UUCC, like the Unitarian Universalist Association we belong to, owes its existence to Unitarianism and Universalism. The First Universalist Church of Walker County was founded in 1860 but, suffering casualties from the Civil War, closed the next year. The minister of that church, Rev. J. H. Park (“Uncle Heck”) used the building for a school for a short while afterward and stayed in the area to reappear in our history later.
Our Unitarian history began with All Souls Unitarian Church organized in 1889 and chartered in 1890. The congregation acquired a church building at 654 Houston Street. Its cornerstone was saved and is on the ground near the portico at the current church on Navajo Drive.
A legendary Universalist preacher from New England, Quillen Hamilton Shinn, organized the First Universalist Church of Chickamauga in 1897. Three ministers were called, each serving a short time. Shinn visited and preached there often as did Uncle Heck Park. It dissolved in 1907 the year Shinn died but many of its members had moved to Chattanooga where First Universalist Church of Chattanooga was Shinn’s last organizing effort. Its members met in All Souls Unitarian until they finally opened the doors of their new church, Shinn Memorial Universalist, in 1918.
Both churches flourished during the 1920s but the Great Depression dealt a mortal blow to both. All Souls closed first in 1939. Shinn Memorial lasted into the 1940s but it was just a place for members to meet without a minister until 1951.
In the fall of 1951 a movement began to reorganize the Unitarian Church in Chattanooga. The prime movers in the effort were Helen and Ray Solomon and in November 1951 the Unitarian Fellowship of Chattanooga was organized with 13 members. Fellowship meetings were held in the Hamilton County Courthouse for two years.
In October, 1953 the group began to hold meetings at Shinn Memorial Universalist Church. By 1955 the membership had increased to approximately 50 families and individuals. The group then purchased the building of the former Ridgedale Church of Christ at 1211 Dodds Avenue. For 12 years this was the church home.
During the 1960s when church membership became involved in civil rights activities in Chattanooga, a firebomb was set in the Sunday School building and then the main building was firebombed. An upright piano in the present church still bears the marks of the fire.
The Dodds Avenue building was sold in 1969 when the Navajo Drive land was purchased. Spring Creek School served as a temporary home until the ground floor of the present building was completed in 1970. Ten years later the upper floor was completed and the sanctuary was dedicated as the Jean Livingston Memorial Hall in October 1980.
Significant UUCC Events since 1980
1981 Charles White McGehee retires as minister
1981 Jay Abernathy called as minister
1986 George Brook called
1987 Jack Young called
1991 Memorial Garden ground broken
1992 Frances Reece Day interim minister
1993 Melanie Morel Sullivan called
1994 Contract for cell tower (disguised as bell tower)
1998 Building the portico and cell tower
2002 Dana Reynolds III interim minister
2002 Livingstone Memorial Hall
2003 Jeff Briere called
2005 Bottom Parking Lot
2007 Green Sanctuary Certification
2012 Pam Rumancik interim minister
2014 First church in our area to install solar panels
2015 Cathy Harrington contract minister
2016 Black Lives Matter Banner
2018 Rod Harrison contract minister
2019 Mandy Goheen called
2021 Outdoor Labyrinth & Trails