Two Rivers Unitarian Universalist History

By Mary Huffine
(gleaned from Liberal Light Newsletters and other sources).

  • Summer 1996 – Jenny Zetah and Michele Howard-Snode, two friends who lived in Silt, Colorado, decided to form a local Unitarian-Universalist fellowship. They advertised in the Glenwood Post and met in the Silt park. Jan and Pat Girardot, lifelong UU’s living in Glenwood Springs, saw the ad and joined the two founders. They met in the Silt park and in people’s homes for several months. Longtime members have said that the entire service of Grand Valley UU (GVUU) usually arrived in the trunk of Jan and Pat Girardot’s car.
  • 2000’s – Rev. Don Bisset preached for the congregation during this time.
  • January 2002 – The fellowship moved to the Community Center in Glenwood Springs to take advantage of that new facility. The name of the congregation was changed to Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Glenwood Springs (UUCGS). Meeting time was 10 am Sunday.
  • Pat Girardot, one of the founders of the congregation

    July 2002– the congregation affiliated with the Mountain Desert District and the Unitarian Universalist Association and applied for a UUA Chalice Lighters Grant.

  • October 2002 – Heather Von Hortenau was hired as the Religious Education (RE) teacher for one church year.
  • February 2003 – There were 36 pledging members. Two services each month were led by professional ministers. The original UUCGS banner was lost by General Assembly personnel during this year.
  • June 2003 – the Chalice Lighters Grant brought over $7800 to UUCGS. These funds were initially designated for Religious Education.
  • September 2003 – Michele Howard-Snode was hired as RE teacher and taught the 7 principles for two church years (2003-04 and 2004-05).
  • Fall 2003 – Sheryl Johnson became the editor of the Liberal Light newsletter.
  • December 2003 – UUCGS its first Community Celebration at the Community Center; it was very well attended by the general public.
  • August 2004 – Martha Ketelle moved to Washington DC to work the Forest Service; she had contributed many management hours to the success of GVUU and UUCGS.
  • September 2004 – Joanne Clements began teaching RE in coordination with B. Jay Bliss.
  • October 2004 – UUCGS held its first annual Auction at the Top of the Tram in coordination with High Country UU Fellowship from Frisco. Don Bell coordinated the auction along with the Rev. Sandra Lee, Bill Spence and Sue Edelstein.
  • Fall 2004 – The Rev. Michael Corrigan visited once each month from Denver to conduct services for nearly three years (fall 2004 through April 2007).
  • June 2005 – The congregation grew to 31 pledging units
  • January 2006 – One of the largest crowds UUCGS ever experienced gathered when the Imam came in January and again in August 2006 as a guest speaker. Both talks were well attended by the public.
  • February 2006 – Jan Girardot took over the Liberal Light Newsletter publication, replacing Sheryl Johnson.
  • 2006 – A new banner displaying Glenwood Springs’ red canyons and the Colorado River was sewn by Pat Girardot and Sandra Lee, with assistance from others. (Although Pat Girardot told Rev. Foster Kathy Shermer sewed it and Pat simply sewed the new patch with the name on it.)
Jim Calaway singing in front of the original TRUU banner created by Pat Girardot and Sandra Lee.
  • October 2006 – Randy Russell, Senior Planner for Garfield County, moved to Arizona. A lifelong UU, he had been very active with UUCGS, serving as a Board Member for many years and also as a major contributor.
  • May 2007 – The congregation numbered 32 pledging units.
  • September 2007 – After five-and-a-half years in the Glenwood Springs Community Center, the congregation moved to Good Shepherd Church in Glenwood Springs. Services were held at 4 pm on Sunday afternoons.
  • October 2007 – The Reverend Wendy Jones served as UUCGS’ part-time minister, conducting services Good Shepherd. (October 2007 through spring 2008).
  • Spring 2007 – Brad Bailey and Chris McCloskey organized the first Evensong, allowing members to get to know each other in a smaller and more intimate setting. Because it was so well received, the Rev. Barbara Palmer and Thelma Zabel organized a second Evensong in 2010. Both of these Evensong series were conducted in private residences.
  • September 2007 – Joanne Clements began offering religious education for children as a volunteer; she continued doing so for two church years.
  • December 2007 – Mike Schermer began Circle Suppers. The first Circle Supper was held on December 15, 2007. It has become an enjoyable and treasured congregational function and continues today in a robust fashion.

    The Reverend Barbara Palmer, organizer of Evensong and a cofounder of the Worship Committee.
  • May 2008 – There were 51 members certified to the Mountain Desert District and the UUA as pledging members.
  • April 2009 – The congregation began holding additional services at the WIN Health Institute in Basalt on April 5.
  • September 2008 -The congregation relocated to the First United Methodist Church in Glenwood Springs and began holding 10 am Sunday services. It met at this location on alternating Sundays, with additional services held at the WIN location.
  • May 2009 – On May 3, the Reverend Robert Latham spoke at WIN Health Institute for the first time as a guest. Rev. Latham continued as a part-time minister for the congregation for the next year.
  • 2010 – The congregation relocated from the WIN Institute and the First Methodist Church to Bridges High School in Carbondale, holding services twice a month during 2010-11.
  • Fall 2010 – Rev. Barbara Palmer and Thelma Zabel conduct a second Evensong series.
  • September 2010 – Heather Rydell was hired as RE teacher and was assisted by Joanne Clements. Jimmy Byrne was hired as Director of Music.
  • August 2010 – The Rev. Gretchen Haley was hired as a part-time minister for the newly renamed Two Rivers Unitarian Universalist (TRUU) congregation. She shared preaching duties with Robert Latham for 2010-11, and then continued as a part-time solo minister in 2011-12.
  • June 2011 – The Worship Committee is founded by Rev. Barbara Palmer, Rev. Gretchen Haley and Nicolette Toussaint.
  • April 2011 – The congregation launched a new website designed by Trina Haines.
  • December 2011 – TRUU held its first winter Solstice celebration, now a beloved annual event.

    Blessing of the Animals
  • October 2012 – TRUU held its first Blessing of the Animals, now an annual event.
  • February 2013 – Nathan Woodliff-Stanley, Director of the Colorado ACLU and a UU minister living in Denver, gave a guest sermon from the TRUU pulpit. His visits became an annual event.
  • September 2013 – The congregation adopted new bylaws, which were originally drafted by Bill Spence.
  • October 2013 – Mike Schermer organizes the first TRUU Bidding for Fun auction.
  • January 2014 – TRUU begins offering Sunday services every Sunday, all year long, split between professional ministry and fellowship services led by an able team of Worship Associates.
  • February 2014 – TRUU passes its first “statement of social witness” joining the Thompson Divide Coalition in protecting lands near Carbondale from oil and gas development.
  • March 2014 – TRUU raises $2457 to pay off the debt on the grand piano Lisa Dancing-Light brought to the Third Street Center, then placed additional funds into a tuning and maintenance fund.
  • March 2014 – Mike and Cathy Schermer, pillars of the congregation for many years, move to Arkansas to be close to family.
  • April 2015 – TRUU’s pulpit mysteriously disappears from Third Street Center. After the Center’s executive director contacts tenants, it was discovered that a nonprofit group took it to Basalt for use in a restaurant being started by Latino families. It had been stored with some kitchen equipment that was being donated, and it wasn’t recognized as being a religious item. (Apparently the chalice is not as well recognized as the cross.) The pulpit’s restaurant career is brief, and the pulpit is returned to Carbondale.
  • August 2015 – TRUU welcomes it first non-commuting minister. Rev. Florence Caplow moves into rental housing in Basalt. Florence is a Buddhist priest as well as a UU minister.
TRUU’s parsonage
  • March 2016 – On March 28, TRUU officially closed title on the parsonage that TRUU ministers now call home. There were many people to thank for this, but collaboration between Jim Calaway and Scott Gilbert, President of the local Habitat for Humanity, largely made the purchase possible.
  • August 2015 – The first TRUU Chicks women’s campout is held. Founded by Amy Barr, Kim Bock and Nicolette Toussaint, it was an annual women’s retreat.
  • April 2016 – TRUU conducted its first ordination service, allowing Florence Caplow to bestow the title, “Reverend,” before her name.
  • August 2016 – The Rev. Shawna Foster is hired to be TRUU’s minister. She gives her first sermon on September 11.
  • May 2017 – TRUU holds its first Blessing of the Bicycles
  • May 2017 – TRUU offers housing in its parsonage to provide sanctuary to Sandra Lopez, who is threatened with deportation.
  • October 2017 Pat Girardot, one of the congregation’s founders, passes away. TRUU held a memorial for her on November 10.
  • December 2017 – TRUU outgrows Third Street Center’s Calaway Room and begins holding services in the Community Room.
  • March 2018Amy Barr, a beloved and active member of the congregation, and longtime local United Way president, passed away. TRUU held a huge memorial in Third Street Center’s Community Room.
  • Amy Barr

    March 2018 – A new TRUU congregational flag was created by Katie Marshall and Nicolette Toussaint.

  • July 2018 -Thanks to emergency funds from the UUA, TRUU was able to help 26 congregants who were impacted by the Lake Christine Fire, and give thousands to the wider community to help respond to the wildfires, including $500 to each family that lost a home.
  • August 2018 – Thanks to widespread public support and interest in her case, Sandra Lopez is able to leave her sanctuary in the TRUU parsonage.
  • December 2018 – Longtime UU and philanthropist Jim Calaway passes away in his sleep. Calaway was a benefactor to many local institutions – TRUU, Valley View Hospital’s cancer center, Colorado Mountain College, Thunder River Theater, Third Street Center, Habitat for Humanity, Colorado Animal Rescue, and the Aspen Institute, where Calaway was once chair of the Society of Fellows. The Reverend Shawna Foster conducted a moving memorial for him.
  • December 2018 – Rev. Foster visits the US-Mexico border to conduct marriage ceremonies for immigrants.
  • January 2019 -TRUU has 82 members
  • June 2019 – Rev. Shawna Foster’s term as minister ends
  • Nov. 2019 – The Rev. Laurie Bushbaum comes to TRUU to serve as interim minister
  • August 2020 – July 2021 – The Rev. Nathan Woodliffe-Stanley, former director of the Colorado ACLU, ably serves TRUU through the Coronavirus pandemic via services on Zoom and Facebook, finally getting to deliver an in-person service in July 2021.
  • August 2021 – The Rev. Aaron Norris signs on as TRUU’s part-time minister for 2021-22
  • August 2022 – Rev. Aaron Norris begins preaching three in-person services per month; TRUU continues offering services on Zoom and Facebook as well
  • November 2023 – TRUU, back in person after the Covid pandemic, has its most-successful auction ever!

TRUU Ministerial History


1998 – 01- The Reverend Don Bessette, of Avon Colorado, was part-time minister until August 2001. (He was called the “Ski Rev”)

2001- The Rev. Michael Corrigan begins conducting services.

2001- 03 – Various ministers conducted services: Rev. Michael Corrigan, Rev. Barbara Palmer beginning in January 2003, Rev. Sandra Lee beginning in January 2003, and Rev. Zakir Henson beginning in September 2003.

2011-12 – Rev. Gretchen Haley and Rev. Robert Latham were part-time co-ministers, both commuting from Denver.

2012-13- Rev. Amy Rowland served as minister from September 2012 through June 2013. She was part-time and commuted from Denver.

2013-15 – Reverend Stephan Papa served as Minister for two years from September 2013 through June 2015, conducting two services a month. He also conducted twice-a-month adult classes on 1st Mondays.

2015- Reverend Florence Caplow began service in August 2015; she was TRUU’s first residential minister and lived briefly in the TRUU parsonage.

Rev. Barbara Palmer congratulates Rev. Caplow on her ordination by TRUU.

2016 – Reverend Shawna Foster began service in August 2016 as a contract minister. She served the congregation through June, 2019.

2019 – The Reverend Laurie Bushbaum begins service as an interim minister in November, 2019. She served through June, 2020.

2020-21 – The Reverend Nathan Woodliff-Stanley served TRUU through the Covid pandemic, ministering bravely and effectively mostly via Zoom.

2021- present – The Reverend Aaron Norris became our minister and is contracted through June, 2023.

Rev. Aaron Norris began in 2021-22 and is our current TRUU minister


TRUU’s Ministers Since 2011

Rev. Robert Latham, Consulting Minister, 2009-10

Gretchen Haley Photo
Rev. Gretchen Haley, Contract Minister, 2010-12

Amy Rowland
Rev. Amy Rowland, Consulting Minister, 2012-13

Rev. Stephan Papa, Contract Minister, 2013-15

Rev. Florence Caplow, Contract Minister, 2015-16 (ordained by TRUU congregation)

Rev. Shawna Foster, Minister from 2016 to 2019

Rev. Laurie Bushbaum, Contract Minister 2019-2020

Rev. Nathan Woodliff-Stanley, Contract Minister 2020-21