Our church history…
The Keene Unitarian Universalist Church is an independent congregation which has been part of the fabric of the Monadnock Region since its founding in 1824 by members of the Congregational Church, who seceded over the issue of Trinitarianism vs. Unitarianism. Six years later, they built their first building, the Unitarian Church at the corner of Main and Church Streets. The present stone building at 69 Washington Street was built in 1894. The Tiffany Truth Window was added in 1900 as a memorial to the founding members.
At about the same time, a small group of free-thinkers broke away from the Baptist Church in Richmond, NH, over the issue of Universal Salvation, and formed the Universalist Church. Nationally, the Universalist Church of America and the American Unitarian Association, with historical roots reaching back over one thousand years, merged in 1961 at an historic meeting in Syracuse, New York, to create the present Unitarian Universalist Association with over 1,000 congregations in North America.
As a congregation, we are affiliated with the UUA headquarters in Boston and with the New Hampshire/Vermont District of the UUA, both of which provide helpful and essential resources through which we operate independently and democratically.
Some Interesting Facts about KUUC:
The Truth Window:
Truth was the topic of the first Unitarian sermon in Keene, and was a natural theme for a memorial window, which was installed in December 1900, as “a memorial window to the Seventy Associates who founded the church.” The window was designed by the Tiffany Glass Company, which was at its height of productivity and creativity during the turn of the century, producing eight known “Truth” windows.
The window contains an androgynous figure, holding a torch which signifies Truth’s illuminating power, and a sword, representing the practical embodiment of truth in laws, institutions . . .Around its neck is a key, symbolizing the ability to unlock and get beyond barriers of ignorance. The wreath of roses? Well, Truth can be as sweet as a rose and as painful as the thorns, both to those who speak it and to those who listen!
The New Hampshire Sentinel described the window as follows:
“The window . . . has been placed in position at the head of the church in the center of the chancel or alcove in rear of the pulpit. The window thus becomes a most conspicuous object and its tone and design are happily such as to harmonize admirably with the general plan and coloring of the interior, to which it adds a richness and finish that is now seen to have been very essential to the proper development of the architect’s design . . .”
The Chalice Blossom
The Chalice Blossom Window was designed by Craig Stockwell in memory of David La Mar, an active and well-liked member of the church. David abhorred the vacuum in the pulpit-side chancel, and initiated discussion with the Board of Trustees. Before any decisions were made, David died in January 1993. Funds which had been given in David’s memory were used to fund Craig’s design.
“The Chalice Blossom glass window was chosen to complement and not compete with the Truth window. The window is about two and a half feet wide and stands six feet tall.”
Excerpts from The Keene Unitarian Universalist Church: The Building and its People. James Smart. 1996.