Northwoods started as a Unitarian supper club in 1975 with the support of Emerson Unitarian Church and First Unitarian Church. In 1978, thirty-nine people became charter members and chose the name Northwoods Unitarian Society of Greater Houston. The society was accepted as a member society of the UUA at the General Assembly on June 18, 1978.
The first regular meeting place of the church was the Music Rack store on Kuykendahl Road. The members of the congregation helped the owner restore the old house in exchange for free rent. The recital room in the back was used for the sanctuary, and the attic served as the Religious Education room.
In 1983 Northwoods purchased a lot in The Woodlands and began building the congregation’s permanent home. The congregation moved into the current building in September 1985. Much of the actual construction of the building was done by members and friends of Northwoods.
In 1992 Northwoods founded the Millbend Coffeehouse as an outreach service to the larger community. The Millbend Coffeehouse is a non-profit live music venue held once a month in the Northwoods Unitarian Universalist Church. The Millbend Coffeehouse has a proud history of supporting local charities. Since the Coffeehouse opened in 1992, thousands of dollars have been donated to local charities. Some of the local charities to receive donations from Northwoods include: the Humane Society, the Montgomery County Women’s Center, Conroe Association of Live Music, Interfaith Toys-for-Tots, KPFT-Pacifica Radio, and the Northwoods AIDS Coalition.
Northwoods members unanimously approved to become a Welcoming Congregation in 2003. Members of the congregation felt it was time to make a positive statement and outreach effort to let those whose sexual orientation may be different from that of the majority know they are welcome in our congregation, not merely tolerated. Northwoods affirmed the importance of reaching out to everyone regardless of race, color, gender, gender expression, physical ability, affectional or sexual orientation, age or national origin.
Tens of thousands of New Orleans residents fled the devastation following hurricane Katrina and ended up in the greater Houston area in 2005. Northwoods worked with the Montgomery County Housing Authority to furnish apartments that would house some of the refugees. In all, the Northwoods congregation adopted fourteen families, furnishing them with complete household goods to start their new lives in Montgomery County. We also helped to get children registered into local schools, and provided help with transportation needs, tutoring, and job referrals.
In July, 2007, thirteen volunteers flew to Honduras for an intense week of travel and work in the villages surrounding the capital. This effort was funded by the participating individuals, proceeds from the Northwoods Coffee Project, donations from individual congregants, and proceeds from the Millbend Coffee House. The entire congregation had a virtual visit via a stunning slide show of the trip which was greeted with an enthusiastic response.
Reverend Ellen Cooper-Davis was selected by the congregation to be our minister in March 2008. She won the hearts of Northwoodsian’s of all ages with her “Church of Long Forks” story, her a cappella rendition of the song “Moon River”, and her sermon on the importance of financially supporting what we believe in by giving generously to Northwoods and to the larger community. Reverend Cooper-Davis accepted the congregation’s offer, and she and her family moved to Houston that summer to begin her ministry at Northwoods.
Northwoods held its 30th Anniversary celebration on June 8 2008. The Sunday service included a narrative of the congregation’s history, and a sermon on 30 years of success as a church. Several Founding members were present for the service, which was followed by a picnic at a nearby park.
Northwoods’ Share the Plate program was established in July of 2008, with the goal of sharing our abundance by aiding charities of interest to our members. We are focused on providing long-term or project-oriented support for established charities, but we have occasionally used the program to cover disaster relief. Our collection on behalf of Haiti was the largest in the history of the program. Share the Plate has succeeded beyond our wildest dreams, and is now providing more than $5,000 per year to charities such as Montgomery County Food Bank, Northwoods Microlending, and Planned Parenthood.
In 2010 the congregation developed and approved a Vision Statement which will facilitate Northwoods effort to grow into its potential as a beacon that provides influence and leadership within our community. The Vision is grounded in our shared values and in our Unitarian Universalist traditions. Our vision is to become a center for spiritual growth, use environmentally sustainable practices, be a catalyst for a diverse and multicultural community, and advocate for social and economic justice that reflects our ideals to the world