February 14, 2020
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This Weekend at First Unitarian Church
Worship Celebration
Sunday, February 16, 2020, @ 10:30 am

"Compassion and Connection"

Many people come to a religious community for compassion and connection. Not just to find compassion and connection or to receive those things, but to do them and be them and make them. As you minister to each other, how does ministry work?

Rev. Connie Grant speaking. Music by the Incidental Chamber Players; Ellen Gozion, Instrumental Music Director.


The Sanctuary flowers are in memory of Toni de Chicchis by his wife Amy. Toni was a committed member of this church.  Born January 3rd 1939,  died February 17th 2000.

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Today’s shared offering recipient is UU the Vote, a non-partisan project of the Unitarian Universalist Association.  The Unitarian Universalist Association is collaborating with UU, multi-faith, and secular partners at every level to mobilize UUs to engage in electoral work in 2020, in alignment with our deepest values.  As progressive people of faith, Unitarian Universalists can have a significant impact on the 2020 elections.  Visit to learn more.  If you wish to pay by check, make the check payable to First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh and write Plate Cash, STP in the memo line. You can also donate from your smart phone by texting 412-435-1050 with the amount followed by the word 'share' (e.g., 25 share).
Getting to the Heart of the Matter (in six words more-or-less):
A Congregational Experience
Sunday, March 1, noon – 3:00 pm in the Undercroft Gallery
The objectives of this congregational gathering are two-fold
1) To offer an opportunity for congregants to articulate and share their thoughts and feelings (in six words more-or-less) about what this congregation is and can be, for themselves, for each other, and for the larger community.  (This is the “experience” part.)
2) To generate a congregational covenant that can become part of Sunday morning liturgy, expressing the foundational and aspirational identity of the First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh.  (This is the “product” part.)
Facilitated by Rev. Connie Grant; sponsored by the VIM (Vision Identity Mission) Team and the Transition Team.  Lunch will be provided for participants. 
Please register
here by February 23.
An “experience” not to be missed!  Be there or be square!

Ministerial Search Update
We have been assigned a Transitions Coach from the Central East Region of the UUA, and we will soon proceed with the process of nominating and electing a Ministerial Search Committee.  Kathy Kerns, from Kent, Ohio, will be our guest speaker at the Sunday service on March 22.  At an informational meeting following the service, we will introduce the nomination and election process and Kathy will answer questions about the search.   
Plan to attend the service and meeting on March 22, and watch for further details! 

Please SAVE THE DATE for the First Unitarian Church Annual Congregational Meeting on Sunday, May 17, 2020, from 12:00-2:00 p.m. in the Undercroft Gallery.
At this meeting, the congregation will elect new members of the Board of Trustees and the Nominating Committee. As part of the process of preparing to search for a new settled minister, the Board will also be asking the congregation to approve amended church bylaws.
We are a self-governing congregation. No "higher-ups" tell us what to do - we make our own decisions, and the Annual Congregational Meeting is where we do it. Mark your calendars now so you don't miss it!

Lifespan Religious Education Director's Message

What Makes Us a Church? – Some Clarity for Parents, Children & Youth

            Unitarian Universalism differs from our neighboring faiths, in that much of what it is about has more to do with history and community than with theological creeds or beliefs.  So when we find ourselves having to actually explain or define our faith (and it is a faith), our standard answers of “covenant versus creed,” “7 Principles,” and “6 Sources” are barely adequate to give outsiders a simple understanding of how we identify.  And they are even less adequate for helping children, youth and parents know how to describe their faith.

            One of the biggest challenges to having a firm “UU identity” is that we affirm that we embrace all manner of beliefs, religions and faiths.  It’s the values we emphasize; that is, the actions and the ways that we live our lives.  But being introduced to many beliefs often leads to the mistaken impression that Unitarian Universalism is simply a way station on the way to the religion or spiritual path one will eventually choose.  In other words, it doesn’t matter if UUs meet together in a congregation, or not, because everyone is really on an individual journey, not a communal one. 

            For some people in our communities, that will be true for a time, and that is perfectly fine.  But what about for those of us who want our children and youth to have a sense of identification with our chosen faith community?  How do we help them easily and confidently answer their friends when asked, “What do you believe?”  And how can we possibly communicate the value of coming together as a church, whether on Sunday or in any other way, if we continue to focus on the beliefs of the individual

            When people ask what we believe, they want to know about the very existential, theological, and eschatological topics we tend to prefer to leave open to interpretation.  I think it might be helpful to take a fresh look at this, and start talking about what we do (and don’t) believe, in the language that is common among our friends, neighbors, and extended families.

            Off the top of my head, here are a few examples or suggestions for those questions I think we most often face.  These suggestions are, actually, what are communicated in our Religious Education programs to our children and youth, so we might as well talk in terms of them! 

The final example is the one I feel most important and defining of us as a faith community, “religion,” or church.”  I hope this provides some help and food for thought as you discuss your faith in your families!

·        Do UUs believe in God/The Divine?

  •   Some do and some don’t, but if a God exists, we believe that all spiritual paths lead to that same Divine essence.  (Unitarianism – the opposite of Trinitarianism, an essential difference between us and mainstream monotheistic religions.)
  •    We also don’t believe that only belief in God can help us live ethical lives.  (Humanism)

·        Do UUs believe in hell?

  •    If hell means a place that certain people go to be punished forever, then no.

·        Do UUs believe in “salvation?”

  •    We do not believe that human beings are hopelessly evil or sinful in such a way that a divine atonement is needed to “fix” us.  We believe that all human beings have access and a right to the Divine.  All will one day be “saved/redeemed/evolved” etcetera.  (Universalism)

·        Do UUs believe in evil/sin?

  •    Evil to us is the injustices and abuses of all or any living beings or groups of people, and unnecessary suffering (things we as a species have the ability and responsibility to change).  We do not believe in a (purely) supernatural cause for evil in the world or in people.

·        Do UUs believe that Jesus is the “Son of God?”

  •   Not any more than any other individual we might deem to be a prophet or important teacher.  What we might consider to be “divine” exists in all of us, and not him or anyone else exclusively.

·        Do UUs believe in Satan?

  •   While some UUs may believe in evil supernatural forces like Satan, we do not believe that there is a supernatural being that is the sole cause of what we call evil.

·        Do UUs believe in the Bible?

  •   UUs believe that there is genuine spiritual inspiration in this and many other sources, and different people may find it in different ways.  There is some truth in all spiritual paths.  We do not have only one “scripture,” and we do not believe any scripture is completely divine and outside of human origin.

·        Do UUs believe in heaven?

  •    Some do and some don’t.

·        What do UUs believe about what happens when you die?

  •   Different UUs have different personal beliefs about this, and we are accepting of them.  As a whole, however, we simply believe there is no way to prove any specific belief about this, so when we talk about it, we tend to focus on what we do understand – life on earth, and the memories of our loved ones that endure in us.

·        If you don’t have to believe the same things as everyone else, why do UUs bother going to church?

  •   Because there is one thing that all UUs believe for certain, and that is that we are not UUs alone.  We are UUs together.  We live in a community with a covenant that binds us together, like a marriage vow.  Even if we do not live near any other UUs, we still understand that we are part of a community.  Practicing our faith requires community; it is not something that is done only individually, because our faith requires us to be in relationship with each other and our surrounding communities.

Adult Religious Education
Doing the Work – Workshops on Understanding Racism and White Privilege
You are invited to join Pittsburgh Freethought Community/First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh workshops on understanding racism and white privilege. We have scheduled six sessions that will include lecture, discussion, and multi-media presentations along with assigned readings. The purpose of this series is to develop the understanding and ability of white people to do the work of dismantling racism. We ask that participants commit to reading the assigned material. We strongly encourage participants to attend all sessions; each session, however, covers a separate topic and will be open to all.

All sessions will take place in the Undercroft Gallery at First Unitarian Church, 605 Morewood Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15213

Session # 3 - The Invention of Whiteness - February 23, 2020, 1 to 3 PM
Where did whiteness come from? Who is white and how do people get to be labeled white? How does whiteness function? How do we perpetuate the value assigned to whiteness?

Session #4 - Disadvantage and Advantage -  March 8, 2020, 2 to 4 PM (Note time change!)
If black people are disadvantaged by racism, who is reaping those advantages? We will identify some of the advantages white people receive, discuss what it might mean not to have them, and imagine what a fair society would be.

Session #5 - Doing Anti-racism -  March 22, 2020, 1 to 3 PM
Good intentions are not enough. What stops white people from engaging with others about racism? Can white people be sensitive to the pain of oppressed people without centering their own experiences or feelings?

Session #6 - Wrapping Up and Moving Forward - April 5
1 to 3 PM

Each of us has power that we can use to oppose racist policies and customs. Participants will reflect on the discussions and suggest anti-racist actions.
To sign up for the workshop, please send an email to one of the facilitators:

John Hooper -
Liz Hrenda -
Mary Schinhofen –
A detailed description of each session along with assigned readings will be emailed to each person who registers for the workshop.


UUA 2019-20 Common Read:  An Indigenous Peoples History of the United States

A book discussion group for the UUA common read this year will begin meeting in January, on the 3rd Sundays of each month, from 12 - 1:30 pm!  Interested in joining?  Please email Erica  

New Common Read General Discussion Group Feb. 23, March 29, and April 26
This second group is a general discussion group for anyone unable to join the first one above.  We will meet in the Schweitzer Room for 3 guided study sessions Feb. 26, March 29, and April 26 @ 9 - 10:15 a.m.  This event replaces the FORUM on those dates.

  9:00 am Sundays in the Schweitzer Room
The Sunday morning lecture series held at First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh features presentations given by distinguished individuals from our congregation and from local universities, organizations, businesses, and government.  With a long-standing tradition in Unitarian Universalist churches across America, FORUM has been integral to First Unitarian of Pittsburgh since 1916.
February 16   No Forum 
February 23 Erica Shadowsong UUA Common Read: An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
View all the adult lifelong learning content posted on our website, click here.

Young Adults Religious Education 
Young Adults Small Group, every Wednesday @ 6 - 8 pm (*NEW TIME)
 The goal of the circle is to aid us in integrating care and inspiration of the spirit in regular, individual practice.  Each "session" is independent and not sequential, so you can attend whenever you like.  We explore things like building your own theology, creating a credo statement, books of interest, and other topics. 

Children and Youth Religious Education 

Chalice Lighting in the Service! 
We are restarting a tradition of having families light the chalice in our services!  If you are interested in having your family light the chalice on a particular date, please let me know!  I often ask families who are present the day of, but scheduling is also possible.
Family-Friendly Social Hour and Snacks on Sundays are Back! 
Families are invited to the Schweitzer Room to socialize.  A healthy, simple snack and some drinks will be provided for the children, an alternative to the downstairs’ fare.  Some simple activities will be provided.  For those who want coffee and/or more variety of snacks, you can go down to the Undercroft and then bring them up to the Schweitzer with you.
Upcoming Worship Services 

February 23
“Connecting, Inspiring, Serving, Learning”
Many congregants added notes to a timeline of your recollections of the past seven decades of First Unitarian Church history.  Your Transition Team will offer reflections on some of the themes that emerged.  Kirsti Adkins, Alice Bright, John Hooper, Corey Layman, Rob Masterson, and Rev. Connie Grant speaking.  Music by Al Schwartz, Brian Junker, and Noah Lee. 

March 1
“Practical Theology”
With our diverse theological beliefs and spiritual practices, what do Unitarian Universalists have in common as we practice our religion? Rev. Connie Grant speaking.  Music by Maddy Izzo; Ellen Gozion, Instrumental Music Director. 

The women's Alliance has funds from the Irene Hanes Mowy Semple fund to add to the church Sanctuary. Instead of a florist's bouquet each month, we have divided the money between four or five Sundays a month for the last year. They are arranged by volunteers.
Dedicated flowers are also invited; to buy a bouquet for a loved one to honor a special occasion. Call Chris Michaels: 412-731-8450 or At least two weeks advance notice is required so she can cancel the Women's Alliance flowers and send a specific dedication to the order of service. 

Incidental Chamber Players, in collaboration with the First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh, has announced the details of its 2020 chamber music concert series ELEMENTS curated by flutist Brittany Trotter.
Each concert in this five-concert series is curated by one of its members featuring music that speaks to their personal histories or “elements” of their identities. Dedicated to their mission of highlighting music that has been unjustly forgotten or ignored, the program includes works by living, BIPOC, women and LGBTQ+ composers from Pittsburgh, this country, and the world.

The season-opening begins on February 17, 7 pm at First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh. Curated by flutist Brittany Trotter, the concert will feature music from Gene Pritsker, David Earl, Halim El-Dabh, and Valerie Coleman. Tickets ($15 for adults, $5 for students) may be purchased at the door. For more information about the concerts may be found at

ELEMENTS I — Monday, February 17, 7 pm
Works by Valerie Coleman, Gene Pritsker, David Earl and Halim El-Dabh.

ELEMENTS II — Monday, March 16, 7 pm
Works by Pablo Gómez-Estévez, Jonathan Pina, Hilario Gonzales, and Darwin Aquino.
ELEMENTS III — Monday, April 20, 7 pm
Works by Valerie Coleman, Janet Beat, Alex Temple, and Erwin Schulhoff.
ELEMENTS IV — Monday, May 18, 7 pm
Works by Rebecca Clarke, Sergei Prokofiev, Franz Schubert, and Mark Fromm.
ELEMENTS V — Monday, June 15, 7 pm
Works by William Grant Still, Jennifer Higdon, Laurel Zucker, and Darius Milhaud.

UU Pittsburgh Community Singers 
Contact Director Kris Rust for more information: 412-352-8488
March 8, Sunday, 9:30/ 10:30 Sunday service @ 1st UU

Sankofa Legacy presented by Women Of Visions

"About to embark on their 40th Anniversary Women of Visions, once again embraces the Sankofa bird, African symbol of “looking back to look forward.” Gathering wisdom from the past to make the path forward more productive is a theme which stimulates the creative energy, and informs the work by this diverse group of women. Their talents cover every medium including fiber, painting, ceramics, sculpture, film and mixed media. This exhibition presents only a sampling.”
Founded in 1981 and incorporated in 1995 as a non-profit, Women of Visions was formed as a need to recognize the art of African American Women, providing exhibition opportunities, mentoring, and professional development in the arts not usually obtainable or available. To that end, the organizations mounts collaborative shows with other arts groups and individuals, and builds relationships to create visibility both in Pittsburgh and beyond.
March Art Exhibit      March 12 - April 2

“The Colors of My World”
By Phiris Kathy Sickels
Phiris is an experienced artist whose extravagantly colorful works in watercolor are often abstract but clearly fun. The show will be hung on March 12 and can be seen all month. The artist’s reception is Sunday, March 22.

Meet and Greet for newcomers and current members – First Sundays 
Stop by the Membership Table on the first Sunday of each month in the Undercroft Gallery at coffee hour to meet and greet current and new church members and interested visitors!!
Build connections with each other and welcome those who are new to our church and interested in UU values. 
Also, for existing members, get your picture taken for the on-line church directory and learn how easy it is to use our new on-line database!!

Introduction to Unitarian Universalism – Third Sundays
Drop in to find out more about the history, varied theologies, and organization of Unitarian Universalism.  Led by church staff and representatives of the Membership Team.  Third Sundays of the month, noon – 12:45 pm in the Library (on the lower level).

Women's Alliance meets informally in the Schweitzer Room on the first and third Thursdays of every month for coffee or tea at 10:00 a.m., followed by a 30-minute business meeting at 10:30 a.m., and a unique program of guest speakers from 11:00 a.m.—12 p.m. Please bring your own brown bag lunch.
All are welcome!
On Thursday, February 20th join us at 11 a.m. for Joshua Malloy, Community Organizer at Pittsburghers for Public Transit. PPT is a grassroots organization raising consciousness about the importance and value of public mass transit.

Contact co-chairs: Alice Carnes, 704-453-4175 or Kathy Fein 412-337-4925 for more information.

Join us on February 15, 2020, from 10:00 until 3:00 in the Undercroft Gallery as we attempt to complete a quilt top in five hours.  We need people to sew, cut, iron and deal with the logistics of creating the quilt top.  Members of our group will be coordinating the work efforts.  Drop-in for a bit or stay all day.  You’re also welcome to bring your machine and work on your own project alongside a quilting community.  Contact Barb or Shelley with any questions about the event

 Covenant group Opportunities  
If you are interested in joining a new covenant group, you can complete an interest form from the church website, complete a paper form found in the rack at the Ellsworth entrance or contact:  

Every Sunday after services
Curious about what is happening around our church? Interested in connecting with others? Visit the Undercroft Gallery after the service. You can learn about upcoming activities, opportunities to get involved, & the latest art show. Purchase gift certificates for the Giant Eagle (and help the church) or purchase olive oil from Palestine. Help yourself to a snack and chat with someone you may not yet know. Welcome!

Church Sponsored Activities and Community Events
Green Sanctuary Team 
Environmental Justice Exchange (EJEx) Presentation  

Jamilah Lahijuddin, Hill District Consensus Group
First Unitarian Church, Schweitzer Room Saturday, February 15, 1 to 2:30 pm
1:00 Presentation, 1:30 Discussion, 2:00 Refreshments
RSVP to 
Barbara Litt
Sponsored by the Green Sanctuary Team and the Serve Council, in collaboration with New Voices Pittsburgh's EJEx and the Hill District Consensus Group
The EJEx is an opportunity to create a more robust and intersectional ecosystem of stakeholders who center the voices, experiences and leadership of Black communities in our struggle to uproot environmental racism and to build healthy communities. White-led environmental organizations have the opportunity to work with Black-led & people of color-led social justice organizations over the course of the 8-week program. Green Sanctuary Team co-chairs Barbara Litt and Peg Schmidt have been participating in the EJEx, exchanging with Jamilah Lahijuddin, of the Hill District Consensus Group
The Hill District Consensus Group builds the leadership and power of low-income and working class residents of the Hill District to advance racial and economic justice in our neighborhoods, our schools and our city. Through grassroots organizing, budget and policy advocacy, and implementing our community plans, we are building a community of hope, justice, and opportunity – a community where all residents have access to living wage jobs, family-supporting benefits, affordable housing, high-quality education, and a voice in the decisions that affect our lives.
The First Unitarian Church Green Sanctuary Team aims to integrate the Seventh Principle (Respect for the interdependent web of all existence, of which we are a part) into the daily lives of our members and friends through: Education, Sustainable practices, Celebration, Actions that promote environmental justice locally, globally, and between present and future generations, and Actions that promote systemic change resulting in a healthy environment for all. We strive to model the Seventh Principle in the congregation and for the community. We also support and participate in the larger community's efforts to do the same. 
 Habitat for Humanity at First Unitarian Church  
Saturday, February 15, from 9 AM to 3 PM
First Unitarian is kicking off the new Decade with a work party on Saturday, February 15 from 9 AM to 3 PM. Show the love to a family a day after Valentine's by helping make a home safe and efficient. It is a rewarding "duty" that makes the spirit soar! Often thought to be the best way to spend a Saturday. Contact Marty Lieb at to reserve a spot. No skills necessary, bring your lunch and extra water, wear closed-toe shoes. Expect a great time!!

First Sundays. First Unitarian Church has a regular monthly commitment to cook and serve a meal at the EECM Shelter on the first Sunday of each month. If you or your group would like to help please contact Mary at or 412-421-5516.

Community Table schedule for Winter, 2019-2020:

 Feb 16- last names H-K
 Feb 23- last names L-M
March 1- last names N-Re
 March 8- last names Ri-S
 March 15- last names T-Z
 March 22- last names A-B
 March 29- last names C-D

Feel free to bake or cook, or pick something up at the store. The Community Table is about sharing and love. If you want to bake your heart out, that's great, but so are pretzels and Oreos! Some suggestions: fruit, nuts, veggie tray with or without dip, hummus, sliced meats and cheeses, salsa, pretzels, chips, fresh popcorn, cookies, brownies, coffee cake or fruit breads. Please bring enough for 25 people. Finger food is best since we have very limited resources for cutting and preparing.

All the food at our Community Table during social hour is from member donations. (There is no church budget for food.) Please pick up something for the social hour when you go to the supermarket. You needn't wait for your assigned date to bring a donation of easy to serve finger food, which we will very gratefully accept and serve.
Need an answer to a question and don’t know who to ask?  Want to pass along some feedback and not sure who to contact?  Reach out to your Board Ombudsman Ebe Emmons.  Ebe will coordinate with staff, committees, and the board to get an answer or pass along feedback.  Ebe can be reached at
Copyright © 2020 First Unitarian Church, All rights reserved.

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First Unitarian Church · 605 Morewood Avenue · Pittsburgh, PA 15213 · USA

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