Thirtieth Anniversary on Newtown Road

by Mike Roberts, Church Historian

During the worship service on December 6, 2015, longtime members Rae Jane Araujo and Connie Booth reflected on what the sanctuary was like thirty years ago when the congregation first moved into its present Newtown Road building.

Both of them remembered one outstanding characteristic of the day; it was a cold day, and there was no heat!

Rae Jane had been chairperson of the Building Committee at the time, and was well aware of the things the building still lacked. There was no carpet, the windows had no coverings, the fireplaces didn’t work, and the restrooms were unfinished. Construction on the building had started only six months prior to move-in.

The congregation had adapted in the three years since it had left its Salem Acres location. During that time, worship services had been in rented spaces, and the church office had been set up in an office building. Most of the church’s items—the pulpit, the chairs, the tables, the kitchen items, the religious education materials—had been put into storage. Kept out from storage were the church hymnals and piano for worship, and the mimeograph machine for the office.

At the time of move-in the congregation had shrunk to only around 30 people, and Connie remembered that there were not too many strong men to move things out of storage. One set of things unloaded were the big blond “captain’s chairs” which were the chairs used throughout the sanctuary at the time. (We have a few of these chairs remaining, most of which which are grouped around the octagon table in the Great Hall.)

The Rev. Elinor Artman was the church’s guest minister that Sunday thirty years ago. (She would go on to become a called minister of the church, and was given Minister Emerita status by the congregation when she retired.)

Image: Heritage UU Church sanctuary in 1986, showing blond pulpit.