Anniversaries and renovation news from congregations in Racine, Wisconsin; Sacramento, California; Lyons, Ohio; and Duxbury, Massachusetts.
Olympia Brown Unitarian Universalist Church in Racine, Wisconsin, celebrated its 175th anniversary last fall with the first performance of the song “Lift Up the Gates,” commissioned for the anniversary and written by the Rev. Jason Shelton with lyrics by the Rev. Kendyl Gibbons. The lyrics were inspired by quotes from Olympia Brown—the first woman ordained with full denominational authority in the United States—who was minister of the church from 1878 to 1882. The anniversary celebration also included a timeline of the church’s history, printed on wall-sized posters, which covered three walls of the church.
The Unitarian Universalist Society of Sacramento, California, turned 150 in March 2018. The congregation will celebrate throughout the year with presentations by keynote speakers from the denomination and community; historical displays; and historically themed activities, fieldtrips, and fundraisers. A 128-year-old cookbook “approved by the Ladies of the Unitarian Society” in 1890 and currently archived in the California State Library will also be featured in the congregation’s retrospective, said Sandra Navarro, chair of the congregation’s Sesquicentennial Task Force.
In October 2018, First Universalist Church of Lyons, Ohio, will celebrate its 150th anniversary with a service and potluck. Six former ministers of the church will take part in the celebration, as will a representative from the UUA district, the mayor of Lyons, and the minister of the Disciples of Christ church across the street, consulting minister the Rev. Dr. Terrance A. Robinson said. Former members from Maine to Florida and Illinois to Texas will travel to attend.
First Parish Church UU in Duxbury, Massachusetts, will present a free, public gala concert on November 4 to celebrate the completion of a yearlong, nearly half-million-dollar project to restore, rebuild, and expand its 165-year-old pipe organ. Restoration of the organ—built by W.B.D. Simmons in 1853 and considered an outstanding example of the nineteenth-century Boston school of mechanical, tracker organs—involved disassembling it and moving the pieces to the Andover Organ Company shop in Methuen, Massachusetts, where workers rebuilt it over a period of nine months. In the process, additional pipes were added to replace ones removed in a previous restoration and to increase the organ’s musical range. The rededication concert will feature local musicians as well as organists from across the United States and Canada who have previously performed at the church.
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Sonja L. Cohen is deputy managing editor of UU World and a lifelong Unitarian Universalist.