As we have passed the halfway point of our church year and have fully entered our lay-led “interregnum” period prior to hiring an interim minister, here is a reminder of First Unitarian Church Priorities for 2018-2019:
#1 Create a strong sense of BELONGING for ALL who enter our doors
#2 Explore paths to the formation of a long-lasting and meaningful First Unitarian / Community PARTNERSHIP
These priorities were established by the Board with input from the program staff and congregant participants in VIM Open Questions conversations. They are the guideposts for Board and Staff decisions, actions, and programming. We hope you see evidence of these priorities in all aspects of church life.
Members and friends of 1st Unitarian are invited to join us after the service on Sunday, February 24th, for the second annual Coming of Age youth fundraiser! Join us for delicious spaghetti and bountiful baskets of treats and trinkets. The Coming of Age class is the Unitarian Universalist rites of passage for 8th and 9th graders, which culminates in a service featuring statements on their beliefs and values, and a heritage trip to Washington, D.C. The spaghetti dinner is not only a fun social gathering for all, but for a very good cause...so bring friends and family!
The 2018 annual Giving Statements are being mailed. Look for yours to arrive in the mail in the coming week.
The Share the Plate on January 20 collected $708.75 for Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism (BLUU). I thank the congregation for your generosity.
Those of you who currently have a recurring donation to the church using Vanco should have a message from me in your email on Wednesday describing the steps I would like you to take to move your donation to Breeze. If you think you have a recurring donation using Vanco and did not receive this message from me, please send an email to me at email@example.com so I can check. If you have a recurring donation set up using the online banking feature at your bank to send a check to the church, that will continue to work and there is nothing that you need to do.
The donation page at the church's web site has been updated to use Breeze and I am happy to report people are already using this.
Please consider taking these three steps if you would like to explore what it would mean for you to become part of First Unitarian Church.
STEP ONE: GETTING TO KNOW UU
New to First Unitarian church? Come and get acquainted! The next “Getting to Know UU” will take place on Sunday, February 10, 2019, starting at 12:00 noon in the Priestly Room and concluding about 12:30 PM. There is no formal registration process for this session, but if you are planning to attend, it would be helpful to let Amy De Chicchis know at firstname.lastname@example.org
STEP TWO: UNITARIAN UNIVERSALISM AS A SPIRITUAL PATH
“Unitarian Universalism as a Spiritual Path,” scheduled for Saturday, February 16, 2019, from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM, in the Priestly Room, If you are planning on attending, please provide your contact information to Amy De Chicchis at email@example.com
STEP THREE: BECOMING A MEMBER: COVENANTING WITH FIRST UNITARIAN CHURCH
Please attend this gathering if you are ready to take the step of becoming an official member of First Unitarian Church! “Becoming a Member: Covenanting with First Unitarian Church” will take place from 11:45 to 12:15 PM on Sunday, February 24, 2019, in the Priestly Room. We will briefly review our mission statement, our behavioral covenant, and our hopes for your membership. We will also discuss stewardship and the new member welcoming ceremony. The membership book will be available to sign along with financial contribution forms. There is no formal registration process for this session, but if you are planning to attend, it would be helpful to let Amy De Chicchis know at firstname.lastname@example.org
You've all heard the saying "Safety First!". The safety of all at First Unitarian Church is our highest priority. Recent events, including a perceived threat to our congregation this last August as well as the horrific shootings at the Tree of Life Synagogue, have brought issues of our own safety to the forefront. We have revitalized our Safety Committee. We are organizing a safety training session (exact date to be determined). Finally, we have changed how and where we enter the building. We encourage everyone to use our Garden Lobby doors to enter on Sunday mornings. We have the Lobby staffed with both greeters and security. After the service and RE classes begin, the Garden Lobby doors will be locked. Our security person will let you in if you happen to arrive late.
Two Sundays ago, on January 20th, we had the unfortunate happenstance in that our security person was sick and unable to be in the Lobby. The doors were locked once the service was started and a note was left on the door with a number to call or text for those arriving late. Again, the rationale was that safety comes first. We will be developing plans for how to staff the Lobby in the future if our security staff cannot be present. If you ever arrive late and face locked doors, we ask for your patience and forgiveness. You may not agree with the locked door policy. However, this is the recommendation of our Safety Committee and the board fully backs their carefully thought out policy. Let us all do our best to handle what might be a minor inconvenience with grace, dignity, and patience.
Photographic prints by current members of the Photographic Section of the Academy of Science and Art of Pittsburgh are on display in the Undercroft Gallery for the month of February. Originally known as the Photo Society, the group had its first exhibit in 1886. The members meet regularly at the Mount Lebanon Recreational Center. Visit the club’s website www.pghphoto.org for more information.
The Undercroft Gallery is open Wednesday and Thursday from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM and after church services on Sunday.
For 2019, the church has changed to new software (Breeze Church Management System) to track membership and donations. Soon you will have access to an online directory, be able to maintain your own information, including uploading pictures and have online access to your 2019 donation history, including progress on meeting your pledge. (Sorry, no donations from prior years.)
As part of this, the church is transitioning electronic giving from Vanco to Breeze. Not only does this integrate more smoothly with the church's donation processing, but the church will also save $300 annually. Breeze supports both online giving and smartphone giving via text message to 412-435-1050. You can give online at https://firstunitarianpgh.breezechms.com/give/online.
You can give now! More online access coming soon!
If you currently have a recurring donation using Vanco, you will be contacted about steps to move your donation to Breeze. As much as the church would like to do this for you automatically, banking security dictates your active participation.
For more information on electronic giving, look for the new Electronic Giving trifold in the brochure holders, or talk to Treasurer Claus Makowka.
Thank you, Kathy Fein, for her excellent sermon on the 13th titled "The Horse on the Dining Room Table". Better to think and talk about our mortality than to live in denial.
Now that we are a lay-led congregation, you may be wondering how and by whom is it decided who fills our pulpit each week. The Board and the Inspire Council have designated this responsibility to a Ministry Scheduling Team composed of Louise Jencik, Brian Junker and Scott Smith. Looking ahead at the upcoming Sundays, you will be pleased to know that we have some very special speakers in place, both our own members who took the sermon writing class as well as local ministers and even a few out of town guests.
The next time you find yourself particularly pleased with a Sunday celebration, seek out a member of the Ministry Scheduling Team and thank them for all their hard work on our behalf.
Next up is our very own Jim Rietz.
Paintings by the nationally recognized folk artist Gideon Cohen (1894-1989) are being exhibited at an estate sale at the Undercroft Gallery at First Unitarian Church, 605 Morewood Ave., through the month of January 2019. Called the “Grandpa Moses of Arlington, Massachusetts” by the “Christian Science Monitor,” Cohen did not begin painting until after he retired at age 70. Almost immediately he began winning awards for his landscapes, harbor scenes, landmark buildings, and colorful floral “symphonies” from his garden. Gideon Cohen was born in Dover, England, in 1894. He moved to Arlington MA in 1923 and lived in Massachusetts the rest of his life where he and his wife raised three children. He died in Cambridge in 1989. One son, Theodore, moved to Pittsburgh where he worked in the Chemistry Department at the University of Pittsburgh for 63 years; his wife Pearl earned her PhD at Pitt. Both became involved in the Unitarian church in the 1970s, and Pearl remained a member of First Church in Shadyside until her death last year, not long after the death of her husband. Paintings by Gideon Cohen at the Undercroft Gallery have been in storage for 28 years. In December several of these paintings were sold privately at auction at the Concept Art Gallery.
The Undercroft Galley is open Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10am-3pm, and after church services on Sundays. A reception will be held Sunday, January 20 from 2 to 3pm.
The March show in our Undercroft Gallery will be the work of WOMEN artists! We will hang two pieces per member or friend of First Unitarian. The show will be hung on Thursday February 28 and taken down on Thursday April 4. We would love to see your work - quilts, lace, crochet, painting, drawing, photos, prints, and any other medium that can be hung on a wall. Does that sound like your work? Please notify Linda Kauffman of your interest is participating in the show: write to email@example.com or text or call-241-1528.
Community Table schedule for Winter, 2019:
Feb 3rd- last names E,F, and G;
Feb. 10- last names H-K;
Feb. 17- last names L-M;
Feb. 24- last names N-Re;
March 3- last names Ri-S;
Mar. 10- last names T-Z;
Mar. 17- last names A-B;
Mar. 24- 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.
As we become a lay-lead congregation for the next few months, we are traveling head first into unchartered territory. Here we go. I can’t help but be filled with hope and optimism as we move forward. I wish I could assure everyone that it will be smooth sailing but I know we will run into unexpected twists and turns in the road ahead. Let’s all do our best to give everyone the benefit of the doubt as we travel into the future together. We are lucky to have such a talented complement of staff to support us. Thank you, Rita, Dan, Cicely, Ellen, Kris, Kensie, Jen, Erica, Barb, and Kathy. We couldn’t do this without you.
I want to thank everyone in the congregation for all the well wishes and support I have received as board president. I am overwhelmed with gratitude when I realize how many people are all pulling together to ensure the continued success at First Unitarian Church. Thank you for all the hours of effort so many of you put in to support our beloved community. In addition to the gift of your time and talents, you have also pledged your generous financial support. We recently concluded our annual fundraising to support the operating budget. Thank you to everyone who pledged a total that is now in excess of $400,000. Thank you.
One concept that I have learned from Eastern philosophies is that it is possible to hold two seemingly conflicting beliefs at the same time. My wife and I joined this church in 1990, the same year that Rev. Herndon started his ministry. I am so grateful to Rev. Herndon for his decades of effort, care and love on behalf of our church. We were blessed to have benefited from his leadership for so long. At the same time, I know in my heart that now is the right time for this congregation to be rejuvenated and reinvigorated with new leadership. Perhaps you are also experiencing some tension between heartfelt beliefs that seem opposed. I don’t believe they are contradictory. Thank you, Rev. Herndon, for all your gifts and accomplishments over the last twenty-eight years.
Now, onward to the future!
The Interim Minister Search Team recently communicated to the congregation that it was unable to identify an interim minister to begin at First Unitarian in January 2019 but is confident it can secure an interim to begin in August or September 2019. Absent an immediate interim minister, the Board of Trustees began working on an alternative ministry arrangement to cover the intervening time period.
Community Table schedule for Fall, 2018
Dear friends, I am honored to be the new Vocal Music Director at 1st Unitarian Church. Thank you to Emily Pinkerton, Ellen Gozion, David Herndon, Erica Shadowsong, Brian Junker, Martin Schmidt and everyone else who have welcomed me into this position. I welcome church and community members who like to sing to join our singing community – the UU Singers. We will regularly rehearse Tuesday evenings 7:00-9:00. No long-term commitment is required if you want to come rehearse with us for fun: Come when you can. Through our work together, UU Singers strive to build a more just and loving world through singing and sharing. We aim to build the Beloved Community by rehearsing and performing with diverse local groups and at a variety of venues in the community. In addition, the Singers usually perform once or twice per month at Sunday morning services at First Unitarian Church. Here are some upcoming Singer activities that we have on the calendar.
Be on the lookout for your invitation to meet new people from the church and talk about how we can all build up our faith community. The new church year, pledging season, and Rev. Herndon's transition are soon upon us. We have an opportunity to share experiences and ideas from cross sections of our church communities about how we can make the most of these important events. Members will be hosting small group conversations in their homes, and will reach out to you with an invitation soon. We expect to hold all Commitment Conversations in mid-September to mid-October.