Church History

Founder Sergius P. Lyon, a layman, arrived in Farmington, Michigan, from Western New York in 1837 with his wife Lucinda. He wasted no time in calling for preachers of the faith, primarily Rev E. M. Woolley, to spread the good news of Universalism to his newly found friends and neighbors. It was “through his determined energy and zeal” that a Universalist preaching station was established here originally as the Farmington Union Society.

After arriving in Michigan, Lyon worked as a carpenter, architect, and housewright. Many homes and barns constructed in and around the township were the work of his skilled hands. The need for a meeting house had become apparent by the end of the 1840s. From 1849 to 1851, Lyon raised money, purchased lumber and other goods, and got the work started. As a master builder he knew it was necessary to prepare lumber well in advance of construction. Acquiring the best logs he could find, he hand-hewed them into squared beams measuring sixteen inches across in either direction, then allowed the wood to cure for at least a year.

Today we are thankful for Lyon’s skill: he knew how to build a structure that would last indefinitely. Construction of the Meeting House began in the spring of 1853. The work, done by the expert hands of the architect of the congregation and assisted by volunteer labor from other members, was completed in the summer of 1853.

Church Timeline

  • 1853 – The church was built and services were held in a dedicated building.
  • 1866 – Members abandoned the old designation “Union Society” and set up “The First Universalist Church of Farmington.”
  • 1860s – Sojourner Truth spoke against slavery at the church.
  • 1894 – 1911 – The Ladies Union was responsible for fundraisers and recruiting efforts that allowed the church to survive many difficult years.
  • 1949 – Extensive remodeling of the Meeting House including a basement and repositioning of the building.
  • 1961 – Renamed to “The Universalist-Unitarian Church of Farmington.”
  • 1967 – Building moved from Warner & Thomas in Farmington to Halsted Rd in Farmington Hills. Site of Centennial Farm owned by members Ethel and Harley Gibson.
  • 1960s-70s – Rev. Robert Miles Eddy hosted a local talk radio program. The first non-theist minister to serve UUCF. Rev Eddy espoused controversial views regarding the Vietnam war and sexuality.
  • 1980s – Rev. Joan Kahn-Schneider made concerted effort to reach out to the gay community.
  • 1986 – Expansion of the building including sanctuary and modern kitchen. Installation of stained glass window above the altar gifted by Rev. Kahn-Schneider.
  • 1990 – Establishment and dedication of the Memorial Garden.
  • 1999 – Celebration of 150 year anniversary of founding.
  • 2000 – Created a nature trail on property.
  • 2005 – Achieved Welcoming Congregation certification.
  • 2006-2014 – Adult Education Program offered to members and public in the spring and fall (6 week sessions).
  • 2011 – Installation of elevator.
  • 2018 – Parking lot was paved. Playground moved to the west of the main lot. Detention pond created east of the main lot. Woodland trails upgraded.
  • 2021 – Solar panels added.
6 UUCF members sit in a circle near the pulpit, sharing historical and personal stories during our Ancestor Service. A piano sits behind the group on the left, and UU chalice behind. A stained class window representing a multitude of religions shines on the wall behind and above the chalice.
Members share historical and personal stories about UUCF in our Ancestor Service

Services about UUCF History

Learn more about our congregation directly from members of our community in our Ancestor Service.
Or, learn more about the history of Farmington and our congregation from local historian and friend of UUCF, Brian Golden, in his sermon: Farmington History.

Black and white photo of the Universalist Church of Farmington in 1920s. The church is white, roughly 25 feet high not including the steeple.
First Universalist Church of Farmington in the 1920’s
The UU church sits on a large trailer, and is being hauled through the intersection of Grand River Road and Farmington Road by a mostly hidden tractor. A sign for the Gay-Way bar tops a building to it's left, while an electric company bucket truck flanks it.
Moving the meeting house from its original location at Thomas & Warner, in downtown Farmington, to the Gibson Family farm land on Halstead in 1967.
Black and white photo of the Universalist Unitarian Church of Farmington in it's current Halstead road location, circle 1977
Universalist Unitarian Church of Farmington in 1977. Current location on Halstead
A solar array sits in the foreground, with UUCF's building and environment far in the background.
Present day: Solar panels installed in 2021, putting our commitment to the 7th Principle in action