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. 

With the arrival of our Minister for Faith Formation, Rev. Hannah Capaldi, in the Summer of 2019, we hope to expand and build upon the lifespan religious education offerings.  At this time, our two primary and ongoing programs are the Circle Suppers and the Small Group Ministries. 

Upcoming Programming:

Adult Summer Ed offerings are here! This summer you can join fellow congregants in various adult education sessions led by other congregants, as well as Chase Castle, our Music Director. Session descriptions are below. 

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. Sign up here. 
Date offered: 6/10, will meet at 5pm

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

The First Great Awakening established a robust tradition of evangelical revivalism in America that helped fashion American ethics and social practices throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Historians have long acknowledged the role of preaching in fostering heightened levels of religiosity during periods of revival, and devotional literature in sustaining that piety between revivals. Little attention, however, has been given to hymnody—a lyrical genre of sacred music that emerged during the First Awakening—as a spiritual resource for devotion. Analyzing hymnbooks, sermons, ministerial accounts of revivals, and spiritual autobiographies written between 1720 and 1750 shows that hymns also served as a musical currency in the moral economy of the early American revival tradition. Sign up here. 
Date offered: 6/17, will meet at 5pm

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. Sign up here.
Dates offered: 6/17; 6/24; 7/1; 7/8; 7/15, will meet at 4pm

4. Loving Ourselves Into a Peaceful Existence
(Instructor: Crystal Mann Boyd)

This pilot series is a guided approach to improving self-esteem, soothing anger, and shedding limiting beliefs through the lens of presence, gratitude, and visualisation. Our working definition of a peaceful existence is one where we are grounded in our bodies everyday, with the ability to choose how we respond to life. It takes work to get there. During these times of constant stress, swift transition, and civil unrest we have a unique opportunity to test our skills from the course. You may be coming to this space with feelings of restlessness as you search for your space in the world or the modern revolution. Just know that tackling big things starts within. Can you ease your mind at night? Can you move from white-guilt to fearless ally? Can you emotionally deal with being Black in America? You should leave each week feeling a little more equipped. Drop-in to 1 or stay for all 5. Join at anytime but please do sign up so you can get access to the member’s portal. Sign up here. 
Dates offered: 7/9; 7/16; 7/23; 7/30; 8/6, will meet at 7pm

5. 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. 
     The course will be held via zoom while participants will be encouraged to sit somewhere outside during the zoom call if possible.  A smartphone with a data plan is strongly recommended.  While certain activities will encourage participants to go outdoors in their yard or neighborhood, there will be alternative suggestions that you can do inside too. Sign up here
Dates offered: 7/21; 7/28; 8/4, will meet at 7pm

Current Programming:

Small Group Ministries
Contact: Christina Servetnick,
Small groups consist of ~10 congregants who gather monthly throughout the year 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. We are open for new sign-ups!

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

Past Programming:

Building Your Own Theology
Based on the assumption that everyone is their own theologian (non-theists welcome!), this classic UU adult education program invites participants to develop their own personal credos. This is a multi-session lay-led class which starts January 29th and then meets on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month for 10 sessions total.

Legacy Planning Presentation
Karen Wolfe, Esq., is an estate-planning attorney (and First Unitarian Church member and small group leader) who will discuss laying out the plan for your legacy while working with a lawyer to develop your will. This thoughtful and intensely personal planning is re-framed as part of a generative, hopeful conversation around legacy. Karen will interweave discussion about making estate planning a positive endeavor with the more practical nuts and bolts of common legal planning and the services an estate and elder lawyer offers.

Living the Examined Life until the End of Life

Together, we will face into the hard truths of human mortality and the decisions we and our loved ones can make now for the end of life to be a time of grace, gratitude, and dignity. No matter your age, whether you are facing end-of-life challenges, caring for loved ones facing these challenges, or simply want to live a more “examined life,” these sessions are for you.
The first session of our search in this series will focus on how to anticipate rather than react to a medical event that has occurred. This planning process enables us to initiate difficult conversations with parents or children and helps us determine what we want from the medical community. Perhaps most important, it can help us to avoid unnecessary suffering and strengthen relationships with our loved ones. 

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