DUUC: Our Story

Our church was founded in 1955. The Rev. Eugene Kreves resigned from the Congregational Church in Lisle and met with 24 former members of that church in the home of Marian Hankinson on January 18, 1955, to discuss the possibility of organizing a liberal church, committed to civil rights, civil liberties and world peace. On April 10, 1955, 48 people signed a charter and called Eugene Kreves as their first minister and they were recognized as a fellowship by the American Unitarian Association during that same month. On May 4, 1955, their first annual meeting, a constitution and By-laws were adopted for the officially named DuPage Valley Unitarian Church.

In 2013, we completed construction of a new Sanctuary, and that piqued our curiosity about the ways we've changed over the decades. Church members have been asked to tell us what the church was like when they first joined. Read about life at DuPage UU Church during the 1970's, 1988, 1999, 2008.

1970's

Art and Sally Freedman reminisce about DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church during the 1970's
Presented February, 2013


We first joined this church in 1974 and we want to share our memories of congregational life nearly forty years ago. The property included: the original one-room school house, now the Founders Room; the present sanctuary, built some time before we arrived; and the entrance foyer. That's all there was.

The congregation was also very different in 1974. We had about 150 members. Congregational concerns were mainly with money (surprise?) and internal affairs. Local social outreach programs were in place, but were only a shadow of what our church represents in the general community today.

Church governance was simple. We had only one employee, and relatively few corporate responsibilities. We had a Board, but aside from operating expenses, all major financial, business and policy decisions were made in true democratic fashion - that is, by discussion and vote at congregational meetings. Some of these meetings were exciting affairs, and tempers flared - but the good thing was that after the vote, everyone put away their verbal weapons, picked up their coffee cups and got on with the business of being a loving, caring church.

When we joined DuPage UU Church in 1974, one thing that Art felt was missing was a choir. Corinne Kreves, the minister's wife, played very nice piano, but aside from hymns and an occasional solo from a member, there was little music in the Church. Art organized the first church choir, and Sally sang alto. The choir became a regular part of services for many years.

Another legacy that we created was the annual All-Church Campout on our 50 acre property near Newaygo, Michigan, called "Hidden View." The campout was held the second weekend in July, every year beginning in 1976. Camping gear included everything from pup tents to RVs, all welcome. What great times we had: tubing, canoeing, swimming, hiking, tractor rides for kids, cookouts over the big community charcoal grill, evening campfire songfests.

One memorable scene from Hidden View deserves special mention here. Shortly after Kendyl Gibbons began serving as our minister in 1983, she and her husband, Mark, came to an annual Hidden View campout. They were not seasoned campers, but they had borrowed a tent and some gear for this weekend. That was one of the few nights during which we had serious rain - a real whiz-banger category 7 thunderstorm. Kendyl emerged the next morning, sopping wet, and announced with as much dignity as she could muster, that this was one church function that was going to have to carry on in the future without her participation. Kendyl was a good sport, and the campouts did, in fact, continue, until 1991.

We are pleased to have a chance to share our memories and hope you enjoyed learning about the growth of the church's music and fellowship programs during the seventies.

1988

Jack and Ginny Pace talk about  the year they joined DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church
Presented February, 2013

Good morning. I’m Jack Pace. Ginny and I just received our pins for 25 years of membership in DuPage UU Church. Here’s what we remember from 1988, the year we joined.

As former UUs, we visited the nearest UU church and didn’t shop around for other church options. DuPage UU Church was friendly, had a great minister in Kendyl Gibbons, and had just launched an expansion program to build what is now Kreves Hall. The church soon adopted the motto A Growing Church for Growing Times. I don’t think we had a mission statement back then.

The staff consisted of a minister, part-time Director of Religious Education, and part-time secretary, all sharing space in what is now the Clara Barton room upstairs. Bonnie was pianist, but the choir was directed by a series of volunteers. Child care was provided by parents taking turns.

The social action committee was a forum for lively discussions, but our only community involvement was collecting food for Peoples Resource Center. Since then, our social action program has grown to include PADS, Bridge Communities, Green Sanctuary, and Statements of Conscience, as well as a Public Ministry Committee to advance social witness in the name of the church.

The church had no Endowment Fund, but established one soon after we arrived.

The Service Auction brought in hundreds of dollars. It has grown into an event that nets tens of thousands.

Kendyl was only the church’s 4th minister. She suggested that DuPage UU Church become more open to the LGBT community, but it wasn’t until Lois White interned with us that we embarked on the Welcoming Congregation program.

Since that era, our religious education curricula have grown to include the Chalice Lighter, Coming of Age and TAG programs.

Although we had only one service in 1988, we soon added a second service to accommodate growth in church attendance.

Ginny and I felt that this church would be the right one for us. That anything that needed to be fixed, we could help fix. As the church and its members have grown in wisdom, strength and community service, so have we. We are proud and happy to be a part of this growing church community.

1999

Kaiya Iverson remembers a period of leadership growth
Presented February, 2013

Time flies. Almost 15 years in my case. Bill Clinton was still president. The idea of President George W Bush and 9/11 were both unimaginable.

15 years ago, I was working in management consulting and living in Elmhurst. Although I had been a UU as a kid, I hadn’t been a part of a church community since I was a kid.

I actually joined DuPage UU Church during the interim ministry following the departure of the long-time settled minister [Kendyl Gibbons]. Much of the congregation was still wrestling with her departure. Some were unable to appreciate our interim minister just because she wasn’t the former minister. Yet this new era with that interim minister became the era when the membership of DUUC accepted leading this congregation. The lay leadership embraced making decisions and setting direction. Our church was evolving into the governance to match its size. That was an exciting transformation to walk into. 

Now, little did any of us know that we were at the beginning of a seven-year ride with five different ministers – both interim and settled. Yet, it was remarkable to see how resilient this church was and is – nothing slows the beat of this congregation’s heart. I suppose that’s why I stayed.

I can hardly wait to see what the next 15 years brings.

2008

Brad Kampschroeder tells us what brought his family to our church in 2008
Presented February, 2013

A little over 5 years ago, my wife and I walked through those doors with our young daughters, hoping for a church experience different than what we had growing up. I was a Methodist, and she a Lutheran.

Early in my life, about sixth grade, I fancied myself a scientist, applying scientific method to my observations of the world. It didn’t take me long to realize what I was being told at church didn’t fit into my view of the world, nor that of my heroes such as Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin. I can remember sitting in the pew and listening, while looking around me at the parishioners and wondering how these arguably smart people believed this stuff. It felt like a really bad magic show to me. By high school I called myself an atheist, but only in my mind. To say so out loud would be embarrassing. My club of Catholic friends would admonish me. I kept that inside me until not that long ago.

My wife, Amy, was comfortable as a Lutheran growing up, not really questioning any of it. Then, after graduating college, she decided to take a year in Japan and teach English in a Japanese high school. It turned out to be the opportunity of a lifetime in many ways, particularly in her understanding of world religion. Immersed in a sea of countless millions of non-Christians, she began to wonder how all of these good people could possibly be excluded from the grand plan of Christianity. Why are they not chosen? They are good people. She began to study the teachings of Buddha, and by the end of her year in Japan, her view on religion had transformed. She was agnostic, but knew that every person in the world, across oceans and across dotted lines on maps, shared a connectedness that could not be defined by any one religion.

Shortly after Amy’s return from Japan, we got married. Many years went by without us participating in an organized church. We got our religion from music, art, poetry, and our dog, Sam. (Dog is God spelled backward, you know.) Finally, when our two daughters got old enough, we decided we needed to try to find a church that supported our belief system. We didn’t know where to begin, so we turned to Google. That’s right, we found DUUC on Google. To this day at our house we say, “in Google we trust” and “thank Google!”

So we walked through those doors five years ago hoping for something… a connection… anything. We sat down and Emmy Lou’s voice spoke of love, peace, and acceptance. She quoted authors and poets and religious leaders. She discussed the environment and civil rights. And the music… oh the lovely music. We were in love. We returned for more. And got more! And there was talk of a new sanctuary, which we found exciting.

After being here a while, I didn’t feel like I had to define myself as an atheist. Although I now feel okay with the word, it really says what I am not. Instead I can call myself a humanist, a naturalist, a scientist, and it feels great. We feel like we found our people. We feel hopeful that others can find us too. We believe that there are a lot of UU’s out there that don’t know it yet. This sanctuary is a huge step in growing what we do here. And all joking aside about Google, our online presence is an important way for people to learn about us.

So I will conclude by asking two things of each of you. First, be generous with your annual pledge, which helps allow our growth to happen. (The new sanctuary is no longer a rumor!) Second, connect online if you haven’t already. Twitter, Facebook, and Blogspot can all be found via our website, www.duuc.org.