The UUA is advising that several UU congregations have reported that their members are receiving scam emails that are requesting gift card donations for a charitable cause. Religious groups and congregations are becoming easy targets for these types of scams.
Even in this time of transition, the church's fund raising practices remain the same. No staff member or church leader will call, text, or email you asking for an "emergency" donation for a charitable cause. Marion's Purse is our reserve fund for use in these situations, so no one will be called. Donations to the church are only via cash (at events and services), check payable to the church, texting as listed in our order of service, or our online giving page. The monthly Share the Plate during Sunday Service is the intentional way the church collects funds to support community groups.
The Interim Minister Search Committee is very pleased to announce that the First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh has completed a final agreement with The Rev. Constance L. Grant to become our Interim Minister, beginning August 1, 2019.
Connie (as she prefers to be called) earned her MDiv. From Meadville Lombard Theological School in 2000. She comes to us after a two-year interim ministry at the UU Fellowship of Midland, MI. Previously, she had served as the called Congregational Life Minister at the Unitarian Church of Evanston, IL, Minister for Education at the UU Society of Sacramento, CA, and Interim Minister of Religious Education at the First Unitarian Church of Cleveland in Shaker Heights, OH. Early in her ministry, Connie also worked closely with the Lay Leadership Development Office of the UUA in their roll out of the Covenant Group Program.
The breadth of Connie’s experience in the ministerial transition process and in a wide variety of congregational ministerial roles were very appealing to your Search Team.
Connie is an accomplished and effective preacher, writer, and educator. Indeed, her use of metaphor and narrative in her sermons is masterful and moving. But she is not a flamboyant person. Her answers in her Ministerial Record and in our interview with her were concise, complete and reflected a no-nonsense experiential knowledge that we felt was extraordinary and particularly applicable to the challenges and opportunities we face here at First Unitarian.
The conversations that each of the members of the search committee had with the individuals whom Rev. Grant had suggested as references revealed that she has been consistently seen as an intelligent, warm, pragmatic leader. One of her former professors at Meadville Lombard said that Connie was the brightest students she ever had. Here’s what the president of the Board of The UU Fellowship of Midland said about her:
“Connie prioritized the things that needed to be done in order for us to become the healthy, functioning congregation we have the capacity to be and to complete the tasks needed to support our search for a settled minister. Although it may sound like hyperbole it is not an exaggeration to say that, within a few short weeks of her arrival, we felt like a community again.”
(Incidentally, the membership at the Midland congregation grew by 30% during Connie’s ministry there.)
We could go on, but we think you get the picture.
Connie is absolutely thrilled to be coming here and can't wait to begin her ministry at First UU. She requested that we share with you what she considers her professional mission: Helping people live lives of meaning and wholeness through Unitarian Universalist congregational life.
Our congregation has entered a transitional period when we move from who we were, to understanding who we are, to becoming who we are meant to be. Your Interim Minister Search Committee is confident that the Rev. Constance L. Grant is the minister to lead us on this journey.
INTERIM MINISTER SEARCH COMMITTEE
John Hooper, Chair
Al Schwartz, former Chair, who formed and led the team through 80% of the process
Azi Mussalehdan Block
Others: Martin Schmidt and Claus Makowka
As part of First U governance, and of particular importance now that we are lay-led, the congregation is asked to come together in conversation twice a year to share thoughts about the work of the church. Sessions are designed both to build community and to assure that all voices at First U are heard in the decision making processes.
Please join together in guided conversation pertaining to First Unitarian Church Priorities:
* Create a strong sense of BELONGING for ALL who enter our doors
* Explore paths to the formation of a long-lasting and meaningful FIRST UNITARIAN / COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP
Conversations are being held the following days and times:
Wed May 8 7:00-8:30 pm, Thurs May 9 6:30-8:00 pm, Sunday, May 12 noon - 1:30, Sunday, May 12 7:00 - 8:30 pm, Mon May 13 6:30-8:00 pm, Tues May 14 7:00 - 8:30 pm, Thurs May 16 5:00 - 6:30 pm
The link to sign up is:
Childcare provided if requested in the comment line.
We are also thinking about offering a virtual session. If you are interested in this option or have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
1st Unitarian held several work parties at the homes at 6928 Bennett St. The end product is a beautiful energy efficient and safe home for the new women owners. There are 3 spacious bedrooms and 3 bathrooms plus living room, kitchen and dining area. You can see the homes from the outside by driving by at 6928 Bennett St.
We just received these exciting photos regarding progress of the first graduates of our new Higher Secondary School, Badashisha and Philinsimai, who are in post-high school training in Cosmetology and Fashion Technology respectively. These are the two graduates who scored 100% on last spring’s graduation exam. We also learned that they are the first two children from the Children’s Village orphanage to be professionally trained. The Children’s Village was co-founded by a student in our campus ministry program, Catie Scudera, and celebrated the 10-year anniversary in February. For more information about participating or contributing, please contact Karen Litzinger at 412-242-7045.
All members and friends of First Unitarian Church are invited to attend the Annual Congregational Meeting on Sunday, May 19 in the Undercroft Gallery.
This month's exhibit will feature the work of Shellie Sherman and her sons and daughter-in-law. It's a multi-generational show which includes Rochelle's abstract colorful collaged paintings, Kate's stained glass mobiles, Yaniv's cut-paper assemblages, paintings by Moshe and photographs by Ilan. It showcases the creative diversity of two generations of one family.
A reception will be held on May 12 at noon.
Welcome to the next step on our journey to the future. Now that your donation information is being recorded in our Breeze Church Management Software, your quarterly giving statements are being sent electronically to the email address on file in Breeze. The church will continue to mail quarterly giving statements if we do not have your email address or if you request a paper statement via postal mail from me (email@example.com) or the church office.
As part of this change, the quarterly letter from the Treasurer is becoming a blog post on the church web site rather than an insert (or attachment) to your giving statement. No more paper to recycle and also available for later reference, if you wish. To keep this post from getting too long, I will keep my financial news brief to allow more space for explaining the new giving statement.
I welcome your feedback on how these changes are working for you.
Claus D. Makowka
The church finances continue to be healthy. Our budget in this transitional lay-led period is now clear and I appreciate the work by staff and volunteers that makes this possible. Gifts and pledge payments continue to be strong and the church is also benefiting from healthy rental income. Expenses are in line with the budget. Until we are able to finalize a contract with an Interim Minister, there are some budget uncertainties for the fall and winter. The church's strong financial performance in the first quarter makes me comfortable that the church is in a good position to deal with these.
While lay volunteers are contributing significantly with scheduling Sunday speakers, pastoral care, and event planning, I think we all miss the coordination that a minister provides. I appreciate the dedicated work by church program and operations staff in filling that gap and keeping the church running smoothly. I have been especially enjoying the well integrated services with a diversity of viewpoints in the pulpit and the greater visibility of the Pastoral Care Team.
I am also looking forward to the Fantasy auction. David Doorley and his team have lined up a wonderful array of offerings. Be sure to attend and invite your friends. The funds raised here will help cover the extra Interim Minister expenses not normally in the budget, like moving expenses and special training .
While the new giving statements from Breeze will look a little different, they contain the same information and hopefully are a little easier to read.
The first section will report the status of your financial pledges. Typically there will only be the pledge to the operating budget, listed as General Fund 2019. However, Breeze does allow multiple pledges, say for a Capital Campaign, to be active at the same time, and any active pledges, including ones fully paid, would appear here. Next comes the date range over which the pledge is active. Then you will see something like "$250 of $1000," followed by a percentage The first number is the amount that you have paid towards your pledge, the second is the pledge amount, and the percentage is how much of your pledge has been paid. Below this you will see something like "$750 Remaining," which is the balance remaining on your pledge. The amount given may be larger than the amount pledged if you have made contributions in addition to your pledge. If your household pledged as a family rather than as individuals, contributions from any family member are included in the amount paid toward the pledge.
The next section provides the details of each individual contribution that was recorded by the church during the statement period, January 1 to April 15 in this case. This includes the date recorded (may be later than the donation date), donor, method, fund, and amount. The donor is listed to help households that donate as a family. Following the detail section is a summary section giving the totals given to each fund. There are many ways to support the church with charitable contributions beyond the General Fund for the operating budget. These include the Endowments, Marion' Purse, Khasi Hills Sponsorship, Habitat for Humanity, and many more.
The following notes may apply in some cases:
First Sundays: July 7, August 4, Sept. 1: Last names A-F
Second Sundays: June 9, July 14, August 11: Last names G-L
Third Sundays: June 16, July 21, August 18: Last names M-R
Fourth Sundays: June 23, July 28, August 25: Last names S-Z
5th Sunday: June 30: everyone!
Please bring FINGER FOOD
Remember last year, when 6 sparkly eggs were hidden throughout the church, and people found them throughout the entire course of the year? (Well, all except one, maybe two that we still can't account for!) Well, we're doing it again!!! This year, families can participate in our annual Easter Egg Hunt! The Egg Hunt takes place after the service, and the service is multi-generational, so there are no religious education classes. Eggs will be hidden in a variety of developmentally-appropriate places as usual, but we will again add a few special eggs to be found by those who find the challenge irresistible! Special eggs come with special prizes...and this year, there might be a big, golden egg in the mix! Our overall egg hunt will feature some fair trade, environmentally friendly treats and prizes this year. As for the special ones...you'll just have to wait and see!!! Would you like to help out to make this event a success? We could always use help filling eggs, hiding them, and collecting them at the end! If you are interested in helping, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. (The "epic" part of the egg hunt is hosted and designed by Erica's spouse, another half, and serious Easter enthusiastic ALF; feel free to say hi when you see him!)
PIIN (Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network) is a coalition of churches working for equity and social justice across the state. Every May PIIN celebrates its achievements and work with an annual banquet. This year the keynote speaker is Diane Nash who was one of the unsung “Foot Soldiers” of the 1965 Selma March. She is a true Civil Rights leader and her story is worth hearing.
In 1959 at the age of 19, Nash was a student activist in Nashville,Tennessee. She was elected the first Chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). She married activist James Bevel in 1961 and they moved to Jackson, Mississippi. There they began organizing voter registration and school desegregation campaigns. Nash and her husband received the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) Rosa Parks award in 1965. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. cited the couple for their contributions to the Selma Right-to-Vote movement. Their leadership eventually led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
First Unitarian Church is a founding member of PIIN with church members actively involved in two of its task forces: Education and Public Safety. Every year First Unitarian supports PIIN’s efforts by purchasing a table and seating for 10.This year we would like to sponsor 10 of our teens and young adults so they can learn firsthand about the Civil Rights Movement from one of the movements “Foot Soldiers”. Please consider attending the banquet or contributing towards seating for one of our youth. Over the next several weeks, you will be able to visit the PIIN table during coffee hour and speak with Sandy Woolley, John Ballance and Kathy Miller about their involvement with PIIN. There you will be able to reserve your ticket. Tickets are $75 each. Tickets are on sale now on the PIIN website [piin.org].
The Khasi Hills Partnership Team is in awe of the generosity of the congregation for the March 24 Share the Plate collection on Khasi Hills Sunday. You graciously opened your hearts to give $2330! This makes the goal of $9600 to fully fund the two teachers at our new school almost reached. With just about $600 to go, please consider contributing if you have not yet done so. Details are on the web site under Social Justice or contact Karen Litzinger at 412-242-7045. Thank You and Khublei!
One of the members of the Interim Minister Search Committee has taken on another role at First Unitarian, which leaves a vacancy on the committee. Anyone interested in possibly joining the committee is invited to contact the chair, John Hooper, at 203-451-9668 to discuss the mission of the committee and the responsibilities of its members.
This conference will cover a wide array of topics around safety, security, trauma response, and resilience in congregational life. To live is to be at risk. While we can never be 100% safe from harm, we can prepare for the challenges that our communities potentially face. From natural disaster to relational misconduct to cybercrime to pure violence, there are healthy practices that help our congregations remain resilient and strong to do the important work they do in the world. Please join us for this important event.
This conference is for everyone in your congregations: members, friends, safety teams/committees, religious education teachers, board members, staff, and religious professionals- there is something for everyone!
Cost: Sliding Scale of $10-$20-$30-$40-$50, includes lunch. Registration fees are on a sliding scale, based on your assessment of your ability to pay. Those who pay at the two highest levels are making a donation to help those in financial need for this event. Please remember that for a sliding scale to work, we need the same number of people with means to generously pay more to balance the needs of those who can afford less. (This is one way we try to build the Beloved Community!) Please let us know if you need a partial waiver. There are no full waivers but those requesting a waiver will pay only $5.00. If you request childcare, please adjust your payment accordingly.
For more information see: https://www.uua.org/central-east/events/region/safety-conference
Please visit the Undercroft Gallery during coffee hour on Sunday, March 31, to learn about opportunities to get involved in groups that are enriching the life of our church through hospitality, small-group ministry, and music and the arts!
For the 2019-2020 Church Year .
Your Nominating Committee (NC) is reaching out to you to discern who among us is willing and able to become a nominee for service on the Board of Trustees and the Nominating Committee for the coming church year. We are seeking 3 candidates who can agree to serve 3 year terms for both of these groups. It will be an exciting time to deepen your involvement in leadership with 1st Unitarian. We will be welcoming an Interim Minister in the fall of 2019, and soon thereafter begin the process of recruiting and calling a new settled Minister. Consider whether you or someone with whom you have worked here at 1st Unitarian might be ready for these responsibilities. Board work involves people with many skills, but as the church Treasurer is now a Board Member, we must identify someone with interest and/or ability in financial affairs to succeed our current Treasurer when his term ends in May, 2020.
Please contact any of the current NC members [Gretchen Aiyangar, Corey Layman, Alice Lieb, Rob Masterson, Bob Mitchell, Raeann Olander Murray, Shelley Ross, Becky Studer, Sandy Woolley] with your suggestions or questions.
The UU Quilters will be raffling a new quilt to help the 2019 auction raise funds. While it isn't quite ready yet, here's a small sample of the final quilt, which will fit a queen-sized bed. More to come soon!
So excited Maureen Porter is having a meaningful and helpful Pilgrimage with our Khasi Hills Partners in India. Thank you to the Social Justice Endowment for helping make this possible. She is pictured with the headmaster of our school and the gift scarf she was given. Mark your calendars for March 24 where you can hear directly from Maureen about her pilgrimage hosted through the Unitarian Universalist Partner Church Council, UUPCC. Please keep her, all pilgrims, and our India partners in your thoughts and prayers.
March 24-CELEBRATION OF HOLI AND THE KHASI HILLS PARTNERSHIP-- last names C & D-- BRING COLORFUL FOOD!!!
March 31st- last names E,F, and G
April 7th- last names H-K
April 14th- last names L-M
April 21st- last names N-Re
April 28th- last names Ri-S
May 5th- last names T-Z
May 12- last names A-B
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.
To ensure its success, we need YOU. How you can help: We need items, services & events for our Teacup Auction, Silent Auction & Live Auction. In the past members donated: gifts certificates for local restaurants, homemade goodies, time shares at vacation spots, tix for cultural/sports events, artwork. Offer a special talent or skill (babysitting, massage). Host a dinner: Italian, 7-Fishes, Gluten free, Soul food. Contact David Doorley, Auction Chairman: email@example.com or 412-361-3306.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com
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.