History of Shelter Rock
In 1941 four Port Washington families joined together to organize a liberal religious education program for their children. Three years later, in early 1944, this group of families established a congregation which incorporated as "The North Shore Unitarian Society" in January 1945, with 50 persons signing the membership book. That same year, the congregation called the Rev. Gerald Weary as minister. The Society remodeled a large house at 8 Murray Avenue, which served as a meeting space, a religious education facility, and as a home for Rev. Weary and his family.
Mrs. Caroline Veatch became a member of the Congregation in the early years at 8 Murray Avenue, though because of physical problems, she was unable physically to attend services. Her late husband, Arthur Veatch, was an oil geologist who died in the late 1930's, leaving his wife royalty interest in German oil fields, which, prior to World War II, had produced no royalties. In 1948, Mrs. Veatch sought assistance from the minister and a church member who was a lawyer, to investigate the disposition of her claim to royalty rights. The investigation met with success and Mrs. Veatch received royalties from the oil fields that she gifted to the congregation upon her death in 1953.
From the small royalty payments of several thousand dollars a year in the 1950's the amount of the Veatch royalties has greatly increased, especially after the production of natural gas was begun. The annual royalties coming to the congregation has been substantial, often in the millions of dollars. The Congregation early began to consider how best to use these funds, and starting with small loans to Unitarian Universalist congregations, developed the Veatch Program which each year makes grants to Unitarian Universalist and non-Unitarian Universalist organizations throughout the U.S.
In 1955, with membership totaling over 300, the congregation erected a new church building in the Village of Plandome. Eleven years later, a Children's wing was added. Further remodeling and expansion of the worship room and social hall was carried out in 1975. During this period the congregation continued to expand and, with the merger in 1961 of the Unitarians and the Universalists, changed its name to The North Shore Unitarian Universalist Society.
As the membership continued to grow, the decision was made in 1986 to acquire the Payson property of 100 acres, at the southern end of Manhasset, where a new building would be erected. In the middle of 1987 the church staff moved to the mansion on the property, awaiting completion of the new building. In June of 1993 the congregation voted to change its name to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock, and in September 1993, the congregation moved into its new home on Shelter Rock Road.
Since its founding there has been a succession of ministers called to serve the congregation. In 1958 Rev. Weary resigned and was succeeded by the Rev. Harold Hadley, followed over the years by Rev. David Osborn, Senior Minister, Rev. Christine Wetzel, Minister of Religious Education, Rev. Bob Reed, Associate Minister, Rev. Tom Chulak, Senior Minister, Rev. Dr. Barry Andrews, MRE and Rev. Linda DeSantis, Minister for Pastoral Care. Since 2003 we are pleased to have a full ministry team consisting of Rev. Dr. Paul Johnson, Senior Minister; Rev. Andrews, MRE; and Rev. Jennifer Brower, Minister for Pastoral Care.