At a time when Unitarians around the country were expanding by forming small groups called Fellowships, such a group broke off from the downtown Portland Unitarian church in 1955. They founded the West Hills Unitarian Fellowship, at first without their own grounds or building, meeting in schools, a grange hall, even in the old OMSI. They bought land in Garden Home in 1960 and moved two old church buildings down southwest Oleson Road in 1961.
Several long-time members, active in Portland’s art world, helped bring a tradition of art to the walls of WHUUF with outstanding visiting shows and a collection of our own. Other WHUUF traditions include religious education classes for children and adults; musical interludes; choristers group; family services; a question-and-answer period after the Sunday service speaker; coffee hour after that; group soup, potlucks and sharing suppers; a December holiday party and June picnic; and opportunities to work on the buildings and grounds.
We’ve had three ministers over the years, interspersed with long periods of being lay-led. We became WHUUF (West Hills Unitarian Universalist Fellowship), and we’ve gradually added paid staff. We’ve twice remodeled the original building and added a religious education wing and offices, providing spaces for widening our own scope with Humanist and Buddhist groups, and men’s, women’s, family, and senior citizen’s support groups. We also have become a Garden Home community resource by providing space for a variety of outside groups, from Headstart and home schoolers to AA and a violin school.