First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia ~ Welcome home!

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.



Year Round Programming: 


Small Group Ministries

The popular Small Group Ministry Program is all set to start up in October.  Congregants have found Small Group Ministry to be a great way to further explore one's spirituality and the UU faith while keeping in touch monthly with a group of 7-10 new and old friends. Click here for more information and to register.  Feel free to reach out to Small Group Ministry with questions or assistance in registering.  

Heartcheck Groups
Contact: Loretta Dunne, ldunne@link.cotse.net
Heartcheck groups started at the beginning of the Pandemic as a way to have an established weekly check in with others from our community during uncertain times. We are continuing this year because they have proved to be popular and rewarding for the participants. They offer the opportunity to have regular contact with some congregants on an on-going basis. The Heartcheck groups will begin in October and be held at a designated time each week. Most of these groups will be zoom only but there will be an opportunity to join a hybrid group in which the members are able to occasionally meet in person, depending on the current church guidelines for small group meetings and the comfort level of those in the group. These will be 30-45 minute get-togethers, allowing you to share what is resting on your hearts, minds and spirits. Please register here.


Circle Suppers
Contact: Loretta Dunne, ldunne@link.cotse.net
Are you hoping to get to know others better in the UU congregation? If you love to eat a meal with others, share ideas and have some fun, now is the time to join a circle supper. Circle suppers are a long tradition in UU Congregations and consist of 7-8 people who meet once a month during the church year, eat a meal together, talk about whatever is on their plate or on their mind, and get to know each other. The specific meeting time during the month is flexible and determined by the group. This year we will have two flavors of Circle Suppers. One will be zoom only. The other type of group (hybrid) will decide how to meet as they go along and will follow the church guidelines for gathering. Currently the guidelines for small groups is to meet virtually or meet outdoors. When you register, you will be able to indicate the preference for a virtual only or a hybrid group. Please register here. Contact Loretta Dunne with any questions.



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 (https://justlistening.net/) 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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Are you hoping to get to know others better in the UU congregation? If you love to eat a meal with others, share ideas and have some fun, now is the time to join a circle supper. Circle suppers are a long tradition in UU Congregations and consist of 7-8 people who meet once a month during the church year, eat a meal together, talk about whatever is on their plate or on their mind, and get to know each other. The specific meeting time during the month is flexible and determined by the group. This year we will have two flavors of Circle Suppers. One will be zoom only. The other type of group (hybrid) will decide how to meet as they go along and will follow the church guidelines for gathering. Currently the guidelines for small groups is to meet virtually or meet outdoors. When you register, you will be able to indicate the preference for a virtual only or a hybrid group. Please register here. Contact Loretta Dunne, ldunne@link.cotse.net with any questions.are you

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