- About Us
In the late summer and early fall of 2000, Robert Franke – who later became the first minister of our congregation – passed the word around the Mt. Pleasant area that he was interested in starting a UU fellowship in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.
Bob was born in Michigan; during WW II he moved to Chicago where he finished high school and attended community college. Subsequently he was awarded degrees from Northern Illinois University (BS) Northwestern (MS) and University of Texas at Austin (Ph D). He taught biology at five universities, the last being Central Michigan University where he also served as Provost.
Bob has been a Unitarian Universalist since 1960 and has served as president of three congregations. He retired from Central Michigan University to attend Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago where he received a Master of Divinity degree in 2000. He then returned to Mount Pleasant to start a UU congregation.
Responding to Bob’s call, twenty-six people showed up at a picnic pavilion in Deerfield Park, Isabella County on October 26, 2000. We agreed to begin meeting monthly.
The Wesley Foundation allowed us to use their facilities free and we had a few meetings and informal services there beginning in early 2001. Later that year, we began meeting at Art Reach, the community art center.
In May of 2001 Laura McBride (who later was the first president of the UUFCM 2002-2003) and Nancy White (second president 2003-2004) attended a workshop sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) for congregations intending to join the UUA.
In October 2004 Bob Franke collapsed during a service. He had been experiencing health problems and unfortunately had to resign as the minister. The board voted to give him the title of “Founding Minister Emeritus”. At present, he is living in retirement in Arkansas.
As part of the process to become a recognized congregation with the UUA we adopted these statements of mission and vision in 2002. Read our original mission statement and vision.
The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Central Michigan was recognized by the UUA in late 2002 or early 2003. At that time, we had thirty-three charter members.
In the summer of 2007, we hired the Reverend Dr. Nana' Kratochvil as our one-quarter time minister, a role in which she continues to serve. The following year, we added professional storyteller Dawn Daniels as a part-time Worship Director. Dawn was in charge of all worship services and the choir. She selected sermons from the Church of the Larger Fellowship (to which we belong) and grew the choir - tripling its size. In the fall of 2009, the Fellowship voted unanimously to hire Dawn in a full-time role, adding the newsletter and para-pastoral care to her job description.
Two months later in January 2010, we were faced with a dilemma: Art Reach was going to sell the building where we had been meeting for nine years, and there was no adequate space in the entire Mt. Pleasant area to serve our needs. We took a leap of faith and on March 21, 2010, the congregation voted unanimously to buy the building. An anonymous donor and the members of the Board pledged a generous sum before the Capital Campaign got underway, which allowed us to pursue our dream of having our own space.
On July 15, 2010, we closed on the building and Kathy Hill, Executive Director of Art Reach handed over the keys to Mary Alsager, the new President of the Board. The Art Reach Center became officially the Unitarian Universalist Center.
Now we can offer new programs for adults and children, have space for the Readers’ Theatre, choir rehearsals, committee meetings, discussion groups, potlucks and programs for children and young adults. We also can make the space available to local groups and individuals who value the beautiful space and acoustics in our sanctuary for concerts, recitals, weddings, and special programs.