Unitarian Universalists buy land near Federal Building for new church

Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church Site

Members of the Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church have purchased this 4.6-acre site in front of the Joe L. Evins Federal Building on Oak Ridge Turnpike. (Photo courtesy of Jake B. Morrill)

The members of a heavily used church on busy Oak Ridge Turnpike have found a new home, part of a neighborhood exodus to make way for a new Kroger Marketplace shopping center in the heart of the city.

Members of the Oak Unitarian Universalist Church had agreed in September to sell their current building and 3.6 acres at Oak Ridge Turnpike and Robertsville Road in a deal arranged by commercial developers Blanchard and Calhoun Commercial.

On Wednesday, roughly five months later, congregation members announced they had purchased a 4.6-acre parcel at Oak Ridge Turnpike and Laboratory Road, in front of the Joe L. Evins Federal Building.

Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church Closing

Martin Bauer, second from right, and Hal Hoyt, right, look on as Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church Board President David Savoie signs closing documents with attorney David Flitcroft. (Submitted photo)

The 260-member congregation expects to be in a new building at the site by Thanksgiving 2014.

The church’s current property could be used as outparcels, or small lots, at the new $30 million shopping center.

ORUUC has been located at the Robertsville Road site—a serene, wooded tract in the center of Oak Ridge—since 1956.

After the September vote to sell, a site selection team researched available sites in Oak Ridge, and the congregation approved the selection of the new site in front of the Federal Building in January. That property is in east Oak Ridge near Laboratory Road.

In a Wednesday press release, the church said it continues to grow in membership and impact, including through a community ministry, music-based outreach ministry, and public events.

“Of course, relocating the church building has been an enormous undertaking, and an emotional one for this community,” said the Rev. Jake Morrill, church minister since 2003. “We are using the process not only for the opportunity of constructing a new building on a new site, but also to clarify our mission for the 21st century, and to grow in trust and the strength of love.”

The 25-acre Kroger shopping center could open early in 2014 at one of the city’s busiest intersections at Oak Ridge Turnpike and Illinois Avenue. It will feature a 113,000-square-foot Kroger Marketplace and 12,000 square feet of small shop space, as well as four to five small lots with unidentified tenants.

It will replace a neighborhood of about 55 homes, two hotels, a restaurant, day care center, and church. The first home was moved from the neighborhood in January.

The Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church congregation was established in 1950, launched its first building campaign in 1956, and finished a project in 1997 that expanded its current building by almost one-third and added a sanctuary that has been widely praised for its beauty.

Note: This story was updated at 6:31 p.m.


Join the club!

If you support Oak Ridge Today, please consider becoming a voluntary subscriber. You don't have to subscribe to read our stories, but your contribution will help us grow and improve our coverage.

We currently offer three subscription levels: $5, $10, or $25 per month. We accept payments through PayPal. You may also visit our subscription page for information on other options.

Thank you for your support.

Subscription options


Commenting Guidelines

We welcome comments, but we ask you to follow a few guidelines:

1) Please use your real name, including last name. Please also use a valid e-mail address. We do our best to confirm identities. If we are unable to confirm your identity or your comments don't appear to be posted using a real, full name, your comments may not post or may be removed.
2) Be civil. Don't insult others, attack their character, or get personal.
3) Stick to the issues.
4) No profanity.
5) Keep your comments to a reasonable length and to a reasonable number per article.

We reserve the right to remove any comments that violate these guidelines. Comments from readers posting for the first time may be held for review, and they will not be posted if they violate the guidelines. We urge you to do your best to follow the guidelines if you would like to see your comment posted. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

More information is available here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jason.allison.37 Jason Allison

    Thank you! I’m glad this empty lot is going for good use. They were very accomodating when it came to Krogers and this way the city wins on both fronts. Welcome to your new home.

  • Mark Caldwell

    Good to see renewed development in our little city.

    Welcome to the east end of town Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church!

More Business News

Main Street Oak Ridge Master Plan March 2015

See Main Street Oak Ridge plans here

  Several readers have asked for higher resolution versions of the plans for Main Street Oak Ridge, the development that could replace the former Oak Ridge Mall with a mix of retailers, restaurants, residential … [Read More...]

Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce

Small business seminars this week

There are two more small business seminars in Oak Ridge this month, and both are scheduled for this week. The first is from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, March 26, at the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce. It's … [Read More...]

More Business

More Community News

More Community