Live Oak History ~ Putting Down Roots
Live Oak UU Congregation began as a “spinoff” congregation with the help of the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara, the Pacific Southwest District, and the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA).
September 1985 Our new community began meeting at Goleta Valley Community Center. Later moved to the Human Relations Institute at 5200 Hollister with regular services and a religious education (RE) program of three children. Pat Johnson and Martha Golus, two of the founding members, served as our first co-directors of RE.
June 1986 22 members chose the name Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Congregation and became affiliated with the UUA. Rev. Bets Wienecke was invited to serve as the new congregation organizer.
January 1987: The congregation moved to the University Religious Center in Isla Vista
March 1990: Rev. Bets Wienecke was called as its first settled minister. The Live Oak Congregation continued to grow and moved across the street to St Michael’s Episcopal Church where the RE program and services were conducted.
1992: Live Oak purchased about 1 acre of land, including a farmhouse, garage and a tank house at 820 N. Fairview Ave in Goleta.
April-November 1994: Construction of the new Fellowship Hall and remodeling of the existing farmhouse. The garage transformed to a Cottage meeting place.
1994-2008: Services were held in the Fellowship Hall.
2000: The congregation grew to a membership over 120 members and more space was very much needed. The members agreed to undertake a capital campaign and building program for a new sanctuary. At this time, Live Oak officially designated a Welcoming Congregation. Being welcoming means the welcome and inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people.
2002-2004: Live Oak became a teaching congregation when Rev. Carolyn Price served as a ministerial student intern.
June 2005-January 2012: Erika Hewitt was called as our new settled minister.
Our RE program was enriched through the years by RE directors: Teena Grant, Susan Belanger, Debra Rodgers, and Kristen Rohm.
2003-June 2011: Jan Ross served as Live Oak’s Director of Religious Exploration (DRE). A Peace Pole was put up in honor of her years of service as DRE.
September 2004: Rev. Bets Wienecke, after 18 years of service, retired and was granted Minister Emerita status. Rev. Paul Beedle arrived as our interim minister for one year.
April-December 2008: Construction of the new Sanctuary.
December 2008: We had our first service in the new sanctuary.
2010: The Fellowship Hall was renovated and we began renting this space to the Friendship Center, an Alzheimer adult day-care center, during week days.
February-July 2012: James Forrest served as a one year interim DRE, followed by Gloria Liggett. Rev. David Owen-O’Quill served as transition minister.
August 2012 -July 2014: Rev. Thomas Anastasi served as the interim minister.
September 2013 - October 2015: Tracey Goforth directed the RE program.
August 2014-August 2022: Live Oak called the Rev. Tamara Casanova Suzuki to serve as our settled minister. Reverend Tamara served as our minister from August 2014 to August 2022.
December 2014: John Douglas started as Music Director, following John Sonquist who served as our pianist for several years. Currently, as of May 2023, Kevin Fox has assumed the post of Music Director.
March 2015-February 2021: Clacey Kahn worked as Live Oak’s Administrator.
September 2016- June 2017: Lora Barnett was our ministerial student intern, including serving as acting DRE for four months.
February 2017: We hired a new Director of Religious Exploration, Steven Lovelace. He retired during the summer of 2022.
February 2019: Volunteers installed 25 solar panels on the roof of the sanctuary.
March 2021: The Live Oak campus temporarily closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic started conducting virtual Sunday Services off-site via Zoom.