lake_country.jpgLake Country Unitarian Universalist Church is one of our district’s newest congregations and this vibrant, thriving community shows just what can be accomplished when a group of committed Unitarian Universalists with a vision get together and grow our faith by intentionally founding a new church. Only 11 years after the dream first began for the founding of a new congregation in Wisconsin between Madison and Milwaukee, Lake Country Unitarian Universalist Church is a thriving religious community of over 100 members and 70 children. Their members and their successful growth can serve as an inspiration to all of us in our district.

While some churches are created when a larger, growing church decides to "seed" another area congregation, Lake Country was founded independently by a group of Unitarian Universalists who believed a congregation was needed in the developing area of southeastern Wisconsin – 25 miles west of downtown Milwaukee and 60 miles east of Madison.  After some strategizing and planning, this group of visionaries who had been attending other nearby congregations began holding weekly worship services in 1997 and their new congregation was accepted for affiliation with the Unitarian Universalist Association once they had accumulated 60 charter members.

In Fall 2004, they applied for and were awarded a Chalice Lighters grant from the Central Midwest District to establish a professional staff position for their religious education program. The awarding of the grant and the establishment of the RE staff position resulted in more numerical growth, particularly of families with young or school-age children.

Then, in February of 2006, the congregation began recognizing that with 60 children regularly attending religious education classes, they had outgrown their rental facilities. At this time, St. Ann’s church in Meton, Wisconsin went up for sale. Given the rising prices of property in this commercially expanding area, acquiring the property seemed beyond their reach. But St. Ann’s wanted to sell their property to another church, not a commercial developer, and they were willing to sell it for half its worth if it was purchased by another religious community.

Seeing this opportunity as too good to pass up, the congregation – under the Board’s bold leadership – took the leap of faith and entered into a purchase agreement with the now previous owner of St. Ann’s church. Acquiring this religious home allowed them to expand their programing and offer their members many services which were not possible in their previous rental facilities.

Since purchasing their building, Lake Country continues grow and thrive in southeastern Wisconsin by adding programs and staff. After utilizing student ministers through Meadville Lombard Theological School’s MOD program, in Fall of 2007, Lake Country hired a part-time consulting minister, Rev. Linda Berez, to their religious community.

Lake Country also recently served as the host church for a district gathering of persons from nine different small and emerging UU congregations and will serve as host again for our district Our Whole Lives Facilitator training in October.