In 1996, stimulated by a course at The Clearing led by retired Unitarian minister Robert Clarke, several interested persons continued the discussions with him after the class ended. Some of the participants were members of UU Churches or Fellowships before moving to Door County, and others were not, but all were interested in forming a Fellowship here. Notices were put in the local newspapers and these attracted enough persons to start a fledgling Fellowship. Our first regular service was held on September 8, 1996 at the Meadows of Scandia Village. We met there every Sunday for the next three years. Although we had some guest speakers, Bob Clark was our faithful minister during these early times. We formally joined the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA) in February 1997 with 47 Charter members. We have grown steadily and presently have a membership of 91 (in 2018). We also have a loyal group of “Friends” and summer residents who are involved in the Fellowship to varying degrees.
As we grew, we began looking for a place that would be ours, a place where we could hold musical performances as well as Sunday Services, religious education seminars, cultural series, parties, and special events. We were very fortunate to find the Koessl building for sale in October of 1999 when we were ready to buy. At that time, our membership was 44. The Rev. John Buerhens, who was president of UUA and The Reverend Robert C. Clarke conducted the Dedication Service on Sunday, January 16, 2000. It was a full house.
Interestingly, the building was built in the late 1980s as a British import shop. It was modeled after the 16th century “Little Moreton Hall” in Cheshire, England, which is currently on the national tour of England’s historic buildings. The decision to move from the Koessl Lane building was not an easy one. We loved it, but the space was proving too small for the number of people who came to our Sunday Services and other events. We finally sold the Koessl building in October 2012.
Our present home is part of the more recent local history of Ephraim. The following was printed in our May 2008 newsletter, “The building was built in 1988 as a part of the Green Gables Shops and was Paulson’s Orchard Inn Restaurant seating up to 120 patrons. Since that time it was a Victorian gift shop serving high tea, a deli, a from-scratch bakery, center for live music performances, fashion shows, again a gift shop, and now the new home to UUFDC. On March 31, 2008 we became the new owners of this beautiful space, which provides freedom for future expansion. We have this opportunity to grow, thanks to the generosity of our members and friends.