The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbus, Indiana is a lively, growing liberal religious institution — a remarkable church in a remarkable town.
The Fellowship was first founded in 1962 when a few families met in one another’s living rooms. After the untimely deaths of two leaders of the little group, in 1965, the Fellowship became inactive until it restarted in 1967. It was officially registered with the State of Indiana in June, 1968. For years, this small group called themselves the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Columbus. Initially meeting in member’s homes, the growing group occupied a list of ever larger facilities. In April, 1969, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Columbus purchased their first building, the Romanesque style structure at the corner of Eleventh and Chestnut Streets, from the English Lutheran church.
In 1978, the Fellowship purchased the oldest church building in town at 423 Eighth Street, the Carpenter Gothic style St. Paul’s Episcopal Church built in 1876. They purchased and renovated it to serve as their UU home from May 1979 until September 2002.
In 2000, they took the courageous step of buying land and constructing their own building. It took two years to sell their previous downtown facility, hire an architect, design, and build the current church building. In recognition of this process, the group made the decision to change their name to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbus, Indiana.
September 22, 2002, was the first Sunday service in the new building shown below at 7850 West Goeller Blvd., Columbus, Indiana. It was dedicated on November 17, 2002. Two years later, the congregation called their first full-time minister, the Reverend Dennis McCarty, now Minister Emeritus.
The present congregation is a very different group from the Fellowship which first began work on this building. It has doubled in size to become a respected religious fixture in Columbus, Bartholomew County, and southern Indiana. Members and visitors arrive here from a 50-mile radius. Some members drive weekly from Indianapolis, Seymour, Bloomington, and Hope. We have very much become the church of our original founders’ dream.
Additions of solar panels, a beautiful stained-glass window, and an updated children’s play area in the back, complete the current look of the building:
This congregation received the Charlotte Cowtan Award in the UUA Heartland District in April 2008. This annual award had recognized a Heartland District congregation that lives Unitarian Universalist Principles, practices Right Relationships, and exhibits dynamic outreach in the Larger Community.
The Sha’arei Shalom – Reform Judaism Congregation of Columbus, Indiana, and the Hindu Society of Southern Indiana share this space with us. The history of these bonds among groups with different beliefs demonstrates the UU Congregation’s value of diverse beliefs and world community.