Cedars History

The Church was formed as a Fellowship on June 9, 1959 when its bylaws were signed. It was brought about by the inadvertent headline: “Unitarian Lecture Set By Bremerton Pastor” above an article in the March 5, 1959 issue of the Bainbridge Review on a Unity Church program. In the April 23, 1959 issue of the Bainbridge Review, The following headline appeared: “Unitarians to Hear Seattle Guest Speaker.” By-laws were signed shortly thereafter, and the Fellowship has persisted and grown in various forms through the years.

Through the 1980s, the Fellowship met both in members’ homes and in public places, but remained primarily a small adult study and discussion group of approximately 30 members. Attempts to add children’s programs and Religious Education met with mixed success.

In the early 1990s, the Fellowship resolved to try a more open meeting format and began meeting once a month at the Winslow Senior Center. The June 1991 Newsletter noted that the attendance averaged “in the 20’s each month” at the end of the first year of meeting in a public location.

In October of 1993, a new Sunday morning intergenerational program format was initiated, using a Montessori School as a twice-monthly meeting place, with Saturday evening programs continuing once a month.

On a Sunday morning in September of 1995, when attendance reached 49 adults and 44 children, the Fellowship realized that it needed to move into a larger space. Membership had tripled in just a few years, and larger facilities were needed. This resulted in a move to the Hyla Middle School, where the Fellowship met until 2005. Continued growth necessitated another move in the Fall of 2005, this time to The Playhouse in Downtown Winslow (Bainbridge Island). After three years, the church found that The Playhouse did not meet is needs, and in October, 2008, moved to The Island School on NE Day Road (Bainbridge Island), where it currently meets.

In 1999, the Fellowship made the decision to call its first minister. In October 2000, Rev. Rick Koyle was called as the Fellowship’s Half-time Consulting Minister. After two years of growth in both membership and enthusiasm, the Fellowship applied to and was accepted in the UUA’s Extension Ministry Program.

In August 2002, The Rev. Dr. Peter Raible, STD, became the Fellowship’s Interim Extension Minister, and thus, the Fellowship embarked upon full-time ministry. In January, 2003, Rev. Jeanne Pupke was chosen as Intern Minister to assist the Fellowship and Rev. Raible during his illness.

In May, 2003, Rev. Drew Johnston was affirmed as full-time Extension Minister on a three-year contract.

On January 9, 2005, the Fellowship voted to change its name to Cedars Unitarian Universalist Church.

Rev. Johnston and the Board of Trustees agreed to a negotiated resignation in May, 2006.

Rev. Julie Forest became Cedars’ Interim Minister for a two-year term beginning September 2006, thus continuing full-time ministry for the church. She was ordained at East Shore Unitarian Church on October 8, 2006. Her interim ministry concluded in June 2008.

Rev. Dr. Barbara Wells ten Hove and Rev. Jaco ten Hove were called to be the co-ministers of Cedars UU Church by unanimous vote of the congregation on April 20, 2008. Their ministry began August 1, 2008 with retirement commencing on January 31, 2017.

In January 2013, Cedars Unitarian Universalist Church (for the first time in its 54-year history) purchased a building for its offices and other activities throughout the rest of the week. After renting in various locations, the church purchased its own condo bay at 284 Madrona Way NE, #128, with offices, a kitchen, and large and small meeting spaces.  Cedars still holds its Sunday services at The Island School on Day Road.