A Brief History of Gaia Community

Gaia Community started in 1997 as an idea hatched between Kitty Degler and Vicki Combs. Both women were attending Diana's Grove Mystery School in Salem, Missouri, and wanted something local between trips to the Grove. At the time, Kitty was a new mother working at Hallmark and Vicki was finishing up her studies to be a Unitarian Universalist minister; together they came up with the idea for a "theme church" within the UUA that would be all-pagan, all-the-time.

Important events in the congregation's history include:

  • May 2, 1997: 28 people gathered for the first visioning meeting.
  • July 13, 1997: Gaia Community holds its first public ritual at the confluence of the Kaw and Missouri rivers in an effort to raise awareness of their ill health. Sunday rituals were then held every other week.
  • August 1997: Gaia Community begins holding rituals on Sunday afternoons at All Souls UU Church, which agrees to sponsor the new congregation.
  • May 3, 1998: Gaia Community celebrates its first birthday with an outdoor Beltane ritual. Approximately 65 people attended, danced the Maypole, jumped the fire, and feasted together.
  • October 3, 1998: Gaia Community presents "An Evening with Margot Adler", including a book signing hosted by Aquarius Books. The lecture and subsequent candlelight ritual were attended by over 275 people.
  • January 1999: The first Excellence in Ritual classes, training lay leaders to run large public rituals, are held.
  • March 14, 1999: With a majority vote, Gaia Community decided to adopt the consensus process as a model for self-governance.
  • April 25, 1999: Gaia Community adopts formal bylaws.
  • Spring 1999: Gaia Community begins a prison ministry for the Wiccan women at the Topeka Correctional Facility.
  • May 2, 1999: Charter Sunday is held, back at the junction of the Kaw and Missouri Rivers. More than 50 people sign the membership book and bless the confluence of the two rivers.
  • October 1999: The UUA grants Gaia Community official affiliation as a member congregation.
  • November 1999: Congregation consenses to hire Vicky as its 'new' minister.
  • December 1999: First Winter Bazaar held at All Souls as a major community fundraiser.
  • January 2000: Stewardship Committee formed; savings account opened with $1000.
  • 2000?: Friday Night Supper Club first meets, exploring locally-owned and ethically run restaurants in the Kansas City area.
  • May 2000: Gaia Community holds its second canvass, increasing the average pledge by over 39% from $472 to more than $750/pledging unit.
  • May 2000: We are accepted into the UUA's New Congregation Ministry Program, which helps funds ministerial compensation.
  • May-June 2000: Gaia Community marches for the first time in the Kansas City Gay Pride Parade.
  • June 2000: Gaia Community marches in its first banner parade at the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association. We also presented the Summer Solstice ritual that year in conjunction with CUUPS.
  • August 2000: Vicky becomes Gaia Community's full-time minister.
  • September 2000: GaiaUU mailing list is formed at egroups.com (later subsumed by Yahoo!Groups).
  • December 1, 2000: First Friday Night ritual held; these are later discontinued due to lack of attendance.
  • December 3, 2000: First Sharing Our Spirits ritual held, taking the place of Small Group (or Covenant Group) Sundays.
  • May 2001: Voices of Gaia choir officially formed, following several ad hoc choral groups for various rituals.
  • Summer 2001: Vicki Combs' term as minister ends; the community shifts to a fully lay-led model of ministry.
  • December 20-21, 2001: GaiaUU listserv implements a set of rules and guidelines to help eliminate flaming and drama on the list.
  • January 18, 2002: The first Games Night is held, originally alternating with a dance group every other month.
  • June-July 2002: Gaia Community 'leaves the nest', moving from All Souls to Shawnee Mission UU Church, and begins paying rent.
  • 2003: Gaia Community travels along a "Wheel of Traditions", expanding beyond a Wiccan ritual style to encompass the growing diversity of its membership: Greek, Celtic, Egyptian, British Traditional Wicca, and Polynesian forms of paganism are explored.
  • June 2003: The first God Auction is held as part of the Egyptian Reconstructionism chapter; Osiris wins.
  • July 2005: The first full-blown Garage Sale is held at the Entropic Trinity's house; the fundraiser is unexpectedly successful both in removing items from members' homes and raising funds for the community, and becomes an annual event.
  • October 2006: A formal consensus process is agreed to by the community, to help streamline and provide structure to our decision-making.
  • April 2007: Covenant Groups are reimplemented.
  • July 17, 2007: Gaia Community returns to the confluence of the Kaw and Missouri rivers ten years later, to bless them again and observe the changes.
  • October 2008: Gaia Community receives the official Welcoming Congregation certification from the UUA, reflecting more than a decade of inclusiveness toward the LGBTQIA community.
  • December 2008: The first Longest Night Masked Ball is held, a new winter fundraiser that has more than 60 people in attendance.
  • December 2011: Linda B. takes up the mantle of Pagan representative on the Kansas City Interfaith Council.
  • February 2012:At a Special Ritual for Business, the members of Gaia Community reach a consensus that we will invest our new home fund money into a share of ownership in Ubuntu Village North, and move the community there in the summer.
  • July 2012: Gaia Community moves in at Ubuntu Village North.