Our History

In May of 2006, Chaplains at the Great Lakes Naval Recruit Training Command sent a request to the Unitarian Church of Evanston, IL (UCE) for lay leaders to lead a Sunday morning UU worship service. Rev. Barbara Pescan searched, and found Seanan Holland and David Pyle, both reserve military officers studying for the UU ministry at a nearby seminary, the Meadville Lombard Theological School. With a generous initial financial donation from UCE, the two future military chaplains began presenting UU worship for the recruits in January 2007.

Seanan Holland in chapel
Rev. Seanan Holland
th David Pyle
Rev. David Pyle

Though it began slowly, the numbers of recruits attending worship began to grow as word spread among the recruits of an open, affirming, and accepting worship service not based in fear, but in hope, faith, and love. Soon, the services were drawing 30 recruits each Sunday, Rand David and Seanan began recruiting and training other worship leaders, from both Meadville Lombard and UCE. At one point the program had over a dozen trained worship leaders, who rotate and present worship that both instructs in our principles and values and introduces Unitarian Universalism to many who might not otherwise encounter it.  It also provides worship for the UUs serving in the military who come through the base.

Today the Navy’s lay leader program offers religious services for recruits who came from more than a dozen faith traditions..