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Summer Services

Summer Services at First Unitarian Church

Our summer worship services will begin on June 28th, with services led by a mix of incredible lay leaders and your ministers throughout the summer. We have decided to keep our services at 11AM throughout the summer as they will continue to be held online, rather than moving to 10AM as we do when we are in person together.

Summer Services Zoom link
Meeting ID: 145 662 677

Call in number: (646) 876-9923
Meeting ID: 145 662 677 

June 28. Poetry as a Spiritual Practice
Service led by: Heather Speirs
In these AC (after Covid) times, one of our sources of solace and inspiration can be poetry. This service will reflect on using poetry as a spiritual practice, especially the experience of reading poems aloud by oneself or in a small group. Join us for powerful poetry and a chance to deepen your spiritual practice!
     Heather (she/her) has lived in Philly and belonged to First Unitarian Church for fifteen years come this July. Before that, she taught high school English in LA and then college English literature in Santa Barbara. Besides poetry, she loves her work with seniors in Friends in the City and her involvement here as a Small Group Leader, Worship Associate and assistant to Rev. Hannah in Adult Spirituality Development.

July 5. Accept the Love the World has to Offer
Service led by: Deborah Hartranft
In many of our relationships, it can often be so much easier to see what is wrong, and spend our time fighing what isn't working. How can we get better at seeing the joy and love that is right here, right now?
     Deborah (she/her) has been attending First Unitarian Church since 2017. She participates in Circle Supers, Small Group Ministry, and is a member of the nominating committee. In her professional life, Deborah is a Program Manager for the three grant funded PreK programs with the School District: Head Start, PreK Counts, and PHLPreK.

July 12. An Aching Kind of Growing
Service led by: Rev. Hannah Capaldi
It hurts to discover that your heroes are human.  How do we reckon with finding out ugly and hard truths about those we looked to for inspiration and vision?  It is an aching kind of growing to wrestle with fallibility and determine which kinds of mistakes are worth forgiving in our heroes and which forever alter how we see them.
     Rev. Hannah (she/her) serves as First Unitarian Church's Minister for Faith Formation.

July 19. Junk Merchants of the Apocalypse
Service led by: Martin Wiley
In this service, we will explore the way oppressive forces overwhelm our senses with lies, distractions, and false images of strength. When those in power need to diminish us to stay in power, how can we harness the revolutionary power of mockery?  We cannot confront liars solely with truth--we steal their power when we reveal their powerlessness.
     Martin (he/him) is a poet, teacher, activist, and thinker, but most importantly a father and a husband. His day-to-day work is at Project HOME, a Philadelphia non-profit working to eliminate homelessness and combat poverty and the things that cause it. A lot of his writing is focused on being Black in America, and raising Black children in a world that doesn’t appreciate their beauty. Martin is interested in understanding the forces that are pushing hatred, violence, and separation, and using that understanding to better craft our resistance. Historically, oppressed peoples have always known the oppressor better than he knew himself—this is how we survived. Now, we need to do better than survive—we need to win.

July 26. Unlearning Gender, Learning About Ourselves
Service led by: Amy Hillier
Why do we have so much trouble when it comes to gender identity? Why is it so hard for those of us who are cisgender--whose gender identity matches our sex assigned at birth--to get pronouns right, especially non-binary pronouns? Drawing on her own experiences, from  childhood "tomboy" to the parent of a transgender child to the teacher of graduate social work students, Amy will lead us in spiritually exploring what it means to queer, unlearn, and lean in to gender identity.
     Amy (she/her/hers) has been a member of First Unitarian Church for more than 20 years. Born and raised in New Hampshire as a UU, she moved to Philadelphia to attend graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania where she is now a faculty member. She lives with her partner and two children in West Philadelphia.

August 2. Every Day is Ashura, Every Place is Karbala
Service led by: Rev. Abbey Tennis and Mahyar Entezari
Every Ashura, or tenth day of the month of Muharram, Shi‘a Muslims mourn the martyrdom of the Prophet’s grandson, Imam Husayn, in the epic Battle of Karbala. Told and retold, over and over again, the story represents the oppression of the downtrodden across time and space. In a contentious climate of Islamism overseas and Islamophobia at home, what can we learn from this theology here and now?
     Mahyar (he/him) teaches Persian language and culture at the University of Pennsylvania. Born into a Shi'a Muslim family in Iran, he has Ph.D. in Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures from the University of Texas at Austin, where he also studied Arabic, Islam, and Shi'ism. 

August 9. Naming Our Anger
Service led by: Crystal Mann Boyd
Anger is one of our most feared emotions. It is often a trigger that sends us into primitive fight-flight-freeze mode. Yet, what would happen if we approached this feeling with tenderness and curiosity?
     Crystal (she/her) is a seminary graduate and DC/Maryland native. She loves to cook vegan food with her toddler, perform spoken-word poetry, and care for her family (one toddler, one tween, one husband).

August 16. Focus on Strengths during Times of Change & Challenge 
Service led by: Stephen W. Oliver, Ed.D.
“From the cradle to the cubicle, we devote more time to our shortcomings than to our strengths” says Tom Rath. We all have strengths and weaknesses. But, the more we know what makes us tick, the more chance we have for success in life. If you better understand who you are, you can put most of your energy into developing your natural talents, and have extraordinary room for growth. Your Strengths can help with all those in your life. How can we concentrate on our strengths, both in following our passions, and during times of change & challenge?
     Stephen (he/him) is a long time resident of Center City, Philadelphia. Stephen is an adjunct professor of Human Resources Management, Leadership and Emotional Intelligence and Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Virginia and Widener University. He has been teaching online for many years to business, nursing, and health care students. Stephen had been coming to First Unitarian Church for several years and joined in 2016. He just finished a term on our Board of Trustees (2018-2020) and has enjoyed his work with the board, ministers, staff, and congregants.

August 23. Questions of Faith
Service led by: Rev. Hannah Capaldi
Join us for a spontaneous, unscripted service to answer your questions on matters of spirituality and social justice. If you’d like to submit a question, please send it by Wednesday, August 19, to with “Questions of Faith” in the subject line. There will be a chance to ask questions during the service as well!
     Rev. Hannah serves as First Unitarian Church's Minister for Faith Formation.

August 30. Blessing of the Animals
Service led by: Rev. Abbey Tennis
In this service, we celebrate the gifts of our interconnectedness with the animal world. Bring your pets on zoom to receive a blessing in this intergenerational service. Pictures of shy or departed pets, stuffed animals, or other symbolic animals are invited to receive a blessing too!
     Rev. Abbey serves as First Unitarian Church's Lead Minister.

September 6. A Matter of Convenience: Staying Mindful in a Convenience-first World
Service led by: Eliza Hammer Gage
Our society values convenience above most other things. But convenience culture can negatively impact how we consume and how we connect with people around us. This service will explore the ways that we can use mindfulness to make more eco friendly and soul friendly choices.
     Eliza (She/Her) is a lifelong seeker. In her teenage years she found and fell in love with Buddhism. While living in Rochester, NY with her now spouse Em Gage Hammer, they found community and new ideas at the First Unitarian Church of Rochester. When they moved to Philly 3.5 years ago, she joined a choir rehearsal before ever attending a service. From that first note, she new she found her spiritual home. Today she lives and works from home in South Philly as a Project Manager. She sings in the choir and is the current Secretary of the Board. When she isn't working hard she loves to spend time with her animals, in the kitchen trying new things, and with her family.

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