On March 9, 1930, fifteen people met at a hotel in Flint in response to an advertisement placed by the American Unitarian Association. Late that year, inspired by the information they received from representatives of the AUA, the group joined the association as the First Unitarian Church of Flint. The journey of this small group of liberal religious thinkers to become the present congregation was not easy, but it was interesting. A major effort was the search for a permanent home.
In 1933 the Unitarians joined with the Congregationalists, who had a building, for common worship. The groups maintained their own identities. In 1940 the Congregationalists’ building was repossessed and the groups moved to temporary quarters in a building in downtown Flint. After a period of growth cycles, changes in ministerial leadership, and set-backs in their attempts to acquire a suitable place to build a church, the present site at 2474 S Ballenger Highway was acquired in 1957. Name and affiliation change had become a major issue; the church became the Unitarian Church of Flint affiliated solely with the American Unitarian Association. A few of the Congregationalists went to the First Baptist (now Woodside Church, an interdenominational congregation located near the Mott Community College campus in Flint). Funding was arranged for and construction undertaken in the late 1950’s. The first service was held in the new building in 1961.
In the communist “witch hunt” period from 1957 to 1968, the church was under surveillance by the Michigan State Police “Red Squad”. It was also a period of courage for many members as they actively protected African Americans and their homes from acts of racial hatred. The church was very active in the civil rights movement with members joining marches, trips to Washington, etc. The church itself was the site of frequent protest meetings, discussions, speeches by politicians and activists, sensitivity groups, draft and abortion counseling.
Church activities in the 1980’s included the hospice program worked on by Rev. Marshall, the growth and development of the memorial garden and the sponsorship of seven Vietnamese refugees. In 1981, the church received a bequest of $485,000 from the estate of Florence Whaley Orrell, aunt of long-time, active member Mary Blackinton. A major addition to the original building was completed in 1987. The addition contains our present sanctuary, Auldin Nelson Hall, and church offices. It includes a bell tower for which the children had lobbied and raised funds. The building project precipitated what became, arguably, the most serious crisis in UUCF history. This divided the congregation into two camps: one that favored reserving the Orrell bequest monies for support of social action projects and keeping a church based on a fellowship model, and the other wanting to use Orrell bequest monies for a new building addition while preserving a congregational model. The latter group prevailed causing some dissenters to leave the church.
Our church proudly became a UUA Welcoming Congregation in 1999. In 2003, the congregation took a unanimous public stand in support of gay marriage. In 2010, the congregation undertook a program to reaffirm the church’s UUA Welcoming Congregation commitment.The congregation conducted its 75th anniversary celebration in 2005 with a gala party including numerous invited out of town guests formerly connected with the church.
|Unitarian Unversalist Congregation of Flint|
2474 S. Ballenger Hwy
Flint, MI 48507