FIRST UNITARIAN CELEBRATES OUR 150th ANNIVERSARY THROUGHOUT THE 16-17 CHURCH YEAR!
Our congregation was founded on January 14, 1867, with the Bond of Union. In our “birthday” month, plans are being made to have a gathering of UUs at Trinity downtown from a number of congregations, highlighted by Jim Key, current UUA moderator. We hope everyone turns out for this wonderful celebration, with a workshop, worship, and reception.
We can’t let this joyous occasion pass with just one event. Plans are also underway for an open house or two, special guests in the pulpit in most months, opportunities to hear stories from our long term members, special music, and more. We are also eagerly anticipating the Spring unveiling of the commissioned history of our congregation, by Virginia Dawson.
Did you notice our updated logo? We thank Harriet Abigail Ward for her graphic design contribution.
This church year will be a rich time of discovery and engagement, especially if you contribute your ideas and energy. There’s plenty of room in the plans
for more. Please contact Laurie Albright at 216 371 8163 or email@example.com to offer ideas and support.
We stand on the shoulders of those who have come before us. What will be our contribution to our future?
Tuesday, April 25th On Tuesday at 7:00 pm, join UUA Presidential Candidate Susan Frederick-Gray for a meet and greet in Fellowship H
Film Screening - April 28th
Everyone is welcome!
UUA Presidental Candidate Susan Frederick-Gray
America Divided: Democracy for Sale
The exploration of our spiritual nature continues this Wednesday . We will enhance our understanding of ourselves, our relationships to others and to the universe on a deeper, more profound level. Spiritual Conversations examine questions at the center of our lives: what does it mean to be human, how can we live a rich life, what deepens our appreciation of the magnitude and mystery of life?
Tuesday, April 25th
On Tuesday at 7:00 pm, join UUA Presidential Candidate Susan Frederick-Gray for a meet and greet in Fellowship H all.
Film Screening - April 28th
Everyone is welcome!
Shaker for Sanctuary
First Unitarian plans to support the initiative led by Shaker citizens to get approval for Shaker Heights to have Sanctuary City status. Please feel free to approach any board member with your questions or concerns.
Below are some FAQs, Links, and the factsheet prepared by the Shaker for Sanctuary group.
Are other Churches in support?
Religious Institutions/businesses: We have had positive interest in learning more from clergy or outreach/justice committee members from four other Shaker churches.
Could Shaker Heights be fined?
Legal or financial retribution from Trump administration: a) In 2013 the Supreme Court ruled against Obama admin. They had sought to sanction states that did not comply w the Medicaid expansion. The SC ruled this was unconstitutional overreach. This sets a precedent: Executive Branch cannot withhold funds unless directly tied to program funds. ID could withhold ICE dollars (of which we get almost none). b) At least one municipality was successfully sued for lost time and wages after holding someone at ICE request. The city was required to pay approx $150,000. c) cooperating with the Executive Order actually costs the city money as we would be required to use our tax dollars to enforce the order and house people in our jails.
Is this legal?
Yes. These rights are protected by the Ohio State Constitution. Article XVIII, Section 3 (referred to as Home Rule) give localities the prerogative to direct police policy. Even without state protections, local police do not have the authority to enforce immigration laws. According to multiple court rulings, cooperating with federal immigration agents is voluntary. What’s more, if Shaker Heights complies with warrentless detainers, the city and the police force could be sued for holding people without probable cause and violating the 4th Amendment. Far from being illegal, becoming a Sanctuary City, actually affirms federal law and the civil rights of our citizens.
Is this a local matter?
Some members of the Council have expressed concerns over whether Shaker Heights should take positions on national issues. We understand why that might give you pause. But we believe that this is, in fact, the definition of a local issue. First, these executive actions have a direct impact on local public safety. If immigrants - regardless of their immigration status - fear interactions with our police force, they will be less likely to cooperate with our hardworking police officers, report crimes, or testify in trials. Our neighbors and their children - some of whom are here tonight - are afraid that they will be targeted by the police, simply because of the way they look. Not only is this anathema to our values, but it also makes us less safe as a community.
Of course, this is also a local matter because the Federal government is asking us to use local resources to support a federal agency and enforce federal law with local tax dollars.
This is also a local matter because we have many local doctors living within our community, many from countries impacted by both Executive Orders.
Are there risks?
Donald Trump has threatened to withhold federal funding from Sanctuary Cities. While the legal grounds to implement this order are questionable and San Francisco has already filed a challenge in court, the fact remains that the President is willing to intimidate communities that defy him. It would certainly be easier to remain silent.
But, by implication, that would make us complicit. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” We would argue that the greater risk to our community is not the ire of the Executive branch; it is allowing fear to erode the values we, as a city, hold most dear. By putting ourselves in the path of injustice, we make it clear that Shaker Heights is willing to fight for the rights of our citizens.
Kamala Harris, a Senator from California recently said, “If you’ve ever wondered what you would have done during the Civil Rights Movement, this is your opportunity to find out.” When our grandchildren read about the history of Shaker Heights, there should be no doubt where we stood on this issue. We want this to be the moment when we defied hatred and fear, and affirmed the values that make Shaker Heights a strong, vibrant, welcoming community.
Policy Matters Ohio has done a special report on how banning Muslims could cause a doctor shortage in Ohio.
First UU at the Women's March on Washington.
On January 21, members of the First U community attended the Women's March on Washington, as well as the sister March in Cleveland. Estimated global attendance was over two million people. In Cleveland, approximately 15,000 marched.
GCC News - First Unitarian at Public Action
13 members from First Unitarian participated in the Criminal Justice Action organized by Greater Cleveland Congregations in response to the Brelo verdict on Tuesday, May 26th.
2017 Stewardship Auction!
Why I Give to First Unitarian
Nancy King Smith
February 5th, 2017
As I was contemplating what I would say about Why I Give to First Unitarian, I realized that to some degree, church giving is in my genes. My Methodist
family growing up made it very clear that giving, even tithing, to the church was a priority over other desires. I got to thinking about why church
giving seems different than other places that we give.
What emerged for me was that this church is like our family and our home - so of course you do what you need to do to make sure that your family is cared
for and your home is livable and functional. It’s a little different, in that there are 300 plus members, but that means that everyone is responsible,
not just for maintaining the place, but for supporting all of the programs that help us to search and to serve.
My professional life was largely devoted to not-for-profit management, which meant that I did a lot of fundraising. I’m well aware of how important it
is to persuade people as to the importance of your mission and how what you’re doing fits with their values and goals so they’ll feel good about giving.
But the church is different for, while we have a mission and affirmation that we say every week that are related to why we’re here, giving to the church
is about us, about our church family. That also means being good neighbors—our social justice work in the larger community is critical to living
And, it is important to me that some of our giving goes to the UUA - we are part of a larger movement that both supports us and gives us more opportunity
to have our voices heard. I was at the Women's March in Washington two weeks ago, and it was exciting to keep seeing groups of UUs sprinkled throughout
the hordes. We do show up!
As many of you know, after 35 years of living just two doors down from the church, Kemp and I have moved out to South Franklin Circle in Chagrin Falls.
It’s very different, but the right move for us at this point in our lives. I think the thing I miss the most is being able to walk to church - for
worship, for forums, for yoga, for meetings, for covenant group, for walking in the garden, for seeing friends and meeting new ones. It was very easy
and meant that the church was almost a daily part of my life.
But I've realized that all of those things are still important to me, so, even though it takes more time and effort, this is my church home. We give to many organizations, but just as in my growing-up home, giving to the church will continue to be our priority because this is about our family. I hope all of you feel that same responsibility for caring for our church family and home. We are the only ones.
Pledging Out Loud
February 12, 2017
I have a few words to say this morning about pledging. Now, if you are a newcomer, you may not have received a pledge card. That’s okay. We are delighted
you are here, and if you’re still figuring out if this is the right place for you, we’re willing to put off talking about pledging for now. When you
register for a class or a covenant group, or if you become a regular here on Sunday mornings, we’ll get you set up with a pledge card.
For the rest of you, I want to talk a bit about how we handle the topic of pledging, our “Money Culture,” if you will. I was having a discussion with the
stewardship team, and I suggested that we make stickers to put on people’s name tags when their pledge comes in. Sort of like you get when you vote
or give blood, a little sticker that says “Yay me, I did a good thing.” Well, the stewardship team was quite certain that you would hate that and that
you would refuse to wear a sticker. I thought, Hmm ... what’s that about? I’m not talking about a sticker that says how much was pledged—they’re
not color-coded or anything. Whether you pledge $5 or $5000, you get the same sticker. You can even turn in a pledge card with a big zero on it, and
you still get a sticker. By the way, you should turn in a pledge card like that if you intend not to contribute. The whole point of collecting pledges
is to be able to make a budget that accurately reflects our resources. To make a realistic, useful budget, we need to know how much you plan to give,
especially if that is $0. It isn’t any harder, or more expensive to pledge promptly than to wait until July to do it, and it allows us to plan next
year’s budget. It’s your way of upholding fiscal responsibility.
So everybody gets the same sticker. Why is that so uncomfortable? Isn’t that what we expect of one another? That we’re all going to contribute? Pledging
is not optional, right? At least not according to the bylaws. And almost all of you do contribute. So let’s be honest and upfront about it, and prompt.
The sticker signals that you are with the program—that you’re doing what we all need to do to sustain our beloved community.
In the end, it doesn’t matter whether or not you wear the sticker. What does matter is that we can all look each other in the eye and say, “I pledge, and
I expect you to pledge too, and to do it on time.” It’s what we do because we value what we have here together. I invite all of you to join the 35
or so people seated around you who have already turned in their pledge cards. You will have that opportunity after service today at the stewardship
kick-off brunch. I hope to see you all there.
Why I Give to First Unitarian
February 19th, 2017
Good morning. My name’s Bob Horan and I’m here to say a few words about why I give cash money to First Unitarian.
My dad used to say, ”Judge a person by their friends, not their family. People choose their friends.” I don’t care as much as I used to about judging and
being judged, but I care a lot more about choices.
This is the first church I ever joined.
My wife, Debbie Wright, and I moved to Cleveland in the summer of 2014. We came here for the balmy northeastern Ohio weather as well as the chance to chase
our grandchildren around. We figured we would see if we could find a church home as well as a regular house. Why? Because we had attended a UU Coming
of Age ceremony in St. Paul, MN, that lasted three hours. After that, I wondered, “If this is the fruit, what kind of tree produced it?”
So we visited a few churches. Every one of them was topped off with welcoming people. Each featured a liberal theology. But the UU groups had covenants
instead of creeds—and since creed and creedal authorities had been the rocky bottom of Christianity on which we had foundered, we were hopeful.
And alone among the UU groups we visited, First Unitarian had a merry army of green-ribboned greeters and church-explainers whose welcome left us newcomers
feeling, well, happy. First Unitarian had Daniel Budd giving sermons. Debbie Wright said, “If there was a church of Mary Oliver, I’d join,” and it
looked like this might be the place. Further, Bethany Ward was here saying things like “Faith is what you put your trust in” and “Sin is missing your
target—try again.” First Unitarian is where we heard Daniel Budd show how poetry is a way of knowing and an aid in everyday life; it’s where
we heard fantastic “Why I’m Here” talks, Dee’s jokes at coffee hour, World-Repairing conversations during coffee hour, and the music of Fern Jennings
and Mike Carney and the choir on Sunday mornings. First Unitarian is where we found fellow golf partners, musicians, gardeners, readers, cognoscenti,
and assorted rascals. So we signed up.
We’re new. We know nothing. But about Unitarian-Universalism and the First Unitarian Church of Cleveland we’re curious and interested. And we like it here.
So like bad habits, bad coughs, bad debts—we keep coming back.
My dad used to say you judge a person by their friends. If Debbie Wright and I are going to be judged by the company we keep, we hope to keep company with you. And that’s why we give cash money to the First Unitarian Church of Cleveland.
Why I Give to First UnitarianMarch 5, 2017
Heather and Gabriel Torok
We arrived on the steps of First Unitarian in 2002 when we were pregnant with our oldest daughter, Julia. We were looking for a church home. We approached
it somewhat academically, looking for a place that shared our liberal values and reviewing the curriculum of religious education. What we got was much
We give largely in gratitude for what we have become a part of. To continue to build and foster this community and the connectedness we feel at First Unitarian.
We give to be part of the trajectory, vision, and future of our church home. We give because we think it’s important to have skin in the game and our
church home needs all of us to do our part.
What are we grateful for?
- Support through the young families covenant group
- Our children lighting the chalice and playing “Gorb”
- The church welcoming a rambunctious little lion to the Christmas pageant
- Taking an idea and turning it into our annual freecycle event
- Opportunities to lead in covenant, teaching, committees, and the board
- Intergenerational friendships
- The permaculture garden—look for the hops this spring that we will use make 1st U Brew.
In the words of the Catholic preacher Saint Francis of Assisi:
Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible. For it is in giving that we receive.
Why I Give to First Unitarian
March 12, 2017
Hi. My name is Olga Chwa and I’ve only been a member of our church for about three years, but I’ve been coming here off-and-on since the mid- 1980s. I was ten years old when a classmate brought me to church and I immediately noticed that, here, the Sunday School teachers did not tell me what to believe, but were actually curious about what *I* believed—I felt challenged and seen, like never before. I still recall the thrill I felt in that moment, age ten, in that upstairs, corner classroom. I wanted to come back every week.
So I did.
My family moved around a lot, but whenever we were in Cleveland, I’d make my way here. One year, I was part of a group kidnapping, pulling my peers out
of bed, early in the morning, along with all of the High School Youth Group, for a surprise Pancake Breakfast - over at Nancy King Smith’s.
I was greatly shaped by my experience here in high school. As a teen, I was very confused and really lost and it was this church, this YRE program, and
these District Youth Conferences that brought me friendship, community, a sense of belonging, and hope for myself and the world.
They saved my teenage life.
I moved away from Cleveland but returned some years ago and in need of all that again: community, a sense of belonging, and hope for myself and the world—I
returned to this congregation and was welcomed with a love UUs are famous for.
How can I not give?
I give because you saved my life.
I give because you have saved countless lives, of all ages and from all sorts of torment: spiritual, mental, and physical.
I give because it connects me to the spirit of human generosity, a spirit I need to feel and need so dearly to connect with in these times when I contract
in face of news from near and far.
I give because it helps me feel less helpless.
It makes me feel a part of something bigger. In that way, it appears to me as an essential spiritual practice in capitalist times: to keep moving the energy
of money magic in ways that cultivate my values, our values.
A couple of years ago, and around this time of year, David Kantor said to all of us, “the more I give, the more I get,” referring to his experience with
stewardship and this church. I then thought to myself, “hmm, I’d like to get more.” My massage therapy practice was growing nicely, so I could afford
a greater contribution and pledged accordingly.
Well, not long after, my participation on the Adult Religious Education committee ramped up, as we began offering classes and I stepped into more leadership
and teaching roles.
I won’t tell you how much I pledged last year, but I will tell you that the “Magic Penny” effect of giving that David Kantor referred to is truly alive
here at First Unitarian. Now, I am proud to be chair of the ARE committee, doing a wee-bit more to surf us through this re-staffing transition, offering
a heartfelt handful of programs, like last weekend’s Sermon Slam, and an upcoming workshop on traditional Slavic egg decorating.
And this is why I give.
I give to get more, so I can keep giving more and reap the bounty of these friendships, Beloved community, a sense of belonging, and hope for myself and
I give because in these strange times, pledging money is a way to say “I love you.”