Logo: OPEN hearts, OPEN minds
Meeting House
Guest speaker
Protest march
Concert night
Our street
 Home  · About Us  ·  Calendar  ·  Committees  ·  Directions  ·  FAQ  ·  Newsletter  ·  Photos  ·  Programs  ·  RE  ·  UU+
About Prairie UU Society

Prairie Unitarian Universalist Society is a freethinking religious community in Madison Wisconsin. We aspire to be both open-hearted and open-minded. We welcome those who enter our doors with any combination of strengths and weaknesses, beliefs and doubts. Our children receive liberal religious education as we model values in our search for truth and meaning.

Prairie is a small, lay-lead liberal congregation. The congregation is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Association. We members hold differing religious beliefs, but our shared principles affirm the worth and dignity of all persons, the need for justice and compassion, a free and responsible search for truth and meaning, and a respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. We choose to be in a community for the development and values education of our children. As UU's, we believe that personal experience, conscience and reason should be the final authorities in religion.

We are a "Welcoming Congregation" that opens each Sunday morning service with words similar to the following:
"Prairie is a liberal lay-led congregation. You are welcome, whatever your ethnic background or color; whatever your religious background, age, or sexual orientation; whatever your abilities or inabilities."

On this page            
Prairie Bond of Union
Prairie UU Society Mission Statement
Our Vision of the Prairie Community
Officers and Committees
A Brief History of Our Congregation
Prairie Web Sites
On separate pages            
Strategic Plan

Prairie Bond of Union

We, the members of Prairie, wish to associate ourselves together in a religious community which affirms that we share a common humanity, that we need one another, and that our futures are inescapably bound together. Together we would expand our intellectual horizons, enrich our sensory experiences, and deepen our emotional sensitivities. We would sharpen our ethical awareness and broaden our sense of social responsibility. We would stand tall in our quest for integrity of life, yet not at others' expense. As the prairie stretches out until it becomes one with the sky, let us reach out to touch and be one with the natural world, and with one another.

Prairie Smoke by Lois Hagstrom

Prairie UU Society Mission Statement

Adopted November 21, 1999

    Prairie is a diverse, lay-led congregation. We aspire to be both open-hearted and open-minded. We welcome all who enter our doors with any combination of strengths and weaknesses, beliefs and doubts.

    Our small size allows us to be like an extended family: we aspire to support one another and nurture the growth of each of our members. By sharing joys and sorrows, we keep each other company on the journey through life.

    We seek to learn with and from each other in an atmosphere that respects diverse ideas, lifestyles, cultures, and wisdom traditions. Our shared values include respect for all forms of life and stewardship of the environment. Helping our youth to understand and appreciate these values is part of our mission.

    We seek to promote dignity, worth, and justice for people worldwide by supporting individual and collective social action.

Our Vision of the Prairie Community

Adopted November 9, 2008

We support each other's personal development and spiritual growth,
Our caring for each other is evident to all who enter our doors,
We act in the world to further social and environmental justice, and
Our society is recognized and respected in the wider community.

Full Strategic Plan


Consulting Minister: Sandra Ingham - email: minister@uuprairie.org

Director of Religious Education: Holly Tellander - email: dre@uuprairie.org

Administrator: Dan Klock - email: admin@uuprairie.org

Usual office hours: Mondays 11 am - 2 pm
  Tuesdays 11 am - 2 pm
  Wednesdays 11 am - 2 pm
  Thursdays 11 am - 2 pm
  Fridays 11 am - 2 pm
Meeting House phone:   608-271-8218

Contact information for all Prairie officers, committee chairs and staff can be found on the first page of the current Prairie Directory

Board and Committees

The paid positions at Prairie, consulting minister, religious education director and office administrator, are all part time. Prairie is a truly voluntary organization—it functions because volunteers plan and present programs and services, help with child care, teach children, wash dishes, shovel sidewalks, and more! There's no better way to get to know us than to work with us. It's easy to get involved in any of these activities.

The members of Prairie conduct the business of the Society at fall and spring business meetings of the congregation as a whole, at special meetings of the congregation that may be called from time to time, and through regular meetings of the Executive Board. As specified in the Society's bylaws, the Board is composed of the officers and committee chairs shown below. Business meeting minutes are filed in the Meeting House office. Adopted minutes of some past congregational business meetings are available here.

2015-2016 Board of Directors:

  • President—Gary Gates - email: gig.gts@gmail.com
  • Vice-President—Karen Deaton
  • Secretary—Anne Urbanski
  • Treasurer—Bill Parmenter
  • At-large—John Richards
  • At-large—Judy Lazarus
  • At-large—Kim Tedesco

2015-2016 Committees and Their Responsibilities:

  • Program Committee (Chair, Penny Eiler)

    • Plans Sunday morning adult services with lay ministers and other presenters
    • Plans various evening meetings and special events
  • Religious Education Committee (Co-chairs, Paula Pachciarz and Kent Wenger)

    • Oversees all children's programs
    • Designs the curriculum for our Sunday classes
    • Recruits teachers and volunteers to help with the program
    • Works with RE Coordinator to plan special RE projects and events
    • Members and friends always welcome as volunteers to teach a class or assist with special arts and crafts projects or field trips
  • Membership Committee (Co-chairs Erin Bosch and Heidi Hughes)

    • Welcomes visitors and writes notes to them later
    • Organizes orientation programs for newcomers to learn more about us
    • Designs and makes permanent nametags for new members
    • Organizes Circle Dinners and other social events
    • Oversees maintenance of Society membership list
    • Oversees preparation of parish directory
  • Social Action Committee (Chair, Molly Plunket)

    • Takes public stands on issues without having to get consent of the Society and maintains an independent Social Action presence on the Internet 
    • Informs Prairie members about key social action issues and events
    • Provides opportunities for Prairie members to contribute services, money, and goods to worthy causes
    • Fills an Allied Partners Board position on behalf of Prairie
    • Participates in local projects, including providing breakfast at a local drop-in shelter one morning per month, collecting food for a neighborhood food pantry, and facilitating Prairie's part in Madison's Interfaith Hospitality Network
    • For more information, see the independent Social Action Committee Web site
  • Denominational Affairs Committee (Chair, Phyllis Long)
    • Congregation's main link to Unitarian Universalist national and regional offices
    • Orders books and pamphlets from the UUA Bookstore
    • Makes available catalogs of the Beacon Press
    • Conducts annual parish poll to determine Society positions on UU General Assembly resolutions
  • Communications Committee (Chair, vacant)

    • Maintains and defines policy for web site, email lists, and similiar online communication services
    • Produces publicity, ads, and outside signs to promote awareness of Prairie and it's activities.
  • Finance Committee (Chair, Patty Stockdale)

    • Prepares annual budget proposal
    • Canvasses members and friends for pledges to meet the adopted budget
    • Conducts other fund raising activities such as service auctions
  • Housing & Property Committee (Co-Chairs, Jim Lyne )

    • Responsible for building and grounds maintenance.
    • Does most minor repairs and improvements to meeting house using volunteer labor. Workers of all skill levels are welcome.
    • Contracts for major repairs and improvements when necessary.
  • Hospitality Committee (Chair Barbara Chatterton)

    • Provides coffee at services and arrange for cleanup
    • Organizes Prairie potlucks, Soup Sundays and other social events

A Brief History of Our Congregation

The Prairie Unitarian Universalist Society was established in 1967 as an offshoot of the First Unitarian Society of Madison, WI, in an effort to relieve overcrowding in First Unitarian's religious education program. In 1966 First Society had purchased a portion of a "prairie" area on Madison's far west side as a potential location for a second Unitarian Universalist congregation, and it is from that piece of land that Prairie Society takes its name. That building site, however, was never used, and it is now split between the Madison park system and the University of Wisconsin Arboretum.

In September 1967, 30 adults and 78 children began meeting for religious education classes and adult services at a Catholic seminary on Madison's far west side--the first of a series of rented locations. By-laws were drawn up in the spring of 1968 and Prairie was organized with 38 charter members -- some of whom remain with the congregation even today. By September 1969 membership had grown and the meeting site was moved to the YWCA building across from the Wisconsin State Capitol. By spring of 1972 Prairie had moved again to a former church building about 1/2 mile west of Camp Randall, the UW-Madison football stadium. For two years during this period the Society had the half-time services of a ministerial student from the Meadville-Lombard Seminary in Chicago. In 1978 Prairie began renting space at the Woodland Montessori School (another former church building) on Colby Street on Madison's near south side.

Finally, in 1980, Prairie Society purchased its current quarters at 2010 Whenona Drive, Madison. In July 1988 the parish voted to remodel the meeting house. The remodeling took place in the fall of 1988 and a re-dedication ceremony was held in February 1989.

For our 25th anniversary celebration in 1992, A Prairie Society Chronology was prepared by Warren Hagstrom.

The results of a survey by the Program Committee provide insight into the basic viewpoints of Prairie members as of May 2009.

Prairie Web Sites

Prairie UU Society: uuprairie.org (you're here already)
Prairie News Group: groups.yahoo.com/group/prairienews/
Prairie Views Group: groups.yahoo.com/group/prairieviews/
Social Action Committee: socialaction.madisonwi.us
Humanist Union of Madison: humanist.madisonwi.us