The first Unitarian Church in Jacksonville was organized in 1907 by U.S. Senator Duncan U. Fletcher. Its first building was completed in 1909, at Union and Laura Streets, and Church’s future seemed secure. Unfortunately, the depression years were lean ones for the Church, and although the Universalists helped stabilize the situation for awhile, the group finally disbanded and the building was sold in 1943.
In 1950 another Unitarian fellowship was organized and the new congregation prospered. In 1957, the fellowship purchased an old home on St. Johns Avenue in Avondale. As the congregation grew it eventually outgrew its facility and new location was sought. In 1966, an award-winning new church complex was dedicated in the Arlington area of Jacksonville. After 22 years, the fellowship once again hit a threshold of individuals that required the church to seek out how to handle the needs of its members. However, this time the church looked at forming an additional congregation. In 1988, the church put together a group to consider the feasibility of a new UU congregation. The group researched the areas within Jacksonville with the most potential, in addition to determining if a new UU presence was needed.
By mid-1989, the communities of Mandarin and Orange Park were identified as having the most potential in terms of a central location for its current members living south and west of the Arlington area as well as for new growth. Meetings for the new group commenced and were held on Sunday evenings, alternating between Orange Park and Mandarin.
On May 5th, 1990, the first religious service of the Buckman Bridge Unitarian Universalist Society was held with, and 22 people became charter members. The Society met at temporary site in the Orange Park Business Center. The Society flourished, and essential organizing tasks of incorporating, developing a mission statement, goals and by-laws were accomplished. By late summer of 1990, both adults and youngsters had outgrown this meeting place. After an extensive search, a new home was found at the Mandarin Community Club. In twenty years since that move the members of the Society have refined the leadership structure, religious education and Sunday programming.
In 2010, a 20-year goal came to fruition with Society’s decision to construct a home of its own. During the building process, the congregation went through another transition and the decision was made to change the name of the congregation from Buckman Bridge Unitarian Universalist Society to the Buckman Bridge Unitarian Universalist Church or BBUUC. After about 10 months of construction, the building was completed, and on Sunday, February 6, 2011, BBUUC held its first service in its new sanctuary located on Manresa Avenue.
As BBUUC marches towards 30 years since its formation its religious community continues to grow. BBUCC is committed to building a faith-based community founded on its core belief in “the inherent worth and dignity of every person.”