowship found a new home seven years later in the old Swedish Lutheran Church in Moscow. The building was purchased and, after a lot of hard work and
renovation, dedicated on October 17, 1985 and the fellowship officially became the Unitarian Church of the Palouse.
Under the leadership of Reverend Lynn Ungar, the UUCP became a dynamic mix of social action and spiritual expansion. Today the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse is a thriving growing community of spiritual seekers, working to make a positive impact in their own lives and the lives of those around them.
Our church started to outgrow its building in the 1990’s. To resolve this, we transformed our parsonage into the Yellow House. The outdoor area between the church and Yellow House is a tiled courtyard with a patio that works wonderfully for outdoor coffee and conversation.
In 1997, after a careful search, the UUCP hired our next minister, Reverend Joan Montagnes with the help of a $7000 grant from the Pacific Northwest District Chalice Lighter’s program. During this time, the church voteed to support the Jewish Community of the Palouse during an uprising of neo-nazi activity.
During 1998, the congregation sponsored the “Traveling Viet Nam Memorial Wall – The Wall that Heals” on its visit to Moscow.
In 2005, Reverend Joan Montagnes accepted a position at a Seattle-area congregation, and the UUCP called as our Interim Minister the Rev. Patti Pomerantz.
On April 30, 2006, a congregational meeting of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse (UUCP), by a vote of 98.5% in favor, called the Reverend Kayle Louise Rice as our settled minister, and she accepted the call. Rev. Patti Pomerantz’s Interim Minister contract with the UUCP officially ended on July 15, 2006. Rev. Rice moved with her husband Brian Leekley here to Moscow, Idaho, and officially began her position as UUCP Minister, on August 1, 2006.
The next ten years were very busy in terms of growth and intentional steps taken by the congregation. In Fall 2004 we implemented our Small Group Ministry Program, stepped up our Childrens’ RE program by looking for and calling a DRE who took part in the credentialing program. In 2004 the congregation also committed to meeting the guidelines for being a Fair Compensation Congregation, and our pledges increased dramatically to meet this commitment beginning in 2005. In addition to our RE staff, we also have been able to maintain a 50% time Administrative Secretary and a Music/Choir Director since that time. In 2005 we went through the steps and received the Welcoming Congregation designation through the UUA. For the years 2008 and 2009 we sponsored our first-ever Intern Minister – Tracy Springberry Just this past year (Winter 2010), we worked with Michael Durall to evaluate where we are as a congregation and begin an intentional discussion of where we want to go and grow.
In 2010 Rev. Kayle Rice resigned, and the congregation voted to hire a two-year Accredited Interim Minister, Rev. Dr. Marlene Walker. During this time the congregation underwent an Appreciative Inquiry process, a Social Justice Empowerment Workshop, a Stewardship consultation, and other work to strengthen the congregation and plan for its future.
In 2012, the congregation unanimously called Rev. Elizabeth Stevens to be the next settled Minister.