Our History

The First Unitarian Congregation in Calgary (1914 – 1921)

In Calgary, the first Unitarian congregation formed around 1914, with Leif Huseby as its short-lived minister. In 1916, William Irvine was installed as minister. Irvine would resign three years later for a career in politics. He helped form the United Farmers of Alberta (a forerunner of the New Democratic Party) and was elected to Parliament. Following Irvine’s departure, church services continued as lay-led meetings, but participation declined. The congregation eventually become inactive and remained so for over two decades.

The Second Unitarian Congregation in Calgary (1957 – present)

In 1957, a Unitarian fellowship formed and began meeting. In 1961, Dwight Brown became the first full-time minister. He was followed by Violet Kochendoerfer, Jerome Howell, Jack Loadman, Lisa Presley (interim), Josiah Bartlett (interim), Roderick Brown, Dana Worsnop (interim), Meg Roberts, Fran Dearman (interim), Debra Faulk, and our current interim minister: Shelly Thompson.

A detailed history of Unitarianism in Calgary can be found in:

Unitarian Universalism and the Canadian Unitarian Council

Unitarian Univeralism grew from the union of two radical Christian groups: the Universalists, who organized in 1793, and the Unitarians, who organized in 1825. In North America, they joined to become the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) in 1961.

At about the same time, the Canadian Unitarian Council (CUC) formed to be the national organization to represent Canadians within the UUA. Most services to CUC member churches and fellowships were provided by the UUA. In 2002, the CUC took over the provision of most services to member organizations in Canada.

The Calgary Unitarians are a member congregation of the CUC.