2008-07-24 / Faith

Unitarians have new facility for services

After mostly renting spaces for Sunday services for 46 years, the Conejo Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship will meet and host programs in a newly built center at 3327 Old Conejo Road in Newbury Park.

The $4.4 million facility in the new Bollinger Executive Office Park consists of two buildings. An open sanctuary has a vaulted ceiling and is rimmed with floortoceiling windows on three sides.

A separate, two-story building has a social hall with kitchen, five classrooms for religious education, a board room, office space, a childcare room and a multipurpose room.

The two buildings are connected by a patio that is used for social gatherings between services.

The Rev. Dr. Betty Stapleford, minister of the fellowship, said she is "thrilled and inspired by the possibilities that having buildings of our own now offer. They certainly provide more opportunities for a greater variety of programs for our own congregation. But they will also allow us to share our ideas and activities with the larger community and to become a beacon of liberal religion in the Conejo Valley and beyond."

The new space qualifies as a green sanctuary, with many features that conserve energy and water. The windows have double pane glass with inert gas between the layers for insulation. The building makes maximum use of natural lighting, and fluorescent lamps are used for the light fixtures. All faucets have a low-flow feature, and one of the restrooms has a waterless urinal. Reprocessed wood was used for some of the construction beams.

The fellowship had been meeting on Sundays for the last 11 years at the Goebel Senior Center in Thousand Oaks and before that had rented in various locations since its establishment in 1962. The fellowship once owned a residence in Thousand Oaks that was used for religious gatherings from 1969 to 1974, but the building was sold due to zoning restrictions.

Sunday services are held at 9:15 and 11 a.m. Religious education is available for children from 5 through high school age during the first service, with child care provided for those under 5. Child care for infants to fifthgraders is available during the second service. A coffee social is held between services.

Funds for the facility were obtained through two capital fundraising campaigns and a seed grant from the national Unitarian Universalist Association. The Rev. Bill Sinkford, UUA national president, will dedicate the new campus later in the year.

The building shells were designed by architect Tom Oswalt for the Bollinger Office Park, and the interiors were designed by Francisco Behr of Behr Browers Architects. Jeff Goldstein, former fellowship president, developed and detailed the design for previsualization and construction documents.

The Conejo Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship serves a large geographical area. Members come from Simi Valley, Moorpark, Camarillo, Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village and parts of the San Fernando Valley.

Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religious movement, with members engaged in a continuing search for truth, bound by no dogmas or creeds, and taking inspiration from a variety of religious traditions, science and reason

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