History of Tapestry, a Unitarian Universalist Congregation

Origins, 1995
In 1995 there existed two Unitarian Universalist churches in close proximity in south Orange County, Aliso Creek UU in Mission Viejo and All Souls UU in San Juan Capistrano. Aliso Creek UU, formerly Saddleback UU, was about 20 years old, and All Souls, a spin off from Aliso Creek, about five years before. Aliso Creek had about 40 members and All Souls had 60. The Rev. Robert J. Ross of Aliso Creek had announced his retirement for February 1997, and the Rev. Don Northcutt of All Souls announced his resignation for spring 1995. All Souls UU had discovered and rented a meeting site on Obrero St. in Mission Viejo, a few miles away from Aliso Creek’s site. When news of these developments reached both churches, the Presidents, Dave Kinnear and Jim Semelroth, talked in February by telephone about putting the two churches together. Both committed to do what was necessary for a smooth union of the two churches.
Merger of Two Predecessor Churches
The Officers of the two churches began meeting jointly in March of 1995. They laid out a plan to take back to their respective congregations for approval. First, they planned a joint social event on St. Patrick’s Day in 1995. Members of both churches decorated the site on Obrero Street with the Irish green. A potluck brought out a full house of members and friends of both churches. Next, joint committees on RE, finances, worship, hospitality, bylaws and the like were formed to work out details in each of their areas of interest for an interim period prior to formal incorporation of a new church. Both churches voted on each step of the plan, an interim agreement, an interim budget, etc. The plan set a goal of starting joint worship services on Obrero beginning in July 1995 with the Rev.Robert Jordan Ross as the Interim Minister. Services began on Obrero in July 1995 and continued until November of 1995. The interim joint church was called the New Church. Special meetings were called to vote on bylaws, budgets, a name, the minister, and officers for a new church to be incorporated as the Unitarian Universalist Church of South County in November 1995. The members of both churches approved the union and the UUCSC was born. Members of the two churches were considered members of UUCSC and most signed a new membership book. The Rev. Ross continued as minister until his retirement in February of 1997. He was named as Minister Emeritus of UUCSC for his long service to UUCSC, Aliso Creek and to Orange Coast UU, all in Orange County. Rev. Ross and his wife, Catharine moved to Houston, Texas in 2013.
New Ministers, 1997 - 2002
A search was begun for a called minister, and in September 1997, the UUCSC called the Rev. Suzanne Black Dougherty. The Rev. Dougherty served as minister to the church for nearly three years. Rev. Dougherty passed away in 2012. Following the resignation of Rev. Dougherty, Dori Somers served as Interim Minister for several months in 2001. The Rev. Anne Felton Hines was appointed as Interim Minister in July 2001 and served until August 2002. In May 2002, the membership called Mr. John Millspaugh as its minister beginning September 2002. John was ordained as the Rev. John Millspaugh in August 2002.
Unitarian Universalist Church of South County Grows, is Renamed to Tapestry
During 2001 and 2002 the membership grew a net of 25%, garnering an award for the fastest growing congregation in the District. The CRE program grew from a half dozen kids to an average of 30 per Sunday by July 2002. By 2006 the membership had grown to 155 and Sunday services averaged 100 attendees. The church was ably led during these years by Presidents Jim Semelroth, Linda Yeargin, Dave Kinnear,Lynn Cowan, Tara Sayre, Connie Pursell, and Keith Tuominen and some very able board members, committee chairs and RE coordinators and teachers. In 2001 the site on Obrero was redecorated with new carpet, chairs, paint, sound system and furniture. An extension of the facility in the same building was rented and made into a fellowship hall, Minister’s Study, and storage. The facility was rented to two other churches for additional income. In 2006 the name was changed to Tapestry, A Unitarian Universalist Congregation. Two staff members were hired, a Director of Religious Exploration and an Administrative Assistant. In 2007 Tapestry began a Capital Campaign to raise funds for a building of its own. The congregation pledged $450,000 over a three year period. In the fall of 2007, President Lynn Cowan began talks with the President of Orange County UU Church of Costa Mesa. The Presidents formed an exploration task force made up of an equal number from each congregation to discuss a merger of the two congregations. The task force met monthly and sometimes bi-weekly and developed a plan, set up site search committees, and encouraged interaction of various programs and joint services of the two congregations. The two congregations voted on a motion to merge pending the location of an appropriate site for a merged congregation. Tapestry overwhelmingly passed the motion, but the motion failed at OCUUC and merger talks were suspended. OCUUC then passed a motion to merge and the task force reconvened in 2008. Merger talks were put on hold by a vote at Tapestry to favor a merger at some time while the congregation put its affairs in order and pursued a new meeting site.
New Ministers, 2008 - 2012
John Millspaugh resigned his position in 2008 after six years with Tapestry and with wife, Rev. Sarah Gibbs was called to a joint ministry in Massachusetts. The Rev. Mitra Rahnema was called as Interim Minister in 2008 and served until June 2009. Rev. Rahnema resigned in 2009 and took an interim position in Michigan. In September 2009 Tapestry called Rev. Tom Owen-Towle to serve as consulting minister for one to five years. A site committee located an acceptable building on Madero in Mission Viejo a few blocks away from the Obrero site. A rent agreement was signed, a Conditional Use Permit from Mission Viejo was approved, plans were made and the Congregation moved to Madero in November of 2010. The Rev. Jennifer Owen-O'Quill was contracted to fill a vacancy as Tapestry's contract minister in September, 2011. Rev. Jennifer arrived with husband, the Rev. David and son, Daniel. Ref. Jennifer's mother, Trish accompanied them to Tapestry. Rev. Jennifer's two-year ministry ended in August 2013.
The Rev. Kent Doss Joins Tapestry in 2013

In June 2013 after an exhaustive search the Tapestry memberhsip called the Rev. Kent Doss to be its settled minister. Rev. Doss had served as the settled minister at the Laguna Beach UUFellowship and had served as Minister Intern at Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church in Costa Mesa. Rev. Doss began his ministry at Tapestry in August 2013.


On April 19, 2017, President Lynn Cowan signed a purchase agreement on a property in Lake Forest which will be a permanent home for Tapestry. The property is the first building owned by Tapestry. Many renovations were required and the move-in date was planned for January 2019. Tapestry members made pledges designated for the purchase and for renovations of the property.

On December 24, Christmas Eve, the final service at Madero in Mission Viejo was held. Property was sorted, packaged, boxed and trucked to storage and in members' garages by December 31. On December 31 Tapestry services were held at St. George's Episcopal Church in Lake Forest and continued while renovation was made on Tapestry's own building 23676 Birtcher Drive, Lake Forest, CA 92630-1769. The final Tapestry service at St. George's was held January 6, 2019.

On January 13, 2019 the first service was held in Tapestry’s own building at 23676 Birtcher in Lake Forest. One-hundred forty-two persons attended.

Presidents of The Unitarian/Universalist Church of South County and Tapestry

  • 1995-1999 Jim Semelroth
  • 1999-2001 Linda Yeargin
  • 2001-2005 Dave Kinnear
  • 2005-2007 Lynn Cowan
  • 2007-2009 Tara Sayre
  • 2009-2011 Connie Pursell
  • 2012-2014 Keith Tuominen
  • 2014 - 2017 Lynn Cowan
  • 2017 - 2020 Julia Rampone
  • 2020 - 2022 Christine Krueger
  • 2022 - 2023 Nikki Rinderer
  • 2023 - Keith Tuominen