A Record of Community Commitment
From its early years to the present, the Unitarian Church has been a positive force in the community. The founding of the Outing Club in 1891 was spearheaded by Unitarians wishing to provide a place for all young people to enjoy outdoor sport. Rev. Arthur M. Judy, the minister at that time, was also a prime mover in arranging for and promoting Iowa University Extension courses in the early 1890’s.
Unitarians were instrumental in the building of the Lend-a-Hand as a home for working girls at the turn of the century and in the formation of the Ladies Industrial Relief Society. The Men's Club promoted the development of the city park system. In 1912, Rev. Wallace Cooper and Ernest Oberholtzer, later a founder of the Wilderness Society, sponsored the first Boy Scout troop.
Through the leadership of Rev. Charles E. Snyder, community residents organized the Scott County Mental Health Association in 1947. In addition to early work in community race relations, Rev. Waitstill Sharp helped form the Blackhawk (later Illowa) Memorial Society in 1964. Many church members, as well as Rev. Rexford S. Styzens, took part in the civil rights movement of the sixties. In 1986, Rev. Alan Egly spearheaded the founding of The Community Resources Corporation to provide appropriate space for nonprofit organizations, It is typical that such organizations as those above have been open to broadly based community involvement.
During the years at 10th and Perry, the Unitarian Church formed close bonds with the neighboring congregations of Temple Emanuel and Edwards Congregational (now UCC) Church. Although each of the three has since built in different areas in the city, they continue to meet twice a year for an Interfaith Dinner and for a shared service prior to Thanksgiving.
Since about 1990 the Theological Symposium has become an annual event, involving Jewish, Christian and Unitarian congregations. Quad Citians Affirming Diversity (QCAD) had its roots in the early eighties when the church provided a non-threatening meeting place for persons with differing sexual orientations. Similarly, the church now provides office and meeting space to Progressive Action for the Common Good (PACG), a Quad City group fostering numerous progressive causes from peace to health care.
Our Archives Team works to collect, preserve, house and catalog the documents that provide a record of the history of our congregation. All are welcome to join the team. Contact the office at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Early Days and Years
In June 1868, the newly formed First Unitarian Church in Davenport caused excitement and predictions of dire consequences. Relying on the intellect, reason and intuitive faith of its adherents rather than the usual creed of orthodoxy, the Unitarians proceeded to plant their New England-based roots firmly in Davenport’s soil.
The families of French, Mason, Parks, Valentine, Barrows, Irish, Hubbell, Coffin, Roundy, and Churchill--families primarily of Yankee origin -- were among the first members of the church. Later the church officially changed its name to Unitarian Church and became a member of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). The first meeting was at the Burtiss Opera House in Davenport.
To raise money for a building, the church took subscriptions. Additionally, in 1871, the ladies of the church held a fund-raising fair. Both efforts made it possible for the congregation to build the first board and batten chapel, located at 9th (later 10th) and Perry Streets in downtown Davenport. When freethinker Germans overcame their aversion to an organized church and sent or brought their children to the only church in the area that allowed dancing, the congregation quickly outgrew this first building.
In 1898 after the money for its construction was fully subscribed, the congregation erected a red-brick, federal style church and hall.
The Twentieth Century -
A Building at Kimberly Road and Eastern Avenue
After nearly sixty years of service, this building needed extensive repairs and its lovely, curved stairway to the sanctuary posed a problem for aged members.
Once more the congregation decided to move. This time, they purchased a building site — a field on the corner of Eastern Avenue and Kimberly Road. For over a year during construction, the congregation met as a guest of Temple Emanuel. For the first time, on Easter Sunday, 1959, the congregation gathered in its new building, which hugged the hillside and soared toward the sky.
In 1981, the church added a lounge and additional storage space as well as remodeling the kitchen. In 1997, the congregation funded and carried out a major improvement project which almost doubled the size of the building, providing additional class/meeting rooms, storage spaces, handicapped accessible restrooms and an elevator.
In the last decade of the twientieth century, the Rev. Charlotte Justice Saleska, the eighteenth minister, was the Church’s first female settled minister. However, women have twice served as interim ministers, have served on the church’s board of trustees and have occupied the pulpit since the earliest years.
The Twenty-first Century
Ministers: After Rev. Fran Dew’s two year interim ministry, Reverend Roger Butts, our nineteenth settled minister, was ordained and installed on March 23, 2003. Upon his decision to move elsewhere, Reverend Mary Moore stepped in to become an interim minister on August 1, 2009. During her time with us, we changed our name from the "Unitarian Church" to the "Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Quad Cities," revised our by-laws and moved toward "policy-based governance." On August 1, 2011, the congregation welcomed it's currently settled minister, Reverend Jay Wolin.
Ecological Efforts: During 2005, in keeping with the seventh UU principle — affirming the Interdependent Web of Existence — and in recognition of the value of conservation, the church embarked upon the installation of a new geothermal heating and cooling system. In 2007, members planted a natural prairie at the northwestern corner of the property and followed this in 2008 with a re-design of the landscaping at the front entry to the building. In 2013, UUCQC created a butterfly garden, followed up in 2014 by a garden designed to provide fresh veggies for those in the community without access to them. For more about our environmental efforts, please click here.