Founding Pastor Henry Hayden: Oct. 9, 1918-Feb. 18, 2018

~ By Phil Fullerton

Rev. Henry Hayden, a towering figure in the life of our church and community died on the night of Feb. 17/18, Saturday to Sunday, 2018, at Pilgrim Place, Claremont, California, the ministerial retirement facility where he has resided for many years. His good friend, the Rev. Gene Boutiller, was by his side as he gently slipped away. He was born on October 9, 1918, so was nearing his 100th birthday. He was able to telephone his three children the day of his death.

Rev. Hayden was the founding minister of then College Community Congregational Church, now Community UCC. He built the church up from a handful of members in 1955 and presided over its burgeoning growth.

The original location was on Shaw Avenue near First Street. When this property was sold to Fashion Fair, the church moved to its current location on Fresno Street.

Rev. Hayden stood tall on all aspects of human and individual rights. He was outspoken in support of the black community and was an early member of the local NAACP. His was often a lone voice for human rights. He was a forceful supporter of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers Group composed mostly of Hispanic farm laborers.

He was active in support of the gay and lesbian community. As minister of the San Carlos Church, to which he moved from Fresno, he ordained the first gay minister in the United States. He later continued his message at interim ministries on the Big Island of Hawaii, and in Arlington, MA.

Even in retirement, Rev. Hayden was a powerful voice for the underdog. He gave monthly sermons at Pilgrim Place and returned often to Community UCC to reiterate his message. The Social Hall was dedicated to him on one of these visits.

Henry, as we called him, was preceded in death by his beloved wife Betty Jane. He is survived by his sons David and Jeremy and his daughter Deidre and many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Most of all he is survived by his message imprinted in the minds of all who knew him. He will live on in their dedication to the causes of human decency inspired by his unflinching devotion.

Services will be held at Pilgrim Place. The date and time will be announced.

From left, Pastors Chris Breedlove and Henry Hayden

Videos from the recent 60th Anniversary Celebration

Our 60-year anniversary events on Jan. 27, 2018, were very successful in celebrating our church’s past and hopes for the next 60 years.

Many thanks go out to so many volunteers that helped put on this wonderful event.
  • CUCC Youth Group
  • Robin Carlson
  • Sean Carlson
  • Penny Carroll
  • Pearl Supersad
  • Susan Chavez
  • Kristi Cole
  • Terry Cole
  • Bonita Earl
  • Marie Edwards
  • Ruben Fernandez
  • Meg Gallagher
  • Sarah Hayden
  • EJ Hinojosa
  • Spencer Hipp
  • Sue Hipp
  • Wade Hobson
  • Cheryl Jones
  • Jeff Jones
  • Karri Jones
  • Marge Kelly
  • Amy Kilburn
  • Carol Kilburn
  • Patty Parks
  • Sharon Powers
  • Nancy Pressley
  • Felicia Rocha
  • Mike Smith
  • Marilyn Wall
  • Eileen White
  • Rod Zook

We will be sharing some of the information from the program for that night’s program on our website soon.

In our program for the evening, Terry Cole provided a historical view of CUCC with photos of past, present and future. Here is that video. It was shown that evening after the dinner:

Community UCC historical tour

On Jan. 27, 2018, earlier in the day before the 60th Anniversary Dinner Celebration, Sharon Powers-Smith and Sarah Fey led a group of 10 members of our congregation on a journey into the historic sites from our church’s past.

The group began and ended at our current site, our campus at 5550 N. Fresno St., between Bullard and Barstow.

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Our first stop (photos above) was in the Fashion Fair parking lot, near Chick-Fil-A. Our congregation’s first address was 645 E. Shaw Ave. and the first worship service was held on March 11, 1956. The Rev. Henry Hayden was our founding minister.

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Next (photos above), we went to where our original little redwood church was moved to, 4144 N. Millbrook Ave. The Little Redwood Church was relocated there in 1965 by the congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno, who bought our building when Community College Congregation Church (our original name) built a new church on land on Fresno Street, where we are still today. Our Lady of La Vang Catholic Church, served by Father Victor Ding, now occupies the Little Redwood Church.

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The third stop on our tour (photos above) was to visit Zion Congregational Church’s second location (must not waste gas trying to stay in chronological order!) — 4718 E. Yale Ave. in Fresno on the corner of Sierra Vista and Yale in southeast Fresno. Our congregation merged with Zion in 2006. Zion brought many gifts to our church, including the beautiful stained glass windows (designed by artist Corky Normart to mark Zion’s 100-year anniversary) that grace the front of our Sanctuary, the wooden cross carved by Stan Bitters, the “lollipop” cross outside of the Sanctuary created by Stan Bitters, and the tradition of berrocks. Today this site is the Spanish Church of the Nazarene.

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Our final stop (photos above) was the original site of Zion Congregational Church, on the corner of E and Monterey streets in downtown Fresno. The original building burned in 1930; Zion rebuilt on that site and that church still stands today, where it is now the Greater Faith Missionary Baptist Church.

img_1127.jpgSarah Fey suggested picking up a small memento at each of our stops along the way — a magnolia pod from the Fashion Fair parking lot, a chip of redwood that had flaked off of our original building, a pine cone from Zion’s second home and a white chunk of landscaping rock from Zion’s first church site.

When we returned to our church campus, we had a small ceremony in our Peace Garden, and Sarah buried the items on the berm, not as any kind of time capsule to be reflected upon at a later date, but rather to integrate a small piece of the places that have held the many people who have contributed to the church we know today.



Join us for a family fun night of dinner and bingo!

Saturday, Feb. 24

Dinner starts at 5:30 p.m.

BINGO at 6:30 p.m.

Yes, that’s right BINGO NIGHT. You will hear the echo in Hayden Hall of “B- 49…I…34…” Don’t miss out! Enjoy a fun night with the family.

We have a special Family Rate of $25, which includes BINGO games, soup, bread, dessert, drinks and prizes. All proceeds go to Community UCC.

Our Youth Groups are working to put on this fun activity for our CUCC congregation.

Admission prices:

  • Family Rate: $25
  • Adults (ages 12 and up) $10 per person
  • Children (between ages 5-11) $5
  • Children 5 years and under FREE

Buy your tickets after service on Feb. 18.

Confirmation and Youth Group Work Service Trip

Ongoing Confirmation Classes:

  • Feb. 18 – NO CLASS (Attend the Experiential Worship Service)
  • Feb. 25 – Mystery with Vicky Wall
  • *March 3 – HUMAN SEXUALITY AND ETHICAL DECISION-MAKING, 9AM-12PM with EJ and Nancy Pressley (bring a baby picture and water bottle; breakfast and snacks will be provided)
  • March 4 – NO CLASS (Attend worship)
  • March 11 – Statement of Faith and Witness and Service with Sue Hipp
  • March 18 – Incarnation with Nancy Pressley
  • March 23-25 – WORK SERVICE TRIP TO SANTA CRUZ (see attached forms and information)
  • March 25 – No class (work service trip)
  • April 1 – No class (Attend Easter Service)
  • April 8 – Compassion with Sue Hipp
  • April 15 – Politics with Nancy Pressley
  • April 22 – Passion (Paul) with Vicky Wall
  • April 29 – Resurrection with Robin
  • May 1 – No Class (attend worship)
  • May 13 – No Class (meet with Robin with your Statements of Faith)

*All permission slips have already been signed.  This is a very important class on the journey of Confirmation so please make every effort to attend.  If you are not able to attend this class, please text Robin at 559.960.2452 or email

‘Grounded’ is next up for Women’s Book group, starting Feb. 20

"Grounded" by Diana Butler BassThe Women’s Book Discussion Group will read “Grounded” by Diana Butler Bass. Our first meeting to discuss this book will be at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 20, in the Conference Room.

From Goodreads:

The headlines are clear: religion is on the decline in America as many people leave behind traditional religious practices. Diana Butler Bass, leading commentator on religion, politics, and culture, follows up her acclaimed book “Christianity After Religion” by arguing that what appears to be a decline actually signals a major transformation in how people understand and experience God. The distant God of conventional religion has given way to a more intimate sense of the sacred that is with us in the world. This shift, from a vertical understanding of God to a God found on the horizons of nature and human community, is at the heart of a spiritual revolution that surrounds us—and that is challenging not only religious institutions but political and social ones as well. “Grounded” explores this cultural turn as Bass unpacks how people are finding new spiritual ground by discovering and embracing God everywhere in the world around us—in the soil, the water, the sky, in our homes and neighborhoods, and in the global commons.

Our reading schedule for “Grounded” is as follows:

  • Feb. 14-20: Read the daily devotional at the back of the book “Grounded” (first seven). Be prepared to discuss any of the devotionals that spoke to you and why.
  • Feb. 20: Introduction and Chapters 1 and daily devotionals
  • Feb. 27: Chapters 2 and 3 and daily devotionals
  • March 6: Chapters 4 and 5 and daily devotionals
  • March 13: Chapters 6 and 7 and daily devotionals
  • March 20: Conclusion daily devotionals
For more information, call the church office at 559.435.2690.