April 9, 2020
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         Photo by Stuart Hastings April 3, 2020
This Weekend at First Unitarian Church
Worship Celebration News

Sunday, April,12 2020  
Streaming at 10:30 am at

“Why Does Jesus Matter?”  

Using reason, our Unitarian forebears developed new ways of thinking about the nature of God, of Jesus, and of humanity in general.  Why does Jesus matter to Unitarian Universalists today?   Homily by Rev. Connie Grant; ritual led by Erica Shadowsong, Director of Lifespan Religious Education; music by Ellen Gozion, organ, piano, voice, and crankie music video.  You are invited to take part at home in our Passover - Easter candle-lighting ritual this Sunday, during the live-streamed service!  If you would like to participate, have three candles (real or LED) ready to light during the ritual.

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The First Unitarian Church Annual Congregational Meeting
The First Unitarian Church Annual Congregational Meeting will take place on Sunday, May 17, 2020, from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Please make sure that this important event is on your calendar!
Our hope is that the meeting can be held in the Undercroft Gallery. However, the Board of Trustees is making contingency plans to hold the meeting by Zoom video conference if necessary. 

Important business to be conducted at the meeting will include
• Electing a search committee that will conduct the search for a new settled minister, and
• Electing three new members each to the Board of Trustees and the Nominating Committee

If we can hold the meeting in person, members who are unable to attend will have the option to vote by absentee or proxy ballot. If we need to hold the meeting by videoconference, all voting will be by absentee ballot. 
Please stay tuned for more details. Questions? Please contact Board President Martin Schmidt or Board Secretary Eleanor Mayfield
From UUA President Susan Frederick-Gray: The stories that give me hope are of UU’s putting their phone number under the doors of their neighbors in case they need help, others bringing meals and groceries to people who are sick or can’t leave their homes, congregations hosting story time a few days a week to engage children and support parents, religious educators reminding children to nurture music and art in their homes. It’s beautiful to see people ask, “What gift can I bring, what can I offer?” and live into an ethos of mutual aid and community care.

A phrase resounding in my head a lot these days is the idea of "the new normal," something I imagine all of you can relate to.  

I ask myself this question as I look ahead to the coming year of religious education, and find myself considering how to prepare for the very likely probability that all we've come to expect as RE tradition, will look radically different from now on, no matter when our social distancing phases out.

In a normal year, this time would begin the RE program's recruitment season, when we look to recruit volunteer teachers for the fall RE classes on Sundays.  The Our Whole Lives sexuality education program for our junior highers would be wrapping up, and culminating in an intimate graduation ceremony involving participants families.  This same group of youth would be looking ahead to the Coming of Age program next year, and we would be recruiting mentors and chaperones for a trip to Washington, DC, where they'd be staying in a hostel we would reserve and pay for right about now.  

But this year, the unexpected happened.  The OWL program was suddenly interrupted, with nothing in place for how to complete it given the inability to meet together in person and all the needs that have now arisen within our families, requiring our attention.  Reserving a hostel seems ludicrous right now, as does planning for an RE year as if somehow expecting, against the predictions of health experts, we will return to the way things were in just a few months or so.  The truth is, even if we did, so much will have already changed that it's never going to completely go back to the way business has been done as usual.

For one thing, religious professionals, along with just about all of you, are finding ourselves in a period of innovation.  Things we've wanted to do for a long time, like create virtual classes and stream live services, are now actual necessities that take top priority, rather than being on our already long to-do list somewhere down "what I'd like to do if I had the time...."  This, in my opinion, is one of the most positive things coming out of this otherwise frightening and uncertain change in our social and global rhythm.  These resources we are now putting time and finances into are going to continue to be with us, and now that we are learning them, we will likely keep doing them!  And maybe that will overall serve more of our congregation, and better serve all of us in a time when church has yet to really catch up to the realities of 21st century daily life!

I say all this to say that, as your Lifespan Religious Education Director, I am asking myself what I should put my energy into:  trying to do what I always do around this time of year, but just a little better, or planning for an RE program that is going to look radically different from what we are used to, and to some extent which may need space to evolve as the situation evolves.  I can pretty safely say I have settled on the latter:  a Plan A that assumes things will be very different from here on, with a Plan B and maybe C for how to readjust if the old normal seems like it is ready to be reintegrated.  I think that this approach will serve our community best, and I am also hoping that there are some ways it will make RE even better for most of you, including busy families whose parents are often the majority of our RE volunteers.

Even the fact that I am raising this now, I know, is probably causing many questions to spring up, if you haven't already been asking them:  Wait, will there be a Coming of Age?  What is going to happen to the OWL kids?!  Will there be a place for volunteers to teach RE?!  What classes will be offered in the fall?

This week, I am exploring answers to all of these, and I am not the only religious professional doing so.  Though I don't have answers for you right this moment, I want you to know that I am seeking advice and resources from the UUA, consulting together with colleagues who have to answer the same questions, and over the course of the next few weeks, seeking specific feedback from you on how to co-create a new "normal" that ensures there is religious education for every age group, and that we will have many opportunities to remain connected to this community in all of our various life and family stages.  Please know this is foremost in my mind, and I am optimistic that I will have answers for you soon.

Feedback, in the meantime, is very, very helpful for us!  it helps us to know what is working for you, what more you might find helpful, and how you would like to be involved!  So when time allows for it in your own situations, where know many of you are rightly looking inward and taking care of family right now, if you have thoughts on this, please know you are welcome and invited to share them as it is helpful for us religious professionals as we ourselves evolve what ministry and religious education look like in 2020.

We have a couple of wonderful services coming up, and are glad to find many of you are enjoying the live-streamed services, so make sure to tune in...when you can, to feed your own spirit!  You are in our prayers, and I will see you (figuratively) Sunday!



Adult Religious Education

Visit the RE Reflections Blog for Weekly Inspiration!
The blog is updated each Wednesday.

Three - Session Virtual Book Discussion on An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States on Thursdays, May 14, 21, and 28 @ 7pm with Erica Shadowsong.  This book is the UUA Common Read (  ***Registration is required.  

A minimum of 6 registrations is required for the class to take place.  Please email if you would like to register.  Thank you!



COVID-19 is a highly infectious coronavirus that jumped from an animal host to humans in late 2019 and subsequently became a pandemic.  How did coronaviruses make the leap from animal to human?  How is COVID-19 transmitted? What legal and policy interventions are in place to ‘flatten the curve’? With so much information scattered over the internet, where can a repository of reliable data and information on COVID-19—such as transcribed case information that has emerged since the outbreak— be found? Join faculty experts in the fields of biology, medicine, law, and informatics from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and School of Medicine to explore COVID-19 from their unique perspectives. These experts will be available for an extended period of time at the conclusion of their presentations to answer your questions.

In this interactive webinar you will learn:

  • how the method of transmission and clinical presentation of the COVID-19 virus contributes to community spread;
  • four (4)actions individuals can take to prevent acquiring or spreading the COVID-19 virus;
  • ways in which coronaviruses such as COVID-19 can become highly infectious in humans;
  • how previous coronavirus outbreaks have been controlled and ways in which these approaches can be used to control COVID-19;
  • the interplay between federal, state, and local emergency preparedness and response laws;
  • the power of emergency declarations issued by the president, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, and governors;
  • principles of metadata, data sharing, and population health informatics;
  • the role of data integration in modeling the COVID-19 outbreak;
  • the value of sustainable infrastructure for global health data; and
  • discuss the impact that pre-existing conditions, such as HIV, transplantation and some chronic diseases, may have on the risk of contracting COVID-19.

NOTE: Questions for speakers can be sent in advance of the webinar (on or before April 7) to

Date and Time
Thursday, April 9, 2020
1–2:30 p.m. 

Online. Information to access this interactive webinar will be sent upon registration.

How to Register:
1. Log on to and sign in with your username and password. 
2. Navigate to the Training/Upcoming page and select Science and Law: Navigating Through COVID-19 and click
the “Enroll” button under Course Registration at the bottom of the page.
3. After you are successfully enrolled, you will receive an email confirmation that contains important information about this course.


Anti-racism workshops continue

The series of anti-racism workshops offered by the First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Freethought Community will continue as one-hour virtual sessions using Zoom.  

The schedule for the next four sessions is below. In order to participate, please register for individual sessions at
 so we can provide you with registration information.

Sunday April 12, 1 to 2 PM. Anti-Racism Workshop - Racism After the Civil Rights Movement: how racism has adapted resulting in outcomes that are racist in their impact without appearing to be racist. We will refer to Robin DiAngelo's work in White Fragility. There will be a presentation followed by discussion. 

Sunday April 26, 1 to 2 PM. Anti-Racism Workshop - How Racism Shapes the Lives of White People: learning to see how being white shapes the experiences of virtually all white people. We will refer to Robin DiAngelo's work in White Fragility. There will be a presentation followed by discussion. 

Sunday May 10, 1 to 2 PM.  Anti-Racism Workshop - Anti-Blackness: anti-blackness is foundational to our identities as white people, resulting in conflicting feelings that lead to irrationality and fragility. We will refer to Robin DiAngelo's work in White Fragility. There will be a presentation followed by discussion.  

Sunday May 24, 1 to 2 PM.  Anti-Racism Workshop - Racial Triggers for White People: whiteness accrues privilege and surrounds itself with protection. To have honest conversations about racism we need to get past these protective barriers. We will refer to Robin DiAngelo's work in White Fragility. There will be a presentation followed by discussion.  


Young Adults Religious Education 
Young Adults Small Group   
Weekly Meetings to Resume on Zoom!
Please join us for our weekly meeting at 
7:30pm on Wednesdays.

  Click on the following link on Wednesday, when you are ready to join:
1st U YA Meeting

Zoom Link:

Children and Youth Religious Education 
RE Parent Virtual Check - In 
Thursday, April 16 @ 8pm

For security purposes, 
registration is required.  Register here:

Visit the RE Reflections Blog for Weekly Activities and Resources!
The blog is updated each Wednesday.

Volunteer Opportunities
Please contact Rev. Connie Grant at or 847-840-8542 if you would like to learn more about any of these opportunities to help congregation members stay connected with each other and with the First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh!

Engaging the Congregation
Are you interested in being part of an Engagement Team, to help church members and friends connect with each other and with the church.  This would be particularly useful now, and would serve the church well into the future! 

Virtual Coffee Hour
Would you like to help coordinate virtual coffee hour by Zoom after our livestreamed worship services? 

Technical Support for Streaming Services
Our tech team has been doing an amazing job getting streaming services up and running, achieving high production values and maintaining this central experience for the church community.  If you are AV-savvy and/or have a technical bent, your assistance would be welcome!

Stay Connected 
Please visit our Staying Connected page to find the most recent information related to this ever-evolving situation. 

  Bringing the Digital Calendar back
Your help is needed! The digital calendar is being prepared with the hopes that everything will be functioning normally by Ingathering. Help in its creation by submitting a reservation form for the upcoming season. Use this opportunity to get together virtually to discuss meeting times, dates, and leadership. Reservations are needed from all groups.

 Covenant group Opportunities  
Consider joining/ creating a virtual covenant group.
If you are interested in joining a new covenant group, you can complete a 
Covenant Group interest form or contact Alice Bright

Church Sponsored Activities and Community Events

Helping Each Other
During these trying times members of the church may occasionally need a helping hand. The Pastoral Care Team asks you to identify ways you may be able to assist. We expect you would be called only a few times during the year. Please Contact a member of the team if you are able to help. 

You’ll be asked to indicate which of these you may be able to help with from time to time:

□ Transportation

□ Providing a meal for an individual or family

□ Shopping

In the event of a need in the congregation, you may be contacted to see whether you are available to help at that time. Your help will be appreciated!

Pastoral Care Team Contact Information:

Christine Beregi: Phone:
Jan Carlino: Phone: 412-727-0200
Julie Childers: Phone: 412-726-3590
Jim Cunningham: Phone: 412-256-0205 (Co-Chair)
Kathy Miller: Phone:
412-639-8012 (Co-Chair)
Bob Sullivan: Phone:
Rev. Connie Grant: Phone: 847-840-8542 (Church Office: 412-621-8008)

Fortunately, in PA, we can now request a Mail-In Ballot, without needing to give a reason. With the Coronavirus uncertainty, the Post Gazette article in Sunday's paper, recommended we all apply for Mail-In Ballots. Here is a link to the article:  

Here is an excerpt from the article with information about how to apply. 
Voters have until April 21 at 5 p.m. to apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot, and while absentee ballots require voters to disclose if they are — among other things — away at college or going out of town for work, mail-in ballots don’t.  

The mail-in ballot application can be completed online at with a valid Pennsylvania driver’s license or PennDOT-issued photo ID. Voters can also download and complete a paper application and send it to their county election office, or fill one out in person. 

When the primary ballot is finalized, the ballots will be sent to approved applicants.

It’s the best way to “ensure one’s vote is counted if concerned about heading to the polls,” said Charlie O’Neill, deputy executive director of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, 
Upcoming Services 
April 19
“The Wisdom of the Earth”
Livestreamed at 10:30 am
Today's indigenous wisdom teaches us that while we cannot go back to what once was, we can still live in harmony with the earth beginning now.  What can we learn from the wisdom of indigenous people, the original stewards of the lands upon which we now live, about looking forward with hope for the future?  Homilies by Erica Shadowsong, Director of Lifespan Religious Education, and Rev. Connie Grant; music by Ellen Gozion, Instrumental Music Director.


Some ways to receive a periodic dose of spiritual sustenance:

Life is full of hard edges and complicated choices. Braver/Wiser gives you weekly message of courage and compassion for life as it is. Every Wednesday, an original written reflection by a contemporary religious leader, and brief prayer, grounded in Unitarian Universalism.   Subscribe at

A Common Meditation for All Souls
A daily meditation from All Souls Unitarian Church in New York City, intended “to help spark our moral imagination and set our moral compass as individuals.”  To sign up to receive a daily meditation via email, contact

The Daily Compass
“Inspiration for your spiritual expedition.” The Daily Compass offers words and images to inspire spiritual reflection and encourage the creation of a more loving, inclusive and just world. Produced by The Church of the Larger Fellowship, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation with no geographical boundary.  Subscribe at


UU Pittsburgh Community Singers

Dear Singers,
It is Tuesday night, our regular rehearsal night for the Community Singers, one week since our virtual Zoom party, and I have been thinking about you.  I hope you are all healthy and finding this time to be a peaceful time.

Several of you have expressed an interest in participating in a virtual choir while you are staying at home.  The following sounds like a terrific opportunity that I have learned about through one of my online professional resources, and I encourage you to give it a try if it sounds interesting to you.

SINGING AT HOME - is here!
The Self Isolation Choir: Messiah at Home.  This is an organization out of the United Kingdom that is putting together an international virtual choir to perform the MESSIAH.

“It is fantastic how many people have so quickly taken on the idea of singing at home and become expert in using the latest technology - it feels a bit strange at first but you soon find you are concentrating on the music and enjoy all the normal benefits of singing in a choir.
We have had a fantastic response to our idea of all coming together to sing Handel's Messiah from home with 
The Self Isolation Choir which now has over 2,215 SATB singers from over fifty countries around the world
580 Soprano
806 Alto
385 Tenor
444 Bass

The Self Isolation Choir  meet for 'live' rehearsals led by our music director, Ben England - A graduate of Bristol University, Ben trained as a conductor with Dr Alan Rump and Dr Adrian Beaumont, before going on to study conducting with Denise Ham of the London Conducting Academy.  After graduation, Ben sang with groups as diverse as the New English Orchestra, the Bristol Chamber Choir, Bristol Opera, the Exultate Singers and the Choirs of both Clifton and Bristol Cathedral.  In 2002, Ben was appointed conductor of the Bristol Cabot Choir, and over the eight years he worked with them, transformed the choir into a major musical force in Bristol.
If you would like to take part there is a joining cost of £14.95 per singer of which £5.00 will be donated to help victims of the Coronavirus with the remainder to cover the costs of setting up and running the project - building the website, administration, musicians, soloists etc.
There is a 'live' rehearsal for the whole choir at 7.30pm this evening (Monday - but you can catch up a later time if you wish)”
Click on the link below for more information.
I will plan for us to have another virtual social hour on Zoom in a few weeks.  In the meantime, let me know if you decide to do the Self Isolation Choir, or if you have other fun musical experiences.  I’d love to hear from you!
Virtual hugs and good wishes,
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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