Our Congregation’s History
The Unitarian Coastal Fellowship in Carteret County began in 1980 when charter member Riley Stone placed an ad in the local newspaper seeking Unitarian Universalists in the area interested in forming a local fellowship. That advertisement brought a promising response from area residents. Actual formation of the fellowship occurred in the course of two meetings held in October 1980 at the Webb Memorial Civic Center in Morehead City. Bylaws were drawn up, and twenty charter members signed the application for UUA membership.
UCF met on Sundays twice a month at the Webb Center. The Galley Stack Restaurant at Spooner’s Creek hosted brunch following the services. As UCF services outgrew the Webb Center, the Fellowship rented space on the second floor of the Galley Stack for use as a religious education classroom and storage. The restaurant’s dining room was used for services from 1989 until February 1993 when UCF purchased the property at 13th and Evans streets in Morehead City where the Fellowship met from 1993 until 2020. The congregation bought property at 2900 Bridges Street in Morehead City in 2019, remodeling one building there and constructing a new sanctuary and fellowship hall in 2021.
From early 1993 through March 2002, Unitarian Coastal Fellowship changed from a part-time to a full-time church led by a succession of part-time and interim ministers. In 2002, UCF took a huge leap of faith and undertook to call a full-time minister. In 2003, Rev. Sally White answered that call. This partnership is rich in blessing and challenge. Worship, groups, programs, governance, social action, mission, vision, shared ministry, visibility and influence of UCF in the community have grew in depth, breadth and focus. Examples below:
- In 2006, UCF became a Welcoming Congregation, a recognition of the Unitarian Universalist Association that UCF is an intentionally diverse community, welcoming of and enriched by people of varying cultures, economic and ethnic backgrounds; people of varying sexual orientations, gender identities and family compositions; and by people of all races, ages and beliefs.
- The Board of Trustees had been an operational board, overseeing all aspects of operations, programs and policies until 2008, when the congregation voted to create a Leadership Council responsible, along with professional staff, for programs and operations while the Board of Trustees focused on strategy and policy.
- In 2015, UCF was accredited as a Green Sanctuary Congregation, joining other Unitarian Universalist congregations that are dedicated to environmental justice.
- The fellowship partners locally with organizations such as Family Promise, Carteret Long Term Recovery Alliance, and the Martin Luther King Day Celebration.
- In 2018, UCF ordained Rev. Debra Guthrie after she earned her M. Div. at Andover Newton Theological Seminary. Rev. Guthrie, a former UCF member, serves the Aiken Unitarian Universalist congregation in Aiken, SC.
- A New Building Team was chartered by the congregation in 2019, to oversee the remodeling of the property at 2900 Bridges Street and now to build a new building to house the sanctuary and fellowship hall.
Rev. White retired in 2021, and the Rev. Sally B. White Center at 2900 Bridges St was dedicated in her honor.
Also in 2021, UCF hired Rev. Michelle C. Ma as their interim minister. Rev. Ma oversaw the completion of construction at 2900 Bridges Street and the move into the new space. For the next couple of years, she will guide UCF through reflection and self-examination as they envision the next chapter of their history and the next minister who will lead them there.
The congregation met for the first time in the new building at 2900 Bridges Street on May 8, 2022.