Fellowship History

The Upper Delaware Unitarian Universalist Fellowship was born on July 26, 1987, at the home of the Rev. Raymond J. and Barbara Pontier, near Narrowsburg, NY. Two years later, it became incorporated and affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association and then joined the Unitarian Universalist District of Metropolitan New York.

The Rev. Raymond Pontier began his ministry in the Dutch Reformed Church. Starting out in Kingston, NY, he then pastored to the Deerpark Reformed Church in Port Jervis, NY before making his way to the Allwood Community Church in Clifton, NJ. He served that congregation for 18 years before resigning due, in part, to his liberal stance on such things as abortion rights, fair housing and theological differences with the moderately Calvinistic denomination.

Following his resignation and his leaving of the Reformed Church of America, Rev. Pontier was asked to serve as part-time minister to the Lakeland Unitarian Univeralist Fellowship of Wayne, NJ and became fully fellowshiped with the UUA. Upon purchase of a second-home in Narrowsburg and retiring from the Lakeland congregation, he sought to find like-minded individuals interested in the formation of a liberal religious congregation and established the Upper Delaware Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in 1987.

One of the like-minded people that he got know was Bud Rue, who along with his wife, Ann, had founded Innisfree, a summer educational camp. Established in 1970, Innisfree served as a youth hostel, hosted drama workshops, numerous experiential and outdoor education programs and served as the first home of the Upper Delaware Unitarian Universalist Fellowship for 10 years. The Rues, retired teachers from New Jersey, moved to Milanville, PA full time in 1988.

Bud was the driving force behind Habitat for Humanity of Wayne County when it was incorporated in 1989 and served to push the young UU Fellowship to form a social justice committee and to sponsor a Walk for Social Justice. While not in good health and against the advice of his family, Bud insisted on walking the five miles from Narrowsburg to Milanville on the first walk in 1994. On the River Road, a mile from Narrowsburg, he collapsed. He was immediately transported to his home, and died the next day, October 24, 1993.

Innisfree was sold shortly thereafter. The Pontiers retired to Lakewood, FL in August 1997. In early October 1998, after meeting in the Delaware Highland Conservancy's Butterfly Barn for the summer, the Fellowship moved to its present location at the Berlin Township Community Center.

The Fellowship continued to meet regularly and transitioned itself into a vibrant lay-led congregation.

In 1999, the Fellowship called Laurie Stuart, Pontier's former daughter-in-law, to serve as the part-time Lay Commissioned Minister to officiate rites of passage, such as weddings, funerals and child dedications, for Fellowship members as well as members of the community without church affiliation.

In the fall of 2006, Laurie followed her call to ministry and enrolled in the Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, CA. She currently serves the congregation in a part-time capacity as a Consulting Minister.

The Fellowship enjoys strong lay leadership and is an integral part of the Metro District of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations. A fair-share honor congregation, it routinely avails itself to learning and networking opportunities in the Metro District and the denomination at large.

The congregation aspires to receive the status of a Welcoming Congregation and is currently working with the Berlin Township Community Center in making the meeting space more environmentally sustainable.