The first Unitarian churches emerged in Eastern Europe during the 16th and
17th centuries. Unitarianism in the United States and Great Britain dates from
the early 18th century, as does Universalism. The two denominations merged
The First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Francisco was organized in
1850. The present church sanctuary (the third built by the congregation) was
dedicated in 1889. The center with its chapel, education wing, offices, and
meeting rooms, was added in 1968.
From 1860 until his untimely death in 1864, our congregation was inspired
by the ministry of Thomas Starr King. In 1861, he traveled across the state
urging people to support the Union and bring an end to slavery. From 1862 to
1864, he raised huge sums of money for medical relief for the Union troops
in the United States Civil War, and he is credited with "saving California
for the Union." There is one mountain named after him in Yosemite National
Park and another near his birthplace in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
He is also honored with two statues: one in Golden Gate Park and another in
the Statuary Hall of the United States Capitol.
| Church founded through the efforts of Captain Frederick
William Macondray. You can learn more about Captain
Macondray at the Dorchester
archive or the Otis McAllister, Inc. corporate
| First church built at 805 Stockton Street, near Sacramento
| Thomas Starr King , who came from the East, was an exceedingly
popular minister. The congregation grew and a new church was built at 133
Geary Street, the present site of the Neiman-Marcus department store across
from Union Square. King was a tireless worker in raising money for the American
Sanitary Commission (which later became the Red Cross), and lectured statewide
to keep California in the Union. He preached only seven sermons in the new
church before he died at the age of 39.
| Horatio Stebbins' long ministry was marked by church
growth and a move to a new site. Land was purchased at Franklin and Geary
Streets, the present location, farther uptown amid new Victorians. The new
and present church was dedicated in 1889.
| Bradford Leavitt had a distinguished ministry extending
from the 50th anniversary of the church through the disastrous San Francisco
earthquake of 1906 and beyond. The earthquake shook the church bell from its
tower, and it fell through the sanctuary roof, disrupting normal activity
for a considerable time. Many church member's homes suffered damage and many
members moved away from the city. Leavitt worked on a relief commission, associating
closely with the city administration. He later exposed the corruption in City
Hall, resulting in the Mayor's conviction and the resignation of the entire
Board of Supervisors.
| Dr. C. S. S. Dutton, an Englishman by birth, came to
a long ministry here. He preached inspired sermons and was well loved, although
the times were hard and included two World Wars and the Great Depression.
| Harry Meserve found a depressed congregation and a
run-down plant. With his great vitality, a fitting 100th anniversary of the
church's founding was celebrated, hundreds of new members were received, involvment
in social action increased and building improvement took place.
| Harry B. Scholefield arrived to serve us well during
the difficult days of the Vietnam War, civil rights demonstrations, and the
church's huge building project of 1967-68. In 1970 the Sanctuary and Center
became a city landmark. Dr. Scholefield was named Minister Emeritus by the
congregation when he retired in 1973.
| Howard G. Matson was called as Associate Minister,
with an emphasis on social concerns. Famed for his "Peanuts" stories in sermons,
Howard became Community Minister to the migrant farmworkers on his retirement
| Alexander C. Post was ordained by the congregation
as Minister of Music in December 1973, after having served as organist and
choir director since 1968. He was named Minister of Music Emeritus on his
retirement in 1992.
| David O. Rankin became our Senior Minister, soon gaining
a reputation as a preacher of biographical sermons. During his ministry, the
loan from the 1966-68 construction was paid off in 1978.
| Diane M. W. Miller served as Assistant, Interim Senior,
and Associate Minister. She was dearly loved and was noted for her role as
| Stanley R. Stefancic was our Senior Minister; a social
activist known as "a bricklayer, a poet, scholar, musician and sports fan."
He resigned in 1985.
| Joan Stephens Hull was called as Associate Minister.
With warmth, humor and her "Theology of Abundance," she served the church
as preacher, teacher and counselor.
| Raymond Baughan, Interim Minister
| Robert T. Latham, Interim Minister
| Victor H. Carpenter was called as Senior Minister.
Under his ministry the church experienced considerable growth and an increase
in community involvement. In 1989 a year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary
of the dedication of our present Sanctuary took place.
| Junella Hanson was called as Minister of Religious
Education. She retired in 1992, then returned as Interim Minister. On her
in 1995, she was named Minister Emerita.
| Weston Stevens and Junella Hanson, Interim Ministers
| Margot Campbell Gross and John N. Marsh, Co-Ministers.
Under their leadership, church spirit was revitalized, a highly successful
capital fund drive conducted, and an extensive program of seismic strengthening
and overall remodeling of our facilities took place.
|Reverend John H. Robinson Jr. served as Interim Minister effective August 1, 2004. Rev. Robinson helped the community understand its prorities and to sharpen its mission.
|Reverend Gregory L. Stewart was called as Senior Minister in 2006. The Ministers page provides additional information about Rev. Stewart, and the activities, projects, and people throughout this site describe our Congregational life.