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History of Our VUU Congregation
In 1963 the only Unitarian Universalist Church in the Phoenix area was in Paradise Valley. A few Tempe UUs began meeting at the Village Inn Pizza parlor located at Rural Road and Apache Boulevard on Sunday mornings for (of course!) a discussion group.
Soon an organization committee met in the ASU Nursery School office of Virginia Kagy with Artnoll Wegner as Chairman. For months UUs gathered in a variety of meeting places including schools, parks, and other churches.
On September 6, 1964, Ray Manker came to Tempe to do an early service at the Seventh Day Adventist Church across from Grady Gammage Auditorium before his regular service in Paradise Valley. The Tempe UUs were chartered in 1965 with Jesse Roberson as the first Minister. The first church building was acquired at 1016 South River Drive northeast of Apache and McClintock. In 1967 there were 60 members.
A young, dynamic Jeremy Brigham served as Minister from 1971 to 1976. He was instrumental in forming a long range planning committee regarding inadequate building space. Arthur Hover served as Minister from 1976 to 1978, after which the church decided to become a congregation without a minister while constructing a new building.
In 1979, Bill Norman located and developed land at 1700 West Warner Road for the new church building. Jack Mauney created a financial program, and in 1982, members of the congregation gave the land to the Church, then appraised at $360,000. In 1983, through the UUA minister-on-loan program, Bruce Clary and Tony Perrino visited the congregation for short periods of time, and in 1984, Scotty Meek served with the congregation for five months. Services were first held in the new building on September 9, 1984. In 1986, Jim Norman began a three year part-time extension ministry shared with the UU church in Glendale. He became the full time minister in 1989 and served until 1994. In 1990, a growing congregation and the Religious Education program led to the development and construction of Classroom Building B, and in 1992 a second Sunday service was added.
Alexie (Lex) Crane, retired minister from Santa Barbara, California, served as Interim Minister from 1994 to 1995.
James Ford served as Minister from 1995 through August 2000. In 1996, a successful fund drive led to a significant debt reduction. In 1998, the ever-growing church purchased a modular building (C) for classes and meetings.
Linda Bunyard began her service as Interim Minister in September, 2000.
On August 15, 2001, Rev. Lone Jensen began her service as our Settled Minister.
In 2003, the congregation purchased a new facility on Del Rio in Chandler and moved to that location in January 2004.
On May 23, 2010, Rev. Lone Jensen conducted her last service for VUU.
On August 22, 2010, Rev. Gary Gallun began his service as Interim Minister.
After a process of discussion and debate, at the annual meeting in June, 2010, the membership voted to change the name of the organization from Valley Unitarian Universalist Church to Valley Unitarian Universalist Congregation and adopted a new Mission Statement:: Love Is Our Doctrine, Service Is Our Prayer, Justice Is Our Calling.
On August 15, 2011, Rev. Earl Holt III began his service as Interim Minister.
On April 29, 2012, the congregation unanimously called Rev. Andy Burnette to become our settled minister. He began service on August 15 and was formally installed on November 11, 2012.