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Adult Spiritual Development

The third principle of Unitarian Universalism holds that we affirm and promote "Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations."  At First Unitarian of Philadelphia, we believe all deserve life-long opportunities for religious education, theological exploration, and spiritual growth.

Summer Programming:

Year Round Programming: 

Small Group Ministries
Contact: Debby Schultz,

Small groups consist of ~10 congregants who gather monthly with a facilitator from October to June to reflect on spiritual issues in our lives and the world. Groups covenant to support each other, speak from the heart and mind, and to care for each other, including honoring everyone's confidentiality. 

Sign Up Here:

Heartcheck Groups
Contact: Rev. Hannah,

Weekly groups of 4 that meet to check in briefly, touching base on what's weighing on your heart.  These are casual groups that offer you a chance to get to know other folks in the congregation and to feel connected during a time of physical and social distancing. 

Sign Up Here:

Please check below for a few examples of past programming we have offered 

Past Programming:

1. The Shared Roots of Church and Country Music
(Instructor: Chase Castle)

Fans who listened to the radio staple found comfort in the tradition of country music and artists who achieved a spot on the program were deemed saints in the country music canon of faith. The musical significance of these broadcasts is well known, but the manner in which they have relied on tropes of congregational sacred worship have received less attention. And yet, sacred themes pervade the performances, which, as this paper shows, functioned as sacred ground that combined the pleasure of Saturday night and reverence of Sunday morning.

2. Understanding Your Racial Identity
(Instructor: Marissa Colston)
A three part workshop in which participants will be introduced to racial identity models, engage in reflection and discussion of our own understandings of self as racialized beings, and learn how racial identity influences relationships. 

3. Listening as a Spiritual Practice
(Instructor: Tricia Way)

Tricia Way has been teaching in higher education and prison institutions for the past eight years, focusing on social justice-related issues. She was trained in JUST Listening ( in 2014 and has been active in the organization's listening projects in Kensington, Phoenixville, and most recently at the State Correctional Institution at Phoenix. Tricia recognizes that listening justly to others--and being justly listened to--have changed her life for the better; she would like to continue offering her JUST Listening practice to anyone interested in learning the craft of listening more fully and in "right relationship" with another. 

4. Learning to See: Nature in Our Backyard, Porch or Park
(Instructor: Phaedra Tinder and Heather Speirs)

Mary Oliver wrote, “I do not know exactly what a prayer is.  I do know how to pay attention.”  While most of us are spending a lot more time in our homes, we can deepen our appreciation for the spaces immediately around us by giving more attention to the plants, animals, and landscapes that share our urban and suburban environments.  We will explore some techniques to make identifying plants, birds, and insects easier, practice intentionally noticing the world around us, learn about urban ecology and some of the particular natural history of the Philadelphia area, and draw on memories, art, and writing for inspiration. 

5. Cannibal Christians to QAnon: Fantasies of Ultimate Evil
(Instructor: Joy Wiltenburg) 
"Cannibal Christians to QAnon: Fantasies of Ultimate Evil" is a four week class led by historian and long term member Joy Wiltenburg.  Each week the group will read and discuss portions of David Frankfurter's book Evil Incarnate: Rumors of Demonic Conspiracy and Satanic Abuse in History. Frankfurter is a scholar of religion, while Joy is a specialist in early modern European history who teaches the history of witch hunts. We will explore the fantasies of evil that have led to so much demonization and persecution, from early history to our own times.  

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