Join us Saturday April 21st for a fun filled evening at the Annual Fine Arts and Craft Fair 2018

5:00 - 6:00     Aerial Arts of Utah - Outdoor Plaza Performance  

6:25 - 6:35     UU Children’s Choir 

7:05 - 7:35     Quattro Amici - Italian Madrigal Quartet 

8:05 - 8:35     Java Jive - Jazz Vocal Ensemble 

9:05 - Close   Tablado - Flamenco Guitar, dance and song

These past few Sundays I’ve talked to a lot of people visiting the pledge table in Eliot Hall. It’s always nice to see old friends and make new ones, but what’s been especially interesting is hearing people talk about why they pledge. Most don’t think twice before answering; their response is immediate and enthusiastic and just rolls off their tongues: they love First Unitarian Church. (There’s a lot of love in and for our church!) Fewer people offer more concrete explanations, referring to this program or that committee or a certain cause; I heard religious education and sanctuary and the caring network, social justice and small group ministry and music. Among many answers—and really good reasons as to why people give to the church—one stood out: a 9 o’clock service attendee, who I don’t see often because I’m usually with the 11 o’clock crowd, replied, with the same spontaneity and conviction as those declaring their love for the church, “because I want the staff to get paid. That’s social justice, too.”  

Obviously, church staff work hard every Sunday, and it’s not like they have the other six days off, as I used to think when I was pondering my career choices in middle school. Running a church is a huge enterprise, and an expensive one, too. Do you know how large our church’s staff is? Do you know how many events the church hosts each year? It’s mind-boggling. Last year, prior to significant changes in religious education and before the sanctuary family joined us—two developments that have caused a dramatic increase in activity this year—the church hosted more than 1,000 events. This number includes private parties, but those, too, are work for church staff. We had more than 500 community events at the church, plus numerous untracked events outside the building, most of them working towards our mission of advancing a progressive and just world. Of the full-time staff, nobody works fewer than 40 hours; most work more, including early mornings, evenings, holidays, and, well, Sundays. Assistant Minister Monica Dobbins told me about “ministry units” of 4 hours each; full-time ministers meet a standard of 12 ministry units per week, although Monica noted that it’s all too easy to work 14 units. She tries to protect one full day each week and keep it to two work evenings, however, that’s not always, or even often, possible. Senior Minister Tom Goldsmith added that many of the congregation’s pastoral needs—cries for help in the darkest hour—don’t follow a schedule, but that pastoring is the most humbling aspect of ministry, and, for him, its greatest privilege. 

What about the number of staff? Did you come up with eighteen? If so, you’re much more observant than me. I didn’t realize that First Church employs five full-time and twelve part-time staff, plus a ministerial intern. I’m a member of the church, and it made me proud to learn that we are a Fair Compensation Congregation. This means our church meets strict guidelines set by the Unitarian Universalist Association, which prescribe compensation packages based on qualifications, experience, and location that include benefits (paid time off, health and dental insurance, retirement contributions, etc.). Where does the money come from, you ask? From you and me: from friends and members of the church. From people who pledge. Our pledge is an investment into the staff of this church, who Make It Count every day—in our congregation and the larger community.  

The goal for the pledge drive is a 5% increase over last year’s actual pledge revenue, or $583,000. This number reflects the increased financial needs of our church in 2018-19. The next fiscal year begins July 1, and your pledge this month will allow church leadership determine the budget and start planning for next year. The 5% increase is necessary not only because our congregation is growing—rapidly so!—but because our staff need, and deserve, a 2% cost-of-living adjustment. We want to remain a fair compensation congregation, and this adjustment is necessary and overdue. When you make your pledge, I want you to do so because you love this church, like I do. In addition, I want you to give because you want the staff to get fairly compensated. As the 9 o’clocker said: that’s social justice, too.

Please stop by Eliot Hall after an upcoming service; I look forward to talking to you about why you pledge. – Melanie, Pledge Committee

The following hikes and walks have been planned for anyone who is interested in enjoying nature with fellow UUs this spring.  It is important to e-mail the hike leader if you plan to participate so the leader may keep you informed of changes in plans, weather concerns, meet-up locations etc.   All are welcome. 

Tuesdays mornings 3/27 thru 5/29 @ 10:00 am Shirley Ray is doing walks along the Jordan River.  Meet at 5300 S Jordan Parkway Walden Park and Pavilion in Murray.  Shirley would enjoy working with a co- leader.  Please contact her if you are interested in co leading or walking.  Shirley's email is

Saturday 3/31 @ 9 am Catherine Groseclose is leading a "Living Room" hike. Meet at the Natural History Museum parking lot.  Catherine's email is

Saturday 4/14 @ 10 am Doug Roberts is leading an Antelope Island hike. Carpool to the island at 9 am, carpool location TBD. Doug's email is

Saturday 4/21 @ 9 am Gene Mahalko is leading a City Creek walk.  Meeting place TBD  Gene's email is

Saturday 5/12 @ 9 am Catherine Groseclose is leading a Grandeur Peak hike.  Meet at Around Eatery parking lot

Wednesday 5/16 @ 10 am Doug Roberts is leading a Mueller Park-Elephant Rock hike. Meeting place TBD. Doug's email is

*****(All events wait only 15 minutes for late comers)

Regional Assembly is for the Whole Family!

The UU PWR Regional Assembly in Portland, Oregon (April 27-29) has something for people of every age. In addition to the main programs for adults, we'll have a UU Kids Camp for ages 5-14, a Youth Assembly for ages 14-18, and high-quality childcare for infants to age 4. Families can spend time together, too, sharing the experiences of the opening ceremony, the Sundaymorning worship, mealtimes, and more. Because of our UU commitment to including children and youth, the PWR is covering much of the cost of the programs for young people. The registration fee is just a portion of what it costs for these engaging, inclusive, and faith-building programs.

The Pacific Western Regional Assembly promises to be an experience that deepens UU identity and fosters hope and resilience in people of all ages. Register now and join us in Portland this spring!

Do you ever get the feeling that narcissists are clueless about aging? Self-awareness has never been a strength among the egotistical; so their constant clamor for attention continues endlessly, long past when they should pack their bags and bid adieu to the limelight. If only they knew how silly they look and act when they pretend they are ageless. They would never think of moving on or stepping aside in the twilight of their years when most people wish they would surrender to the truth about themselves. It’s a psychological disorder when the need for admiration exceeds a more circumspect view that their talents are tarnished like an old piece of silver. And frankly, nobody wants to get out the polish.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden, ages 72 and 74 respectively, decided to rumble last week as though they were teenagers. Rather than bask in the glow as elderly statesmen, they entered virtual reality as teenagers, threatening to beat the crap out of each other. Vanity can get the best of people when they think they’re some sort of Peter Pan who doesn’t get older. But into one’s seventies and still insisting that you’re a bad ass epitomizes Fake News. Bulletin Bulletin Bulletin: You’re a fool and we’re laughing at you.

One of my colleagues, who retired a few years back due to failing health, said it was difficult to acknowledge professionally, “It’s not your turn anymore.” There’s a natural rhythm in life when the old gives way to the young. You may not plan for it and it might even surprise you. But at some point even the longest running show on Broadway closes. Time to use the stage for new theater productions. Helps keep society’s blood flowing. There are still options when surrendering a career like mentoring, serving as an elder, taking a bow, offering support. But try telling any self-absorbed nitwit that it’s not his or her turn anymore.

As much as I love Bernie Sanders, he would be 79 years old if he made another presidential run. I don’t dislike Nancy Pelosi as so many do, but she turned 78 last Monday. Doesn’t mean she needs to retire from life, but her unyielding power has made it difficult for any promising new leadership to emerge. We need new voices in government. The baby in the next presidential race is Elizabeth Warren who will be a spry 73.

Don’t think I’m dismissive of the old or worship the cult of youth. It’s a matter of seeing life clearly, especially oneself. Young voters need new narratives and symbols and fresh beginnings in order to get excited enough to cast a ballot. If the elderly have accumulated any wisdom in life, they will have learned selflessness and the need for new ideas and perspectives to emerge. And they will understand that as well intentioned as they are, they can also inhibit progress…the kind of crisp approach to issues for which most of us crave.

Last Saturday at the March For Our Lives, organized by high school students protesting the political lack of nerve to impose sane gun laws, the kids spoke out.

They invited a band of interfaith clergy to join them in leading the march, but made it clear that the clergy were merely ornamental. The students would take the mic. As a result, I and thousands of protesters were treated to a series of thunderous speeches, better than I had ever heard before. They were short and savvy, and one speech flowed into the next seamlessly, organized by themes relevant to the cause: guns preferred over children, white children slain as a different media experience from black children gunned down, fear among students, and a plea that they have had enough.

The voices of those too young to vote today, will be voting in 2020. Will they be able to get excited about the near octogenarians running for president? That’s the chance that Biden, Bernie, and others will take. Let’s hope that they are not as blinded by their narcissism as Trump. It’s not their turn anymore. TRG

Sometimes I think that we will never achieve real progress on gun control. We have been fighting this battle for decades, and our nation’s destructive love affair with weapons of war has only accelerated and intensified. We lose more and more of our precious children every year to senseless gun violence. 

And then, there are moments when I am humbled by my own lack of faith. 8000 protesters, led by high school students, poured into the streets of Salt Lake City on March 24, to demand a halt to the exchange of blood money for false freedoms. 8000 Utahns said they won’t be afraid anymore, and they wouldn’t let their elected officials make fearful excuses anymore. 

That morning, I lined up with other progressive clergy from our city, all of us wearing the vestments of our faith traditions, and marched toward the Capitol beside them. As we marched, we chatted about our Holy Week plans, noting the irony that this march was taking place the day before Palm Sunday will be celebrated in many Christian churches. 

In the Palm Sunday narrative, Jesus and his students approach the city of Jerusalem for the Passover festival, a time in which the Jewish people celebrated their liberation from Egyptian oppression. During Jesus’ time, of course, the Jewish people were occupied by another oppressive regime – that of the Romans. In fact, at around the same time Jesus was approaching Jerusalem, the Roman governor was also making a grand entrance of his own, on the other side of the city. A festival of liberation was often a ripe moment for insurrection, and the governor would have wanted to make his military presence known in order to suppress revolt. 

How could he have known what real revolt would look like: a band of peasants with their illiterate teacher, riding not on a war horse but on an unbroken donkey. Scholars John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg say of that moment:

“Jesus’ procession deliberately countered what was happening on the other side of the city. Pilate’s procession embodied the power, glory, and violence of the empire that ruled the world. Jesus’ procession embodied an alternative vision, the kingdom of God.” That is a beautiful description of the kingdom of God: an alternative vision of the world, in which the world is ordered not by money and power but by love and justice. 

Marching toward the Capitol that day, I got a glimpse of the kingdom of God riding to the halls of power on a donkey, led by children. I hope you did too. We can – we MUST – imagine a world without gun violence, in which swords are beaten into plowshares and we study war no more. True freedom is not the power to kill, but the power to heal and to be healed. If we cannot imagine it, we cannot bring it into being. I urge you not to lose hope, but to let these young people lead us toward the best that we can imagine. 

Yours in faith,

Rev. Monica

Make It Count! The 2018-19 Pledge Drive
There’s no secret or magic to congregational fundraising: simply put, we rely on the generosity of members and friends to make an annual pledge so that we can plan for the next fiscal year. Celebration Sunday, an important day in the calendar of our church, celebrates not only our church and its history, but also, and particularly, the generosity and commitment of its people. Celebration Sunday kicks off the pledge drive for 2018-19 on March 4. The pledge drive will run through Easter Sunday, and we hope that during those few weeks you will pledge your financial support and help us reach our goal.

Your pledge supports the daily operations of the church. The goal of the pledge drive is ambitious but doable—a 5% increase over last year’s actual, or $583,000—and it reflects three budgetary priorities for 2018-19. First, we will keep our second minister and invest into building safety. This will allow us to serve our steadily growing, multi-generational congregation with meaningful programming in a safe and welcoming environment. Secondly, we will provide the professional staff with a critical and long-overdue 2% cost-of- living increase. Lastly, we will expand the music department and recognize artist-in- residence David A. Zabriskie as Associate Music Director.

We chose this year’s motto, Make It Count!, in honor of our church’s mission to build a progressive and just world. With your participation, our church leads important social justice efforts in our community and makes a real impact on people’s lives. Our actions count. Please take action during the pledge drive, too, and pick up a pledge card at our table in Eliot Hall or contact church administrator Hal Gonzales directly (801-582- 8687 ext. 201). Whether you are a member or friend and have attended First Church for years or just a few months, please give as generously as you can—your contribution counts!

The Pledge Drive Committee

In preparation for his upcoming recital tour, our Russian pianist friend, Mark Fouxman, will again be giving his pre-tour recital here at First Church Tuesday evening March 6th. ( tent. time: 7:00 pm - watch next bulletin for exact time ). Mark is a delightful human being and a consummate musician and the Music Department is pleased to host this event. It is free of charge and will be followed by a reception in Eliot Hall.


Our Sister Church -South Valley UU- will be presenting a concert of commissioned music by Mary Lou Prince. It will feature the Rosco String Quartet and Japanese koto, as well as an original choral work. This commission is a reflection on the Japanese Americans detained at the Topaz Relocation Camp during World War II. It is Sunday, March 18th, 2018, 5:00 p.m. at South Valley Unitarian Universalist Society (6876 South  Highland Drive). A suggested donation of $15 will benefit the music program of SVUUS. If you have more questions, you can call SVUUS (520-400-0831) or talk to David Owens. There is also a poster on the bulletin board in Eliot Hall.

As an RE team, when we chose the theme Faith In Action for our church year, we had no idea how timely it would be. To further our growth as a faith community, we added two new programs,  Service Sunday and UU@Home. These programs have been designed to compliment our theme, guiding our youth in action and service in our community, as well as the larger community and world.

On our first Service Sunday, on October 22nd,  we participated in a nation-wide UU White Supremacy Teach-In. Through advocacy and research, two essential elements of service learning, our youth grappled with topics such as racial identity and privilege.  Next, we met with members of the Refugee Resettlement Committee(RRC) and learned about their work with the International Rescue Committee.  As a community, we learned what it's like to live in impoverished and war-torn countries, and discussed how it would feel to move to someplace completely different.  The RRC challenged us to find and befriend refugees in our own schools and communities. In January we learned about the Sanctuary Solidarity Network and First Church’s place in Utah’s history of providing sanctuary. We tied quilts and made beautiful collaborative paintings to make the residence in our own church a bit more welcoming.  This month Nuzzles & Co. came (with puppies!) to teach us about their efforts to find homes for animals throughout Utah. The youth also enhanced their knot tying and braiding skills by making dog and cat toys to donate to the shelter.  We hope to continue the year with equally enriching service opportunities.  We are continuing our service project from last year, Sandwich Sunday.  For those of you who are new, the youth prepare 40 sack lunches for homeless teens at the Volunteers of America shelter each month.  In March a speaker from the VOA will be telling us more about where our sandwiches go and the community it’s serving.  

April will be The Big Give! The goal of the Big Give is to encourage our youth to reflect and evaluate the community partners we’ve teamed with, and give big to them!  Step one: Make a box!  In RE, we will be making our own Giving Boxes.  We’ll brainstorm ways they can earn money for their Giving Boxes asking them to bring the boxes back to church a week before Easter Sunday.  Step two: Learn to evaluate a charity.  We will discuss each of the community partners we learned about this year and each child will decide which partner to give their hard-earned dollars to.

And finally, UU@Home is a brand new class for families to explore being a Unitarian in fun ways--together!  We hope to seek ways to bring home the things we discuss each week at church.  We’ll learn more about the 7 principles, practice some gratitude, and maybe throw down some family yoga.  Find us in Little Chapel on the last Sunday of each month at 10:15!   Our youth have been eager learners and active helpers! It is a gift and a joy to lead them!

Our teachers are amazing!  As the lower school closes out another curriculum block, the RE team would like to thank our teachers once again!

  • Infant-Three year olds: Erin Cowley, Betsy McHugh
  • Preschool: Beth and Coleen Jennings, Bethany Moos
  • Kindergarten-2nd Grade: Kevin Emmerson, Jennifer Heartel, Kris Lander
  • 3rd-4th Grade: Jojo Lui, Megan Anderson
  • 5th-6th Grade OWL: Britt Rose, Kendra and Raleigh Smith, Matt Wilson
  • COA: Carrie Black, Kaden Colton, Paul Kuttner, Kristin Quinn
  • High School: Derek Gersdorf, Cooper, Rob Richardson, Dot Verbrugge

RE Calendar:

  • March 5: Family Fun Night
  • March 11: Sanctuary Sunday, Service Sunday, Sandwich Sunday, OWL 5th/6th Second Session begins
  • March 18: High School Service
  • March 25: Child Dedication, Jr Choir Singing


As Unitarians, welcoming visitors in an open and inclusive way has always been one our strongest virtues. If we had “commandments” I’m sure one of those would address our hospitality.

As it turns out, I think our welcoming “gene” has multiple levels. First, it connects individuals to families—their own, of course, but to all the others who find First Church to be a welcoming environment.

Beyond that, we know the Church welcomes the community at large. Sort of a “welcome wagon” to all who seek the warmth, comaraderie and benevolence inherent in our guiding principles.

As we approach Celebration Sunday, I wonder if I’ve risen to the challenge of making new families feel welcome here...of making at least one child—perhaps several children—less fearful of being the new kid/s in a religious education classroom.

GIven the recent horrific events in Florida, we should never underestimate the power that one person has among those who are vulnerable. Your very first words and acts of welcome leave an indelible mark.

People remember acts of kindness throughout their entire lives. Every positive encounter, every “welcoming”, has the potential to create a Unitarian sort of future. The old adage “One candle flame can light a million other candles and never be diminished” certainly comes to mind.

Maya Angelou got it right when she wrote, “People will forget what you said...people will forget what you did...but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Today, in the face of corrupt governments, violence and glaring inequality worldwide, freedom seekers still come to the United States for safety, shelter and an improved quality of life. So many arrive as strangers, unable at first to fit in. That is where we come in! At this very moment, I am so proud of our congregation—friends and strangers alike—who have come together to welcome and protect a family in need.

Hospitality starts at home and here at First Church. Like the proverbial pebble dropped in a pond, it can moves outward toward the larger community. By embracing our faith, I have come to learn more about my own theology. In part, it is quite simple. The world should be an extension of what we value in our homes...we should welcome strangers and seek ways to extend our hospitality.

This year, more than ever, it is so difficult not to despair over the repetition of unspeakable terror and tragedy. Not to mention the disturbing discourse from so many of our leaders.

In Jewish folklore, there is a wonderful story about a man who stood before God, heartbroken by the pain and injustice in the world.

“Dear God,” he cried. “Look at all the suffering, the distress, the anguish in your world. Why don’t you do something—send help!” God responded, “I did send help! I sent you.”

We Unitarians are compassionate people. As we celebrate our founding and our unique gifts on March 4, let us always remember to act with love and kindness and welcome the stranger.