Short History of UUCC
The genesis of UUCC started with Nancy Palmer who posted on NextDoor in July 2015, asking if there was an interest in starting a UU group on the Coast. More than three-quarters of the people who gathered together for that first meeting are still with us today. Laurel Frishman was responsible for suggesting our name: Unitarian Universalist Coastside Community. Other founding members still with us today include Dave & Joanne Rokosky, Jane Hansen, Laurel Frishman, Nancy Palmer, and Noreen Cooper Heavlin.
Our initial year we were guided by the Rev. Jonipher Kwong, Rev. Ben Meyers and a host of others, including Drew Wilson, a founding member of the Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist congregation. An important take-away was that a successful congregation is built on 3 Pillars: Programming, Resources, and Spiritual Development.
What we’ve most focused on is Programming. And we’ve changed formats a few times through the years. We began making our way through the UU Principles and Sources on 3rd Sundays starting in January 2016, led by our then Services Director, Storm Russell; with first Sundays exploring Touchstones Themes in an informal discussion format. Half way through the year, Storm added more current event-related themes, mixed in with some Touchstones themes on first Sundays.
Our official Grand Opening took place in May 2016 with the Rev. Ben Meyers delivering a sermon. More significantly, Shauna Pickett-Gordon played music for us. And she offered to provide music for our services gratis for both first and third Sundays.
In 2017, we added invited guest speakers the first Sundays and covered a Touchstone theme on the 3rd Sundays. Also we added a 4th Sunday informal discussion group which was led by Storm Russell. When Storm left in August of 2017, Nancy Palmer took over facilitating the 4th Sunday discussion groups through September 2018.
Our first introduction to a UU-trained minister was with Esther Wallace, a Starr King Divinity student in October 2017. We also started another tradition in 2017 with “The Year in Review” service, led by Nancy Palmer.
In 2018, we invited another UU minister to speak to us, Rev. Barbara Meyers for 1st Sundays and also invited more professional guest speakers such as Barbara Byrum and Ithekar Hai. We focused on more lay-led presenters on 3rd Sundays with presentations by Noreen Cooper Heavlin, Bill Heavlin, Sandy Calman, Bill Dapkus, Nancy Palmer, Dave Rokosky, Chip Chandler, Diana Luykx, Joanne Rokosky, Laurel Frishman, and David Ruettiger.
And we made the decision to add Worship Associates in 2018 so that meetings were no longer run by one person.
Shauna Pickett-Gordon became our official Music Director in February 2018 and has provided programmed professional music services rich in musical diversity, accomplishment, and depth. She also became a UUCC Planning Committee member in June 2018.
What truly took our services to the next level was our first Sundays with Tovis Page, the ministerial intern at UUSM. Tovis’ first sermon was in September 2018 and her last in March 2019. Along with helping us craft a template for the Order of Service and scripts for Joys and Concerns and the Practice of Generosity, Tovis co-led a 6-week Shared Pulpit workshop with Rev. Ben; to which Bill Heavlin, David Ruettiger, and Noreen Cooper Heavlin benefited greatly.
The arc of our intent is to maintain the professional standard set by Tovis. In 2019, we conscripted 5 UU ordained ministers to deliver 1st Sunday services; including the Rev. Pam Gehrke, Rev. Ellie Kilpatrick, Rev. Stefanie Etzbach-Dale, Rev. Jo Green, and Rev. Sonya Sukalski. We also held our first UUCC Congregational Meeting in May and met with Tricia Dell that July to discuss revising our Mission Statement, which was written in 2016.
Additionally, we have established a tradition of collecting money for a non-profit during our holiday services the third week in December; raising thousands of dollars for non-profits such as Abundant Grace and Coastside Hope. We’ve also taken special collections for ALAS, the Moonridge Tutoring Project, and UUSM Staff Gifts.
And then in March 2020, the COVID-19 closures hit. We scrambled to learn how to broadcast services online; Bruce Rafnel and Drew Wilson were critical agents in helping us transfer to the Zoom technology. On April 3rd, Bill Heavlin opened our first Zoom service with his talk on “Three Hopes to Harvest.” We held two anniversary celebrations in 2020: one, marking four years from our Grand Opening Celebration in May 2016; and the other, celebrating our first meeting at the Half Moon Bay Coffee Company five years to the day.
In response to COVID-19, UUCC doubled its number of annual fundraisers to two: Over the two years of the pandemic, so far we’ve raised over $18,000 for five Coastside charities: Ayudando Latinos A Soñar-Half Moon Bay (ALAS), Coastside Hope, Abundant Grace Coastside Worker, Coastside Adult Day Health Center, and Senior Coastsiders.
UUCC commits to high quality services twice a month, first Sundays in person, third Sundays virtually; our guest minister speaker roster includes: Rev. Barbara Meyers, Rev. Chris Schriner, Rev. Jo Green, Rev. Kirk Loadman-Copeland, Rev. Clovice A Lewis Jr, Rev. Russ Menk, and recent Starr King graduates Esther Wallace and Tovis Page.
Our music program, under the direction of Tom Devine, is especially rich. We’ve composed our own congregational hymn, “We of the Coastside,” sung in round, and have arranged for our choir “Ours is a Simple Faith,” by David Tamulevich. Our 2021 December fundraiser included musical contributions from four congregations: UUCC, UU Community of Lake County (UUCLC), the Live Oak UU Fellowship, and the Coastside Jewish Community. This fundraiser raised over $7000 for Senior Coastsiders—and the YouTube video of this service has received over 500 views.
In the fall of 2021, we arranged a Shared Pulpit class with students drawn from four UU congregations: UUCLC, UUCC, UUSM, and the UU Fellowship of Santa Cruz County; the instructors Tovis Page and Kathryn Jay came from two more congregations, UU Fellowship of Redwood City and the UU Church of Berkeley.
For our Zoom-based services, music is pre-recorded for better sound quality with Preludes, Hymns, musical interludes, and Postludes. For our in-person services, our music is now performed live. Our talented instrumentalists include: Tom Devine, LindaGrace Frost, and Vera Vanderschalk; our choir includes of Tom Devine, LindaGrace Frost, Laurel Frishman, Bruce Rafnel, and Bill Heavlin. We also call out to Mo Robinson, whose multiple contributions over 2020-2021 gave our Zoom services a memorable, folk music flair.
Since May 1, UUCC began in-person services in Odd Fellows Hall on Main Street in Half Moon Bay. Our first speaker at Odd Fellows was himself an Odd Fellows member, Rabbi Moshe Heyn, from the Coastside Jewish Community, speaking on “Holy Chutzpah.” Currently, UUCC meets in person on first Sundays, and continues to meet over Zoom on third Sundays.
Thanks to the expert skills of Hugo Carr, UUCC launched its website in August 2020. Our oldest YouTube recording dates from September 20, 2020; our YouTube site is maintained through the diligent efforts of Bruce Rafnel.
The UUCC Planning Committee consists today of Noreen Cooper Heavlin, Chair; Dave Rokosky; and Bill Heavlin. Tom Devine is our music director and Bruce Rafnel is our technical director.