Brief History

Timeline of the Fellowship’s History

1952  A group of 22 people interested in Unitarianism began meeting in homes, and by 1954 a  Religious Education program was started. The children met Sunday mornings in the cafeteria of Brush school, which the congregation rented.


1955    A two-room school, Buckles, on Murphysboro Road, closed and the congregation was able to rent it for Sunday services.  But Religious Education groups continued to meet in homes.  However, parents with school-age children argued for a structured Sunday Morning Service which would run concurrently with the Religious Education classes.


1956   Use of rented space had become unsatisfactory and members of the Fellowship began looking for a building to buy.  They located a building that had been built as an Episcopal Church at the turn of the century and then sold to the Carbondale Library District.  When it came on the market again the Fellowship purchased it.  It needed a great deal of work and congregation members worked long and hard to make it usable.  The first service in history, held in the new building was on March 3, 1956. The Fellowship had no lack of good speakers; from the congregation, the university and the community.


1960s, 1970s The Fellowship was extremely active in the intense social movements of that era: integration of schools,  restaurants, and housing, and opposition to the Vietnam War.  The Fellowship also participated in the restructuring of the Carbondale City Government.


1997 It became apparent that the Fellowship needed a new building, as the present one was in bad condition and would be too expensive to remodel. Property on the corner of Sunset Avenue and Parrish Lane was acquired.


1999    For years there had been conversations about calling a minister.  We learned about  the  Extension Ministry Program which aids congregations in selecting their first minister. We were fortunate by means of this program to select as our first minister in history, The Reverend Bill Sasso, who served the Fellowship from August 1999 until retiring in June of 2012.


2003    After years of planning and fund raising, construction for the current facility began in June, 2003.  The first service in the new building was held March 28, 2004.


2012    The Reverend Don Vaughn-Foerster joins us to assist with our transition to our next settled minister.


2014    The Reverend Sarah Richards becomes our second minister in the Fellowship’s history.


2016     Roy Sumner, CUF Director of Religious Education since 1993, retired at the end of June.


If you would like to learn more about our pipe organ at the Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship, click here.