OLEAN — In the past 10 years, members of the Olean Unitarian Universalist Community have held meetings in close to seven different locations, but have stayed strong and united despite the moves.
On Oct. 6, the group will celebrate its 10th anniversary at its newest home, the John Ash Community Center at 112 North Barry St. and invite all to attend. The event, which is free and open to the public, begins 11 a.m. to noon with a service, led by guest minister Rev. Renee Ruchotzke of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Kent, Ohio.
The service will be followed by a coffee hour from noon to 1 p.m., with the highlight of the day occurring from 1 to 3 p.m. when food, music and festivities are provided.
As the traditional 10-year anniversary gift is tin or aluminum, organizers ask that guests bring canned food to be donated to the Olean Food Pantry.
Anna Bush, founder and treasurer of the Olean chapter, said it is interesting to look back on the past 10 years.
“Our first flyers said Olean UU Fellowship because I was basing it off my parents’ congregation, UU Fellowship of the Poconos,” Bush said. “But the more we talked about it, the more we felt Community was a better word for us than Fellowship. Community is the foundation of our group.
“A community that is guided by our seven principles,” Bush explained. “Our 10-year anniversary is a celebration of community and we hope others will join us.”
Rosanna Bonfilio, president of the group, said she recalls the group first met at the Olean Public Library. From there, they went to Yoga Betsy’s, First Presbyterian Church in Allegany, Olean Meditation Center, Son Yoga, Radiant Health Spa and finally, the John Ash Community Center.
Bonfilio said the organization has a core group of 15 to 20 members who enjoy the meetings to hear ministers and lay leaders speak on a variety of topics.
“We’re a dogma-free, inclusive spiritual community,” Bonfilio explained. “Our goal is that we want to construct what we call a beloved community, and we welcome new group members.”
Bonfilio said the group meets the first and third Sunday, starting with the third Sunday in September through the third Sunday in June, with gatherings from 11 a.m. to noon.
The group also has a board of directors, and in addition to Bonfilio and Bush includes Sadie Jay-Edwards, vice president, and Corinne Potter, secretary. Bonfilio said the group is attempting to acquire non-profit status.