founding member and former Board Member
The founders of UKV first met in June 1987 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. We met often, sometimes weekly, to dream and create what we hoped would become our new spiritual home. I don’t recall if Unity was in mind initially or if it grew to be our choice. Karen and I, along with Carmen and Rigo Vega were already entrenched in an ARE (Association for Research and Enlightenment) study group that met weekly. I am sure some consideration was given to that path, but ARE didn’t have any affiliation for organization other than study groups.
Unity was an excellent choice in our minds since it was non-denominational and focused on love and kindness rather than dogma. We all had had our fill of ‘religion’.
Our choice was Unity. We set about to discover all that we could about how to bring Unity to Charleston, WV. The committee did a lot of work prior to the internet for assistance.
Each meeting at Jan Mani’s or Joan and Jack’s, brought more and clearer direction until finally we were guided to Unity of Roanoke Valley, in Roanoke, VA. - three and a half hours from Charleston. Several of the committee traveled there for an evaluation of the church and its leadership. Positive reports came back and they offered to mentor us.
Sunday October 23, 1987- UKV held its first service in the evening on the second floor of the YWCA. 85 people attended.
That was a great turnout for starters and it continued to be very good for many weeks. With that support we built our courage and evolved our conditions in that room to include music and sound reinforcement as well as recordings of the services. Rich and his daughters toted the equipment up those three floors each week and returned them to Rich’s trunk for the return to his home. Rich has been the AV person, off and on, for the duration of UKV.
When the YWCA needed the room for other purposes after a year of so, we found a new home on Bridge Road.
We found a temporary home in South Charleston near the old Oaks Field. It served us well for some time. I think less than a year.
Moved Sunday services to 1030 Bridge Rd. The membership grew.
Sharon Mullins was instrumental in this move to Bridge Rd. The building was less than ideal in that it was limited to several rooms in an L shape requiring chairs be setup facing each other to accommodate the attendees. Yet, it was what we had to work with. The basement was used to provide child activities. Always feeling its inadequacy, we continued to have our antennas up to receive a more suitable location for our membership. Thus the purchase of the A frame church.
1995- 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.
I fondly remember meeting at the Hopkins home at Stoney Point to meet and interview Woody. He was so instantly likable and friendly that we instantly knew he was our choice among several applicants. It was Woody Hawley who led us through a growth and strengthening of UKV.