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Northernmost UU congregation

New building puts Alaska congregation 'on the map.'
By Jane Greer
Spring 2006 2.15.06

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Fairbanks Fellowship building exterior

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The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fairbanks, Alaska. (Photo by Chris Nye) (Chris Nye)

Fairbanks, Alaska, is a place where you can start a golf game at 10 p.m. in the summer and view the dazzling Northern Lights most nights in the winter. It’s also the site of the northernmost Unitarian Universalist congregation. Celebrating fifty years of existence, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fairbanks is also celebrating the completion of a new building, dedicated last September.

The 4,800-square-foot building is surrounded by spruce trees on a 2.25 acre lot. In addition to the 2,600-square-foot sanctuary, the building has two large religious education rooms, two offices, and a kitchen.

The lay-led fellowship, founded in 1956, met in different locales for over thirty years before buying and renovating a restaurant in downtown Fairbanks in 1990 to be used as church space. With the proceeds from that building’s sale, they bought the lot, which had a house on it.

The group renovated the house in 1995, using the basement as worship space and the upper floor for religious education classrooms. After raising $80,000 in a capital campaign, the fellowship commissioned an architect to design a church incorporating the house.

Having the new building has increased the fellowship’s visibility in the community exponentially, says Susan Johnson, music director and former fellowship president. “Before, we’d been like a secret society,” she said. “But the new building has really put us on the map.”

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