A Brief History of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Canandaigua

Three people had a dream one day in the Fall of 1991. That dream was to have a Unitarian Universalist Congregation in the city of Canandaigua. The Reverends Carl and Maureen Thitchener (co-ministers of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Amherst near Buffalo, NY, and also serving the Waterloo Fellowship in Waterloo, Canada), spent their summers at their retreat in the Bristol Hills, where they met Shelley Page, a young active Unitarian Universalist in the Rochester Unitarian congregation who had strong talents in areas of programming and growth. A dream of having a congregation in Canandaigua was shared equally. The initial step was to hold public meetings at Wood Library, to see if there was interest in this community. There was!

Things began to happen to make the dream come true; afternoon information meetings were held at what is now the Inn on The Lake in Canandaigua. Soon there were regular services held at the Thompson Cooperative on Main Street in Canandaigua on Sunday afternoons. (The Thitcheners were not available on Sunday mornings due to the commitments to the other congregations which they served.)

Ariel Wunrow, a long-time Unitarian Universalist from the New York City area, became the first Religious Education Director, and Bill Mehls, music teacher for the Canandaigua elementary schools, became the Music Director.

In early 1992 it became quite evident that this congregation would grow, but needed some changes for this to happen. So the services were changed to mornings, and the congregation was chartered as a full member of the Unitarian Universalist Association on October 3, 1993.  UUCC had several interns and ministers in the 1990s. Space became an issue, and the congregation purchased their present home at 3024 Cooley Rd., in Canandaigua. On Easter Sunday, 1997, the new building was officially dedicated.  The Reverends Thitchener became official co-ministers in the fall of 1997.

The congregation continued to grow.  In 2009, we began a new chapter in our history by hiring Reverend Scott Tayler to serve as our consulting minister.  Scott was also the Co-Senior Minister–along with his wife, Reverend Kaaren Anderson–of the First Unitarian Church of Rochester, NY. Rev. Scott allowed us to forge a connection with First Unitarian through a partnership that was developed between our two churches.

While he accepted a new position with the UUA in 2013, UUCC was able to continue the partnership with Rev. Kaaren serving as our new consulting minister. She had a passion for developing deeper connections between congregations and also for developing our facilities, promoting a capital campaign for UUCC which is enabling us to improve both functions and aesthetics of our location.

Rev. Kaaren moved on to other career paths in 2016 and we currently are under the interim ministry of Rita Capezzi (interim intern minister) and Rev. Joel Miller (interim senior minister). In 2017 we will decide on the type of ministry for UUCC after the end of the 2017-2018 interim period is completed.

To learn more about our partnership with First Unitarian, click here. Our bylaws are published on the Board of Trustees page.