About our Church


Bond of Union of the First Unitarian Church of Sioux City, Iowa adopted January 18, 1886: 

"We, whose names are hereunto subscribed, believing in Freedom, Fellowship, and Character of Religion, associate ourselves together as members of the First Unitarian Church, of Sioux City, for the maintenance of united worship and the promotion of Truth, Righteousness and Love."



The First Unitarian Church of Sioux City, Iowa was organized March 11, 1885. On September 1, 1885, Rev. Mary A. Safford became Sioux City's first Unitarian pastor with her close friend Miss Eleanor Gordon, acting as assistant and later as Associate Minister.

In May, 1887 a lot was purchased on the corner of 10th and Douglas, and a church was built there and dedicated on May 5, 1889. It was generally referred to at that time as Unity Church, although it was incorporated as the First Unitarian.

This church was destroyed by fire "of unknown origin" on July 29, 1947.

Thanks to the generosity of Jewish friends, services were held in the Jewish Community Center until the summer of 1948.

At this time the Rev. John W. Bringham was the minister, and he continued with book reviews, Bible classes, discussion groups, youth group meetings, as well as a popular 15 minute Sunday morning radio program throughout this difficult period.

There was not enough money to rebuild, so the Orcutt residence at 17th and Grandview was purchased and services were held there until the present church at 2508 Jackson Street was built and dedicated on January 26, 1955.

One stain glass window (pictured) had been salvaged from the burned church and was given a place of honor in the northeast corner and used by the architect R.D. Hecker as the dominant feature in the decor.

In 1985, the 100 year anniversary was celebrated and the minister at that time, Jay Atkinson, wrote, in part:

"Unitarian Universalism remains in 1985 still widely misunderstood in Sioux City as it is across our continent, and unknown to many who would welcome the religious freedom and intellectual integrity which our tradition has to offer.

We begin our second century with a strong base from which to proclaim the values of that religious tradition to a waiting world."




The Principles of the Unitarian Universalist Association 

The First Unitarian Church of Sioux City, Iowa is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Association and, as such, covenants with the larger community as follows:

We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote

    • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
    • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
    • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
    • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
    • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
    • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
    • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.



The living tradition which we share draws from many sources:

    • Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
    • Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
    • Wisdom from the world's religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
    • Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God's love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
    • Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit.
    • Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.


Grateful for the religious pluralism which enriches and ennobles our faith, we are inspired to deepen our understanding and expand our vision. As free congregations we enter into this covenant, promising to one another our mutual trust and support.





The Purposes of the Unitarian Universalist Association 

The Unitarian Universalist Association shall devote its resources to and exercise its corporate powers for religious, educational and humanitarian purposes. The primary purpose of the Association is to serve the needs of its member congregations, organize new congregations, extend and strengthen Unitarian Universalist institutions and implement its principles.

The Association declares and affirms its special responsibility, and that of its member societies and organizations, to promote the full participation of persons in all of its and their activities and in the full range of human endeavor without regard to race, color, sex, disability, affectional or sexual orientation, age, or national origin and without requiring adherence to any particular interpretation of religion or to any particular religious belief or creed.

Nothing herein shall be deemed to infringe upon the individual freedom of belief which is inherent in the Universalist and Unitarian heritages or to conflict with any statement of purpose, covenant, or bond of union used by any society unless such is used as a creedal test.


Ministers of the First Unitarian Church

Mary A. Safford: 1885--1899

Eleanor E. Gordon (Associate): 1885--1896

Marie Jenney (Associate): 1896--1899

Walter S. Vail: 1899--1901

J.D.O. Powers: 1901--1907

Manley B. Townsend: 1908--1912

R.D. Van Tassel: 1912--1917

Charles E. Snyder: 1917--1931

Gordon Kent: 1931--1933

James S. Dahir & Rev. Elizabeth Dahir: 1933--1936

Henry J. Adlard: 1936

Henry Clark: 1937--1941

Daniel Sands: 1942--1943

Francis Ruland: 1943--1946

John W. Brigham: 1946--1956

Roger Bosworth (unofficial): 1956

Carl H. Whittier, Jr.: 1956--1960

Rexford J. Styzens: 1961--1964

Phillip A. Silk: 1964--1966

John Kolbjornsen: 1968--1975

Michael A. Schuler: 1976--1979

Jay Atkinson: 1979--1986

Penelope Binger: 1986--1996

Sarah Voss (consulting minister) 1999--2004

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  • Hayley Ellis
    Hi! I am looking for information on Eleanor Gordon, and the link here takes me to a page for a future conference. If you have any info on here, I would love to connect. My email address is [email protected]