At a time when it may feel as if our lives are on hold, how do we move forward (even though we’re not sure where we’re going)? Homily by Rev. Connie Grant; story told by Erica Shadowsong, Director of Lifespan Religious Education; music by Ellen Gozion, Instrumental Music Director.
Thank you for the submitted art work. Ellen will turn your submissions into a music video to be included in the May 3 service.
The First Unitarian Church VIRTUAL Annual Congregational Meeting
Sunday, May 17, 2020, 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
The First Unitarian Church Annual Congregational Meeting will take place via Zoom video conference!
Please make sure that this event is flagged in your calendar. The participation of every voting member of the congregation is extremely important.
Business to be conducted at the meeting will include:
• Endorsing 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.
Voting during the meeting will be by anonymous electronic ballot. Voting members who are unable to participate in the meeting via Zoom or do not wish to vote electronically using a link sent to their email address will have the option to vote by absentee ballot.
Please stay tuned for more details via email within the next few days.
Your Board of Trustees is committed to continuing staff compensation.
Last month the US Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) which included a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small businesses including churches and other 501(3)(c) non-profits. The purpose of this program is to help small businesses keep their employees on payroll. The Finance Committee recognized the potential for this program to help us to continue to pay all of our employees during this challenging time. The Board of Trustees voted its support for an application to this program.
We are happy to announce that the church was approved for a loan of $71,200 with funds to be available by April 30. All funds from this loan that are used to pay our staff salaries as well as for utility bills during May and June may be forgiven and would not need to be repaid. The Board wishes to thank the entire Finance team for being so alert and for its rapid response to this opportunity that will help us to keep all of our staff paid at their full salaries.
This funding does not replace the need for those congregants who can do so to continue making their pledge payments and even to contribute a little extra if they can. Rental income is currently non-existent, and some congregants may be unable to pay their pledges because of temporary or even long-term unemployment. We are all in this together, and it takes all of us to do our part.
The Board had a serious discussion of the ethics of participating in the PPP, including the question of church-state separation and whether the church would be taking funds away from organizations that are in greater need. Because the program treats churches under the general umbrella of nonprofit organizations without any specific religious considerations, the prevailing view of the Board and the UUA is that PPP complies with the First Amendment to the Constitution, specifically, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...” The question of greater need is almost unanswerable given the uncertainties of this crisis and the unknown impact to other applicants. During this challenging period, the Board is committed to continuing to pay church staff. Salaries and other expenses will remain unchanged while income is sure to be reduced due to loss of all rental income for several months and loss of some giving due to personal hardship.
Since the Board does not intend for the church’s participation in the PPP to result in a financial windfall for the church, the Board committed to donate any PPP income in excess of lost rental and giving income. The receiving organizations would be other nonprofits with values and programs consistent with our UU principles and covenants.
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 uua.org/braverwiser.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 http://www.dailycompass.org/author/admin/.
Credo-Building Workshop What do you believe in, not just in your head but in your life? As Unitarian Universalists, we formulate our belief statements in terms of credo (“I believe”) not creed (“we believe”), and our “beliefs” are meaningful as they are reflected in our lives. Our stories are among our sacred texts, and we are responsible for developing our own beliefs in light of our own experience and conscience. This workshop is designed to help participants figure out what they believe about some theological questions such as the meaning of life and death; the nature of human beings; and our place in the universe. Led by Rev. Connie Grant. Six Tuesday evenings, May 5-June 9 by Zoom. Email Constance.L.Grant@gmail.com to register; minimum 6 registered by May 1.
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 (https://www.uua.org/read) ***Registration is required.
A minimum of 6 registrations is required for the class to take place. Please email email@example.com if you would like to register. Thank you!
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 pghfreethought.org
so we can provide you with registration information.
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 a 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 a discussion.
Young Adults Religious Education
Young Adults Small Group Weekly Meetings on Zoom
Please join us for our weekly meeting at 7:00pm on Wednesdays.
We are currently going through a program called Spirit In Practice, which explores spiritual practices for Unitarian Universalists.
The Spirit Seekers covenant group that has been meeting for 20 years shares this festive Easter photo for inspiration to encourage others to connect for fellowship via Zoom. They have been holding a Spirit Seekers Social Hour the last four Sundays. Many other covenant groups are also meeting regularly by Zoom. If your group would like to set up meetings using the church account please contact Rev. Connie Grant at Constance.L.Grant@gmail.com.
Covenant group Opportunities
Consider joining or creating a virtual covenant group.
If you are interested in joining or creating a new covenant group, you can complete a Covenant Group interest formor contact Alice Bright : firstname.lastname@example.org
Church Sponsored Activities and Community Events
Face masks help people stay safe
Many members of our congregation have been sewing reusable and washable face masks to help their family, friends and neighbors do what they can to be safe. Members of the UU quilters estimate they’ve made and distributed over 100 masks so far, and we know many others in our congregation have also been sewing masks for themselves and their families.
If you need a mask or two, please email Julie Childers of the Pastoral Care team at email@example.com with your request, including your street address, so we can mail or deliver a mask to you.
As you know, the CDC recommendation is to wear masks whenever you are in public settings. The CDC advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and keep people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.
From your Pastoral Care Team
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:
□ Providing a meal for an individual or family
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!
On March 27, Governor Wolf signed Senate Bill 422, which reschedules Pennsylvania’s primary election from April 28 to June 2 due to the COVID-19 emergency. Voters have the option to vote by mail-in ballot rather than going to their polling place on election day. Mail-in ballot applications will be accepted through Tuesday, May 26, 2020. If a voter has already applied for an absentee or mail-in ballot, they do NOT need to reapply.
In Pennsylvania, you now have two options for mail ballots. You may either choose a mail-in ballot or an absentee ballot to request, complete and return to your county election office.
Absentee ballot – If you plan to be out of the municipality on election day or if you have a disability or illness, you should request this ballot type, which still requires you to list a reason for your ballot.
Mail-in ballot – Any qualified voter may apply for a mail-in ballot. You may simply request this ballot without a reason.
In order to request either ballot type, you must be registered to vote. Please visit Check Your Registration Status to review your registration information
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 firstname.lastname@example.org