Our History

A short video on UU historical roots

Our History

January 1983 – At the behest of the Pacific Central District, two student ministers approached Unitarian Universalists Ken and Helen Lipton with the intent of starting a fellowship in the Vallejo area.

Charter Members
October 1983 –
The group had met and gathered the twenty signatures required to be awarded a Fellowship Charter from the Unitarian Universalist Association. They met at Homestead Savings Community Room in Vallejo and at members’ homes. In 1983, 22 people signed the Membership Book.

1984 – Attendance was such that a larger space

ourhistory4was necessary, so a move was made to B’nai Israel Temple in Vallejo. That year Jan Eller Isaacs made the generous offer to be intern minister for a small stipend ($100 a month). She helped the fledgling fellowship become a real congregation. In 1984, eleven people signed the Membership Book.

1985–86 – Meetings were lay led, often with guest speakers from the community, from Starr King School for the Ministry, or from the membership itself. Seven people signed the Membership Book in 1985 and three people signed in 1986.

1987–91 – The ourhistory6Rev. Marilyn Sewell was called as quarter-time minister. During her four-year tenure, the fellowship grew and matured in many ways. Seven people signed the Membership Book in 1987; eight people signed in 1988; six people signed in 1989; five people signed in 1990; seven people signed in 1991.

1988 – The church site moved to the Masonic Temple in Vallejo.

ourhistory71991 – When Marilyn decided to move on to a full-time ministry, the group was fortunate to be able to call Rev. Holly Horn at one-third time. Growth in membership from 40 to 70 occurred over the next two years. Much of the growth was among younger families with more and more children attending. In 1992, 22 people signed the Membership Book and joined the Fellowship.

1993–1994 – There were three regular children’s religious education programs: for infants and toddlers, for 6-9 year olds, and for 10 or older. The music program also grew significantly in the early 1990’s. Karen Balabanian was hired as a part-time music director with responsibility for planning music at most Sunday services and leading a new choir.

September 1993 – Following Holly’s marriage with Benjamin Maucere and move to Philadelphia, the congregation called former San Francisco Associate Minister, Rev. Joan Hull, to its pulpit.

December 1993 – Having outgrown its space at the Masonic Temple in Vallejo, and failing to find a new church home midway between Benicia, Vallejo, and Napa, the congregation moved to the Presbyterian Church in downtown Napa. This move also required a change in service time from Sunday mornings to Sunday afternoons at 4:00 p.m. Over the next year, membership decreased as a result of losing a number of members due to the move and to the difficulty of transitioning through the changes in time, place and minister.

1994–95 – In late 1994, Joan Hull resigned, effective February 1995, based on a sense that the match with the congregation was “not right”. Beginning in mid-February 1995, programs consisted of speakers drawn from Starr King School for the Ministry, other UU churches, and other speakers. On April 3 we participated in the first “Holocaust Remembrance” with the Napa Interfaith Ministerial Association.

ourhistory81996–99 – In January 1996, the church hired Catherine Linesch for six months as a ministerial consultant to deliver two sermons per month and to provide emergency pastoral care. Following that, the arrangement was expanded for a year with additional duties. She served as our ministerial consultant for several years. We joined with the UU Church of San Francisco in sponsoring her ministerial ordination. During Catherine’s time with us we moved from the First Presbyterian Church to Emmanuel Lutheran Church at 3875 Jefferson Street, in north Napa. Due to this change, we began attracting some of the people in the neighborhood, but we still had to meet on Sunday afternoons. For those years, certified voting members were: 1996 – 34, 1997 – 41, 1998 – 42, 1999 – 43.

1999 – In March 1999, Catherine left to serve as interim minister for the UU Church of Marin and thereafter to Reno as a full-time minister. During the following year we were lucky to have had wonderful sermons by our members as well as visiting ministers and other speakers. Jan Lanterman was hired as our Music Director in June 1999 and she developed our small choir.

ourhistory52000–2002 – In June 2000, the Rev. Richard Allen, who had given a number of well-received sermons for us, was hired as a part-time minister to give two sermons a month and take part in Board meetings, provide pastoral care, and other ministerial functions. In June 2001, his contract was renewed and his salary doubled to show our church’s trust in his ministry. We offered a number of special classes, workshops, activities, and gatherings such as our Solstice and Equinox Celebrations. These activities won us the Pacific Central District Small Congregation Award for “A Congregation Which Has Made a Difference in Its Community” in April, 2001. We changed our name to the Unitarian Universalists Fellowship of Northbay (UUFNB), and adopted a new Vision Statement, in September 2001. The average attendance from July 2001 to June 2002 was 30. There were 48 certified voting members in January 2000, 48 in January 2001, and 44 in January 2002.

Rev. James C Leach
Photo courtesy of Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte (uuccharlotte.org).

2002–2003 – In the spring of 2002, Rev. Allen announced his impending move to Redding. The Rev. James C. Leach, who had given several sermons for the congregation, was available to serve as our ministerial consultant for one year while he finished his studies at Starr King. The entire Board agreed to stay on for another year in order to keep the continuity. Dale Craig was the President of the Board. Barbara Back served as our interim music director. The year 2002-2003 was a turning point, as our new minister, Rev. James Leach, radiated youth and energy. We got a new altar cloth, designed by Tracy Ruhs, and a new banner, designed and crafted by Anne Jungerman. Our publications and web page designed by Anne Jungerman and Gayle Keane were handsome and professional. We revised and re-set the Bylaws to set terms for Board members. Our financial outlook became the strongest we had for many years. We conducted ourselves with fresh vitality and hope. We accomplished our main goal, which was to find a building in which we could hold Sunday morning services. We moved to the Napa Women’s Club. This move helped increase our membership by 20%, and we attracted more young adults and children. Our average attendance from July 2002 to June 2003 was 39.9. There were 44 certified voting members in January 2002 and 41 in January 2003.

rev lynn ungar headshot
Photo courtesy of Church of the Larger Fellowship, a Unitarian Universalist congregation (questformeaning.org).

2003–04 – Jay Leach finished his studies and accepted a full-time position in his home state of North Carolina. In June the Rev. Dr. Lynn Ungar became our new consulting minister and Brian Shaw became our new music director. During the 2003-04 year the Co-Presidents were Gene Perricelli and Phyllis Boyson. Other Board members for the 2003-04 year were Barbara Kummer, Barbra McCandless, Kitty Lucas, Glynda Christian, Anne Jungerman, Bob Lux and Tracy Ruhs. We received an award from the Pacific Central District that proclaimed us to be a leading congregation in growth. Because of this growth, our Fellowship went through a transition period that meant lots of interest was generated to make committee work better defined so that the Board could focus better on making policy. There was also an adjustment to being in our new space at the Napa Women’s Club. Several new programs were established during 2003-04 including an animal welfare group, a Sunday morning forum, December Yuleboecks (holiday open houses), weekly tutoring of English as a second language, and Adopt-A-Family at Christmastime. Members attended Pacific Central District conferences and the UUA General Assembly. The Bylaws were changed to reduce the size of the Board to seven members. The average attendance from July 2003 to June 2004 was 41.7. There were 55 certified voting members in January 2004.

2004–05 – Our Fellowship renewed itself in various ways. At times we had as many as 50 people attend our services. Many new volunteers joined committees. We received the Abundant Heart Award from the Pacific Central District for our community outreach projects. There was a tremendous energy in the organization that indicated a vibrant future. Board members for 2004-05 were President: Glynda Christian, Vice-President: Gayle Keane, Secretary: Kitty Lucas, Co-Treasurers: Barbra McCandless and Bob Lux, At-Large: Tom Dragavon and Tom Wilson. The average attendance from July 2004 to June 2005 was 45.2. There were 60 certified voting members in January 2005.

2005–06 – Board members for 2004-05 were President: Glynda Christian; Vice-President: Tom Wilson; Secretary: Kit Lucas; Treasurer: Gayle Keane; At-Large: Lee Long, Tracy Ruhs and Bob Jones. In January 2006, Jennifer Ryu became our consulting minister. Our temporary meeting place was at the Boys and Girls Club of Napa Valley. (During this year the Ministerial Search Committee worked very hard to survey the congregation and put together a Congregational Record to try to attract a minister who would not be temporary.) There were 59 certified voting members in January 2006. Average attendance on Sunday mornings was 40.8.

The Rev. Bonnie M. Dlott

2006–2007 – The year began with the Ministerial Search Committee asking Rev. Bonnie Dlott, a 2005 graduate of Starr King School for the Ministry, to serve as half time consulting minister. Bonnie also coordinated the RE program until Mary Ellen Morgan was hired in April as quarter-time Director of Religious Education. At the beginning of June 2007 the congregation voted unanimously to call Rev. Bonnie to be their settled minister and she accepted the call. Membership grew to 73 by June of 2007 (but was effectively reduced to 69 after we took some non-participating folks off the roles). Average attendance on Sunday morning grew to 55.5. This year we tripled our building fund, increasing it to over $60,000, and vigorously researched options for a new facility to rent, buy, or build. Board Members for this year were President: Bob Jones; Vice President: Rainer Hoenicke; Secretary: Tom Wilson; Treasurer: Gayle Keane; At Large: Lee Long, Tracy Ruhs, and Iris Daigre.

2007-2008 – This year we were awarded a Chalice Grant from the District to implement a novel outreach program called Chalice Circles.  We sent mailings to residents of newly purchased homes in population centers to the north, east, west, and south of Napa offering small group meetings for those wanting to explore spirituality and Unitarian Universalism. We started groups in Vallejo, St. Helena, and Sonoma. We obtained a lease from the Boys and Girls Club when it became obvious that we would not be able to find a new facility to buy, rent, or land to build on. We taught our first 7-9th grade “Our Whole Lives”  class to ten teenagers. Founding member Helen Lipton passed away. Our average attendance grew to 52, and our membership stayed stable at about 69, with seven joining this year, five resigning, and two opting to convert to friend status.  Average attendance in children’s RE was 5.7. Board members were: Bob Jones (Pres.), Iris Barrie (Vice Pres.), Margaret Kelso (Secretary), Rainer Hoenicke (Treas.), Iris Daigre, Lee Long, Jim Craig.

2008-2009 – We made the transition from a family-sized to a pastoral congregation. Membership reached 75 and attendance in children’s Religious Education doubled to over seven regulars. Average Sunday adult attendance for the year was 56.9. Rev. Bonnie Dlott was installed as minister in October. Clusters continued to meet in Sonoma and Vallejo/Benicia. A Spiritual Care group was founded to provide lay pastoral support to the congregation. A committee of Budget Backers conducted the annual canvass, with great success. Social Justice activities included year-long participation in Carbon Circles, presentation of an Earth Day worship service, “We Stand for Peace” vigils, and 10% donation of the monthly non-pledge plate collection to local charities.  Employees included Mary Ellen Morgan (RE and administration), Kate MacPherson (choir), Paula Eisenbarth and Brian Shaw (pianists). The board included Iris Barrie (President), Barbara Back (Secretary/Vice Pres.), Rainer Hoenicke (Treas.), Margaret Kelso (Secretary),  Jim Craig, Margo McCandless, and Iris Daigre.

2009-2010 – Membership was at 71 mid-year, with average Sunday attendance (adults and children) of 62.8.  Rev. Bonnie Dlott’s time was increased to 2/3 in January and she added a third Sunday of preaching to her schedule every other month.  The Site Search Committee continued to investigate alternate sites for lease or purchase. The board decided to eliminate the Director of Religious Education position and hire an RE teacher, at a cost savings. Social Justice activities included pre-service adult education, working with children’s RE on charitable work in the community, and the Share-the-Plate donation was changed to 100% of the plate once a month. We lost a beloved long time member, Mary Skouge.   A Long Range Plan team, headed by Bob Nicholson, was formed to begin the process of creating a new five-year plan for 2011-2016. Our annual canvass exceeded its goals. The building fund grew to $98,000. Board members were: Iris Barrie (Pres.), Jim Craig (Treas.), Margaret Kelso (Secretary), Dave Lindsay, Margo McCandless, Lenore Hirsch, B.J. Pheiffer.

2010-2011 – Membership grew to 76.  Average Sunday attendance (adults and children) was 52.3.  Most members participated in small group meetings in the summer of 2010 as part of the Long Range Plan process. A congregational retreat was held in the fall to share themes developed by the committee from all of the congregational input. The new Long Range Plan for 2011-2016 went through revision in committee in conjunction with the board and was approved by the congregation in June, 2011. The board established a Personnel Committee and hired a new musician, RE teacher and created a sound technician position. “Our Whole Lives” was offered by Rev. Bonnie and Rick Dlott to a group of teens throughout the year and a newly forming teen group planned to take over Hospitality once a month. The Site Search committee continued to look at properties and the board contracted with a UUA consultant to do a Growth Assessment in the fall of 2011. The building fund reached $113,000. Social Justice activities included collaboration with the UU Legislative Ministry, Barakat, and the Napa-Sonoma Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. Donations were made through Share-the-Plate (average over $300 a month), shoe and food drives. The board was: David Lindsay (Pres.), Lenore Hirsch (Vice Pres.), Paul Boisvert (Treas.), Anne Jungerman (Secretary), Margo McCandless, Ross Cofer, Mary Lu Kennelly.

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of North Bay: Members 2012

2012-2013 – Membership grew to 78 members in 2012.  That same year UUFNB hired its first Intern Minister, Jennifer Leota Gray, to study and train at our fellowship.  In 2013, after many years of fundraising, UUFNB was finally able to purchase a permanent home at 1625 Salvador Avenue in Napa.  This purchase is the long-awaited realization of a collective dream and the congregation is thrilled to be home at last.

2013-14 – This year was perhaps the most chaotic, tumultuous, and joyful in the life of our congregation, as we moved into our new building at 1625 Salvador Avenue.

View from the back yard

Our newly appointed facilities committee met weekly over the summer to prepare the building for our Homecoming Service on September 8th. On September 1st we had our final service at the Boys & Girls Club, and moved all of our possessions to the new building. We held a formal dedication for the building on April 13, which was attended by local clergy and Napa County Supervisor Brad Wagenknecht.

Throughout the year, the board and all of our committees were totally occupied (and at times over-loaded) creating the policies, procedures, and practices needed to make the transition from renters to home-owners. Major focus was placed on planning for the future of our building and grounds. Input was gathered from the congregation and a new committee, the Property Development Committee, was appointed and charged with developing a master plan for the property. We also scrambled to create a capitol budget, and take care of immediate property-related needs. In August we hired a part time administrator, Maryellen Bartolome, and in October, Rev. Bonnie’s time was increased from 2/3 to 3/4.

We continued to offer a 9:30 and 11:00 am service every week. Total average attendance at Sunday Services was 70. Our Tuesday night meditation services attracted approximately 20-70 people each week. Rev. Bonnie offered three Friday night “Vespers” services, and off site events included Winter Solstice, Vernal Equinox, and an all-church picnic. Our Connections Committee organized a game night, a potluck, the Building Dedication, and the second annual Summer Camping Trip at Salt Point. The Care Coordinators continued to offer support to members needing short-term assistance.

Another new committee, the Building Hosts, was created to help keep the building clean and welcoming.

The Committee on Ministry updated Rev. Bonnie’s Ministerial Agreement for the first time since June of 2007. Our board members were Phyllis Boyson, President; Tricia Lewis, Vice President; Jane Bledsoe, Treasurer; Kit Lucas, Secretary; at large members Jeff Conklin, Bonnie Richardson, and Vicki Wolf. Membership in February of 2014 was 82.

2014-15 – NVUU has been a vibrant place this year. Some popular fellowship activities were: circle suppers, games, movies, concerts, Thanksgiving dinner and our annual camping trip. In addition, members and friends of NVUU enjoyed three of nature’s calendar events, a second women’s group and two new men’s groups. Some popular courses offered were: Thinking about Religion, Conflict Resiliency, and A Year to Live. In addition, NVUU shared space with the Napa Valley Insight Meditation group and the Citizenship Legal Services.


Brad Fisher was hired as a second religious education teacher. The children and youth participated in a social justice project with Heifer International. Children and adults performed “A Charlie Brown Christmas” in December. Social justice volunteers from NVUU joined a coalition to staff the Peace Table at the Farmer’s Market and regularly served meals at a soup kitchen called The Table. Each month, NVUU supported a different social justice cause financially as part of our ongoing “Share the Plate” program.

Architects were hired to work with the congregation to begin the process of discerning what we would like to do with our property. The congregation revised our bylaws to establish details about the nominating committee; the board refined NVUU’s policies and procedures; and volunteers worked on getting NVUU’s archives organized. In June we said goodbye to Kate MacPherson, who directed our choir for the past eight years. Membership in February 2015 was 89.


Oct, 31, 2017

Rev. Bonnie Dlott retires after 11 years of service.