Dear Members and Friends of First Unitarian Church:

A beloved hymn usually sung with great gusto has a deeper meaning for us today: “Gather the spirit, harvest the power, our separate fires will kindle one flame. Witness the mystery of this hour, our trials in this light appear all the same.”

Pandemics are not new, but Covid-19 marks the first pandemic in our lifetimes. As we are forced to release so much control of our lives, we try in new and inventive ways to gather the spirit and harvest the power. We have no clear understanding of what lies ahead of us, but our trials are not uniquely our own.

Fortunately we are embraced in a church community where care and concern are foremost. Our church has been there for us in times of crises: gathering the spirit for a memorial service; gathering the spirit after 9/11; gathering the spirit during the Tim DeChristopher trial. Today we are challenged to gather the spirit without physically rallying together. How will that work? How do we kindle one flame?

On March 16th our Board of Trustees met to discuss these questions. A loving and caring spirit permeated the meeting.  The tasks ahead may appear contradictory, but they inspire us to enrich the meaning of community.  Following state health guidelines means closing the church for the next eight weeks. All activities scheduled at the church are cancelled. We will tell you with a joyful heart when the building opens again.  Remember that we are much more than the building. The doors may be closed but hearts remain open and our community very much alive.  

Discussions and small group ministries will continue remotely. (The Board meeting was held with all members and ministers at home.) Beginning on Sunday, March 22nd, Tom, Monica, and David will conduct worship services which you can all access by going on the church website [[[during the time of the service?]]] and clicking “sermon video.” After each service, we will hold a ZOOM virtual coffee hour and talkback session to discuss the sermon and any concerns that have arisen for you personally. Please join us. We will be happy to explain how to ZOOM coffee hour.

Small group facilitators: please monitor the wellbeing of your group. Offer support, gather the spirit, and please let the ministers know of issues that warrant pastoral attention. And let’s be vigilant in tending to the needs of friends in our community. 

Our Celebration Sunday Pledge Kick off was set to rock the house last Sunday, but the church was dark. Special speakers and music stir our generosity towards the church.  We believe that the sterner experience of this immense global crisis will underscore the extraordinary value of and the need to sustain a church community such as ours. Please reflect on the church’s value in your life and in the greater community as a passionate, unparalleled voice for peace and justice. 

We must prepare financially now for the transition to a new senior minister and we are asking for a boost in your pledge. The costs of the selection process beginning a year from now must be addressed today.  As you make your pledge the immediate future of the church is more than usually in your hands. Options are many: mail in your pledge card, press the donate button on our website, or call and leave a message at the church, 801.582.8687 ext. 202.  Someone from either the Board or the Pledge Committee will contact everyone who asks.

We must gather the spirit of heart and mind, demonstrating that so much more than a building defines our community. Reach out to one another. Help one another. In our digital world, love and concern have never travelled faster. 

In praise of our community,

Tom Goldsmith       Monica Dobbins          Peter Esko         Rebecca Heal & Henry Whiteside
Senior minister      Assistant minister      Board president      Pledge co-chairs  

The camping trip is attended by approximately 80 to 120 people depending on campsite. It is a community building activity were attendees of both services and their families can take time to get to know each other away from the church. For many attendees it is a family church tradition. Childrens activities are planned so there will be something to do for all ages!

The event covers 3 nights and 4 days on average. Family friendly activities take place every day and there is a huge pot luck that is often also attended by people who drive up just for the day (another 10 people or so). This summer we will be camping at Pine Valley North Group Site A located up Mirror Lake Highway. The site holds 120 people (number of vehicles 25).  Cost is $36 per car.

Arrival Date: Thu Jul 25 2019 Check-in Time: 2:00 PM  Departure Date: Sun Jul 28 2019 Check-out Time: 1:00 PM

Overview: Pine Valley North Wasatch Cache Group Campground is located on the beautiful Mirror Lake Scenic Byway in the Uinta Mountains of northeastern Utah. The Uintas are known for their abundant recreational opportunities and scenic beauty.

Natural Features: The campground is situated among shady pines and aspens at an elevation of 7,400 feet. The dense stands of trees provide nice shade.

Recreation: The Lower Provo River is nearby, offering good trout fishing. Numerous hiking, biking and horseback riding trails crisscross this beautiful mountain area, including North Fork and Shingle Creek Trails. Off-road vehicle trails are in the vicinity.

There is limited parking, so please sign up  early: UPDATE SPACES ARE FULL    

Any questions contact Jim Thornburg or Amanda Finlayson at


The Environmental Ministry program "Life, the Universe, and Everything" scheduled for Friday March 29th at 7pm has been CANCELLED due to the power outages. Sorry for the inconvenience and stay safe!


News From the Refugee Resettlement Committee

In August of 2017, the Refugee Resettlement Committee (RRC) at First Unitarian Church launched the Welcome!Basket project in response to the federal government’s lowering of the refugee resettlement ceiling for 2017 from 110,000 to 50,000. The ceiling for 2019 is only 30,000 - the lowest ceiling since the refugee program was established in 1980 - in spite of the worst refugee crisis in history

Thanks to the generosity of the First Unitarian community, 40 families (241 individuals) have received an especially warm welcome to the Salt Lake Valley in the form of a laundry basket full of NEW basic household items, NEW toys for children and NEW picture dictionaries. One basket remains in storage waiting for families to arrive. 22 of the families receiving baskets were from the Democratic Republic of Congo, 8 from Afghanistan, 6 from Burma, 2 from the Central African Republic and one each from Pakistan and Ethiopia. The total value of the baskets, including the one yet to be delivered, is approximately $4500. 

While the RRC is discontinuing the Welcome! Basket Project, we want to continue to provide the following five items to as many families as we can: basic tool sets ($10 at Ikea), laundry baskets, tea kettles, soccer balls, and picture dictionaries.  If you wish to donate other NEW items from the list below, please leave them in the back right corner of the Little Chapel. If you prefer to let us do the shopping, cash donations can be left in the church office or given to Joe DuBray or Nancy Rasmuson. 

Thank you for your support of Salt Lake’s refugee community! Refugees ARE welcome here!







































The Pedal Project was also launched in 2017 and since then, approximately 41 bikes, helmets and vests have been delivered to refugee families from DR Congo, Burma, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq, and Ethiopia.  We are still in need of bikes.  WE ALSO ARE IN NEED OF BICYCLE LOCKS (last one was just given out). Please contact Chad Mullins at 455-7909 to arrange a pick up of your donated bicycle. 

Lastly, if you have time, we need volunteers who can help with apartment setups where no heavy lifting is required.  The time commitment is approximately five hours a month.  Please contact Nancy Rasmuson if you are interested.  801-633-5666


Rise to the Challenge: The 2019 Pledge Drive
by the Pledge Committee

In the recent “Courageous Opportunities” series of conversations about the relevance of First Unitarian Church and its future, participants named shared values as one of their top reasons for coming to church week after week, year after year. Our shared values are the basis for our community. We come together with compassion for one another, with a commitment to truth, and with respect for the natural world. Our mission is to build a progressive and just world, even as—or perhaps because—the future looks so bleak right now. This we agree on.

We also agree that participation in First Unitarian Church adds meaning to our lives. Because it is important to us, we volunteer time and talent towards the mission of our church. But is it enough? To accommodate the steadily growing number of members—which in itself is a wonderful development—we hired a second minister and are expanding programs. These changes are invigorating. But they are also expensive, and income from pledges has not kept up with the increase in activity and membership. This imbalance presents us with a real challenge. Compared to climate change it seems immaterial, but if we want to slow global warming as part of this community, we have to invest into our church not only with time and talent, but also with treasure. We may not want to pay to maintain our church building, but if we are creating a progressive world from within its walls and we provide sanctuary, we need to have a safe and welcoming facility. As advocates for living wages and affordable health care, we need to start at home and make sure our growing church staff is paid fairly. We need to give money as generously as we can to balance the budget. Hopefully this, too, is something we agree on.

We bring our families here and trust that this beloved community takes care of them. The 2019 pledge drive challenges us to take care of our church and our congregation. Pledging is the intentional, purposeful act of giving generously to empower First Unitarian Church to fulfill its mission and continue as Salt Lake Valley’s beacon light for liberal religion. By combining our financial gifts, we will Rise to the Challenge. Please read on for FAQs.

How does pledging work?
Decide how much money you will contribute to First Unitarian Church during the next church year (July 2019-June 2020). You will pledge the total amount today and pay in one payment or in installments between now and the end of the church year. Many pledgers find monthly payments convenient. For instance, they may pledge $1,200 today and make twelve monthly payments of $100 starting in July. Make your pledge via a pledge card (available on Sundays after both services at the Pledge Table in Eliot Hall) or contact Church Administrator Carol Foster (801.582.8687 ext. 201).

I’m not a member; does this apply to me?
You don’t have to be a member to pledge. If you’re a friend of First Unitarian Church, if the mission speaks to you, if you attend service, if you feel like you belong here—please pledge. You are just as much part of the community. (And if you consider becoming a member, don’t be shy and reach out to Rev. Goldsmith or Rev. Dobbins.)

I’m a member; do I need to pledge?
Did raising that question just make you nod your head involuntarily? There, you have your answer. (No one will erase your name from the book if you don’t pledge. But the expectation of members is to contribute to the financial well-being of the church. Some members are able to pledge more, others less.)

How much should I pledge?
First Unitarian Church values socioeconomic diversity, and we support our church at individual financial levels. Plan to contribute a percentage of your annual income. The UUA Fair Share Contribution Guide suggests that you pledge between 2% and 10% of your adjusted annual income depending on your level of commitment and participation. Giving levels rise with income and capacity. Here is a simplified guide to proportional giving; the complete guide is online at:

contribution guildeline

What about the collection plate?

Collection plate dollars vary from week to week and do not provide a consistent stream of income. We rely on your pledge to draw a realistic budget for the next year and plan all activities accordingly.

What if my financial situation changes over the next year?
Life happens, and First Unitarian Church doesn’t want your pledged contribution to become a hardship. Or perhaps you’ve come into a windfall! Please contact Carol Foster if you need to adjust your pledge.

Who do I contact with questions?
Both ministers are happy to discuss the pledge drive with you, as are the members of the Pledge Committee: Rebecca Heal (Chair), Carol Blackwell, Melanie Steiner-Sherwood, and Henry Whiteside. If you have logistical question, please contact Carol Foster.

Make sure your legacy reflects your values by including First Unitarian Church in your estate plans. And, let your endowment committee know so you can be listed as a member of our Emerson Society. Our church's endowment fund is also the perfect place for memorial and other special contributions. The fund is managed to support both present and future needs, so a contribution is truly a gift that endures. For more information on the endowment fund, find the brochure at the congregational life table in Eliot Hall. 

As surely as the snow begins to melt in March and the crocus and daffodil bravely defy the odds, First Unitarian Church launches its Pledge Drive right on schedule. You can count on it as reliably as the seasons changing and birds flying north. 

Our theme this year is “Rise to the Challenge.” It echoes what we aspire to every Pledge Drive, maintaining a progressive church community in increasingly challenging times. Immigration issues have revealed the worst of our nation’s xenophobic tendencies, but our church has opened its doors to provide sanctuary. Refugees arrive with only the clothes or their backs, and our church furnishes their apartments and accommodates them with furniture, appliances, bikes, toys, and love. Homelessness grows in alarming proportions, but our church provides four meals a month at the Teen Homeless Shelter. We also partner with The Inn Between, a hospice for the homeless.  Our nation notoriously lags behind in efforts to reverse global warming, but our Environmental Ministry team tirelessly lift their voices in protest and tell the truth to a reluctant population. 

Our church meets these challenges and more with deep commitments to endless volunteer hours. The annual Pledge Drive reminds us that meeting these challenges also requires funding for our programs, staff, and building. Providing decent health care for the staff is a continuing challenge. Keeping up with technology to run our operations is a challenge. Maintenance is a challenge, from utilities, to snow removal to the wear and tear on the building.  We are never short of challenges.

For First Unitarian Church to meet these challenges we rely completely on your generosity. We are more powerful and influential together than we are alone. Our church is a gift, providing us the opportunity to engage more effectively in a world that has lost its moral compass.

To rise to this challenge we need $580,000 in pledge income, the same as last year’s goal which we nearly met. Please consider whether you can help us meet this goal. The times demand that our church move forward as a progressive community that dares to change the world. 

With deep gratitude,

Rev. Tom Goldsmith              Rev. Monica Dobbins            Pledge Chair: Rebecca Heal

Environmental Ministry
invites you to:  

An Introduction to The Work that Reconnects presented by Mutima Imani and Constance Washburn, Fri, Jan 18, 2019, 7-9PM, Eliot Hall, First Unitarian Church (Enter via the North Door).  We face many life-shattering crises today.  These crises are more than we can bear alone. The Work that Reconnects, based on the work of Joanna Macy, brings us together to share our despair, and our dreams.  It connects us with our passions to participate in the Great Turning and helps us uncover and experience our innate connections with each other and the healing powers of the web of life, so we can discover our role in creating a life-sustaining civilization.  This Friday evening presentation is free, with donations welcomed.  Questions: Stop by the Environmental Ministry Table today or contact:  Kathy Albury, 


Environmental Ministry
invites you to a Weekend Workshop:  

FROM DESPAIR TO JOY: The Work that Reconnects Weekend Workshopwith Mutima Imani and Constance Washburn, Sat, Jan 19 – Mon, Jan 21, 2019, Eliot Hall, First Unitarian Church (Enter via North Door).   We will gather to make our way through the healing spiral toward a just and life-sustaining world. This retreat will explore the intersectionality of current events and empower us to do what is ours to do for the healing of our world, our ancestors and future generations.  Pioneered by root teacher Joanna Macyin the late 1970s, this highly experiential and interactive work draws from systems thinking, deep ecology, and many spiritual traditions. More Information & Schedule:  
Registration Fee is on a sliding scale:  $150-$300. [No one will be turned away for inability to pay.   Contact:Kathy Albury, ].
Registration forms must accompany payment and are available at the Environmental Ministry Table or by contacting Kathy Albury via email .   
Registration Deadline: When workshop capacity is reached or Friday, January 18.

People's Justice Forum

Once again this year, First Unitarian Church is supporting the People's Justice Forum (PJF), a grassroots citizen lobbying organization that focuses on progressive issues at the State Legislature.

What does the PJF do? We follow the 45-day legislative season in February and March, and we decide as a group which legislation we want to support or oppose. Then we strategize about how to do it: contacting legislators, attending committee meetings, getting creative about awareness or protest, etc. Our issues include reproductive health, poverty, environmental justice, LGBTQ+ issues, etc.

What's the commitment? You must support progressive issues (there's a screener question on the application regarding your support of abortion rights). Then, you have to be able to commit to a weekly meeting on Monday night, and a kickoff event on the evening of January 17, to be held in Eliot Hall.

If you've been wanting to get involved in politics and have some fun with it, join the PJF! Please reach out to Rev. Monica at  if you have any questions. Here is the link to the application: People's Justice Forum 2019 Application