The founders of UKV first met to begin planning how to bring a Unity church to Charleston. They were Janet and John Mani, Sharon Mayes, Charlie Ware and Patricia and Kurt Olmosk. They invited the following to join them in forming a Steering Committee: Carmen and Rico Vega, Karen and Rich Hopkins. Faye and Charlie McComas, and Joan and Jack Moss. This was the beginning.
Unity of Roanoke Valley in Roanoke, Va. agreed to become our sponsor church.
Sunday October 23, 1987-
UKV held its first service in the evening on the second floor of the YWCA. 85 people attended.
UKV applied to the Association of Unity Churches to become a church and was recognized.
Interviewed and hired the first full time minister, Greg Wissman. Services were moved to 11:00 a.m. There were 51 charter members.
Moved Sunday services to 1030 Bridge Road. The membership grew.
Hired an experienced interim Unity minister, Rev. Lois Webb. She brought leadership and stability while increasing membership and member communication. Confidence in her gave the board courage to move forward and buy our own church home.
Board members from UKV and the Unitarian Universalist Church met and signed the agreement allowing UKV to purchase the A frame church building at 3102 Blaine Boulevard in North Charleston for $48,000.
UKV began a ministerial search. Several applicants were interviewed, but Woody Hawley, a recent graduate from Unity minister school in Unity Village, was the clear choice. Woody, his wife Pam, and son Doug moved to Charleston.
Many renovations, remodeling projects and system upgrades were undertaken during Woody’s five years of service. The first fundraiser was organized which financed the purchase of a new piano. Wonderful musicians were hired including Ron Sowell and Jack Kennedy. The monthly coffeehouse was started, and membership grew.
Rev. Woody was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and passed. The Association of Unity Churches provided financial and moral support, and they recommended an interim minister, Rev. Donna Unfield, to serve UKV during Woody’s final days and during the grieving process.
Mortgage on the Blaine Boulevard property was paid off and Rev. Brenda Windell was hired.
Pam Hippler was hired for the position of Administrative Assistant.
Rev. Sky Kershner was hired as pastoral leader after bringing many Sunday lessons to the congregation. Sky is our longest serving minister.
Board of Trustees discussions involved the need to move to a larger facility.
Board President Matt Schwartz presented Ed Rugely, business manager of the Kanawha Presbytery, a financial plan to justify the purchase of the South Hills Presbyterian Church property located at 804 Myrtle Road.
The decision was made by the UKV board and Sky to proceed with the purchase of the property even though major repairs were needed.
January 4, 2010-
The deed was signed by the following board members: Ruth Davis, Marianne Gettman, Karen Sylvester, Mathew Schwartz, Linda Austin, Peggy Gunter, and Judy Chapman. The purchase price was $250,000.
Historical Side Note: This Myrtle Road property is a historically significant stone structure completed in 1902. It was built before Bridge Road was paved and before the South Side Bridge was erected. Stones were quarried on Davis Creek and hauled over mud roads on horse drawn wagons to the construction site. Another attached building was added along with beautiful stained glass windows in 1955.
December 2009-March 2010-
Extensive cleaning and renovation was needed. The building had been closed and unused for a long time. Sanctuary carpet, drapes and pew cushions were removed to get rid of the mildew odor. Every room was cleaned and painted primarily by teams who adopted projects. New carpet was installed in the sanctuary. The stage alcove was redone. The main floor bathroom was cosmetically redone. Kitchen cabinets and flooring were replaced. A new stage was built in the downstairs activity room and upgraded with electrical and audio wiring. Moldy walls in rear downstairs rooms were removed and areas treated. A new HVAC system for the sanctuary and a replacement HVAC system for the activity room was installed. Although it took more than a village to accomplish all that was done, the efforts of Gerie Ann Selbe and Ed Gunter stand out.
March 7, 2010-
The first service was held at 804 Myrtle Rd. The journey continues.
A new asphalt shingle roof was installed on the sanctuary and bell tower roofs. It matched the activity building roof color and replaced the original slate roofs. Jesus’ “tears” no longer flowed down the sanctuary walls whenever it rained. New fascia boards were installed. The project was largely financed by an “anonymous” interest-free loan that was repaid after the sale of the Blaine Boulevard property.
Soffits were added to the sanctuary as part of the roof installation. New gutters and downspouts were installed on the sanctuary and bell tower and a weather vane created in the shape of a dove, a symbol of Unity, was placed on top of the bell tower. It was made and donated by Ed Gunter. Fifteen double pane energy efficient windows were installed in the activity building replacing the original casement type. The project was financed using member donations specifically designated for the project.
A new concrete front entrance porch and sidewalk to the driveway were poured. The front wall beside the sidewalk was remade. New handrails were added. Ranson Stone did the professional concrete and stonework.
Rev. Sky reached out to the Mountaineer Montessori School which was looking for space to extend their educational mission to include seventh and eighth grade students. A three-year lease was signed on June 17.
We celebrated the ten-year service of Rev. Sky Kershner as our spiritual leader with a booklet of appreciation, testimonials, photos, gifts, and commemorative items.
The Woody Hawley Concert Series was on hiatus.
Since there was no appraisal made prior to the original purchase, the board approved funding and a professional appraisal was made of the property. A value to the entire property was established and values to various segments based on their condition at that time were provided. In addition to authenticating a value to the property the information also identified the areas that needed to be addressed to maintain the long-term integrity of the structures and increase the value of our investment.
The Woody Hawley Concert Series featuring nationally known singer/songwriters along with regional musicians restarted at The Clay Center with Ron Sowell back as creator and host. UKV is the primary sponsor of the series.
April 19, 2015-
The Blaine Boulevard property was sold for $55,000 to the Church of Deliverance represented by Pastor Estella Nappier and her husband Howard Nappier.
The water diversion project was completed. This was the first major remedial project undertaken as a direct result of the appraisal recommendations. The long-term integrity of the building foundation was at stake. Greg Thaxton provided the expertise and leadership to work with the contractor and supervise the completion.
June 17, 2017-
Mountaineer Montessori Middle School extended their lease for another three years. This was made possible because of the completion of the water diversion project which allowed Montessori to expand into the back classroom area. They also partnered with UKV to make some major physical upgrades to the activity room including painting and new carpeting.
Because of damage from water, ice, and tree debris, the gutters and downspouts were replaced. The downspouts were rerouted to move water away from the foundation and driveway side of the building. A “Gutter Guard” system was installed. The project was largely donated by our “Gutter Girl”, Patricia Richmond.
The Stained Glass Window project was completed. Patty Richmond recruited Ruth Davis and Gerie Ann Selbe to help with project design and planning. Amanda’s Stained Glass was selected to be the contractor to carry through with the creation of a new window to be installed in the sanctuary alcove. She also was contracted to perform the repair and cleaning of exterior sanctuary stained glass. A sub-contractor was hired to replace the clouded exterior plexiglass window protectors with new automotive type glass coverings in addition to scraping and painting the frames. Patty Richmond donated one half of the funds secured to fund the project with the other half coming from a window adoption fundraising effort. Maria Young of the Gazette-Mail wrote a feature article in a Sunday newspaper using color photos.
Major audio-visual improvements were made which required extensive wiring improvements, equipment purchases and installation. Rich Hopkins provided the design and installation leadership on these projects.
October 21, 2018-
A ceremony was held to dedicate the Peace Pole and Stained Glass Windows.
We celebrated the generosity of our membership for contributions enabling significant improvements such as new covers on the activity room chairs, major upgrades to the audio/visual system and beautification of the Stained Glass Windows. There are commemorative plaques on the wall at the rear of the sanctuary recognizing the donors whose generosity made the windows and audio/visual projects possible.
Facebook and YouTube broadcast capabilities were installed and Zoom capabilities were enabled.
Services began being broadcast exclusively online through Zoom, Facebook and YouTube because of the closure of non-essential businesses due to Covid.
Sunday services in the sanctuary were restarted. Realtime Zoom and delayed Facebook and YouTube broadcasts were continued.
A professional structural engineering report was completed on the Manse property. A donation by Pam and Jeff Hippler made this possible.
Seven trees were removed from the front of the manse and beside the parking lot for safety and to stop the Sycamore roots from further cracking the foundation wall in the manse. This is the second structural improvement project completed as a direct result of the original appraisal and the recent structural report.
A new Unity of Kanawha Valley sign was installed on the stone pad at the corner of Bridge and Myrtle roads. New canvas awnings were installed above the doors at the Activity Room and the Meditation Room. This project was enabled by donations from Patricia Richmond, the Gettman Family and the Dallmann/Walker Family.
The entire Activity Building was painted; the ground level windows of the sanctuary were repaired and painted; a new solid wood fire exit door was installed in the meditation room; and major repairs and renovations to the manse were begun. A new roof, windows and HVAC system were installed, as well as extensive cleaning and interior upgrades. Barbie Dallmann spearheaded this project.
Unity House (formerly the manse) upgrades were completed, and it was rented.
A developing private school, Vandalia Community School, rented the downstairs space during weekdays.
New windows and drapes were installed in the downstairs activity room and the parking lot was paved with added parking lines.