Foothills Unitarian Fellowship charters in Blount County

Listening to a story during the service are, from left, Mitch, Jenna, Sammi and Josie.

Jolanda Jansma

Listening to a story during the service are, from left, Mitch, Jenna, Sammi and Josie.

Celebrating gifts to the congregation are, from left, Steve Walker, Grier Novinger and Jayne Raparelli.

Jolanda Jansma

Celebrating gifts to the congregation are, from left, Steve Walker, Grier Novinger and Jayne Raparelli.

The Rev. Anne McKee, chaplain of Maryville College, addresses the congregation as they celebrate their charter Sunday.

Jolanda Jansma

The Rev. Anne McKee, chaplain of Maryville College, addresses the congregation as they celebrate their charter Sunday.

Children’s worker Carrie Talley, left, works with a boy named Mitch.

Jolanda Jansma

Children’s worker Carrie Talley, left, works with a boy named Mitch.

After two years of working and waiting, the Foothills Unitarian Universalist Fellowship is a reality.

Crystal Wright Colter, a Maryville College professor and charter member of the congregation, shared her thoughts on the congregation that started forming more than two years ago.

“I kept thinking of how it started. Lots of people were going to Knoxville, and the church was growing in Knoxville,” she said.

Colter said she was at a potluck dinner of progressive people when a man by the name of Owen Rhodes approached with the idea of her helping form a Blount County congregation.

“It’s great to think what the Knoxville church and Owen Rhodes started turned into this thriving congregation. It is really gratifying and exciting,” she said.

Colter said the service on Oct. 19 at Everett Senior Center on Burchfield Street in Maryville had two area Unitarian ministers, Chris Buice and Jake Morrill.

“It was just a wonderful, wonderful service. They gave words of inspiration,” she said.

Colter said that while the East Tennessee Unitarian Universalist Church had been their mother church for two years, Colter said Buice told them that role would change now. “He made the comment that now you’re the mother church, and you’ll give birth to other congregations. That was cool,” she said.

Colter said close to 60 people committed to being charter members by signing their names. “We weren’t sure it was going to be that high. It’s probably about what I expected, but you never know how many will be there and sign,” she said. “It’s nice to start off as a thriving congregation. It feels like we’re starting off pretty strong.”

Colter said the numbers might rise up to 75 or more by December when they close charter membership.

Colter said the next scheduled meeting for Foothills Unitarian Universalist Fellowship is 11 a.m. Nov. 2 at the Everett Senior Center. The Rev. Oliver “Buzz” Thomas will speak.

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