A Brief History of UUOCC From 1983 to Today
1983 A group of Ocean County Unitarian Universalists (UUs) who belonged to the First Unitarian Church of Monmouth County in Lincroft, NJ, met to form their own UU group in Ocean County. Ocean County UUs (OCUU) was considered a “satellite group” of the Lincroft congregation. Their first service took place in the Toms River Nursery School on Old Freehold Road during what appears to have been a snow storm. The group met on the first and third Sunday afternoons of the month. Seventeen children were enrolled in religious education. By April, larger quarters were needed, so the congregation moved to the Jewish Center less than a mile away. In May, OCUU formed its first governing board to organize and plan for growth. In an early executive meeting, UUF of OC (which would seem to stand for UU Fellowship of Ocean County) planned on continuing their bimonthly services until June, 1984, with none planned for July and August. Some board issues were a basket for food contributions; mailings to ascertain membership; and a continuing search for a better meeting place.
2006 Rev. George Blair became the Consulting Minister, but ended his contract by mutual consent in July 2007, as he had been unable to sell his house in Cape May due to the real estate bust.
2007 In October, under severe space restrictions at Berkeley Center, the congregation moved to afternoon services at the United Church of Christ of Toms River in Manchester Township.
2008 In November, the Board held an All-Congregation Retreat, and the resulting energy fueled revitalization of the Program Committee, Long Range Planning Committee, and Facilities (Space) Committee.
2009 The Long Range Planning Committee’s recommendations of an aggressive approach to growth was accepted by congregational vote in June. This included a part-time minister and a meeting place of our own.
2010 Rev. Elizabeth Scheuerman became the Consulting Minister, and the congregation moved to its present space, a storefront in the Holiday Mall, 734 Route 37 West in Toms River.
2013In January, beset by financial difficulties caused by lack of growth, the Board of Trustees was forced to end the congregation’s contract with Rev. Scheuerman. Sunday services are currently planned by the Worship Committee. In May, a member announced the donation of $300,000 for the sole purpose of building on Murray Grove’s property in Waretown. Plans are underway.
2000 In March, UUOCC moved to the Berkeley Center on Route 9 in Bayville. That summer for the first time, services were held in July and August.
2005 After having undertaken an intensive 2-year education and sensitivity process, UUOCC was given official recognition as a Welcoming Congregation.
The Cone House at Murray Grove was winterized and finished by parishioners and was dedicated in December, for religious education. In March, 1988, the congregation began steps for incorporation as required for UUA affiliation.
1989 At Murray Grove, a wayside pulpit sign displayed thought provoking statements, and a new ‘roots and wings’banner was displayed. UUOCC also participated for the first time in the Toms River Founders Day. UUA affiliation was granted in December. The incorporation papers list the name as Unitarian Universalist Ocean County Congregation, with an address of Murray Grove. Elizabeth Dubroff was the corporation’s initial registered agent. The first board of directors was: Jody Schreiber, President; Mary Wilkin, Secretary, and Harold Burke, Treasurer.
1990 UUOCC met every Sunday except summer months at Murray Grove. They held their first service auction. Rev. Ed Bolella became the group’s part-time minister thanks to the Consulting Ministry Program at Metro.
1991 In April, UUOCC held its first Eco-Fair for Earth Day and in June the first pancake breakfast for Fathers Day. RE classes were moved from the Cone House to the dormitories.
1992 The first Directory was printed, and a quilting project was the major fund raiser. Rev. Justin La Port became the part-time minister, while also serving as Murray Grove’s Executive Director; he moved to North Carolina in 1996.
1996 Dr. Jane Daniel, the new Executive Director of Murray Grove, was appointed Chaplain of the Congregation. In the fall, a stained glass window made by Bee Johnson’s daughter was installed. Since 1996 the Congregation has had services led by visiting preachers, outside professionals, and lay members.
1997 Covered dish suppers began in April: first as a supper and then a dinner/book discussion group still happening to this day. During the winter, the Congregation began work with Ocean Lesbian and Gay Association (OLGA) to become a more welcoming congregation. In June 1998, members helped host a booth at a Gay Pride celebration at Asbury Park.
In February, the First Annual Community Retreat was held; Rev. Harold Dean of the Lincroft congregation attended for goal setting. In September, UUFOC returned to the Toms River Nursery School for 10:30 meetings on the first and third Sundays. $1000 worth of chairs were purchased. Rev. Tony Johnson was the part time minister.
In September, Murray Grove became the new home of UUFOC. They celebrated Thanksgiving in the Lodge with a communal dinner. Collections for the Food Pantry were begun year round. A baby sitter was available for Sunday meetings. Dinner discussion groups were started.
1985Requirements for charter membership was presented to the congregation for approval. “In recognition of attendance at more than one meeting during the calendar year 1984 and the January through June months of 1985 plus the giving of an identified financial contribution of more than two dollars during this time, the following persons are determined to have the right to become official charter members of the UU Fellowship of Ocean County, NJ.” Those persons became members upon signing the temporary “Statement of Purpose” adopted in March, 1985 by the congregation. “The purpose of the UUFOC is to teach and practice the religious and other objectives set forth in the Principles of the Unitarian Universalist Association.” A Discussion Group began meeting in September on the second Sunday of each month in the home of Clarence and Jerilyn Conover in Brick, which later developed into two meetings per month.
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