This UU Fellowship began on a sailboat named Iota. Aboard were Howard and Ellie Crane and Jen Eversole. They discovered that they all missed their former UU congregations up North and decided to look for other religious liberals in Key West who would like to meet. They placed an ad in the Key West Citizen. About fifteen people responded, and when they met on Easter Sunday, March 30, 1986, they signed a simple statement: "We want to become members of a Key West UU Fellowship."
We wrote to 29 churches in Key West, asking for space to rent or buy. They only answer came from Holy Trinity Lutheran Church on North Roosevelt Ave. We made many good friends there, [early gather of UU Key West] including our organist for several years, Doug Sklarski.
Following that first service, Sunday meetings were held in various locations including Indigenous Park, a cistern behind the Chamber of Commerce building in Mallory Square (fondly referred to as the "Cistern Chapel") and at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. In February 1987, we began to rent space at the Woman's Club until the president accused us of being "unchristian" and we were evicted without notice.
That didn't stop progress. In the summer of 1987, we formulated by-laws and that fall we became incorporated under state law. By January, 1988, we had the required minimum of 20 members and became affiliated with the UUA. (That's what we are celebrating today!)
In the meantime, our building fund investments grew rapidly with the bull market and members generously pledged their support. We began to look for a place of our own. After looking at a lot of properties we were becoming discouraged, when we found 801 Georgia Street. Formerly a Cuban social club, Los Caballeros de Marti, (and before that a meeting place for Glad Tidings Church ) it was the right space in the right place at a price we could afford. The first service was held in the new building in March 1998, and the building was dedicated on November 28. 1998.
About that time we moved our meeting place to the 7th Day Adventist Church on 5th Street. We were very happy in [Social time in the old days] that spacious facility until a parishioner complained to their board that we were preaching paganism. This time we were given 90 days notice to leave.
Our next stop was Holy Innocents Episcopal Church on Flagler Ave. Our relationship with that congregation was wonderful and it might have lasted forever if the bishop hadn't disbanded them and put the church up for sale. Out we went! (At this point we had enjoyed "a very moving experience!")
The Fellowship had always been lay-led by talented and resourceful members and visiting presenters. We began to look toward the day when we could enjoy the services of a minister who would bring a professional perspective to worship, pastoral care, and fellowship organization. After diligent work, the first search committee presented the Rev. Barbara Jamestone, PhD as a candidate for that position. On July 24, 2005, the congregation unanimously voted to employ her as a part time consulting minister for a year. She served the UU Fellowship of Key West from September 1, 2005 until August 31, 2006 when she accepted a call to the Unitarian Society of Hartford, CT.
Next, the Rev. Dr. Randolph W.B. Becker joined us as a full time consulting minister in February 2007 and served until March, 2016.
In 2012, the congregation voted to change its operating name to ONE ISLAND FAMILY The Southernmost Unitarian Universalist Congregation to emphasize our vision of ourselves as a place of connection in our diverse community.
In July, 2014, our congregation became a Teaching Congregation with a ministerial intern, Kimberley Debus, who served with us for one year.
We have revitalized our congregation with a decorative overhaul by the members, changed our name to reflect our mission and submitted a balanced budget. We offer adult education, multi-media services, and intergenerational services along with our usual dinners, retreats and fundraisers.
Currently, we are strengthening our music, education and membership recruitment .
Visionary, Vital, Vibtrant -- and looking to a future as the concepts of the free church and liberal religion transform the community of Key West.
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