Long before the first ASWUU church service was held, founding member Ken Gridley placed an ad in the local paper asking to touch base with other Unitarian Universalists. The ad brought no response.
Eventually, some individuals from the Charleston South Carolina Unitarian Universalist congregation wanted to start a congregation on the Grand Strand. One of them, a minister, got in touch with the Church of the Larger Fellowship in Boston to get names of local South Carolina Unitarian Universalists that were corresponding with the CLF. The names were collected and an initial group was created.
ASWUU's journey began with its first service on April 19, 1987. We have since then been the focal point for Unitarian Universalists in Myrtle Beach.
That first year a monthly newsletter was provided, the congregation advertised in the Sun News, a local newspaper, and held monthly potluck dinners. The 1st yard sale was held in 1987 and netted $222.
In its second year of existence the church really got to work, submitting an application to be affiliated with the national Unitarian Universalist Association, and electing the first executive committee. On June 15, 1988 All Souls received its charter and over the summer a mission statement was created. At that time the church was not holding summer services.
Church meetings were held in local hotels, community centers, and in the homes of some church members. Members got involved with social action causes in the Myrtle Beach area by volunteering at various local agencies and making charitable contributions to institutions which reflected the church ideals.
Services were conducted by lay ministers and traveling clergy. Often local speakers that represented various agencies and causes that reflected the Church mission of community service were invited to speak.
As the years progressed, church pot luck lunches, restaurant meals and pot luck dinners held at different members homes(called circle dinners) were a feature of All Souls Waccamaw. These opportunities for socialization often led to enhancements of community life and church services. Members participated in local public service opportunities, including Habitat for Humanity building projects and meal preparation at Helping Hands South Strand.
On September 29, 2008 a house on one acre of land on Highway 707 across from the Socastee Post Office was purchased by Joy Pinson. The home was purchased with the intention of providing a permanent location for the ASWUU Congregation.
Extensive remodeling was done to create a sanctuary in the building and make it appropriate for ongoing services. A grant to furnish the sanctuary was obtained from the UUA. This building has been an anchor and a center for the congregation to this day.
Often, the church space is shared with community organizations that need a place to meet. They include The Sierra Club, Period Packing project, T-Time Transgender Support group, Grand Strand Action Together and others.
For the past few years the congregation has conducted summer discussion workshops in lieu of formal services, with success. Circle dinners, Women's groups, Men's groups, yard sales, participation in the Transgender Day of Remembrance and local politically active groups, social activities such as pool parties, cookouts, beach parties, have been part of the active social connections that members have formed.
Myrtle Beach and ASWUU attract snowbirds from many northern states and Canada, and these individuals bring energy and joy to the congregation every winter. Some have moved here permanently and have become enthusiastic contributing members at ASWUU.
Notable about this congregation has been the rich variety of ideas, talents and abilities that members have brought to the organization and life of the congregation. We are comprised of a diverse group of people from many areas of life. The members appear to have many characteristics in common including passion and compassion.
2020 was a particularly difficult year due to the Covid-19 virus. In person church services were suspended in mid-March 2020. Despite this, a few outdoor services were held, as well as online services and meetings. A giant yard sale took place in November 2020, bringing the group together outdoors. Now that we have returned to in person services, the Board of Trustees has been reorganizing and working on growing our congregation back to pre-covid numbers.