Live Oak History
A Brief History of Live Oak UU Church
The Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Church is a strong tree with deep roots.
- September 1991 - A presentation by a Unitarian Universalist Association, or UUA, official, to the members of First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin inspired a previously-unorganized group of Northwest Austin residents to begin meeting regularly to discuss the formation of a new church in their geographic part of Austin.
- October 1991 - Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Church was founded by this small steering committee.
- July 12, 1992 - The church held its first regular service, at The Arbor Nursing Home on 5301 Duval Road. It was attended by 25 adults and 14 children.
- July 29, 1992 - The Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Church was officially incorporated as a church in the state of Texas.
- November 1992 - Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Church was chartered, and rented office space in the Cortez Plaza building at 13276 Highway 183.
- January 1993 - The church participated in a four-week "Minister on Loan" program with Rev. Charles Gaines, sponsored by the UUA.
- August 1993 - Live Oak obtained a minister through the UUA's New Congregation Extension Ministry Program. The Rev. Annie Foerster (right) remained with Live Oak until January 1995.
- From January 1995 to January 1996 services were led by guest speakers, guest ministers, or members of the church.
- January 1996 - Chuck Freeman (right) became our part-time minister.
- July 23, 1996 - An electrical fire in an upstairs neighbor's office in the Cortez Plaza building caused the church to have to look for new meeting space. The church began meeting at Jollyville Elementary School on an emergency basis.
- October 6, 1996 - The church began meeting temporarily in Lake Creek Village, just across and down the street from our new property in Lakeline Office Park.
- July 31, 1996 - The church purchased our Lakeline office building.
- March 30, 1997 - The church moved to our new property at Lakeline Office Park, 12310 RM 620 North, Suite 104.
- May 1, 1999 - Rev. Chuck Freeman was conditionally approved as a UU minister.
- September 22, 1999 - Church members met at sunrise on the autumnal equinox to dedicate land for new church buildings on Hatch Road in Cedar Park, just a mile from our current location.
- March, 2000 - Contract is signed with architectural firm Stewardship for design of new sanctuary.
- April, 2000 - Rev. Chuck Freeman's final approval is granted and he is an officially fellowshipped UU minister!
- September, 2000 - We added a second, earlier, worship service to our offerings.
- January 16, 2002 - contracts are signed and Live Oak becomes the proud owners of a former Baptist church on El Salido Parkway. The Hatch Road property was sold to another church and swapped for the new property. Stewardship is contracted to renovate the new, much larger facility.
- June 1, 2003 - We move into our NEW church building, transferring the flame and all of our stuff in one festive afternoon. Let the renovations begin! September 21, 2003 - First service in our renovated facility.
- March 2004 - Live Oak labyrinth is dedicated.
- May 2004 - On Sunday, May 23, 2004 at a Special Congregational meeting, the members of Live Oak voted to call the Rev. Kathleen Ellis (right) as a minister to our congregation.
- January 2005 - Sasha, our new grand piano, is welcomed to Live Oak.
- March 2012 - Dedication of Chalice Pathway.
- April 2012 - Celebrations held for our departing ministers Rev. Kathleen Ellis and Rev. Chuck Freeman.
- Church Leaders - May 2012
- Board: President - Rob Sartin; Vice-President - Lee Bruns; Secretary - Alice Sessions; Treasurer - Sharon Fitzpatrick; Assistant Treasurer - Bob Moyer
- Trustees: Doug Martin; Carolyn Dower; Jennifer Swan; Amy Thomas; CT Goss
- Nominating Committee: Grace Glenn; Larry Smith; Juanita Moshier; Kathi Lunny; Adrian McCulloch
- Policy Committee Non-elected Members: Mark Anderson; Katharine Marvin; Mary Scheffler
- Executive Team: Tim Buckley; Grace Glenn; Janet VanSickler
- August 1, 2012 - Rev. Linda Bunyard joins Live Oak as our Interim minister.
TEN YEARS AFTER
In a series of articles from our tenth anniversary year, amateur historian John Iacoletti reflects back on what was going on a decade ago during the first formative months of this congregation.
January 20th, 1992. The Internet was still primarily a playground for computer nerds and university students. Having been raised a UU, currently unchurched, and living in northwest Austin, the following announcement on the austin.general newsgroup caught my eye:
The Northwest Unitarian Universalist Committee is holding a public informational meeting for people who are interested in forming a new Unitarian Universalist Church in the northwest Austin/Round Rock area. The meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 4, 1992, at 7:30 p.m. at Jewish Community Center of Austin, 11713 Jollyville Road.
Martha and I decided to go check it out, with 2½-year-old Paul and 6-month-old Stephanie in tow. The guest book tells us who was there that night … some of the names are still familiar in our community today, other names are familiar only to old-timers: Tina Cordes, Vella Fink, Annie Legrand, Grace Lawlor, Kathy Sanchez, Ralph Shepley, Dale Stahl, Barbara Denny, Dwight Brown, Fred Wooden, and 9 others (the Sessions either weren’t there or forgot to sign the book!). I was later told that this was the first public meeting to organize a new UU church in northwest Austin. Until then, it was mainly a “crazy idea” batted around by a few mavericks at First UU Church who had a dream. It was cold and damp outside that night as we walked into the Jewish Community Center. Inside I found a group of total strangers, but they were the warmest, most welcoming and enthusiastic total strangers I had ever come across. I don’t remember much about what was specifically discussed that wintry evening, but I knew that something profound was going to happen and I wanted to be a part of it.
April 1992. Welcome to the first edition of the still-to-be named Unitarian Universalist Church newsletter … an auspicious beginning to the publication you are now holding in your hands (or on your computer screen! [the one where the website articles come from!]). It was written by Roger and Alice Sessions and was all of two pages in length. Amongst the articles in Volume 1, Number 1 of News From The NorthWest:
- What would probably be the first formal church social event, the Seder Supper on April 11th
- The announcement of the upcoming "name our church barbecue" on May 17th bullet
- A report of a visit from the then district president Marty Robinson
There was also a 5 line long "calendar" of future events. At this time, there were organizational meetings held once a month. The first Sunday service would turn out to be another 3 months away. I'm guessing that this first newsletter went out to around 30 households. Still published monthly, the Live Oak newsletter now runs 8-10 two column pages, with about 200 copies going out in either print form or electronically.
May 1992: The New Church Has A Name!
A "Name-Our-Church" barbecue was held on May 17, 1992 at Ralph Shepley's ranch on Onion Creek in Dripping Springs. Adults and children alike voted (this was pre-consensus if you can conceive of such a thing!) from a list of 25 possible church names. Some of the more notable candidates were: Harmony UU, Bluebonnet UU, Fellowship of The Covered Dish, Hill Country UU, Pathways UU, Furious Fire Ant UU, Balcones UU, and Texas Rattler UU. The clear winner was "Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Church."
As fate would have it, Jim Scott, a traveling UU folksinger, just happened to be passing by that day and treated everybody to an impromptu concert. History also records that 10-year-old Keith Lawlor won the watermelon seed spitting contest (18' 10"), and 11-year-old Emily Sessions and Tia Lawlor swept the three-legged race.
It was also around this time that the "Coordinating Committee" became the "Steering Committee" and started meeting monthly. Then as now, the meetings were open to all.