The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Danbury, Connecticut, is a direct descendant of the First Universalist Society of Danbury organized on December 9, 1822. It is the second oldest church in the Unitarian Universalist District of Metropolitan New York and among the early UU churches formed in the state of Connecticut.
There has been an active liberal religious presence in the greater Danbury area since the early 1800s, and Universalist societies were also formed in Newtown, Connecticut, and in North Salem, New York. These two societies are no longer in existence. From its early years the Danbury Universalist Church, at downtown locations on both Main St. and Liberty St., played a role in local religious and social life and participated as well in denominational affairs on a regional, statewide, and national basis. In 1960, in anticipation of the consolidation a year later of the Universalist Church of America and the American Unitarian Association, the Danbury group adopted the name First Universalist-Unitarian Church of Danbury. In June 1964, the Unitarian Fellowship of Ridgefield, Connecticut, was organized and held its first service at the Ridgefield Community Center. Two years later the Danbury Church and the Ridgefield Fellowship formally merged under the name Unitarian Universalist Society of Northern Fairfield County. In 1970, the UUSNFC moved from Danbury to a former farm property about seven miles south at 9 Picketts Ridge Road in West Redding, Connecticut. Known among us as “the Barn,” this West Redding location remained the Society’s home until 2003.
A congregational process of visioning and growth, which began in earnest in the late 1990s, culminated in decisions to return to Danbury and rename the Society the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Danbury. Beginning in the fall of 2003, Sunday services and religious education classes were conducted in Alumni Hall and the Student Center on the Midtown Danbury campus of Western Connecticut State University. At the same time church offices were established and renovation and construction proceeded on buildings and property at 24 Clapboard Ridge Road. This new space, our current home, was formally occupied by the Congregation in November of 2005.
Our church has both a strong tradition of lay involvement in congregational governance and a long history of clerical leadership. Ministers who have served us in recent years include:
Rev. Barbara J. Pescan (1988-1995)
Rev. Dr. Linda A Hart (1995-1996)
Rev. Dr. Daniel S. O’Connell (1996-2002)
Rev. Shirley Ranck (interim 2002-2003)
Rev. Dr. Linda M. Hansen (2003-2008)
Rev. Dr. Suzanne Spencer (interim 2008-2010)
Rev. Barbara Fast (August 2011-July 2016)
Rev. Nancy O. Arnold (August 2016 – July 2018)
Our present minister is the Rev. Heather Rion Starr, who began her ministry with UU Danbury in August 2018.
The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Danbury is a “Welcoming Congregation.” This means we have participated in a special denominational program to help us be more welcoming to people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender. This program is part of our general ideal to welcome all regardless of age, race, disability, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religious background, or political affiliation – factors that can separate people in the larger culture.
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