Celebrating 150 Years… and Beyond!

First U celebrated our 150th Anniversary on January 14th, 2017. As part of our celebration, we hosted a special service and reception at Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland. Ministers from a number of local congregations were present to speak on Unitarian Universalist history in Cleveland, and UUA Moderator Jim Key delivered a sermon on the importance of continually renewing covenants with our congregations and each other.

Since our founding in January 1867 as the First Unitarian Society of Cleveland, our church has been a force for liberal religion in the Cleveland area.  In 1932, we changed our name to First Unitarian Church of Cleveland, following a merger with All Souls Universalist Church of Cleveland.  The merger made our church a Unitarian Universalist congregation 30 years before the official formation of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Throughout the mid-twentieth century, Unitarianism grew in Cleveland and West Shore Unitarian Church was founded in Rocky River.

In 1953, First Unitarian’s members had to decide whether to remain in downtown Cleveland, or relocate to the suburbs.  The vote was close, but relocation won by a narrow and construction of our current building in Shaker Heights began.  A group of those who had voted to stay downtown, becoming the congregation now known as the Unitarian Universalist Society of Cleveland, located in Cleveland Heights.  Throughout the 1950s, Unitarian Universalists remained leaders in the Greater Cleveland community, participating in activism for civil rights, environmental issues, and poverty eradication.

In recent years, the congregation has become a leader in sustainability and ecological issues, having become officially designated a Green Sanctuary by the UUA, and building a Permaculture Garden.  In 2012, our 11,000-watt solar array installed.  The solar array currently supplies 90 percent of the power used by the church.