The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Durango marked a landmark occasion in late September, and it celebrated with a bang.
The fellowship has had phenomenal growth in recent years. It has gone from holding meetings in members’ homes to renting a room in the Smiley Building for services to buying its own facility in 2003 – where the Faith Community Church of the Nazarene was formerly based.
The 49-year-old congregation was completely lay-led for more than four decades, with members electing their own leadership, giving programs, fundraising and landscaping their recently purchased facility (much of which they’ll continue to do). Three years ago, the group called the Rev. Katie Kandarian-Morris as its first part-time pastor, which was its own meaningful step. And at the end of September, it officially called her to become the congregation’s first full-time pastor with the attendant pageantry.
The fellowship’s president, Teresa Jordan, made the official call, and Lisa McCorry, director of faith formation, was one of the celebrants. A number of local clergy attended to salute the occasion.
The Unitarians are blessed with a number of talented musicians, and all of them participated in the festivities. Music Director Marilyn Garst, Choir Director Alane Brown and musicians Charlie Kiene, Grace Wilmes, Liza Tregillus, Elizabeth Crawford and both adult and children choirs made a joyful noise.
A number of guest celebrants traveled to Durango for the momentous occasion, including people who have been mentors, colleagues and companions along Kandarian-Morris’ path in the ministry.
They included the Rev. Darcy Baxter, minister at the UU Fellowship in Stanislaus County, California; the Rev. Michelle Favreault, a faculty member of Starr King School for the Ministry; the Rev. Lydia Ferrante-Roseberry, a minister at the Boulder Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship; the Rev. Lucas Hergert, minister at the UU Church in Livermore, California; the Rev. Padraic Glenn Ingle, pastor of the Faith Community Church of the Nazarene; and the Rev. Stephan Papa, retired as the minister of the First Universalist Church, Denver.
The Planning Committee included Kathleen Adams, Jim Dahlberg, Ron Garst, Susan Koonce, Tom Miller, Aline Schwob and Vanessa Self. K Redford organized the ushering – a critical job at a standing-room-only event, and Carolyn Miller and her team handled the greeting. While the fellowship has quite a bit of parking, John Schwob and his team handled the overflow.
Kandarian-Morris received several gifts, but the most fun was her personalized parking sign for the church. Who in Durango doesn’t treasure a reserved parking spot?
One of the most meaningful moments at the event may have been the reading of one of the honoree’s favorite poems, To Be of Use by Marge Piercy. I don’t have space for the entire poem, but it ends:
“Greek amphoras for wine or oil
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums,
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.”
After the event, it was time for a joyful celebration, which was coordinated by JJ Jennings. Bowman Hall was decorated in the colors of the day, teal ribbons and lovely flowers courtesy of UUDF member Lisa Bourey, owner of Passion Flower Bouquet Farm. Reinforcing Percy’s powerful poem, the flowers were arranged in pitchers, ranging in size from tiny to majestic, from members’ collections.
Finger foods provided by members included cheese straws, bruschetta, stuffed mushrooms, meatballs, puff pastry roll-ups, deviled eggs and a variety of dips and spreads. A lemon layer cake decorated for the occasion satisfied the sweet tooths in the crowd, and champagne and nonalcoholic punch washed it all down.
Congratulations to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Durango and Kandarian-Morris.
The next major landmark is on the horizon for the fellowship with its 50th anniversary next year.
HHHCheck back at durangoherald.com for more Neighbors stories and photos. Neighbors runs in the Sunday print edition of The Durango Herald.Here’s how to reach me: firstname.lastname@example.org; phone 375-4584; mail items to the Herald; or drop them off at the front desk. Please include contact names and phone numbers for all items. Follow me on Twitter @Ann_Neighbors.I am happy to consider photos for Neighbors, but they must be high-quality, high-resolution photos (at least 1 MB of memory) and include no more than three to five people. I need to know who’s who, left to right, and who to credit with the photo. Candid photos are better than posed, and photos should be submitted as JPG or TIF attachments.