In 1988, the Reverend Eric Haugen and a small group of people began holding services at an Eagan, MN elementary school, dedicated to the idea that there was a place for a liberal religious community in the south of the river suburbs. Since then, we’ve moved many times in Eagan, Burnsville and Rosemount.
Along the way we’ve developed a religious education program for children and youth, added a choir, a women’s group, some social action projects, and other activities. We became and continue to be a Welcoming Congregation. The Welcoming Congregation Program is a completely volunteer program for congregations that see a need to become more inclusive towards bisexual, gay, lesbian, and/or transgender people. It consists of a series of workshops developed by the UUA.
We’ve had part time ministers several times, as well as periods of lay leadership. We’ve always had a variety of Sunday services, some led by members, many featuring guest ministers or speakers, which enlighten and challenge us, and who represent the diversity of our world. Over the years, we have had many great, thought-provoking speakers. Some of the more well known have been former Minneapolis police chief Tony Bouza, his wife, activist Erica Bouza, authors Paul Gruchow, and Bill Holm, gospel singer Robert Robinson, singer-songwriters Peter Mayer, Michael Monroe, Claudia Schmidt and Barbara McAfee, journalists Dave Nimmer and Eric Black.
In 2002, after moving around Dakota County in at least six different rental spaces throughout Eagan, Rosemount and Burnsville, a building was purchased in Burnsville. A lot of work was needed on the inside and outside of the building before the City (or the Met Council) would allow services to be held. All the members pitched in, as well as a few other UU churches; Mankato UU donated chairs, Minnesota Valley UU donated books and pews, and White Bear UU donated desks. Carpeting, kitchen cabinets, a stove and refrigerator, stained glass, etc. and lots of labor were all donated by DUUC members. The first service in the new building was held in the fall of 2003.
In May, 2008 our Youth Group held a fundraiser to raise money for micro-lending through KIVA. We use repaid loans and continue to collect “change for change” to support women entrepreneurs and small business owners throughout the world. As of May 2021, DUUC has made 89 loans totaling almost $9000 in 34 countries (in North and South America, Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe).
By 2012, the number of children in our congregation had dwindled to less than three at any one time. One or two young families with children would come, hoping for other families to join, but would eventually find a church home with more children. We continued to offer adult religious education (RE) a few times a year and tried a variety of ways to offer RE for children. We hired a RE teacher and/or nursery staff and used various curricula available through the UUA. We also developed a variety of ready-to-go activities that children could engage with if they came with their parents and didn’t want to stay in the service. Since the pandemic began, we’ve not had any children to participate in RE but hope to be able to offer that again in the future.
After being in the building ten years, we thought we would have grown more than we had and started asking ourselves if perhaps the location was a problem. We are quite close to three other liberal churches and thought that moving east, perhaps back to Eagan, might help us attract people who don’t want to drive to the west side of the county. We had a couple of businesses offer to buy the building when we discovered that because of zoning rules, the city would only allow a non-profit organization to buy it. Shortly after that, a start-up drug and alcohol treatment center, Sage Prairie, asked us if they could rent our building during the week. We offered to host them at no charge until they got on their feet and after 3 years (2016), they offered to buy the building from us and would host us as long as we wanted. It’s been a win-win for both organizations.
In 2017, the congregation met with Phil Lund, the Congregational Life Consultant for the Mid-America Region of the UUA to begin a discernment process to identify our strengths and passions and to match them with the needs of the community. We affirmed that our strengths and passions lie in creative arts and we explore ways to bring healing through art. Traditionally, we have an annual “Music Sunday” that highlights the musical talents of our members and friends. We also have frequent poetry services and explore other ways to use our creativity and intellect to build community and promote healing.
2020 was a daunting year for everyone, and holding church services safely prompted us to pivot to Zoom only services, which had some surprising benefits including having guest speakers located in different parts of the country, and recording most of our services for later viewing. You can find them on our past services page.