Unitarian Universalist Church of Augusta

Information about this center is no longer updated. This data was last updated on 20 March 2013.

Phone: 706-733-7939
Email: office@uucsra.org
Website: http://www.uucsra.org/
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The Unitarian Universalist Church of Augusta is one of approximately twenty Unitarian Universalist (UU) centers in the state of Georgia, and the only one in Augusta. UUs emphasize “spiritual freedom, enlightened reason, broad and tolerant sympathy, upright character, and unselfish service” as the signs of a true religion, according to a pamphlet distributed in the church lobby. The UU Church of Augusta’s mission statement includes goals such as embracing diversity, taking action to promote peace and justice, and working to preserve liberal religious values. The current minister, since 1997, is Reverend Dan King.

Activities and Schedule

Sunday services are at 9:00 and 11:00 a.m., with coffee served between services at 10:00 a.m. Recent sermon subjects include “Freethinking Mr. Franklin,” “Albert Schweitzer: Pragmatic UU Missionary?” and “Finding and Living a Liberating Religious Identity.” The UU Church offers weekly classes in yoga and meditation. A covenant of UU pagans, Spiral Path, meets regularly at the center. There is also a book club, a women’s group, a youth group, and a social action program, which includes volunteer activities at the Master’s Table Soup Kitchen, Habitat for Humanity, Golden Harvest Food Bank, and the Augusta Task Force for the Homeless. There is also a robust involvement with interfaith activities, which will be more fully elucidated in a separate section below.


The UU congregation has grown quickly in the past decade, increasing by about 50 percent. There are approximately 190 adult members, and 100 children. Members are mostly white, with a few Asian Americans, Latinos, and very few African Americans. Reverend King estimates that around 15 percent of members are affiliated with Fort Gordon army base, with a notable number who are translators for the army. He observes that around 80 percent of the congregation is not originally from the southern United States, but has moved to Augusta from other regions.

Description of the Center

The modest-sized UU brick church is located on Walton Way Extension, not far from a major shopping center and affluent Richmond County neighborhoods. Its most visible neighbor, however, is across the street: the historic First Baptist Church of Augusta. The flagship Southern Baptist church of the region – and the body associated with the formation of the Southern Baptist denomination -- First Baptist has a large campus of buildings, hundreds of daily programs, and more than 4,000 members. The UU building includes offices, a kitchen, a lobby, classrooms, and a playground. There is also a meeting room where services are held. This room is lined with brightly colored flags that indicate some of the UU Church’s affiliations: a turquoise flag with interfaith symbols, an Earth Day flag, a flag with a red AIDS ribbon, one with an LGBT rainbow, and an American flag. The latter, King says, is there to show that “not only fundamentalists are patriotic Americans.” Not much light enters into the meeting room, due in large part to the existence of only six narrow windows positioned high in the room. Reverend King says he believes this indicates that the building, constructed in 1985, was designed in some part to be a fortress against the world.


According to a history of the congregation written by longtime member Dan Hostetler, the Unitarian Fellowship of Augusta was first organized in 1954 with only twelve members. This group was an offshoot of another fellowship of Unitarians formed the year before in nearby Aiken, South Carolina. These early Unitarians had arrived in the area to construct and operate Savannah River Plant, a newly opened plutonium production facility. In the early days of the church, services and meetings were held at a local Jewish Reform temple, the Congregation Children of Israel. In the 1950s and 1960s, the UU Church’s attitude towards racially integrated congregations was locally controversial. When members made statements about racial politics to the press, the church received phone threats. A small group led by UU women started the first integrated preschool in the city in 1961. The first church building, designed by a member, was built in 1960, and expansions have been continuous since. After a three year process of internal education, the Augusta UU congregation voted in 1999 to become an denominationally-designated Welcoming Congregation (LGBT-friendly). In 1997, the current minister – Reverend Dan King – arrived at the church. Educated at Starr King School in Berkeley, California, but originally from Marietta, Georgia, Reverend King says in an interview that while he might enjoy larger UU communities, he feels a “broader sense of mission being involved in a liberal church in the southeast.”

Interfaith Efforts and Interactions

With a few exceptions, interfaith efforts in the Augusta area typically involve the UU Church in some capacity. This is because, Reverend King says, interfaith work is part of the UU mission to “embrace folks as part of ourselves who have various and diverse theologies ... particularly those who are subverting the dominant paradigm of Anglo-Protestant Christianity.” Indeed, many members of the church have themselves adopted practices of such belief systems, particularly elements of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Paganism. Interfaith efforts have not consistently met with success. When Reverend King arrived in Augusta in 1997, he was active – along with members of the Islamic Society of Augusta, among others -- in forming a chapter of the Interfaith Alliance. The first meetings, Reverend King says, were attended by a broad spectrum of religious representatives, including members of prominent Baptist and Methodist congregations. Early on, however, two attendees identified themselves as conservative Christians. Showing up persistently to every IA meeting, they were ready to speak out their critiques of interfaith efforts any time a resolution was proposed. These disruptions – and the lack of credibility King suspects Unitarian Universalists and Muslims may have in some local religious communities – led to waning attendance, and the eventual disbandment of the IA after two years. Interracial efforts have also been challenging, according to Reverend King. For a recent Martin Luther King, Jr. interfaith birthday observance, organizers attempted to draw in a racially diverse crowd, but attendance was overwhelmingly African American. Forty white members of the UU Church made up the majority of the white attendees. Reverend King has spoken at the Islamic Society of Augusta approximately six times. His across-the-street neighbor -- the former pastor of First Baptist of Augusta, Reverend Timothy Owings – has occasionally accompanied him. After the events of September 11th, 2001, the UU Church was involved with interfaith rallies and panels at the mosque as well. King -- and other UU members -- have also been a persistent voice for religious tolerance in the opinion pages of the Augusta Chronicle. The church’s web site includes links to one such heated exchange of letters to the editor that occurred in 1999 and 2000.