First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia ~ Welcome home!

Dear All,

It's back to school season, so we are excited to announce our Adult Religious Education classes beginning this fall! The following workshops, lectures, and discussion groups are all free to attend, except for the ticket costs for plays as part of the Theater Discussion Group.

To register, please
fill out and submit this form. You are welcome to attend one, several, or all of the sessions in each series.
Classes & Forums

Religion in America Series
Six Mondays: October 7 to November 11, 2013
from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Shared Ministry Suite

Religion in America is an interactive workshop with Rev. Nate that explores the tumultuous 400-year history of the intersection of religion and public life in America, from the first European settlements to the 2008 presidential election. The first hour of each class will be dedicated to watching one hour of a PBS program followed by an engaging discussion. Bring a study journal and a snack as we examine how religious dissidents helped shape the American concept of religious liberty and the controversial evolution of that ideal in the nation's courts and political arena; how religious freedom and waves of new immigrants and religious revivals fueled competition in the religious marketplace; how movements for social reform–from abolition to civil rights–galvanized men and women to put their faith into political action; and how religious faith influenced conflicts from the American Revolution to the Cold War. 


Session One: "A New Adam"

Monday, October 7, 2013, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

The first session explores the origins of America's unique religious landscape – how the New World challenged and changed the faiths the first European settlers brought with them. In New Mexico, the spiritual rituals of the Pueblo Indians collided with the Catholic faith of Franciscan missionaries, ending in a bloody revolt. In New England, Puritan leader John Winthrop faced off against religious dissenters from within his own ranks. And a new message of spiritual rebirth from evangelical preachers like George Whitefield swept through the American colonies, upending traditional religious authority and kindling a rebellious spirit that converged with the political upheaval of the American Revolution.


Session Two: "A New Eden"

Monday, October 14, 2013, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

The second session considers the origins of America's experiment in religious liberty, examining how the unlikely alliance between evangelical Baptists and enlightenment figures such as Thomas Jefferson forged a new concept of religious freedom. In the competitive religious marketplace unleashed by this freedom, upstart denominations raced ahead of traditional faiths and a new wave of religious revivals swept thousands of converts into the evangelical fold and inspired a new gospel of social reform. In a fierce political struggle, Catholic immigrants, led by New York Archbishop John Hughes, challenged Protestant domination of public schools and protested the daily classroom practice of reading from the King James Bible.


Session Three: "A Nation Reborn"

Monday, October 21, 2013, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

The third session explores how religion suffused the Civil War. As slavery split the nation in two, Northern abolitionists and Southern slaveholders turned to the Bible to support their cause. Former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass condemned Christianity for sanctioning slavery. In the White House, Abraham Lincoln struggled to make sense of the war's carnage and the death of his young son. The president, who previously had put his faith in reason over revelation, embarked on a spiritual journey that transformed his ideas about God and the ultimate meaning of the war.


Session Four: "A New Light"

Monday, October 28, 2013, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

During the 19th century, the forces of modernity challenged traditional faith and drove a wedge between liberal and conservative believers. Bohemian immigrant Isaac Mayer Wise embraced change and established Reform Judaism in America while his opponents adhered to Old World traditions. In New York, Presbyterian biblical scholar Charles Briggs sought to wed his evangelical faith with modern biblical scholarship, leading to his trial for heresy. In the 1925 Scopes evolution trial, Christian fundamentalist William Jennings Bryan faced off against freethinker Clarence Darrow in a battle between scientific and religious truth.


Session Five: "Soul of a Nation"

Monday, November 4, 2013, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

The fifth session explores the post-World War II era, when rising evangelist Billy Graham tried to inspire a religious revival that fused faith with patriotism in a Cold War battle with "godless communism." As Americans flocked in record numbers to houses of worship, non-believers and religious minorities appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to test the constitutionality of religious expression in public schools. And civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. emerged as a modern-day prophet, calling upon the nation to honor both biblical teachings and the founders' democratic ideals of equal justice.


Session Six: "Of God and Caesar"

Monday, November 11, 2013, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

The final session brings us into the present day, exploring the religious and political aspirations of conservative evangelicals' moral crusade over divisive social issues like abortion and gay marriage. Their embrace of presidential politics would end in disappointment and questions about the mixing of religion and politics. Across America, the religious marketplace expanded as new waves of immigrants from Asia, the Middle East and Latin America made the United States the most religiously diverse nation on earth. In the 2008 presidential election, the re-emergence of a religious voice in the Democratic Party brought the country to a new plateau in its struggle to reconcile faith with politics. Religion in America closes with reflections on the role of faith in the public life of the country, from the ongoing quest for religious liberty to the enduring idea of America as the "city on a hill" envisioned by the Puritans nearly 400 years ago.

Adult Sexuality Education Workshop Series

Four Sundays: every other week September 8 to October 14, 2013
from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.
Ethical Society 1906 S. Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia

This series will use the Circles of Sexuality model by Dr. Dennis Dailey as a basis to discuss sexuality education through the lifespan. These are free workshops in partnership with the Ethical Society and the First Unitarian Church, however registration is required.  Come to 1, 2, 3 or all 4!  If you have any questions, please contact 1stU's Lead Teacher Kimberly McKay at


Parents as Sexuality Educators

Sunday, September 8, 3:00-5:00 p.m.

There is no such thing as only one BIG talk. Parents and other adults are constantly teaching children through their words and behavior. This workshop is designed to provide parents and adults with skills and tools to utilize the everyday teaching moments to educate children about facts, information, as well as their personal values and beliefs.


Sexuality and Young Adults: Communication and Expectations

Sunday, September 22, 3:00-5:00 p.m.

Workshop is designed to explore the sexuality issues and joys of young adulthood, including developing intimacy (both friendships and sexual partnerships), sexual safety, STI prevention, and communication.


Sexuality and Aging

Sunday, October 6, 3:00-5:00 p.m.

Sexuality evolves throughout each individual’s lifespan. This workshop is designed to explore some of the unique sexuality issues and joys that adults can experience as they age, including long-term relationships, changes in partnership, physical ability, intimacy, and effects of medication and illness.  The Circles of Sexuality model was first developed to discuss sexuality for the aging adult.


Sexuality and Variety: Identity, Orientation, and Behavior

Sunday, October 20, 3:00-5:00 p.m.

Kira Manser, the LGBT Health & Capacity Trainer at the Mazzoni Center, will join our discussion. This workshop is designed to raise awareness and strengthen sensitivities to the variety within sexual identity, orientation, and behavior.

Theater Discussion Group

Plays on Fridays at 8:00 pm, Locations vary
Discussions on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Shared Ministry Suite

The Theater Discussion Group invites you to attend any or all of the following four plays this year on Fridays at 8:00 p.m. with Reverend Nate. In the weeks following, the Discussion Group will meet on a Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the Shared Ministry Suite to discuss the play, and Rev. Nate will reference the play in a sermon on Sunday. If you cannot attend a play on the date Rev. Nate is going, you are welcome to attend the Discussion Group if you see the play at another time before it meets.


Play: Friday, October 11, 8:00 p.m.
Arden Theatre, 40 N. 2nd Street, Philadelphia

Discussion: Thursday, October 17, 7:30 p.m.
Shared Ministry Suite

Sermon: Sunday, October 20, 11:00 a.m.

Parade is a Tony Award-winning musical based on the true, controversial trial of Leo Frank, featuring a cast of Arden musical theatre favorites including Rachel Camp, Jeff Coon, Ben Dibble, Scott Greer, Alex Keiper, and Michael Phillip O’Brien. Book by Alfred Uhry, Music and Lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, Directed by Terrence J. Nolen. Runs through November 3, 2013. Tickets:

A Child's Christmas in Wales

Play: Friday, December 6, 8:00 p.m.
Lantern Theater, 10th & Ludlow Streets, Philadelphia

Discussion: Thursday, December 19, 7:30 p.m.
Shared Ministry Suite

Sermon: Christmas Eve, Tuesday, December 24, 7:00 p.m.

A Child’s Christmas in Wales is based on Dylan Thomas' comic poem and brought to life through the talent of local creator/performer Sebastienne Mundheim and her unique puppetry. It’s a wondrous winter landscape where, through the eyes of a child, a day of play becomes a hero's odyssey of mythic proportions. By Dylan Thomas, Adapted by Charles McMahon & Sebastienne Mundheim. December 6, 2013 – January 5, 2014 (Wed – Sun). Tickets:

The Religious Education program was able to reserve 10 tickets for children to this puppet play at 2 pm on Sunday, December 8, 2013. The rest are sold out for that day but we hope to schedule additional outings for families.

Gidion's Knot

Play: Friday, January 24, 8:00 p.m.
Interact Theatre, 2030 Sansom Street, Philadelphia

Discussion: Thursday, January 30, 7:30 p.m.
Shared Ministry Suite

Sermon: Sunday, February 2, 11:00 a.m.

Gidion’s Knot by Jonna Adams tells the story of a grieving mother who arrives at her son’s school looking for answers following his sudden death. She is met by his bewildered and fragile teacher. As their tense, emotionally-charged parent/teacher conference unfolds, reasons for the boy’s death become more complex and alarming. Adams’ gripping drama draws us into an intensely personal battle to understand the vivid imagination and tortured soul of one extraordinary ten year-old boy. Runs through February 9, 2014. Tickets:

Don Juan Comes Back from Iraq

Play: Friday, March 22, 8:00 pm
Wilma Theater, 265 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia

Discussion: Thursday, April 3, 7:30 p.m.
Shared Ministry Suite

Sermon: Sunday, April 6, 11:00 a.m.

Don Juan Comes Back from Iraq is written by Pulitzer Prize-winner Paula Vogel (How I Learned to Drive) and directed by Wilma’s Artistic Director Blanka Zizka. This World Premiere production plays with time and space. It is a tale of one soldier’s return home from war and discovery that his lover is missing. Searching for her, he embarks on a surrealistic tour through the streets and history of Philadelphia. This collaborative project is inspired by Don Juan Returns from the War (written in 1936 by Bertolt Brecht’s younger contemporary Ödön von Horváth) and grounded in the experiences of recent veterans who often return from Iraq or Afghanistan to a home where most of the population has little direct connection with war. Tickets:


Ongoing Groups

Meditation Group
Sundays, 10:15 -10:45 a.m., Chapel

Breathing in, we breathe in peace.  Breathing out, we breathe out love.  Center yourself before the main service by gathering in the chapel Sunday mornings beginning September 8, 2013.

Women's Reading Group
First Mondays of every month, offsite

The Women’s Reading Group meets monthly in members’ homes. Books are chosen by participants in the group. Book titles and meeting places are listed in the Beacon and in the worship announcement sheet. For information on the next book and meeting place, please call program contact Ginny Beier, 215-545-7831,

Singing as Spiritual Practice
Thursdays, 7:30 p.m., Parish Room

The choir is open to all who love to sing and who have found singing for church services a significant part of their worship experience. Rehearsals are on Thursday evenings from 7:30 to 9:00 pm in the Parish Room, and on Sunday mornings from 10-10:45 am. We are a multi-generational group of singers who enjoy each others’ company and enjoy making “a joyful noise.” Singers must be able to read music. For more information email

Depression Support Group
One Sunday per month, 12:30 p.m.
Location TBA

A small group ministry is available to those who are struggling with depression. Members and friends of the church gather after service one Sunday each month to provide support by listening to one another and to share problems, ideas and resources. The first two meetings for the year will be September 22, 2013, and October 20, 2013, at 12:30 p.m., location in church TBA.


Email editor: Call us: 215-563-398

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