Giving statements for the first quarter (January 1 to March 31) have been sent out electronically or will soon be sent out by mail. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me via email at email@example.com or call me at 412-681-9579.
I am celebrating the resilience of this religious community as we find new ways to support our mission with the church closed in this period of strict social distancing. Sunday worship services now stream on YouTube and groups continue to meet using Zoom. Even with the building closed for events and staff mostly working from home, the building is being maintained and some staff and volunteers come to the building to complete essential tasks, always taking appropriate precautions. The Board is committed to continuing to pay our staff in this difficult period. Our community can do this.
I appreciate the many people who continue to support the church financially with their pledge payments, gifts, and virtual plate contributions, including a little extra for the Minister's Benevolence Fund known as Marion's Purse. If you are experiencing reduced pay, no pay, or layoffs during this crisis, please don't worry about making pledge payments until your finances recover.
On March 26 the Board of Trustees sent a letter to church members requesting nominations for the Ministerial Search Committee, and detailing how to make a nomination. If you are a member of First Unitarian Church and haven't received this letter (sent by email or by U.S. mail to those who don't have email addresses), please contact Claus Makowka, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let me begin by saying that Rev. Connie, the Board, and I recognize that some members of our congregation are dealing with reduced pay, no pay, or layoffs in addition to all of the social stresses of this pandemic. If that applies to you, please don't worry about pledge payments until your finances recover. Nor need you take precious time to email me about suspending your donation, unless you need my help to stop or reduce an automatic payment. If so, please email email@example.com.
For those of us with the good fortune of a continuing income, if your practice has been to put your donation or pledge payment in the Sunday collection plate, welcome to the virtual collection plate! You can still donate in one of the following ways:
Please also consider making an extra contribution to Marion's Purse / Minister's Benevolence Fund so Rev. Connie is able provide some support for congregants with financial emergencies.
Thank you for your continued generosity in these challenging times.
Claus D. Makowka
On behalf of the Church and the Board of Trustees, I gratefully acknowledge two recent gifts from long time members who have passed away.
Rick Wells, long active in the church music groups, remembered the church in his will with a gift of $3500. The Board has directed this gift to the Music Endowment in his memory.
Brian Ramsey remembered the church in his life insurance with a gift of about $1500. At the request of his family and in memory of his passionate commitment to social justice, this gift has been directed to the Social Justice Endowment.
Through our memories of them, Rick and Brian continue to members of our community. I appreciate their forethought in making a legacy gift to the church community.
Claus D. Makowka
This project is intended to connect citizens to their local PA State House Representative and other good government constituents in their districts.
We need citizens in each PA state House District who are informed and will advocate for good government/anti-corruption reforms in PA. Voices that can help create a representative democracy with economic, environmental and social justice for all in PA.
On Sunday, March 1, noon – 3:00 pm in the Undercroft Gallery a congregational gathering will be held that has two objectives:
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.
An “experience” not to be missed! Be there or be square! Please register by February 23.
Please SAVE THE DATE for the First Unitarian Church Annual Congregational Meeting on Sunday, May 17, 2020, from 12:00-2:00 p.m.
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!
First Unitarian Church is once again proud to be coordinating a toy drive and a mitten & hat drive for local children and families who receive services at the Matilda Theiss Center. The Center largely serves the Hill District.
If you are able to make a toy donation for a child this holiday season please take a tag (or several tags!) off one of the trees in the Sanctuary, and purchase a toy for the child specified on the tag. Bring the unwrapped gift(s) back to church with tags attached, and place under the trees. Some families can use help with food and so Giant Eagle gift cards can be purchased in the Undercroft Gallery and designated for this purpose.
Donations of new mittens and hats can be placed on the tree in the Garden Lobby. Children's size items are especially welcome.
All donations should be brought back to church by Sunday, December 15. Thank you!
Summer Institute is an intentional intergenerational community that gets created and re-created each summer as we come together to live fully as Unitarian Universalists. It is a vacation week to grow, relax, play, and connect. It is a time to experience workshops and new ideas. It is a place for relaxed conversations with old friends and friends you do not yet know. It is a time to recharge and live fully.
There is a diversity of both programming and worship opportunities designed to appeal to the breadth of our community. The content of the programming and the worship are meaningful, but these community-wide events also serve to create a shared experience. There is also time for quiet reflection and introspection. We each create our own balance of activity and peace.
As fabulous as it is, the programming just scratches the surface of Summer Institute. At the end of our week our sense of trust and confidence in the inherent goodness of others reaches a new level. The integrity of our intentional community is reflected by simple things, such as the transformation of perfect strangers to friends over the course of a meal. We experience our diversity and celebrate our humanity. We live and breathe our Unitarian Universalist principles without explanation to each other or any sense of self-consciousness.
When the week together is over we wonder how we can bring this life experience home with us. That is the SI magic. The result is something quite spectacular. Theme Speaker: Kazim Ali
The 41st Summer Institute is heading to a new location in California, Pennsylvania. We are pleased to welcome our 2020 theme speaker, Kazim Ali. He will be presenting the theme: “Questioning the Unquestionable, Answering the Unanswerable."
Do you want to attend CERSI but don’t feel you have the finances to make it happen? Apply for a CERSI scholarship! We especially encourage first timers to apply and we do give them first consideration, but ALL attendees may apply and will be considered.
This article repeats information presented at the annual Congregational Budget Meeting on December 8.
The church is in a period of transition. Change is demanding work and requires extra resources, both spiritual and financial. We hope that the church is helping you find those additional spiritual resources. In return, we request that you think of the church in your year end giving, to help the church have the extra financial resources that it needs.
Giving statements for the fourth quarter have either been sent out electronically or are being sent out by mail. The statements include information from January 1 to November 30. These statements are intended to help you confirm where you are with your pledge payments. If you have an account for the online directory (Breeze), you can also go to giving page on your profile to see your donations and pledge payment status.
Khasi Hills is pleased to be included in the Alternative Gift Market! So if you missed the Fall Teacher Sponsorship Drive or are further inspired, this is a great time to spread some cheer. We once again hope to raise $9600 to sponsor the salaries for the two teachers at our new school. Pick up a packet or two of coffee, tea or spices from the region to give with the gift or enjoy as a thank you!
Congrats Amythyst Kiah, who was our guest at SongSpace in Spring 2018!! If you were there for her SongSpace performance you know how engaging she is as a performer and as a writer.
She's been nominated for composing the song "Black Myself" for the CD "Songs Of Our Native Daughters", a collaboration with Rhiannon Giddens, Leyla McCalla and Allison Russell (a super CD, by the way). Now you can say, “you saw her when…”!
As has been our tradition for many years, First Unitarian Church is once again proud to be coordinating a toy drive and a mitten & hat drive for local children and families who receive services at the Matilda Theiss Center. The Center largely serves the Hill District.
If you are able to make a toy donation for a child this holiday season please take a tag (or several tags!) off one of the trees in the sanctuary, and purchase a toy for the child specified on the tag. Bring the unwrapped gift(s) back to church with tags attached, and place under the trees. Some families can use help with food and so Giant Eagle gift cards can be purchased in the Undercroft Gallery and designated for this purpose.
Donations of new mittens and hats can be placed on the tree in the Garden Lobby. Children's size items are especially welcome.
All donations should be brought back to church by Sunday, December 8 so toys and items can be delivered to the Matilda Theiss Center that following week.
The Matilda H. Theiss Child Development Center is the cornerstone of early childhood mental health services at UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital. For over 30 years, Matilda Theiss has supported person-centered, family-focused, positive approaches — as well as individualized models of care — across a continuum of services. The mental health programs at Matilda Theiss address the therapeutic issues of children with special needs related to: emotional and behavioral disturbances; prenatal drug and alcohol exposure; a parent’s mental illness diagnosis. The early childhood mental health therapeutic programs at Matilda Theiss provide a foundation for the enduring emotional and behavioral health of young children with psychiatric disorders, or those who are at high risk of developing psychiatric or developmental difficulties.
In January 2020, the First Church Art Committee is sponsoring an exhibit of phone photos taken by adults, teens and children of First Unitarian Church! Beginning November 10, visit our table in the Undercroft Gallery during the social hour to learn about the exhibit and how you can take part by submitting your photo to the exhibit!
Enjoy Thanksgiving Fellowship and a lunch of Three Sisters Stew in the Undercroft Gallery, immediately following the service on Sunday, November 24th.
Many hands make light work! If you can help Saturday between 9-2, or on Sunday, please contact Raeann Olander-Murray at firstname.lastname@example.org or call or text 412-660-0012.
It's a lot of fun and our church community will be thankful!!
Giving statements for the third quarter have either been sent out electronically or are being sent out by mail. The statements include information from January 1 to September 30. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at church or via email at email@example.com. If you need a refresher on reading the new giving statements produced by Breeze, please refer back to my April Blog post.
If you ever wanted to do this pilgrimage, THIS is the year to do it since it will be the last trip led by long time Unitarian Universalist Partner Church Council (UUPCC) travel coordinator/tour guides, John Dale and Csilla Kolcsar, before they retire. You will surely have a smooth, engaging experience. The Pilgrimage is March 12-22, 2020 and the DEADLINE IS NOVEMBER 5. The next Pilgrimage will not be until September 2021. Good news is that someone from our congregation is already registered, so that can be a comfort.
What an opportunity for an adventure and to connect with our Khasi Hills partners, representing our church and strengthening the bond. For 10 nights of lodging, most meals, and transportation within India, $1629 is quite a good deal. In the past our Social Justice Endowment Fund and the UUPCC Travel Grant Fund have generously supported this social service and denominational initiative. The UUPCC Travel Fund Deadline is October 15. There is also an opportunity for fascinating pre-trip tourist extensions before the pilgrimage, a wonderful opportunity since you are halfway across the world.
For information go to https://uupcc.org/pilgrimages/pilgrimage-opportunities and/or contact Karen Litzinger at 412-242-7045.
Say cheese . . and get your photo taken for the BREEZE online church directory. The Membership Team will staff a "photo booth" during Coffee Hour Oct. 6,13,& 27. Stop by,have your photo taken and uploaded into our new online Church Directory. It's a BREEZE and all you have to do is smile!
THE UU COMMUNITY SINGERS is our church/community choir. Make our church and our city a better place through music. No long-term commitment required, just come when you can. All skill levels welcome, from beginners to advanced singers. Rehearsals are held every Tuesday, Sept - June, 7:15-9:00.
Community Table schedule for Fall, 2019:
Sept 15- last names A-B;
Sept. 22- last names C-D;
Sept. 29- last names E, F, G;
Oct. 6- last names H-K;
Oct. 13- last names L-M;
Oct. 20- last names N- Re;
Oct 27- last names Ri-S;
Nov. 3- last Names T-Z;
Nov. 10-last names A-B.
Finger food is best, since we have very limited resources for cutting and preparing.
The new season for SongSpace is shaping up to be fantastic! We're kicking things off with Blues Legend Ernie Hawkins on Sept 21, 2019, and wrapping things up with Joe Crookston on May 2, 2020. In between we'll host The Heather Pierson Trio (a *great* jazz/folk/tin-pan-alley trio), the Afro-Yaqui Music Collective, and the Early Mays! Don't miss a single show!!
Are you interested in deepening your exploration of Unitarian Universalism? We are looking for facilitators who would like to lead a book reading group or facilitate a class on an area of interest. It's easy, and you don't have to be an expert; materials are provided! Scheduling is often determined by participant and facilitator preferences. Some potential topics for the 2019-20 year are the following:
UU history, older and recent
"Building the World We Dream About" - living out our hope of truly inclusive, multicultural engagement and community
"Spirit in Practice," Exploring spiritual practices
UUA Common Read book choice
Other topics of interest can be proposed, as well. Please contact Erica Shadowsong if you would like to know more about what is involved in facilitating. This is a wonderful way to contribute service to the church, as well as engage in community and enrich your own learning!
The major news of the summer is that Rev. Connie Grant has agreed to serve as interim minister for our church. Along with welcoming an experienced leader to help the church on the next phase of our journey, the finance team and board are also happy that we now have clarity on what the 2019 budget will be for the remainder of the year. While there was no significant difference overall from what we expected, the devil is always in the details and it feels good to have that resolved.