Minister's Column - Rev. Robert Fulghum

All the stories and essays in the book, All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten, were originally published in the newsletter of a small Unitarian church – as a minister’s column called From the Friarplace. The church was the Edmonds Unitarian Fellowship in Edmonds, Washington. The Minister was me. And here I am, back where I started. Writing the minister’s column for The Torch while Tom Goldsmith is away. FYI - I’ve continued writing a weekly column on my own published on the web at linked to a Facebook page that carries photos connected to the web-journal. Take a look.

Why do I continue writing? To be useful.

Often, without realizing it, we fill important places in each other’s lives. It’s that way with the guy at the corner grocery, the mechanic at the local garage, the family doctor, teachers, coworkers, and neighbors. Good people who are always “there,” who can be relied upon in small, ordinary ways. People who, by example, teach us, bless us, encourage us, support us, uplift us in the daily-ness of life.
I want to be one of those.

You may also be one of those. There are those who depend on you, watch you, learn from you, are inspired by you, and count on you being in their world. You may never have proof of your importance to them, but you are more important than you may think. There are those who couldn’t do without you. The rub is that you don’t always know who. We seldom make this mutual influence clear to each other. But being aware of the possibility that you are useful in this world is the doorway into assuring that will come to be true.

My way is to keep writing and sharing that. What’s yours?

In the Life - Rev. Matthew Cockrum

National LGBT Coming Out Day
Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur
Saint Damien Canonization Day
Indigenous People’s Day & Columbus Day

That’s a whole lotta holiday in a little bit of time.
These are some of the observances - civil and religious - that show up on my calendar for the coming weeks.

Each of these observances has both historic and contemporary significance for me in my personal life and in my continued growth and development.

As a queer cisgender man, National Coming Out Day - a holiday created as part of an effort to fight stigma and advocate for AIDS research and funding - has been a part of my life and consciousness since I first came out almost 25 years ago.

Rosh Hanshanah and Yom Kippur have increasingly become part of my personal consciousness since I discovered my maternal Jewish roots, buried and hidden by her family in an effort to pass as respectable White middle-class people in the 1950’s.

Saint Damien - Father Damien of Molokai was one of the first “saints” I met in my mostly un-churched upbringing. A Catholic priest who served a mission in Hawaii’s “leper colonies” (still in existence, though much diminished) and contracted the disease, now known as Hansen’s Disease. His image and story continues to serve as an inspiration and challenge to whole-hearted giving.
Indigenous People’s Day & Columbus Day - Is one of the ongoing cusps of my life. It is an example of consciousness raising and another challenge to take responsibility for histories of genocide and White privilege, working through White shame and fragility and moving toward right relationship.

There’s a saying in yoga that “the pose starts the moment you want to get out of it.” This is not to say that suffering is necessarily redemptive or that we’re to injure or torture ourselves. Rather, it’s a reminder of the tricks our minds play and how quickly we seek to avoid discomfort and challenge. For those of us who have a tendency to push ourselves too hard, it can also serve as a reminder that we must balance mind/body/spirit, rather than overrule any one aspect of that necessary whole.

This month’s “Seeking the Sources” session (October 31, 6:45-8:45 p.m. in the Little Chapel) we’ll be exploring the first source of Unitarian Universalism, “Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces that create and uphold life.” What observances - daily, annually - help you to tap into the wisdom of your experience of mystery and wonder? What moves you to renewal and openness?

Whatever your practices, I invite you to continue to seek openness in service of creation and renewal.

Here’s to The Work, friends.

Peace, Faith & Passion,

FYI - Matthew will be away at a minister’s gathering in Colorado Springs October 17-20.

Night with Soul Report
Thanks to all who helped in creating and attending the fantastic “Night with Soul” event with Rev. Robert Fulghum and music from The Disposable Thumbs on 9/30. (Insert photos) Kim Grob Lee and Kristen Quinn and their host of volunteers transformed Eliot Hall and provided tasty jambalaya and desserts. Altogether you helped raise almost enough money to cover one of the four chaperones we intend to send on the New Orleans service trip with our high school youth this summer. Thanks so much! Keep an eye on the bulletin boards in Eliot Hall for updates and more opportunities to support this important part of First Church youth ministries!

Youth Ministries Reports
Our Whole Lives - 8th & 9th Grades - Off to a running start with an introduction to an expanded notion of sexuality, our 8th and 9th graders and their teachers are moving into deeper conversations about values as they pertain to healthy relationships and examining accurate scientific information about human anatomy and physiology. Remember 10:45-12:15 in Junior High Room (#218)

World Religions - 6th & 7th Grades - have begun their exploration of world religions with Unitarian Universalism! They’ll be in the Parlor for their regular session (11-12:15) on 10/09 and will be heading on a field trip for Hinduism on 10/16. Parents, keep an eye on the 6th-7th grade Facebook page for reminders or check with your teachers, Sara Jordan, Usha Spaulding, Ian Mitchell and Jenn Gibbs. Remember 11-12:15 in Parlor (Room#225)

High School - 10th-12th Grades - Are eagerly engaging in debates, discussions, reflections and learning. They’ve also begun planning a regional youth conference “Con” for Martin Luther King weekend along with youth from our UU congregations in South Valley and Ogden. A social with area youth is in the works for early November. Keep an eye on the high school Facebook page and RE Newsletter for updates. Remember new times - 10:45-12:45 in the Haven (Room #214)

10/30 Sermon Title - Living with Loss, Dancing with Death - Rev. Matthew Cockrum, speaking

UU Orientation & Info Session - 10/24 - 6:30-8:30 p.m. in Eliot Hall. New or new-ish to Unitarian Universalism or First Unitarian Church? Curious about how to get connected with this community of service, learning and justice? Join staff and lay leaders in an intimate evening of questions and exploration. RSVP online by clicking here, or to clminister@slcuu or Rev. Matthew Cockrum at 801.582.8687 ext. 205. Child care available upon request and light refreshments served.

Seeking the Sources - 10/31 - 6:45-9:45 p.m. in the Little Chapel - join Rev. Matthew Cockrum and other seekers in this drop-in session, focused on the sources and principles of Unitarian Universalism. Wear comfortable clothing and bring a yoga mat or meditation cushion if you have one. Movement, meditation and mindful exploration for all!

Congregational Briefs and Announcements (as of 9/12/2016)


Dinner and Dialogue

Have you heard about DINNER AND DIALOGUE? It’s a great way to socialize and meet new members and friends outside of the traditional church setting. Participants gather in small groups and share a meal together in one home. You may sign up as a HOST where you set the date, time and the menu and decide how many guests you can accommodate. Or you may choose to sign up as a GUEST where you will attend and contribute by bringing a dish to share (appetizer, salad, dessert, beverage, etc. assigned by the host). Either way you choose to participate, you are guaranteed to make new FRIENDS! Our goal is to have a couple of these each month.I will coordinate by getting the guest names to the host and assisting in any way possible. There will be a table set up at our Activities Fair on September 18 so you can sign up or ask questions if you wish. After that, we will have our Dinner and Dialogue book at the Congregational Life Table in Eliot Hall for the remainder of the year.

If you are unable to sign up to participate in Dinner and Dialogue at our church service or have questions, feel free to contact me, Darlene Thayne, at 801-455-6553 or send an email to . I have gotten to know some very lovely people through this activity. Why not give it a try?


Refugee Resettlement Committee

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) was founded by Albert Einstein to assist refugees. All these years later, Salt Lake City is one of 29 U.S. cities to which IRC relocates refugees. Not many weeks pass without new arrivals. First Church has been an adjunct of IRC for many years. Thanks to furniture donations from the congregation and the efforts of a group of volunteers, hundreds of refugee families have spent their first night in Utah in a furnished apartment. That humanitarian effort was formally recognized by IRC recently. Visit the atrium adjacent to Eliot Hall to see what the church received. When you read the plaque there, pat yourself on the back. It wouldn’t have happened without your support. Thank you from all of us who work on the Refugee Resettlement Committee. If you want to join us or donate furniture, please call Joe Dubray at (904) 527-9773.


Open Minds Book Group

The Open Minds Book Group’s next meeting will be September 22nd at 7 pm in the Haven when we will discuss “Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernow. For more information, please contact


Mindfulness Group

Every Sunday, meditation is offered as a time to pause, practice calming our thoughts and setting an intention to be mindful in our daily life. Guidance for developing meditation practice is shared along with suggested websites and reading. Alone, together helps to stay with the intention and to learn the benefits of being mindfully aware. 9:45 am to 10:30 in the Parlor. All are welcome.


UU Lunch Bunch

A family-friendly group for anyone and everyone who would like to get together for lunch and chat with like-minded people. Meet at the Restaurant on Sundays at 1:00 pm. For more information contact Sonia Carnell at (801) 262-1151 or .
September 11: The Greek Festival (meet at corner 300 West 300 South)
September 18: No Lunch Bunch - Activity Fair at church
September 25: The Garage (1199 Beck Street)
October 2: Trio Café (6405 South 3000 East)

Another church year dawns. The excitement never wanes, even after decades of serving as your minister. A new church year arrives like a present all wrapped up in lovely decorative paper. But what’s inside? You hope it pans out as lovely as the promise.

Confession: I get butterflies each time a new church year begins. It’s as much a tradition for me as our In-Gathering Sunday after Labor Day. Normal church resumes, not that the other Sundays are abnormal. It’s just different; maybe it’s the music. But I love that first Sunday back when our children and youth parade down the aisle: smiling, confused, pouty; whatever their demeanor, we love it. The congregation swells with different generations, various expectations, but a common denominator of belonging. That is, belonging to a community that cares about them as individuals and families, cares about the freedoms and rights of all people, and cares about making a difference in the world.

Already we have sixty people signed up for our latest social justice project. In partnership with Volunteers of America, we will provide meals for homeless teens. We will have groups serving breakfast, lunch or dinner (your choice) several times a month. For more information please email me or find me at church. Sign-ups are available each Sunday morning.

The first couple of months of this new church year might well be fraught with political anxiety. This presidential election seems like no other in history. It may well define who we really are as a nation; a referendum on racial justice. I predict our coffee hours will be humming like never before, especially after the first debate on September 26th. We may want to consider how fortunate we are to be able to share opinions, sentiments, and crazy ideas in a church community that honors a tradition of progressive thought. Regardless of polls and trends, which are guaranteed to send shivers down our spine before this is all through, at least we don’t have to despair by ourselves. It’s so good being in a community that shares common values and assures us that we are not crazy for pursuing progressive principles.

Anticipation runs high regarding the whole church year. New adult education programs will inspire you; new music will lift your spirits; new opportunities to serve the community will offer motivation. And all the while, our children and youth will be learning what it means to belong to a church that adheres to its mission: “To nurture and challenge the spiritual and intellectual journeys for all generations, and to actively engage in building a progressive and just world.”

That ought to keep us plenty busy…at least for this year.


Welcome Back to First Unitarian Church! It is good to be back with you for another year in the life of this congregation and its mission and ministries. I look forward to seeing what we can do together in the second half of my time with you.

Now...What are you here for?

I don’t mean that existentially...that’s another column.

What are you here for? Why do you come to First Church? Why do you keep coming to First Church?

I first came into Unitarian Universalism because I was looking for an inclusive religious community. As a gay man in Kentucky in the 1990’s my options seemed limited. In Unitarian Universalism I found an inclusive religious community...and so much more. I found a place where I was not only welcomed to engage in worship, to share my gifts of music and speech, but where I was also challenged to bring more religion into my daily life. To bare witness to injustice in the world. To sit in on school board meetings as a community observer. I was challenged to invest financially in a religious community in a way I had never done before. I was challenged to invite others to do the same.

What brought me into Unitarian Universalism, and ultimately into ministry, is something different than what keeps me coming. This tradition and our congregations invite us to deepen, grow, stretch and mature. The more and the longer you stay connected to this faith, the less you will find yourself focusing on what you want and need. The more you will find yourself asking what this faith needs of you. What is it calling you to do and be in the your daily life?

Perhaps the question shifts from “What are you here for?” to “Who are you here for?”

And the answer involves a circle ever-growing in its circumference.

Welcome Back to First Unitarian Church!

Here’s to The Work...of Building Beloved Community.

Peace, Faith & Passion,


More from Matthew:

First Church Info Session - Thursday, September 22 - 6:30-8:30 in Eliot Hall

Are you new to Unitarian Universalism or just to First Church? Join other newcomers in a conversation with staff and lay leaders of First Unitarian Salt Lake City. Share your hopes and dreams for a faith community and hear those of others. Learn more about the mission and ministries of First Church, the Unitarian Universalist tradition of which we are a part and where you can connect and deepen in this Beloved Community.

Light snacks will be provided and childcare is available upon request. Please RSVP to Consulting Minister for Congregational Life, the Rev. Matthew Cockrum, at or 801.582.8687 ext. 205. Please include number and ages of children attending in your RSVP.

Hospitality Help Needed! - You know you’re coming to church anyway...why not be friendly about it? :) Sign up now to help with Ushering or the Welcome Table! It’s an extra 30-45 minutes added to your Sunday and you can sign up for one shift a month or more! Be a part of the warm, welcoming face of First Unitarian Church. For more information and to volunteer contact Consulting Minister for Congregational Life, the Rev. Matthew Cockrum at or 801.582.8687 ext. 205.

Youth Ministry 2016-2017

Welcome Back to Youth Ministry 2016-2017! Youth in 6th-12th grades (or of equivalent ages) and their families have an exciting year in store! Check out the bulletin boards in Eliot Hall or the updated church website for more info, but here’s the basics:

● 6th & 7th graders - 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Sundays - meet in the Parlor (Room 225), on the second floor above Eliot Hall. You’ll be studying World Religions this year including field trips to religious communities in the Salt Lake City area as well as guest speakers. Families, we’ll need your help for driving with field trips. Please make sure we have your best contact info to communicate weekly about plans and times.

● 8th & 9th graders - 10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Sundays - meet in the Junior High Room (Room 218) where Coming of Age met last year. You’ll be following the Our Whole Lives (OWL) lifespan sexuality education curriculum this year. These sessions are packed with useful, factual and life-giving information on healthy relationships. Parents must participate in Orientation on 9/11, 6-8 p.m. and sign permission slip. $100 fee requested. Registration deadline is September 25th.

● 10th-12th graders - 10:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Sundays - meet in the Haven (Room 214). You’ll be reflecting on current issues, engaging in social justice projects and developing life skills as young religious Unitarian Universalists (YRUU) while also preparing for a hoped-for service trip to New Orleans in June 2017. You’ll also have an Our Whole Lives (OWL) intensive for two weekends in February (3-4 and 17-18). Monthly evening sessions are in the works as well.

Please register all children and youth at the following link:

An Evening with Soul - Save the Date! Friday, September 30, 7-9 p.m. in Eliot Hall. Ticket price TBA. Join Rev. Robert Fulghum and musical guests for dinner and tales in support of the high school youth group and their 2017 service trip. A tasty meal will be served. Tickets will go on sale mid-September. Want to help? Contact Kim Grob Lee at or Rev. Matthew Cockrum at or 801.582.8687 ext. 205.

Also, please note that we’re planning for youth to help out with the church’s new social justice project, assembling and delivering meals for the Homeless Youth Resource Center on the third Sunday of each month.

As always feel free to contact Rev. Matthew Cockrum with questions at 801.582.8687 ext. 205 or .

Seeking the Sources Adult RE Class - Join Rev. Matthew Cockrum in an exploration of the Sources and Principles of Unitarian Universalism. This is a monthly drop-in class. Come to one, a few or all! Each session will include movement, meditation and conversation. If you’ve got a favorite yoga mat or meditation cushion bring it along…or just come as you are! Sessions will be from 6:45- 8:45 pm on the last Monday of the month unless it’s a holiday, in which case it will be on the prior Monday.



Welcome to First Church of Salt Lake City

If you are new to or just visiting First Unitarian Church, we want to extend an extra special welcome! Religious Education (RE), or family and children’s programming at First Church, focuses on the entire family, not just the child. We’re striving to adapt to ever-changing and ever-busy lifestyles.

First and foremost, our job is to communicate. We know you can’t attend every weekend, so we’re designing programs that fit into your family schedules as much as possible and keeping you up-to-date online.

Second, rather than divide younger families by age, we’re shifting our focus, even in age-designated classrooms, to a family orientation so that you and your children can both benefit simultaneously from First Church’s RE program. In other words, we’ll keep you up-to-date with relevant information.

Our RE season starts Sunday September 11, 2016. Consider this your invitation to join us to learn about our programs and meet our volunteer teachers. Here’s a look at who’s who in First Church RE:

Nursery Care, Room 109 & Toddlers Up to Age 4
The nursery is staffed by experienced childcare providers and is free of charge. This space is warm and welcoming, and available for both the 9am and 11am services. Note: staff will not be available from10:15 to 10:45am between services. Professional staff includes: Triniti, Olivia and Erin.

PreSchool/Kindergarten: Our program—Rainbow Children—is drawn from classic Unitarian curricula. Volunteer teachers: Kris Lander, Sonia Carnell, Skip & Briana Rynearson

Grades 1/2: Picture Book World Religions. Volunteer teachers: Brenda & Tom Goodwin

Grades 3/4: Holidays and Holy Days. Volunteer teachers: Sammy Wood, Kendra Brooks-Smith, Raleigh Smith

Grade 5: Faithful Journeys. Volunteer teachers: Britt Coble & Trixie Sieger

Grades 6/7: World Religions. Volunteer teachers: Sara Jordan, Ian Mitchell, Usha Spaulding & Jen Gibbs

Grades 8/9: OWL (Our Whole Lives). Volunteer teachers: Erin Johnson, Rob Richardson, Di Johnson, Phil Moos

High School grades 10-12: YRUU. Volunteer teachers: Jillian O’Karma, Derek Gersdorf

We look forward to reconnecting with our returning youth and welcome new family members to our congregation! For more information about specific curricula, programs and volunteering, feel free to contact our RE Team: Julie Miller, Lissa Lander & Matthew Cockrum.

In service,
Julie Miller, Director RE


White Privilege, White Shame, Black Pain is an eight-week course that will help students understand race as an emotional experience that has been perpetuated by historical and contemporary attempts to consolidate rather than share power. As a group we will aim to reveal the ways in which racism harms both people of color and white people, and we will strive to imagine the ways in which we can dismantle these racial barriers by looking inward at our privilege and personal experience, and outward at our relationships and institutions. The class will meet at the church from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. on Thursdays, from September 29th through November 17th. We will read two books, Learning to be White and The New Jim Crow, which must be purchased by the start of the class.

Standing Rock and the Dakota Access Pipeline

-Submitted by Joan M. Gregory, Co-Coordinator, Environmental Ministry

The Sierra Club issued this alert: A dangerous fracked oil pipeline has been approved by the federal government -- but it isn't over yet. The controversial Dakota Access pipeline would carry over 450,000 barrels of oil through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois, putting communities and waterways at risk all along its 1,168-miles. The Dakota Access pipeline would cut through communities, farms, sensitive natural areas, wildlife habitat, and tribal lands like the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's ancestral lands that are within half a mile of its current reservation.

Not only would the Dakota Access pipeline threaten sacred sites and culturally important landscapes, it would also cross under the Missouri River just upstream of the Tribe's drinking water supply, where a spill would constitute an existential threat to the Tribe's culture and way of life. That's why the Standing Rock Sioux have been protesting the pipeline in peaceful prayer camps since April, and why thousands of supporters have joined them since the pipeline was approved. Take Action: Urge President Obama to stand with tribes to protect our environment by repealing the approval of this dangerous fracked oil pipeline!

Water protectors at Standing Rock are standing strong to defend land and water from the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline, which would put the Missouri River and all those who depend on it in great danger. About 2,000 water protectors are camped there, with more tents and teepees going up daily. In their call to action, they wrote: Water is a necessity for all life. Water is life. Now is the time for all people from all walks of life to join together to stop the desecration and destruction of water, land and life! Members of hundreds (over 188 at last count) of indigenous nations have joined the indigenous-led resistance emerging from Standing Rock Reservation, home of the Oceti Sakowin, the seven council fires, known to many as the “Great Sioux Nation.”

“This 1,168-mile pipeline extending across four states from North Dakota to Illinois has sparked a prairie fire of united Native American resistance not seen since Wounded Knee, and a return of the Great Sioux Nation. This is the first time since the 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn that all seven council fires have camped together.” writes Jacqueline Keeler, a Navajo/Yankton Dakota Sioux writer living in Portland, Oregon.

Keeler goes on to report that: “By the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s estimates it will take less than two minutes for a pipeline break to bring heavy Bakken Crude Oil to the Tribe’s Early Head Start building and less than 5 minutes to reach an elementary school. Then 15 minutes to reach the Tribe’s water intake.”

In July, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers which had granted the final permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline in federal court. On August 24, Judge James E. Boasberg of the U.S. District Court from the District of Columbia delayed a decision for the Tribe’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction and promised a decision before or on Sept. 9. On September 3, 2016, the Dakota Access pipeline company attacked Native Americans with dogs and pepper spray as they protested against the pipeline’s construction and the destruction of their sacred lands.

This promises to be a long term action and these brave nations will need support. What can you do?

Here are some articles to read and some sources to follow to get up to speed on what’s happening:

Here are some ways you can help out:

The camps that are leading the resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline need support. If you are able to donate or send supplies, please do.

As of 8/25/2016


Refugee Resettlement 

Now that the long, hot summer is in the rearview mirror and Tom is back in the pulpit, we can shift our focus to the horizon.  The Refugee Resettlement Committee (RRC) needs to re-stock its inventory of gently used furniture.  Last year, the RRC picked up 184 donations from 132 church members.  The donated furniture twas used to set up apartments for 44 refugee families.  New families arrive in Utah weekly, so the need for second-hand furnishings is open-ended.  Given the refugee crisis in the world, more families will be coming to Utah in 2017.  Please help by calling Joe Dubray, (904)-207-9773, to have your sofa, chairs and tables picked up and recycled.

Open Minds Book Group

The Open Minds Book Group’s next meeting will be September 29th when we will discuss “Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernow. For more information, please contact


UU Lunch Bunch

A family-friendly group for anyone and everyone who would like to get together for lunch and chat with like-minded people. Meet at the Restaurant on Sundays at noon during the summer. For more information contact Sonia Carnell at (801) 262-1151 or .
August 28: Hog Wallow Pub (3200 East Big Cottonwood Canyon Rd.)

Social Justice: Update from UUJME—Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East

AIPAC (American Israeli Political Action Committee) is spending money to influence American elections so there is a permanent tilt toward Israel. More information is becoming public that Israel is destroying Palestinian homes with Caterpillar bull dozers and invading homes at night at gun point as well as taking away Palestinian water rights.

Concerned Unitarians, many of them of Jewish heritage, have reflected on our 7 Principles and how they apply to supporting justice in Palestine. This is not an anti-semitic group. UUJME is pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel. They believe that it is in Israel’s best interest to promote Palestinian human rights and peace.

Our principles in order: Every person has inherent worth and dignity; Justice, Equity and Compassion in all Human Relations; Acceptance of One Another and Encouragement to Spiritual Growth in our Congregations; A Free and Responsible Search for Truth and Meaning; the Right of Conscience and the Use of the Democratic Process within our Congregations and Society at large; the goal of World Community with Peace, Liberty and Justice for All; and lastly, Respect for the Interdependent Web of Existence of which we are all a part.

It is because of these principles that the UUA board has divested from Hewlett Packard, Motorola and Caterpillar which were all making a profit from the Israeli occupation. Because of UUJME the UUA board has moved to screen all investments for human rights abuses.

For those wishing to discuss these ideas further, there will be upcoming events and opportunities. A screening, here at the church, of the popular film “Budrus” about how one village succeeded by taking a non violent stand to oppose the Israeli Army, the IDF will happen on October 21st. Look for further details soon.

Page 1 of 2