History of Building
"The Founding" - The Universalist Unitarian Church of Santa Paula at 740 East Main Street was among a handful of Universalist Churches founded on the Pacific Coast in 1889. Twenty-three members established the Universalist parish in Santa Paula in February of that year.
The congregation met on the second floor of the Cleveland Hall on Main Street, the site of the present Oddfellows Hall. On March 1, 1890 the parish was formally organized and officially incorporated in November 1891 with 65 members and with Wallace Hardison as it first president.
"The Founders" - The Universalist Unitarian Church of Santa Paula was founded primarily by Easterners who had come to the area in the 1870's and 1880's to farm, explore for oil and develop a community. Santa Paula was laid out in 1875 by Nathan Blanchard, who planted the first large-scale citrus orchard. By the late 1880's the town was booming with the establishment of the railroad in 1887. Among those early founders of the city were Wallace Hardison, George G. Sewell, Charles McKevett and Dr. David W. Mott. These four founders gave much of themselves to establish this church and its traditions despite their very busy lives.
Stained Glass Windows
The popularity of stained glass windows in churches reached its height in the 1890's, during the Victorian era, when our church windows were made by one of the leading art glass companies popular at the time - the firm of McCulley and Miles from Chicago. The firm specialized in stained glass and art decoration for churches and public buildings. Many buildings in Chicago dating from the late 1800's contain work by this firm.
History of Estey Organ
Upon the completion of the church building in 1892, a small organ was purchased that had no pipes. It was used until 1924 when the church invested in a new pipe organ manufactured by one of the most prominent organ manufacturers at the time, the Estey Organ Company.
The Rev. Dr. Marjorie Newlin Leaming
January 22, 1915 - March 19, 2010
A born and bred Midwesterner, Marjorie was a graduate of University of Chicago Divinity School and Meadville Lombard Theological School. She came to our church in 1969, one of only eight women who were serving UU churches full time. Hers was a remarkable ministry. Passionate about making a positive difference in the world, Marjorie brought her own experience with existential psychoanalysis into her work raising consciousness especially about two subjects near and dear to her: feminism - it wasn't an issue but the whole thing - and eco-theology wherein she explored the relationship between the spiritual dimension and the natural world. Both sermon subjects were developed into books: Feminism From the Pulpit: Thirteen Sermons on Sex, Etc., (1973); and Saving the Earth, Saving Ourselves: A Bear-Centered View of Religion, Ecology, and the Consciousness Revolution, (2010). Marjorie was a founding member of the Ministerial Sisterhood Unitarian Universalist where she was deeply committed to seeing the worth of women clergy being recognized and granted the same status as men. She was also passionate about eco-theology and the urgent need to raise consciousness, preaching annually on the deep connection between the spiritual dimension and nature. Upon retirement from the church in 1985, she was awarded Minister Emerita status, the same year Meadville Lombard honored her with a Doctor of Divinity degree.
A copy of Marjorie's book Saving the Earth, Saving Ourselves: A Bear-Centered View of Religion, Ecology, and the Consiousness Revolution can be downloaded here.