The Unitarian Universalist Church of Lexington (UUCL) was started in 1950 when approximately fifteen people met with the Reverend Robert T. Weston, of First Unitarian Church in Louisville, to discuss forming a fellowship. This group later met at the Lexington Public Library to adopt by-laws and elect officers.
The rapidly growing group met at various places — the library, the College of the Bible (now Lexington Theological Seminary), and in private homes -- until in 1953 the members took on a mortgage and bought a small church building at 190 Loudon Avenue. Over the next five years, membership growth strained the capacity of the Loudon Avenue church, even though expansions had included digging out a basement to provide more space for the rapidly expanding Religious Education classes.
In 1959 the congregation bought 7-1/2 acres of land, a barn, and a farmhouse at what was then the south edge of town on Clays Mill Road. Adult services were held in the nearby Republican Meeting House on Higbee Mill Road; religious education classes for the children were held in the farmhouse, which the congregation named The Richard Allen Fellowship House. Built in 1790, the Fellowship House is the second-oldest standing structure in Lexington. (Richard Allen, the original owner of the house and property, was well known for his dedication to religious freedom.) The Fellowship House has been declared a Kentucky landmark, worthy of preservation, by the Kentucky Heritage Commission.
The church building erected in 1965 combined worship space/meeting room (the Great Hall) and a small kitchen area on the main floor with classroom space for religious education (RE) below. The building has always been wheelchair-accessible. The original plans called for RE space at the end of a lobby/storage/restroom corridor, but those dreams were not realized until 1998’s major building expansion. After extensive research, planning, and fund-raising, the new addition, containing classrooms, offices, and new kitchen and multipurpose room, was completed and dedicated in May 1998. In the process we added paving and removed some trees, but we did our best to preserve and protect the beauty of our grounds and the greenery of the "forest" of native Kentucky trees that two long-term members established many years ago.
The Unitarian Universalist Church of Lexington has been served by ten ministers: Kenneth Harper (1958-60), George Brooks, (1962-63), Peter Lee Scott (1967-71), Roger Fritts, Extension Minister (1978-80), Charlie Kast (1981-85), Jack Donovan, Student Intern/Interim (1985-86), David Blanchard (1986-89), Thorn Payne, Interim (1989-91), Kelly Flood (1991-98), Bill Murchison, Interim (1999), Cynthia Cain (August 1999-July 2014) and Rev. Dr. Gretchen Woods (Interim Minister, August 2014-present).
Currently, church membership is about 270. The congregation still includes some long-term members who participated in the early fellowship and were involved in the building of the Great Hall, and at least one who was an RE pupil in that Loudon Avenue dug-out basement.
We celebrated UUCL's 40th anniversary in 1990, and the 50th in 2000. More recently, we celebrated 50 years at our Clays Mill Road Location in June 2009, and are now in our 65th year.