Our Story

Fifty Years of God’s Faithfulness

VUCC is completing fifty years of Christian service to the Venice area. In the beginning, by a quirk of faith, a gentleman named Rev. Dr. E. Robert Chable and his wife, Marion Boynton established residence in Venice. The family physician recommended that Mrs. Chable move to a warm climate due to her rheumatoid arthritis. Dr. Chable also received an offer to become Vice-President of Venice-Nokomis Bank with direct responsibilities for the bank’s public relations.

Dr Chable was a licensed and ordained Clergyman, having served in several pastorates, associate pastorates, and interim pastorates in many religious denominations. He had also been Dean of two colleges, one in Michigan and the other in Ohio, before coming to Venice to accept the position offered by the Bank. They sought a church where they would enjoy intellectually-respectable preaching, friendly people, and a congruent religious viewpoint. Their choice was The First Congregational Church of Sarasota where they became members. Stay tuned for more interesting facts.

Statements from the Archives of 1959!

Planning to Build:It is amazing how much planning goes into building a Church. It is not just Brick and Mortar!

The first service of worship was on World Wide Communion, Sunday, October 7, 1962. Eighty-three persons attended the service held at the Elks Club on E. Venice Avenue in the Kentucky Military Institute.

September, 25, 1962 the first meeting of Women’s Fellowship occurred. There were a total 110 charter members.

February 15, 1963 Dr Chable accepted a unanimous call to be full time Pastor.

February 24, 1963 congregation voted to purchase a 5.4 acre of land in Venice Gardens, at Shamrock Boulevard and Tuxedo Road at a cost of $27,500.

November 11, 1963 The Executive committee announced Frank Folsom Smith as architect.

December 1,1963 was the last service at the Elks Club. Due to a growing congregation, services were moved to Venice Gardens  Recreation Center.

The following transpired from October 7,1962 to April 19th,1964 when we broke ground.

One may think once you decide to build, you find a site, break ground, and start building. Not So! The first order of business was to assemble a study committee to prepare a written documented to present to members at a congregational meeting for approval. This congregational approved-document was submitted to the Department of Church Building and Finance, United Church Board for Homeland Ministries for approval. Once approved, the Executive Committee interviewed and recommended an architect and submitted qualifications with a proposed contract to United Church Board. Next the Board  reviewed financial ability and instructed the architect to proceed with preliminary drawings of Units to be constructed, which also had to be approved by all. Bids went out to contractors. After approval from the United Church Board, the Executive Committee selected a small sub-committee to act as sole contact between the contractor and the architect.

The following committees were formed to handle each phase of the building & finishing process: Survey, Worship, Christen Education, Fellowship, Recreation and Administrative Facilities. The chairmen or representative from each committee constituted the Executive Building Committee, which coordinated the work of the committees to see that the building was designed and erected in accordance with the program and financial ability. The design of our sanctuary, arrangements for music, kitchen area, light and color, type of materials used in building, heat and cooling system, furniture and equipment were considered. All this and more went into building of “The Venice United Church of Christ,” and we are so proud to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

A dedicated group of people attended many meetings and spent hours making decisions before one shovel of dirt was turned. Our founders worked hard to give us what we have today.We are thankful for God’s 50 years of faithfulness!

Raising Money to Build the Sanctuary

While the building plans were moving rapidly on constructing our sanctuary, we were facing a growing congregation. We outgrew the Elks Hall that supplied us space to have our service for $5 a week, including all utilities and many perks. The time had come to look for a larger facility. We moved to Venice Gardens Recreational Center on Nov. 11, 1962.

Mrs. Chable had started a Choir with eighteen members, and women of the church formed the Women’s Fellowship on September 25, 1962. The Council formed a group of people to canvas our members for pledges toward the building fund.

The Goal was set at $35,000 Rules were written to guide the group. Dr Chable commissioned them and they began their work. Later a meeting was called for all members to announce that their hard work had secured $54,000 in pledges and monetary gifts. The first Bazaar was held and netted $750. Church family night dinners were held each month from October to May. A Rummage sale was held and it netted $450.

The Executive Board Committee obtained a mortgage Loan from the Board of Homeland Ministries of UCC for $127.500 at 4% interest which was supplemented by a $5000 grant at no interest to be paid by 1975. Construction began Friday, August 21, 1964. Donations were made in memory of loved ones to furnish the sanctuary. By November all the pews had been pledged, as were the key windows, the Rose Window, the Nativity Window and the organ which was the largest in Sarasota at that time. Our founding fathers and mothers knew how to get things done. Next moving in!

The Big Move

January 31. 1965: The last service in Venice Gardens Recreation Center. Volunteer members gathered hymnals, folding chairs, altar equipment, church school supplies, flags, and all other property of the church to transport them to the newly finished building.
February 7, 1965:
The first worship of Venice United Church of Christ was held in our new Sanctuary.
February 28, 1965:
Dedication of our two new buildings, the sanctuary and administration / education building.
April 4, 1965: The cornerstone ceremony was put in place in the West side of the Narthex directly behind the plaque. The plaque reads “The Venice United Church of Christ – Anno Domini 1965.”
January 2, 1966:
VUCC preformed the first formal wedding.
April, 1967:
The Deaconate established the E. Robert Chable Relief Fund for financial Assistance for students who attend Colgate Rochester Divinity School in Rochester, New York established. This fund is a form of loan to be repaid before graduation with no interest and was to become a perpetual revolving fund. The Deaconate started the donations and membership donated $8000 to make the Chable ministry fund at that time.
October 9, 1967:
VUCC celebrated the fifth Anniversary at Venice Gardens Recreation Center.
December 24, 1967:
A capacity congregation turned out to Christmas Eve Service. The church was decorated with Poinsettia, and electric candles were placed at each of the celebratory windows around the sanctuary.
December 31, 1967: T
he most historic day for VUCC was December 31, 1967 when the Church ceased to be a Mission Church and became a Church in full standing in the Florida Conference. A charter membership of 158 grew to be 444 members by December 31, 1967.

Venice United Church of Christ faced 3 challenges when it started:

1. 1962–deciding to establish a VUCC Church in Venice
2. 1964—deciding to build
3. 1968—becoming a church in full standing in the Florida Conference

Venice United Church of Christ has met all the challenges and its future lies with its members.

We are presently celebrating 50 years on God’s faithfulness and with the help of God, we will be here 50 more years to welcome and affirm all as God’s children with a bias towards yes! Amen!