Welcome to Summer!

What a fantastic year we had in Religious Education! With the support of our teachers, parents, and staff we studied famous UUs, explored the Bible, fought Horcruxes, visited 7 different faith communities, and dived deep into identity issues. 

There are no words to describe the gratitude we all feel for our Religious Education Teachers. Our teachers are dedicated members of our First Church community. Week in and week out these incredible adults give of themselves to our youth and community. Thank you to everyone for working so hard to create a beloved religious education community. 

Lower School Teachers:

Carrie Black, Melissa Bond, Kevin Emmerson, Kira Kilmer, Kendra Smith, Raleigh Smith

Upper School Teachers:

Karin Baumgartner, Cooper, Jennica Davis-Hockett, Derek Gersdorf, Kris Lander, Ian Mitchell, Jillian O'Karma, Usha Spaulding, Kristin Quinn

We would also like to acknowledge these families who went above and beyond to volunteer in our classrooms more than the suggested times(3 times per child/year). As a cooperative program, without parent involvement things classes just can’t happen! Thanks to: Chaston Family, Liu-Rusay Family, Pino Family, Finlayson-Moore Family, Duchon Family, and the Fonnesbeck-Kratzer Family. 

And absolutely nothing in Religious Education would happen without the incomparable Lissa Lander. She is the glue that holds things in Religious Education together. Artist, teacher, and finder of things Lissa spreads joy and knowledge everywhere she goes. When you see her, give her a big high five and your thanks. 

I can’t wait to see you all in the fall!

In Peace,

Amanda Esko

Director of Religious Education


Family Fun Night

Family Fun night continues through the summer! We’ll be playing outside the first Monday of each month, June 3rd, July 1st, and August 5th. Join us for dinner and outside play during these long summer nights! 


Pay attention! Next year, 5th/6th and High School OWL(Our Whole Lives) will be offered. 5th/6th OWL will be held in the spring, during Religious Education classes. High School, will meet twice a month, on Sunday evenings. Please know that these classes do fill up, but priority is given to families registered and established in our Religious Education program. Questions? Email Amanda Esko at

Religious Education Calendar

Want to make sure you don’t miss our Halloween Party or a Sandwich Sunday? Here is the current Religious Education calendar for the 2019-2020 church year. While things may change as the year moves on, this is a great place to start!  {link to RE Calendar PDF}


welcome back potluck 9 15 19 








End of Year Update!

We're about a month out from the end of the church year, which is BANANAS. The next few weeks are busy, and I wanted to take a minute to highlight a few things.

Lower School

-The last day of RE will be on May 19th. We will be having a RE talent show! This is not something, big, or stressful, but simply an opportunity to share our gifts with one another. Does your youth have a magic trick, song or dance they want to share? Be sure to come that day! 

-We resume 1 service at 10 am on May 26th. Childcare will be available until RE begins again September! 

-June 9th will be Intergenerational Flower Communion. Please plan on joining us, then going to the Church Picnic in Sugar House Park!

Upper School

-High School- Final payments for the Alabama Trip are due May 26th. Please reach out with any questions or concerns.

- If you have a senior, Bridging will be on May 19th during the worship service. Please email Amanda at and let me know if your youth is participating. Thank you to everyone who already has emailed me!

- 6th/7th grade-Please start thinking about someone to be a mentor for your youth next year in Coming of Age. See my email sent this week for more information. 

I love how busy these last few weeks are! Please reach out with any questions, concerns, or great ideas!

In Peace,
Amanda Esko 

Director of Religious Education

RE Teacher Party!

Our RE teacher celebration will be on June 8th. RE teachers, look for an invite this week for dinner and an outdoor movie. Want an invite to the super cool party? We're recruiting teachers for NEXT year right now. Email Amanda at for more information!

RE Teachers Needed!

Do you love being UU and hanging out with awesome youth? Do you have a love of creating, playing, and learning? Join us next year as one of our RE Teachers! We need teachers across the grades, from kindergarten on up. Email Amanda Esko at for more information!

Youth Collaborative Art Project

This year, the Lower School youth embarked on an art journey. They created seven canvases. These canvases were a collaborative project completed by the children in our Religious Education program and their teachers. Each canvas represents one of our Seven Principles; the third canvas includes our Six Sources which give us inspiration. In addition to learning the principles and sources, our kids experimented with concepts and techniques in art with talented members of our congregation. These included photography, colored pencils, graphic design, watercolor, and crafts. In addition to being fantastic kid art, they are also a helpful learning tool when the words are set to the tune of “Do Re Mi.”  We want to say thank you to the entire congregation and especially the teachers who stepped up to help us this year. Please visit the canvases on display in Little Chapel!

RE 2019 wall art pics

In Peace and Gratitude, Amanda and Lissa, RE Class of 2018-19


Easter Egg Drop

What a fun Easter! This year, instead of a traditional egg hunt, we discussed the fragility of our planet, in regards to eggs. It’s our job to protect our planet, and on Easter, we worked on protecting our eggs. Eggs were launched from the balcony in Little Chapel. To the delight of all involved, most of our eggs survived!

2019 easter egg drop pic 12019 easter egg drop pic 1



Please join us for a very important Family Fun Night on Monday, May 6th at 6pm. We've invited trainers from the Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition to join us and lead us in their QPR training. From their website, "QPR stands for Question, Persuade, and Refer -- 3 simple steps that anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide. Just as people trained in CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade, and refer someone to help."

As always, we will start with dinner. This month, however, we are going to start dinner early at 6:00 pm. Unlike most months where we can be a little more flexible with dinner, dinner is going to be cleaned up and put away by 6:40, so the training can begin at 6:45. Thank you all for respecting our trainers time by arriving on time and eating promptly! Older, mature youth are encouraged to attending with a parent (7th grade and above) are welcome and encouraged to join. In order to plan for dinner, we are asking for people to register in advance. Click Here to Register Please email Amanda Esko at  you have questions or have dietary restrictions.

Sandwich Sunday Needs Your Help!

sandwich sunday

We're short on supplies for the next Sandwich Sunday, coming up on the week of March 3rd. All supplies donated will be used to make sandwiches for the VOA Homeless Teen Shelter. Anything you can bring helps!

Donate Sandwich Sunday Supplies

Family Fun Night

How fast can you get a cookie into your mouth without using your hands? How high can you stack cups? Can you beat the clock or get a face full of pie? It's one of our favorite evenings of the year, Minute to Win It games! Join us on March 4th at 6:15 pm for Family Fun Night! We'll start with dinner, then move into playing Minute to Win It Games!

minute to win it

Please email us with any dietary restrictions! See you on the 4th!

Family Fun Night Register Here 

Coffeehouse Thank You!
Thank you to everyone who came to our High School Coffeehouse on March 1st. Through ticket sales and donations, we raised over $1,200 for the High School Trip Fund. This fund enables scholarships and pays for our chaperones to attend the trips. Thank you!

Mindfulness Matters

Lower school youth continue to focus on mindfulness this year. In January, we looked at how our interconnected web affects others and our relationship to ourselves. In February, we focused on affirmations and created our own affirmation books. Join us on April 21st for our next Mindfulness Matters Sunday! (Photo thanks to Amanda & Peter Esko)

mindfullness matters pic2         mindfulness matters pic

Child Dedication will be held on April 14, 2019. This is a wonderful opportunity to welcome new children into our community. If your family would like to participate, please fill out this form. Questions? Please email Amanda Esko at .

RE Calendar
  • March 3: Celebration Sunday, 6th/7th Field Trip
  • March 4: Family Fun Night
  • March 10: Sanctuary Sunday, Jr Choir Sings
  • March 17: Last week of K/2nd OWL
  • March 21: Spring Equinox Potluck
  • March 31: Art Block beings
  • April 7: Sanctuary Sunday, Sandwich Sunday 

Join Us In Worship!

Our upper school youth need to attend service. There, I just said it out loud, plain as day. As a RE team, we've built in several Sundays throughout the year for our upper school youth to attend. You may have noticed on announcements or on the bulletin board the phrase, "Please join your families in service." This isn't an accident. And it's also not because there's nothing planned that day. Setting aside one(ish) service a month for our upper school youth, and saying out loud that upper school youth in service are welcome and valued, is an intentional shift in our thinking at First Church. 

Our goal in RE is not to keep the youth "busy." Our goal is to foster a community that learns, grows, and develops a spiritual life. Attending worship is one way we as a community do this! Our youth should have the opportunity to sit in service to hear the choir. They can take a quiet minute of mediation with Rev. Monica. They should listen to Rev. Tom preach on the idea of a just world. There is space for religious education classes and worship. It's not one or the other. 

We cannot expect our youth to want to continue to be lifelong UU's if they have no connection with the larger community. We cannot expect them to lead worship services such as Coming of Age and High School services if they never get to see a worship service. Bring your youth with you into service. Stand with them as we sing. Go to brunch to discuss the sermon. The youth at First Church are intellectual, curious, and engaging. I cannot wait to ask them what they think.

In Peace,

Amanda Esko

Director of Religious Education 


Family Fun Night

Family Fun Night returns February 4th at 6:15 pm! (Note that we're trying 6:15 pm again!) We'll be joined by Rev. Monica Dobbins.

"So, yeah, we go to church on Sunday. But it's not like regular church, and the people are great, and I love the youth programs. And summers are off, but amazing speakers from the community come in. It's just not CHURCH church." Raise your hand if you have had this conversation! How do we, as UU's, speak about our faith to others in a way that feels authentic? Rev. Monica will help facilitate this conversation so we can all be a little more eloquent in expressing our faith.

While the adults are busy talking, the youth will be working with Lissa Lander on an art project!



UU of The Week

Each week in Children’s Chapel we learn about important UU’s throughout history. 

Meet Francis Ellen Watkins Harper(1825-1911), our UU of the week! Francis Harper was an African American abolitionist, writer, lecturer, and activist who promoted civil rights, women's rights, and temperance. She was a popular speaker and traveled across the United States before the Civil War. Harper's short story, "The Two Offers", was the first short story to be published by an African American author. Most of the earnings from her writing went to help free slaves with her work on the Underground Railroad. 

After the Civil War, Harper focused her efforts on the rights of women, working with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. In contrast to Anthony and Stanton however, Harper supported the immediate passage of the 14th and 15th amendments to the constitution. The immediate threats of violence to people of color, and the promise of legal protections these amendments offered, swayed her to support the passage of these amendments before voting rights for women.

Harper split her spiritual life between her two faiths, the AME church of her youth, and the Unitarian Church. The AME church provided her community, while her Christology and political leanings lead her to the Unitarian Church. Francis Ellen Watkins Harper died on February 22, 1911. Her funeral was at the Unitarian Church on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. 

Sandwich Sunday

Sandwich Sunday is right around the corner! If you're able, signup to bring something OR take the lunches to the VOA!


RE Calendar

Feb. 3: Sanctuary Sunday
Sandwich Sunday
Jr Choir Sings
Feb. 4: Family Fun Night

Chalice Lighting Family

Each month we invite a family from our Religious Education community to light our chalice. 

Meet the Fetter-Bond’s!

Who's in your family?
Cassius Fetter-Bond, Jonquille Fetter-Bond and Melissa Bond


How long have you been attending First Church? 
We’ve been attending First Church for about 5 years now. 


Why is First Church and RE important to your family?
First Church and RE are important to us because we believe in the inherent worth of all beings. Additionally, we want a community that has social justice and action as a prevalent force behind the spirituality. Beyond that, we love making friends that share our values and sense of fun!

Chalice Lighting Family

Each month we invite a family from our Religious Education community to light our chalice. 

Meet the Diller’s!

How long have you been attending First Church? 

Almost six years

Why is First Church and RE important to your family?

First Church and RE is important to us as a place of community and shared values with opportunities to participate in activities that help us grow, learn, and help others.

Who’s in your family?

John, Jamie, Alex, Max, Lucy (dog), Snowflake (cat), Ben (cat), and Blaze (fish).

Sandwich Sunday

I say Sandwich, you say SignUp! Sandwich! SignUp!

Each month the youth in the Religious Education program make and deliver sandwiches to the VOA Homeless Youth Shelter. We are always looking for donations and helping hands. If you available, please sign up below!




Looking for a way to connect your church life to your family life? Join us on the last Sunday of the month for UU@Home. UU@Home meets at 10:15 in Little Chapel on the last Sunday of the month. This month, on January 27th, we’re looking at how we facilitate conversations about “big questions” and how to help youth ask and process their own “big questions”. See you there!


Solstice Wrap Up

Thank you to everyone who attended and participated in our Solstice worship and dinner. Over 185 people came to celebrate the joyous return of the sun and bask in the warmth of community. A big thank you go out to Kathleen Cahill, Rev. Monica Dobbins, Rev. Harold Straughn, Carole Straughn, Nels Anderson of the Drum Bus, Holly Stuart and the Solstice Singers, David Owens and the Jr Choir, Christina Doak, Kim Grob-Lee, the High School teaching team: Jennica Davis-Hockett, Derek Gersdorf, Cooper, and Kristin Quinn, and the High School youth and parents.

Save the Date

Saturday February 9ththe High School youth will be holding a Coffee House is Elliot Hall. Join them for music, readings and of course coffee! See you then!

Chalice Lighting Family

Each month, we invite a family from our Religious Education community to light our chalice. 

Meet the Pinales-Rynearson Family!

Who's in your family? 

Skip, Briana, Alayna, Teagan, Bridger, Asher, Evaline and our cat Pippin

How long have you been attending First Church? 

Skip started going in 2014 and the rest of us started going with him in February 2015. 

Why is First Church and RE important to your family?

We love the lessons of inclusion, open-mindedness and searching for our individual beliefs!

Find the Light! 
Our annual Solstice celebration will be on December 21st! Services will start at 6 pm, with dinner following service. Dinner tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for youth under 12. Tickets will be on sale after service in Eliot Hall starting December 2nd. Solstice Dinner tickets are limited and ALWAYS sell out, so make sure to get your tickets early! All proceeds go to benefit the Religious Education Trip Funds. 

RE Intergenerational Winter Party
Let is snow! Join us for our annual intergenerational winter party on December 8th at 2:30pm This party will be filled with music, activities, and yummy treats. See you there!

This years pageant will be on December 23rdduring the 11 am service. We will once again be having a pop-up pageant, so be prepared for anything during this interactive service! If you are willing and able to help wrangle some sheep(and sometimes a unicorn!) email Lissa at

Photo thanks to Ryan Kratzer for these 2017 Pageant Pics

K-2nd- Have a child in Kindergarten through 2nd grade that you want to participate in OWL? The last OWL class of the year begins January 27th. Please register now so we can make sure your spot is saved. K-2nd OWL Registration

Class Fees- Class fees can be made online herePayments can also be taken in the main church office on Sundays. First Church is committed to all youth participating, regardless of financial capacity. Scholarships and reductions are available by contacting Amanda Esko at or 801-582-8687 ext 206.

Mindfulness Matters
On November 25th, Kindergarten through 5th grade added another tool to their mindfulness toolbox, daily gratitude practices. We created our own gratitude journals, saluted the sun, and practiced meditation. Thank you to everyone who participated! Our next Mindfulness Matters Sunday will be onJanuary 20th!

Photo thanks to Amanda Esko