Congregation History from 1950 to the Present
Originally, small gatherings to hear interesting speakers were held in members’ homes, but as the congregation grew, schools, other church buildings, or social clubs provided a meeting space.
One such was the Federation Center for the Blind on Kilbourne Road.
In 1962, the congregation purchased its first permanent home on Beltline Blvd. where its membership and programs began to expand.
In 1972, the first part-time minister, Rev. Roger Sizemore, was hired. Rapid growth followed and, in 1975, the congregation moved into an old Episcopal church in Olympia Mill Village.
From 1978 to 1980, the Fellowship was lay-led. In 1980, Rev. Christine Robinson was hired, first as part-time minister, and then soon increased to full-time.
During the almost ten years she was minister, the congregation experienced a dynamic period of growth—becoming the fastest growing fellowship in the Thomas Jefferson District. The Tree of Life Synagogue in Columbia’s Shandon neighborhood had became the next location of the Fellowship and has remained the site through the present.
In 1988, Rev. Robinson resigned to move to a larger congregation in New Mexico. Again, the congregation was lay-led while a ministerial search was conducted.
Rev. Mark Allstrom served as minister from late 1989 until mid 1993. He was followed by UUA interim minister Rev. Thom Payne who served briefly but resigned due to health issues.
Rev. Patrick Price was hired in 1995 and remained until 2004, where he later served a UU congregation in Plano, Texas. During his tenure, the UUFC religious education program for children and youth grew in size.
In 2004, Rev. Neal R. Jones became the part-time minister and the congregation began another period of expansion. Then in 2007, Rev. Jones was hired full-time . The church’s name was also changed to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia on July 21, 2011. After his ministry of almost a decade, Rev. Jones resigned in 2015, to serve a larger congregation in Philadelphia.
In 2017, Rev. Jeff Liebmann was called to be our full-time minister.
Rev. Liebmann left in 2018 to become interim minister of the Thomas Jefferson Unitarian Church of Louisville, KY.
In 2019, Rev Stephen Robinson was hired and continues to serve as our part-time minister.
Rev. Robinson, an ordained minister, also is employed by Prisma Health as their director of the chaplaincy program.