The New River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (NRUUF) is an interfaith community, a “Welcoming Congregation” open to persons seeking a nontraditional path based on a shared set of Principles, rather than a particular faith.
We are a lay-led congregation. We do not have a regular minister and our Sunday Services are usually led by members of the congregation and friends. To get a better idea of what our services are like, please take a look at the “Our Past Services” section.
Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion characterized by a “free and responsible search for truth and meaning”. The Unitarian Universalist (UU) Church does not have a creed. Instead, UUs are unified by their shared search for spiritual growth. As such, UU congregations include many agnostics, theists, and atheists among their membership.
The roots of UU are in liberal Christianity, specifically Unitarianism and Universalism. Unitarian Universalists state that from these traditions come a deep regard for intellectual freedom and inclusive love. Congregations and members seek inspiration and derive insight from all major world religions.
Services usually last about an hour, or a little longer. We usually start with a brief opening ceremony which includes the lighting of our chalice, the sharing of joys and concerns and a few other traditions we enjoy.
Social Justice – In particular, we of the New River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship have a long history of engagement with social justice projects to help create a positive impact in our local community, and abroad. We advocate for the rights of all beings, the end of oppression, inclusion of a spectrum of cultures and classes and we put an emphasis on working to help heal and care for the planet we live on. You can check out some of the projects we been involved with on our Social Justice page.
Our History – On April 6, 1961 a group of like-minded individuals gathered to hear a Mr. Munroe Husbands (pictured), Continental Director of the American Unitarian Association speak in Beckley, WV. Some of the people who attended the presentation (including a Mr. John Hodel) were so inspired that they vowed to establish a Unitarian Fellowship here in Beckley.
The following month on May 15, 1961, the American Unitarian Association and the Universalist Church of America merged to become the Unitarian Universalist Association and on the same day, with the guidance and support of Mr. Husbands, the New River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship became one of the first societies admitted to the newly formed Association.
If you would like to know more about the history of Unitarian Universalism, we encourage you to to visit some of the resources at the UUA Website https://www.uua.org/beliefs/who-we-are/history
For the next 23 years, John Hodel donated meeting space at the old Raleigh Register Newspaper building to the NRUUF, which then relocated to the Temple Beth El for several years, before a period of time in the 90s when meetings were held just once a month at various locations. Regular meeting spots included the homes of various members and more regularly, the old Pagoda Restaurant (located on Harper Road), the Comfort Inn and occasionally local State Parks where they enjoyed a more natural outdoor setting and usually a picnic.
Finally, on January 19th, 1992 shortly after the ordination ceremony for their long time lay leader, Beverly Kinraide, the NRUUF found it’s own home at 911 South Kanawha Street in Beckley, where we resided until our decision to sell the property near the end of 2021. We are now in the process of collaborating with other WV UUs to create a regular online experience for our congregation, as well as scheduling in-person local meetups. It seems that we are going back to our roots, enjoying picnics in local parks.
The NRUUF has undergone many changes over the decades, but we are still a place where one can find others who need a “different” spiritual experience in our local community, who seek the value of deeds more than words, who support each other during times thick and thin, who are strong, yet adaptable and ever mindful of the need for those who will work to make our world a better place… one person at a time.
Won’t you join us?