One evening in December of 1961, a handful of Unitarians got together at the now extinct Redwood Lodge to talk about starting a fellowship. Mainly couples with young families, they were hoping to find a place to voice their liberal views and provide religious education for their children. With assistance from the UUA Extension, they formed the Tri-Valley UU Fellowship and affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association in February of 1962. Members eagerly took the many workshops given by the Pacific Southwest District so they could learn how to run this organization effectively. The Fellowship quickly grew in those early years, attracting many teachers, writers and other creative members with its stimulating lectures and programs. Members were energetic and visionary, having a spirit that still prevails to this day.
From the very beginning, attaining our own facilities was important so we started a building fund and in 1969 purchased a midtown residence that we had to sell in 1974 because of zoning restrictions. Before and since, we have rented in many locations. On July 13, 2008 we held our first service at our own church home at 3327 Old Conejo Road where we presently meet.
We have also had a number of part time ministers through the years. Rev. Dr. Betty Stapleford was our second installed minister (the first took place in 1980) but she was our first full time minister. The UUA Extension assisted us in this step and has taken an interest in our growth throughout the years. Rev. Dr. Stapleford retired in June 2010 and the Rev. Helen Carroll was our Interim Minister from August 2010 to June 2011. The Rev. Lora Brandis’ term as Settled Minister, which began in August 2011, ended suddenly in 2015 when she was called away for family reasons.
Ours has not been a history of steady growth but one that reflects our changing society. In the mid-90’s, we experienced unprecedented growth from people who were searching for community and meaningful lives without dogma. Throughout our history we have had many highs and lows in membership and yet our spirit, energy, and caring has kept us alive over the years.