In 1985, the Metroplex area was expanding dramatically toward Lewisville and other cities north of Dallas. That year the Rev. John Buehrens of First Unitarian Church of Dallas urged the creation of a UU congregation in Northwest Dallas County because of the area’s growth. Martha Robinson had just finished a term as president of First Church and she agreed to take a new congregation training and spearhead the effort.
Notices were sent out of the new congregation and in September of 1986 fifteen people from First Church and Dallas North (Plano area) gathered for their first regular meeting. Soon after they began meeting in a small shopping center in Farmers Branch, Texas, since no rental quarters could be found further north. Services were held regularly during the next year with lay leadership and a strong religious education program for the children.
Rev. Dennis Hamilton Called as Minister
By 1987 the group had grown to 34 adults and in March of that year was officially chartered by the UUA. An application was made with the UUA for the services of an extension minister to begin in the fall of l987. Thanks to the generous assistance of Hardy and Betty Sanders of First Church, the Rev. Dennis Hamilton, a graduate of Starr King School for the Ministry began work as Horizon's extension minister in September that year. As soon as Rev. Hamilton arrived and his sermon topics were announced in the suburban newspapers, the congregation began to grow. Rev. Hamilton was called as the regular minister in 1989.
Expansion Leads to New Location
Although the shopping center space was increased three times during Horizon’s 9-year stay, it was soon evident that the congregation should consider looking for land further north. A site was found in an area just opening up for development in northern Carrollton, to be on Hebron Parkway when that route would be completed. Cattle were grazing the land and stakes indicated the future roadway when the site committee made its first visit. An architect was selected and plans were drawn up. Hebron Parkway opened in February 1995, and Horizon moved into its permanent home on Thanksgiving weekend of the same year. Six acres of land had been purchased, yet only two acres were being utilized, anticipating future growth.
As soon as the doors opened, the congregation began to expand. In the first year at the new location, the membership grew by 80 people, and it was evident that the church school rooms would soon be crowded. The congregation moved to two services in the fall of l996, and additional parking was added early in 1998 to accommodate the increased membership. That same year a portable building was installed to help with the increased church school attendance.
Horizon Becomes a “Teaching Church”
In 1997, Horizon became a "teaching church" with the Unitarian Universalist Association with the arrival of the first intern minister in the fall. An intern minister is a student in a graduate theological school who is supervised by an established minister and learns about the workings of the church while adding depth to the ministry of the church. Tom Schade was the first intern in 1997, and since then Horizon has mentored Rev. Fran Dew, Rev. Francesca Hughes, Rev. Thom Belote, Rev. Naomi King, Rev. Philip Douglas, Andrew Weber, and Rev. Lora Brandis. Our intern minister for 2010-2011 is Megan Dalby.
In August of 2000 Horizon called a second minister, Rev. Barbara Morgan, to help in the religious education program and in the development of small groups within the adult congregation. After making a wonderful contribution to these programs, Rev. Morgan retired.
Horizon has always been committed to social service and social action in the community. In our twenty year history Horizon brought the CROP Walk to the community, has had regular blood drives for fifteen years, has sponsored and participated in annual marches for human rights, peace, GBLT rights, and others, helped to bring MLK celebrations to the community, helped start a school age parent program at Mary Grimes School, has had heavy involvement in and support for Metrocrest Social Services, brought a Family Place outreach center to Carrollton, sponsored a church in Romania, had food drives, repaired seniors houses, and raised emergency support for disaster relief to name a few of the examples of how we live our faith. We recently reaffirmed our commitment to social action in an all church survey.
The following year, Horizon went through an evaluation process to ascertain in what direction the congregation wished to grow. The result has been a dramatic increase in the social outreach programming at Horizon into the surrounding communities. Also in 2003 the church board established an 18-month trial program for a Committee on Ministry. This group was charged with the task of viewing all of the various committees and groups within Horizon to ascertain the effectiveness of the complete ministry of everyone within the congregation. In 2007, the congregation voted to make this committee a permanent fixture of the church.
UUA Continues Growth in the Area
A special NTAUUS task force including Rev. Hamilton and Rev. Laurel Hallman of First Unitarian, Dallas established a new congregation within the Metroplex as the UUA began to explore a new approach to establishing UU societies based upon the mega-church concept, which had been used by other denominations. Pathways Church, a UU congregation, began in Southlake, Texas, in the fall of 2004 after a year of preparation. It is now an established congregation slowly growing its membership.
Look for our New Horizon
By 2004 Horizon had begun the next step in its expansion by planning for new construction as soon as economically feasible. The congregation identified the addition of more space in the foyer area, expanded classrooms and a meditation/memorial garden as priorities. Numerous trees and plants were also added to our campus in 2004.
In 2005 the congregation voted to approve a resolution supporting same-sex marriages, "Standing on the Side of Love," and in 2007 Horizon became an official UU Welcoming Church – a church that is institutionally welcoming to the GLBT community (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender.)
In 2007 Horizon Unitarian Universalist Church celebrated its 20th anniversary! The congregation recognized our founding members and benefactors, and expressed gratitude for their pioneer spirit in establishing a UU church in the northwestern suburbs of Dallas.
In May 2010, Horizon broke ground on our much anticipated expansion. The project includes upgrades to the sanctuary, the addition of a fellowship hall, remodeling of the kitchen and administrative suite, and construction of a new library, religious education classroom and religious education office. The first phase of the memorial garden is also underway on the west side of the building.