Upcoming Services

11 am (unless
otherwise indicated)

Sunday, May 31, 2015

"Nothing in Particular"
the Rev. Daniel Budd

Religious Education

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER for 2015-2016 Youth Religious Education Classes!

YRE Video

Lights, camera, 'Catch the Spirit'! Volunteer recruitment for the Youth Religious Education Program has begun. You don't want to miss this feature!

May 24
RE Classes

May 31
Last Day of RE Classes- Clean Up followed by games and popsicles

June 7
RE Sunday 

June 14
Flower Communion

Sarah Garver Megenhardt, RE Coordinator
20 Hours/week:
Tuesday: 10 am -3 pm
Wednesday: 10 am - 3 pm
Thursday: 10 am - 3 pm
Sunday: 8:30 am - 1:30 pm

Please understand that Sarah works part time. Any emails or requests will be taken care during those hours.
Thank you!

Click here to Sign Up for Weekly Forum E-News



Religious Education at First Unitarian now has a blog! You can follow the entire depth and breadth of our Lifespan RE program at firstuclere.wordpress.com.  Consider this new blog to now be your one-stop-shop for all things RE. Find out about events, classes, workshops, worship, volunteering,  and more ways to be engaged with the faith tradition of UUism.  We want your comments on posts! We’re so excited to have this new way of communicating with you.  See you online!

Morning Forum 9:30am


June 2, 2015 7:30pm

Robert Cassidy, piano
Cassidy plays the complete Preludes of Debussy 

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First Unitarian Church of Cleveland
21600 Shaker Blvd
Shaker Heights, OH 44122
(216) 751-2320
F: (216) 751-2322

Sunday Worship Service
11:00 am  year round

Religious Education classes begin most Sundays at 11:00 am. Child care for infants and toddlers is available.

Church Office Hours (Labor Day through mid-June):

Monday - Friday, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm

Building Hours:

Monday - Friday, 9 am - 9 pm

Saturday and Sunday, 9 am - 3 pm


Please note that per church policy, when the Shaker Schools are closed due to bad weather, the church is also officially closed. 




Welcome to First Unitarian!

We thank you for joining us, and hope you take some time to enjoy our site and learn more about how:

Adult and youth education espouse our nearly 400-year liberal religious tradition.
We unite with other congregations and organizations through Greater Cleveland Congregations
to take a stand against gun violence.
Our open policy about weddings - which includes affirmation of same-sex couples (see Members/Ceremonies).
The Sweet Home First U stewardship campaign is approaching completion (click on Spotlight On or Coming Up).
Our Weekly E-Newsletter keeps you in the loop on activities, events and announcements.
Folks just like you are finding First Unitarian . . . and why they stay.
First U women will relax and connect at the next Punderson retreat.
The Growth and Development Committee is progressing toward a new strategic plan (click on Spotlight On).
Catch the RE spirit; volunteer! Watch this video about our Religious Education program.

First Unitarian Church of Cleveland: To Search and Serve

'To Search' our website, click through the tabs below. 


For several months, Harry’s Kitchen Crew has offered different, surprising, healthy breakfasts that we think we have scored a hit.  We invite you to stop by Sunday, morning, May 10 starting at 9:30 am for a Mother's Day treat.  As always, the breakfasts are prepared by loving volunteers and there is a ‘free will’ offering for the best value in town. 

Show Your Spirit!
Buy a 1st U T-Shirt!
On-Line and During Coffee Hour
Show your UU Spirit! Purchase a 1st U CLE T-Shirt by May 3rd and wear it proudly during the Garden Festival (now also our First Annual Spirit Day).
Men's, Women's and children's sizes and cuts. Order in person this Sunday during coffee hour and in the RE Wing.


Wednesday, May 27 at 7:00 pm
"Afterlife" - Arcade Fire
led by the Rev. Daniel Budd 



. . .  will meet May 10 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm in Fellowship Hall to discuss Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in its Darkest, Finest Hour by Lynne Olson . Questions? Contact Brian Larson at 216-371-8163 or at BLarson44@hotmail.com.

The New UU - a Tapestry of Faith for Adult Workshop
MAY 9 
9:00 am to 2:00 pm
Lunch included.  Child care available on request.

The program will:
  • Introduce newcomers to UUism and our Congregation
  • Equip participants to make a decision about membership in a UU congregation
  • Provide information related to UU worship, theology, history, social justice, religious education and governance
  • Provide resources within and outside the congregation for participants to explore topics independently
  • Facilitate integration into the congregation by introducing participants to a cross-section of members

Leaders: Daniel Budd and Bethany Ward

 To register, contact Kathie Kitchingham, Membership Coordinator, at 216-751-2320, ext. 27 or at 

Kathie.kitchingham@firstunitariancleveland.org.  A minimum of six participants required; registration deadline is May 4.




9:30 am to 10:45 am in Fellowship Hall 
Our Forum series has concluded for the season.  See you in September when Forums resume.

Know Thyself! Workshop Series

APRIL 23, MAY 7, 21, JUNE 4

Thoreau writes, "go confidently in the direction of your dreams, and live the life you imagine"-- but what if you have no idea what direction to take? Join us for these four intimate, supportive, and experiential workshops to uncover who you truly believe yourself to be, develop skills for realizing your goals, learn some tips and tricks on living your best life possible, and maybe even discover a new pathway to your biggest dream.  Hands on fun, creative group activities, and reflection are just a part of this series, as we come together to help answer the questions, "who am I?", and, "what do I want most from my life?"

Course will have a small amount of reflective exercises to complete between workshops. Each participant receives a journal specific to the course. 

Childcare available upon request.

Materials Cost: $12/per participant, made payable to the First Unitarian Church of Cleveland, Adult Religious Education on the memo line.

Registration required.  Registration is for full course. Contact DRE, Bethany Ward, for questions and to register. Must have 6 participants to run. Cap is 8 workshop participants. Register at Bethany.ward@firstunitariancleveland.org

Spiritual Conversations

MAY 20, 7:15 PM - 9:00 PM

The exploration of our spiritual nature continues this Wednesday . We will enhance our understanding of ourselves, our relationships to others and to the universe on a deeper, more profound level. Spiritual Conversations examine questions at the center of our lives: what does it mean to be human, how can we live a rich life, what deepens our appreciation of the magnitude and mystery of life?

Everyone is welcome!


Covenant Group Ministry
Women's Weekend at Punderson State Park  
MAY 15, 16, & 17
Punderson State Park, Route 87 (11755 Kinsman Rd)
Newbury, Ohio
Please join the Women's Friendship Covenant Group for a weekend at Punderson State Park. There will be no scheduled activities.  Relaxation is the goal.  With the help of the Deeper Connections Covenant Group meals will be planned and each participant will be asked to contribute to lunch or dinner on Saturday.   Register Now!!  Forms are available in the literature racks and at Coffee Hour. COMPLETED FORMS ACCOMPANIED BY CHECK MUST BE RECEIVED BY MAY 3.  NO EXCEPTIONS PLEASE.  Questions? Contact Nancy Y. Hammond at ndyhammond@yahoo.com  or Betty Root at broot@wowway.com


Mitzvah of the Month

April 2015

This month’s Mitzvah supports two causes – the Heights Emergency Food Center and you! I say that because it does not benefit the Photography program/Lifetouch. It is a program of Lifetouch to offer a discount should anyone decide to make a purchase by encouraging people to donate food, which is a cause-ending hunger of the Lifetouch folks. Collected items will be donated to the Heights Emergency Food Center.

Items, which must be unopened and unexpired, will be collected both at the photo sessions and at the church entrances through Saturday, April 5.

See the article regarding the new photo directory to set up your appointment and don’t forget to bring your non-perishable food!

If you have a suggestion for a Mitzvah, please contact Edie Phillips at 216-235-8855 or at edie.phillips@gmail.com.



Sweet Home First UU Campaign Turns the Corner and Heads Home!

To date, $371,069 has been pledged for the 2015 - 2016 Sweet Home First UU Stewardship Campaign.  With so many members and friends as yet unreported, we can raise so much more if everyone participates and hopefully increases their commitment from last year.  Campaign co-chairs Meg Pauken and Gail Arnold ask that if you haven't pledged, please do so by returning your completed pledge form to the church, pledging online, or calling in your commitment to Doug Aubin.  It's important that the campaign wraps up as soon as possible to allow the board time to develop the next budget.

A huge Sweet Home thank you to the following members and friends who have recorded a pledge as of April 9:


Bob and Lenore Adams

Wally and Debra Adler

Bill and Susan Alcorn

Justin Alcorn

George Allison and Sandra Colbert

Nancy Allman

Ernie Anderson

Eric Angyal and Kathleen Zassick

Jim and Gail Arnold

Doug Aubin

John Bacon and Cat White

John Barber

Ruben and Alice Barna

Alison Bashian

Jo Bateman

Benham and Carol Bates

Mike Beckman and Mary O'Shea

Eve Bendezu

Joanne Billiar

Mark and Kathleen Binnig

Esther Bockhoff

Jim and Ivy Boyle

Barbara Bradley

Daniel Budd and Patricia Shelden

Roger Buelow and Amy Glesius

Evalyn Burnham

Clark and Joanmarie Button

Ann Calkins

Brandon and Julianna Carrus

Chris Casa and Beth Trecasa

Jeff Chernin and Teri Egan

Abe and Debbie Cohen

Evan and Barbara Corns

Eric Corty and Sara Douglas

Barbara Cox

John Cunningham

Mike and Jan Devereaux

Mary Dietzen

Lindsey Marrero Dute

Laurie Eldridge

Elise Ellick

Yarden and Kirsten Faden

Russell and Colleen Fedewa

John Foreman and Jane Temple

Carol Gensert

Gary and Laurie Gerstenecker

Jean Gianelos

John and Pam Gibbon

Jonathan and Barbara Glauser

Judy Goodman

Ray Gonzalez and Pam Bertaud

Harry and Kate Greenfield

Mark and Aimee Grey

Mark and Sharon Griswold

Karen Grochau

Dennis Grossman and Julie Short

David and Helen Gutin

Nancy Hammond

Tom and Cheryl Hanger

Gary Hanson and Barbara Klante

Maureen Harrington and Gordon Maas

Scott Hare

Joan Harris

Jane Hill

Carol Himmelsteib

Daniel and Linda Homans

Fred and Judy Isaacs

Eric Hsi and Eileen McCully

Wayne and Fern Jennings

Jo Joelson

David Kantor and Mary Ellen McNulty

Liz Kantor

Virgil and Dorothy Kee

Kay Kindice

Kathie Kitchingham

Christine Kozlevcar

Ken and Debbie Kuehm

Jean Lalli

Marilyn Landis

Brian Larson and Laurie Albright

Rachel Mann

John and Jean Martin

Sue Math

Tom and Kelli McKenna

Joan Milder

Mike and Jean Miller

Frank and Mary Jane Miller

Marge Miller

Shane and Ann Millette

Ruth and Christina Moffett

Bill and Barb Morgan

Walter and Helen Murrell

Taylor Nash

Cathy Niswonger and Paul Ernsberger

Ken and Elizabeth Nosse

Joan Orr

Kevin Ortner and Meg Pauken

Jane Peterson and Phil Star

Edie Phillips

Kathleen Pierce and Gordon Schecter

Mani Pierce

Karen and Katherine Raven

Keith and Jolee Redfern

Gloria Reske

Melissa Richmond

Kurt and Amanda Ringenbach

Carolyn Robb

Terry Robbins

Betty Root

George and Audra Rose

Leslie Rumbarge

Tony Saada

Vern Sackman

Peter and Sylvia Salaff

Steve and Anne Sanford

Pam Schenk

Chuck and Tracy Segall

Alan and Anne Seibert

Mitzi Seith

Greg and Colleen Sharp

Marge Shorrock

Matt Smith

Pete and Heidi Spencer

Richard and Becky Stein

Lu and Elaine Stevens

Don and Jackie Stimpert

Duncan Tanner, Jr.

Cynthia Taylor

Jack Ulman

Susan Underhill

Jeff Ustin and Pauline Terebuh

Marilyn Vance

Lisa Van Cleef

Bart and Karen Vrtunski

David and Sara Wallace

Brian and Bethany Ward

Sue Weiner

Gail White

Nancy Wild

Jim Wickert

Jim and Linda Willson

Marjorie Wilson

Terry Wolk and Jean Ellsworth-Wolk

Margot and David Youngs

Linda Zelazny

Please feel free to reach out to director of development and communications coordinator Duncan Tanner, Jr. (dtannerjr@neo.rr.com; 941.713.1645) with questions and concerns.

Candid Pictures Needed!

The photo directory committee is looking for candid photos of events from the last year.  Please share any photos of yourself or others that would help us to capture the spirit of our church. Email your photos to Christine, with the subject "Photo Committee".  Please include in the body of the email the names of the people in the photo and the event and date.

If you have any questions, please call Christine at church 216 751-2320 or Laurie Albright at 216 299 3064 cell 216 371 8163 home. 



Between World Water Day on March 22 and Earth Day on April 22, UU's are being asked to join Commit2Respond, a collaboration between the UUA, UUSC and many other organizations to focus collectively on Climate Justice.

Commit2Respond is an ambitious initiative that asks us to do three things: 1) shift our consumption to lower our carbon footprint and promote renewable energy; 2) grow the climate justice movement, and 3) advance the rights of peoples affected by climate change. It invites us — as individuals, as members of a family or household, part of a congregation or community group — to collaborate with others to make greater impact. To sign-up or learn more go to http://www.commit2respond.org.

Our congregation will start with holding a church service focused on water on March 8, giving opportunities for individual reflection and learning throughout the month, and culminating with an Earth Day service on April 19.


Additionally, we will be offering the course "Our Place in the Web of Life" on five Tuesday evenings starting April 7 and ending May 5 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm

This highly-engaging, five-session class invites participants to look deeply at the consequences of their actions on people and the environment close at home and then further away in communities across the nation and world. Through film, music, participatory research, visual mapping, ethical reflection, meditation and ritual, participants wrestle with what it means to be faithfully and justly part of an inter-connected community of life across the nation and the world.

Through film, music, participatory research, visual mapping, ethical reflection, meditation and ritual, participants wrestle with what it means to be faithfully and justly part of an inter-connected community of life. More information can be found at http://uuministryforearth.org/EJ-Curriculum.

 Registration will start March 8 at Coffee Hour or email nancykingsmith@mac.com.


GCC News - First U Well Represented at Public Action

    31 hearty souls from First U added their voice and presence to the 1100 people attending Greater Cleveland Congregation's Public Action at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church on Tuesday February 3 to present the rationale and 4 areas of recommendations, in person, to Mayor Frank Jackson, Steven Dettelbach,US Attorney, and Chief Jonathon Smith, Special Litigation Section, US Dept of Justice. County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty was also present. The recommendations included specifics under Constitutional Policing, Reorganize Internal Accountability, Community Engagement: Permanency, Transparency, and Accountability, and Financial Sustainability. All three public figures agreed to meet with GCC in followup to the development and monitoring of the Department of Justice Consent agreement that is being negotiated with the Cleveland Police Department. We are hopeful GCCs research, networking and analysis will provide impetus for positive lasting change in local police community relations. Please ask the following people about their experience:

    Carol Gibson, Sara Wallace, Erin Holmes, Jan Devereaux, Vern Sackman, Margot Youngs, Laurie Holmes, Mary Dietzen, Betty Root, Nancy Allman, Matt Smith, Cliff Wire, Helen Merrell, Laurie Albright, Sandy Wilson, Sharon Sternberger, Pam Gibbon, Brian Larson, Carol Gay, Karen Grochau, Fern Levy, Ray Gonzales, Jeremy Holmes, Erika Brown, Mani Pierce, Mary O’Shea, Mike Beckman, Edie Philips, Jane Donnell, Horace Reese and Jim Sullivan!



The upcoming District Assembly will take place March 28 - 29, 2014, in Erie PA.  For more information, go to:



Religious Education at the First Unitarian now has a blog! You can follow the entire depth and breadth of our Lifespan RE program at firstuclere.wordpress.com.  Consider this new blog to now be your one-stop-shop for all things RE. Find out about events, classes, workshops, worship, volunteering,  and more ways to be engaged with the faith tradition of UUism.  We want your comments on posts! We’re so excited to have this new way of communicating with you.  See you online!




Attending UU events at the District, regional and national level is a wonderful way to learn more about what our movement is doing and to get energized for how we can be engaged in our own congregation.  The annual General Assembly of congregations is the annual meeting of our Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). Attendees worship, witness, learn, connect, and make policy for the Association through democratic process. Anyone may attend—there are typically 4,000-5,000 attendees -- but voting delegates must be approved by our congregation's Board of Trustees (we may send up to eight).  Many of the GA events from this past summer's gathering can be accessed online.  Go to, http://uua.org/ga/virtual/2014/index.shtml  to find out how.  The next GA will be in Portland OR this coming June.


Recognizing – And Thanking - Our Fifty-Year Members

Three years ago, the stewardship committee began recognizing members who had been with the church for 50 years or more by inviting them to the annual Major Givers reception and presenting them with a gift to acknowledge their commitment to the church and Unitarian Universalism. These members - and those who have passed away - are an inspiration to us all!

 Member                                      Signed the Book In:

 Debbie Adler                              1938

 Chloe Oldenburg

 Carrol Gensert                           1949

 Wally Adler                               1951

 Jim Wickert                               1953

 Nancy Wild                               1955

 Mildred Hathaway                    1957

 Gloria Reske

 Kathie Kitchingham                 1959

 Esther Bockhoff                       1960

 Marge Miller

 Ann Calkins

 Ann Siebert                              1962

 Gail Broughton

 Muriel Black

 Katie Martin

 Frank Miller                           1963

 Heidi Spencer

 Pete Spencer

 Joyce Wallace                        1964

 Stuart Wallace

 Joan Orr

 Jackie Stimpert


“All That Jazz” All That and More!

This year's auction drew a crowd of nearly 60 flappers, gangsters, mols and swells, and the word is a good time was had by all! Kudos to Auction Committee members Ken Kuehm, Greg Nosan, Erin Holmes, Mark Bradbourne and Brian Larson for transforming Fellowship Hall into a 1920's speakeasy, and to “Our Guys in the Kitchen” for once again putting out unique and tasty “heavy” hors d' ouerves. ...Read more.

Why I’m STILL Here

As a Peace Corps volunteer in my mid-twenties, I was in Nepal teaching English as a second language for two years. When my Peace Corps term ended, I received a one-way ticket home, and was allowed as much travel time as I wanted . . . I took six months travelling through India on third class trains, the Middle East, and Europe. ...Read more.

Letter to the Editor on the Plain Dealer web site re: racism from NE Ohio UU ministers:


Recent articles on Unitarian Universalist Growth may be found at:




Read Daniel Budd's Messages of Faith columns:

First Unitarian Church Installs High-tech Solar Array

Great LBGT Welcoming comment at end of review of Omer Quartet concert May 5th:


We encourage you to share any of the links here that catch your eye or interest within your own networks. Oh, and please send a note if you spot First Unitarian in the news and aren't sure that we already know. Thanks! 

Why I'm Here


Members Share Their First Unitarian Connection


Members and Friends recently began sharing “Why I Am Here” stories during Sunday services.  As you read these heartfelt "testimonials," please reflect on what our church means to you and reach out to Daniel or David Kantor if you'd like to share your own story at an upcoming service!  As well, we urge you to share these stories with friends, family, neighbors and co-workers.  Shouldn't everyone know what this wonderful place could one day mean to them?

Why I am here.

 Many of you know me, I’m Laurie Albright, and I’ve been attending here about 30 years, beginning when I was pregnant with our first son. I joined the church about 20 years ago. It was in the search for a place where I could support myself and my young family in asking the big questions, even if the answers seem somewhat elusive, that I found myself here. Making ritual space for the questions is important to me. 

Simply, the reason I am here is: I love this community that embraces the principles of Unitarian Universalism, and specifically how “we are” in relationship to each other here. I want to go a bit deeper into why I love you all.

 Many of you know I was trained as a school psychologist, and so studied Freud, among many other psychologists and their theories. While I was more drawn to Jung, Gestalt and behaviorism (how’s that for disparate package!), I remember Freud referring to two realms that you need some success in to have a satisfying life- love and work. 

Well, when I came here, I largely had some pretty good things going in both those departments, yet I found myself yearning for more. To me, satisfaction in love and work is similar to getting the minimum support to avoid, say scurvy or rickets, but it does not necessarily lead to what is needed for a rich, fulfilling life. 

 Ah Ha! You’ve already figured out what I am about to say. Being a part of this community has given me SO many opportunities, experiences, and relationships with others, all in the context of a religious purpose. I feel I have hit the mother lode! In the many circles of community here, I can engage in social justice, nurture next generations, grapple with practices for things such as “How DO people, who come together on a completely voluntary basis, figure out how to govern themselves, make decisions, support each other, and bring out our “best angels”?”. And engage in this in the context of you, who accept both my “heresy” and my attempt to understand my own yearning to “understand the mystery”, without having to put it in a neat box.

 You helped us raise our sons in a culture we sometimes felt we had to fight- you are a sanctuary. 

 Here’s what you do for me: Buckminster Fuller said, “I seem to be a verb.” You help me be a verb: to wonder, to contemplate, to connect, to consider, to feel, to work, to learn, to stretch, to strive to “grow” my better self.

 And so, for me, a rich rewarding, challenging life means attention to work, love, and my beloved community. Thank you for being here for me and my family.

Laurie Albright

Why I am here….

One big reason I’m here is that I don’t have to hear or recite words that make no sense to me or that I strongly disagree with. I don’t worry about that here. I can be authentic here and that’s important to me.

I like the fact that we have many sources of wisdom, rather than one source written for a different time and place long ago. I love so many of the people that I know here.  I like being able to learn from you. You enrich my world.

Beyond  these reasons, which are genuine and which echo what many others have said,  there was also a special moment many years ago that had a huge impact on me.    

Some of you may remember  Dorothy Baroush, who was a member here and later in life became a UU minister (which I also thought was pretty neat).  In the early 70’s, she was a delegate to our General Assembly and was instructed, either by a congregational vote or the board, (I don’t know which) how to vote on one of the resolutions at our national meeting.  I haven’t been able to track down the exact wording of the resolution, but it was something in the nature of  supporting the full acceptance of gays and lesbians in our congregations and she was told to oppose that resolution.   Remember, it was the early 70’s –in Ohio.

After returning from GA, she stood right up there in the pulpit and told us that she did NOT vote as instructed.  My first reaction was,  “What?  You went against our specific instructions to you?  How could you do that?”  I couldn’t believe my ears.  A moment or so later, I thought, “Wow!!     Holy Toledo!!”  This is a place where principles and soul-searching are more important than rules. Let me repeat that. This is a place where principles and soul-searching are more important than rules.

And then she explained. She told us that before going to GA, she’d discussed the resolution and her instructions with her son, whom she then learned was gay himself. (That seemed to be a surprise to her, but I don’t have the details on that either.)   Having learned more, she couldn’t, in good conscience, vote as instructed. Instead, she was free and courageous enough to trust her own judgment based on a better understanding of the issue, the consequences of that vote, and our values as Unitarian Universalists.  I would guess that she struggled mightily over her responsibility to represent us  - and to do the right thing.  It could not have been easy. In the end, she had the courage to act according to her own greater understanding    - and to stand up for a higher principle against probable criticism back here.    Although our banner over the back door came much later, to me, she embodies its words, “To Search and to Serve.”  I’m sure she searched long and hard to figure out the right thing to do and to serve us well.

She not only acted as she believed was right, she had the courage to stand up there and tell us.  She didn’t have to do that. No one would ever have known she had voted as she did. But she told us    - and taught us that, based on new information and her sense of who we ought to be, we were wrong and needed to look more carefully to our roots.

I’m here (in this denomination and at this lectern) because I do believe in courage. Since we don’t have absolute rules to follow, we need to search carefully for our own understanding of justice, compassion, and ways to live with integrity.  I’ve heard people say that Unitarians can believe whatever they want. But that really does us a great disservice. It’s true that we don’t impose rules and beliefs, but I think it means we hold ourselves responsible and accountable for leading a principled life – and figuring out what that means and how to do it.  

I believe in us as a denomination. I also believe in us as a congregation. But, for me, church is more than a comfortable community of like-minded individuals.  It’s more than the benefits I receive by being a member.  It’s also a place where I can give.


What keeps me here is that there is opportunity to contribute – to join with others to try to grow in understanding, in caring, in making a difference. I can use my own head and whatever skills I have to try to make a difference, where I can, for individuals, for programs, and for the congregation. Sometimes, what I do, what I give, does make a real difference.  I can see the impact of that.  Not all of my incredibly brilliant ideas bear fruit, of course, but that’s OK. It’s the trying that matters. If I can contribute something that is needed or help shape an idea, I feel valuable, worthwhile, and a part of you – and that’s very rewarding. It makes me want to give more!  It binds me closer to you.

So.   After all these years, I still remember Dorothy Baroush and her gift of integrity and courage. She, in her own way, was able to “Search and Serve”. Now it’s our turn.  That’s a very important part of why I am here – and still her
Karen Grochau                                                                                                                                                           

Why I'm Here

Like many of you I've come to The First Unitarian Church of Cleveland from a different religious background. I was raised catholic, I was very devout and I said my prayers. Then, I became a teenager. I started to question why, if there even was a God, would he want everyone to fear him. The Catholic God started to sound like a bully to me. Over time I became a closet atheist but even though I didn't believe in God I was sure I'd go to hell for it. I started to have trouble with words like blessed, faith, God and church. Just saying those words felt wrong. So, I let it go. I let all religion go for a long time. 

    In my 20's, I came across Carl Jung. My exploration into Jung's philosophies, the idea of the collective unconscious and how we are all connected resonated deeply in me and that became my new religion. Jung often found his divine spark through creativity and drawing beautiful mandalas. I found mine through drawing and painting images that I called tree spirits. 
    Regardless of my beliefs, when my son Gabe was born I wanted him to have a religious education so that he could at least make an informed choice about religion. I had had a wonderful experience visiting a Unitarian church with a friend many years prior so when Gabe was three years old I signed the membership book here at First Unitarian without hesitation. I think I was one of Kathie Kitchingham's easiest sign-ups. That was in 2005.
    Alright, so that's how I got here but why have I stayed? Why am I here now? Why have I fallen in love with this church and the people who make it up? 
    That started on a personal level when I became a volunteer teacher in the Youth Religious Education program. The first class that I ever taught are the youth that are in this years Coming of Age Program. Back then, they were in the first grade. The curriculum was called "Stories about God". I remember struggling with whether or not I could be a good teacher since I wasn't even comfortable saying the word God. One lesson plan ended with us asking the children to share how they imagined God, what would they draw if they had to draw God. All of the children's answers were perfect, there was no wrong answer. But when one child said "I see God as a tree"  I experienced, in that small classroom in the basement of this church, a feeling of connectedness and freedom that went beyond words. Looking back now I guess you could call it transcendence. After that I no longer felt uncomfortable saying the word God. 
    Right now I'm finishing up my third year on the Youth Religious Education Committee. My first year on the committee was also Bethany's first year. Bethany could have easily come in and told the committee what we needed to do to improve the program. Instead, she took the time to help us shine a light on our selves so that we could become better equipped to do this work ourselves. She gently guided us to the notion that this committee is OUR committee and that we were charged with the responsibility to give our children the best UU education possible. I wish I could recount for you the long passionate discussions where we aligned our intentions with the hope to design a program that could offer growth for all involved, the children, the volunteers and the parents. Because it was somewhere in these meetings, in this work, with these people, in community ... that I started to feel a new meaning of the word church. 
    I truly love and savor the church we experience in this Sanctuary. But through these volunteer experiences I've begun to feel church happening in other places. Those experiences have challenged me let go of my old religious definitions, so that I could get closer to my true self and through this process to honor that beauty in others. That's why I'm here. Because I know that there is no way I'm experiencing this alone. 

    Church happens when Membership greets us at the door. It happens in our covenant groups, in committees, through social justice work, in our gardens, on the board and in our classrooms. Church happens when we all come together in community and work together toward a shared goal. How beautiful is that? 

Sherry Griswold

Why I’m Here

 When my husband,Kevin Ortner and I began coming to First Unitarian, I was Light Auburn #110. Our girls were 6 months and 2 1/2 years old and I was still in my 30s. The girls are now 15 and almost 13 and Ive gone from Light Auburn to Golden Blond to Iced Meringue to Toasted Coconut to what Im now calling undecided.Ill leave my age to your math skills.

We came here as a family looking for a spiritual community. We wanted a place where we could find support  to raise our children with the values we held dear - the values we found in the 7 Principles. We had done our research before we walked in the door- but youd expect that from a lawyer and a project manager.

What we found when we came here was much more than a church community. Over the years, we have found friends who have become family to us and we found a spiritual home.

We were one of the families that started what is now called the We are Families Covenant group, way back when it was still young families. Betsy and Anna have grown up alongside the other youth in this congregation, who are like cousins to them.  They have gone from being the little ones to being the big kids.

Many of you have taught them in Sunday school: you know them as well as their aunts and uncles do, and you certainly see them more often! We are so grateful to have had your caring wisdom guiding them along the way.

 I have taught so many of your children - from preschool right on up through Coming of Age. I feel privileged to have been a witness to their blossoming.

We have ingathered, Halloweened, shared bread communion, made gingerbread houses, hung the greens, downed the browns, Christmas tableaued, potlucked, auctioned and flower-communioned with all of you. We have watched more than a decade of youth come of age and graduate and even come back to visit.

But these 12 or so years we have been here have not been all sweetness and light: there have been career changes and losses: Kevins father and both of my parents; moves, job changes and other major and minor disasters. But through all of that, this beloved community - this home - has been a constant for us.

Its where we come to be lifted up, to be encouraged and supported and then to turn right around and do the same for you, for our friends who have become family.

 Because, really, the 7 principles might have been the key that unlocked the door to this church for us, but its the people: our church family, who are the reason why we are here.

Meg Pauken


Why I’m STILL Here

 As a Peace Corps volunteer in my mid-twenties, I was in Nepal teaching English as a second language for two years.  When my Peace Corps term ended, I received a one-way ticket home, and was allowed as much travel time as I wanted . . . I took six months travelling through India on third class trains, the Middle East, and Europe.  I encountered other religious and spiritual paths to climb up Life’s mountain, in addition to the one I had climbed in my Lutheran Church:

Hinduism and Buddhism in Nepal and India

Islam in Iran

Judaism in Israel

Eastern Orthodox Catholicism in Greece

Roman Catholicism in Italy and Spain

 When I got home, I returned to my family’s Lutheran Church where Gary and I were married 44 years ago.  We both had discovered Unitarianism when we were in college.  Gary would drive from Bowling Green to the Unitarian Church in Toledo to hear Waldermar Argo, the minister from the late 50’s to early 70’s.  I would take the bus up High Street from Ohio State to the Unitarian Church in Worthington.  So soon after we were married we decided to visit First Unitarian Church of Cleveland.

Like many new members, we attended service regularly and became very involved in church activities.  Susan and Jack were born in 1972 and 1974.  They began in the crib room and participated in the RE program.  When they were three and five, I returned to my life as a high school counselor and eventually became a school psychologist.

But I still SHOWED UP regularly on Sunday mornings for the INSPIRATION of the Worship Services, attended other church events and our family celebrated holidays with our First Unitarian friends in each other’s homes.

I now want to share with you “Why I’m STILL here?”  When I was working in schools, they were my primary communities, but I always knew that when I retired, OUR CHURCH would be MY BELOVED COMMUNITY, which it has been and will continue to be.  That is why I am wearing a t-shirt that SAYS SO instead of being dressed in my Sunday best.  I got the t-shirt this past July when Gary and I attended the Southeastern Unitarian Universalist Summer Institute (SUUSI) with 1300 other UUs at Radford University in Radford, VA.

BELOVED COMMUNITY was the theme of this year’s SUUSI.  BELOVED COMMUNITY makes me think of our church’s “Ingathering” Worship Service this year.  Daniel’s and Bethany’s homilies contained precious words:


What I treasure most in our “BELOVED COMMUNITY” are the FRIENDSHIPS I have had, the ones I have now, and the new ones that occur by attending SUNDAY SERVICES, being a member of the Lay Pastoral Care Team, belonging to the “What Next” and “Poetry” Covenant Groups, and participating in our congregation’s projects, events and celebrations.

Since we Unitarian Universalists are free to develop our individual concepts of God in the context of our UU core values, the brick I contributed to the border of the Perma-Culture Garden says “God is Love”.  That is why I’m STILL here!  I’m free to be who I am and share what I believe.

Lee Sherck

Why am I here? Good question... the simple answer is "My wife made me" ...but let me explain.

I have never been a person who needed organized religion in my life. I was christened in an Episcopal church, but my family never attended services, not even at holidays. Both my parents were members of the Church of England, but I honestly can't think of a time when they discussed religion in the house. When my brother was in high school, he started going to a Baptist church that some of his friends went to... I tagged along maybe a dozen times, sitting in the Sunday school class, but it didn't resonate with me... then again, I was 7. Once he went to college, my church attendance ended until I was in high school. I was staying at a friend's house over a weekend because my parents were out of town and on Sunday they said they were driving an hour to Columbus to go to church and asked if I wanted to go. I had nothing better to do, so I tagged along. 

This was my chance introduction to the Unitarian Universalist church. I really enjoyed the high school youth group, and felt comfortable in the service, so I kept tagging along for a few months. Then the parents of my friends divorced, things got awkward and once again, my attendance to church stopped. 

Fast forward to the year 2000, and my then fiancée now wife, said that we needed to find a church. She was raised as a military brat, so non-denominational churches were the norm, but her mother was Catholic and Rose had gone through 1st communion and had mainly Catholic leanings. I was not going to become Catholic... so we had to find a solution so we could get married (she kept saying that a Vegas wedding with Elvis was out of the question, but her dad kept offering me $50 and a ladder so we could elope. I was conflicted). She wanted a place where we could religiously raise the kids. I said, "Whoa! What kids?" but that's another story for another time. 

We considered a few options, and then I had a flashback to high school and my UU experience. If I had to go to church regularly, that was my one and only option (at least in my head). So we did some Internet searching (this was before google was a verb) and found a UU church on the other side of town (we lived in Parma, but knew we were moving to the east side eventually) and we ended up here. 

This was the summer, so a Killam Fellow was in place, maybe you remember her as Natalie. The first Sunday we were there Rose was hooked thanks to the sermon... she was moved to tears (the good kind). The second Sunday was more of the same... so it was settled, we had found our church. In the fall we signed the book, and the rest as they say is history. Since then Rose has spent time in the choir, and in the RE wing as a teacher. I've spent time working on the website, and the auction, and even played some drums for the choir. I've found my church, but I don't think I've found my place yet... as in, where can I give back to the church with my time and talents... but I'm still looking. 

We were married here. My daughters have been dedicated here... and after a few years of spotty attendance due to their nap schedules I can say even some friendships are starting to be made here. This is a special place... If you remember I started this with saying that I was never a person who needed organized religion in their life, but this church makes me want it in my life... and that's saying a lot. 

So for the wife who "Made me do it"... thanks.

Mark Bradbourne


Why am I here?  There are so many reasons, but the simplest way I can say it is this: Love.

 I am here to show my children different faces of love. Here, love is a welcome smile, a warm meal, and a safe place for a family to sleep.  Here, love is a garden that endures, and a building that needs less.  Here, love says ‘how are you?’ and ‘good to see you again’ and ‘stick around’.

 I am here because sometimes I need to be reminded how to love. How do I love my neighbor? How do I love that coworker who seems determined to tear down everything I try to build up?  How do I love those who seem to lash out against their fellow man with fear and hate?  Coming here reminds me that love always helps, and when it can’t fix the problem at least it heals the pain.

I am here because sometimes - despite all of the blessings in my life - I feel a little empty, and a little lost, and I need something that feels just out of reach. Here, the circle of care and concern embraces me as I am. When I didn’t want to come, when I can’t stay focused, when I need to cry just a bit - Here there is always a loving heart. 

I am here because I need to make the world a better place, and the only way I know to do that, is with love - one smile, one helping hand, one embrace at a time.

 I am here because of love.

 Paul Brietzmann

Good morning.  For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Chuck Segall.  My wife is Tracy Segall, and we have two daughters, Maggie and Shelby.  Tracy and I joined the church in January of 2001, a few weeks before Maggie was born.  We were looking for a place that would provide us with a religious community and a place for our soon to be born child to receive a religious education.  What “complicated” things, so to speak, was that I was raised Jewish and Tracy was raised Catholic but neither of us really identified with or practiced either faith.  While we both agreed that religion was important to us and to our children, we weren’t sure how to proceed together as a whole.  After a few visits here, and drawing on the times we attended the UU church in Farmington Hills, MI, while Tracy and I were still college, we “discovered” First Unitarian was right for all of us.  We met with Reverend Budd, and signed the membership book that same night.

We have been thrilled with our decision.  Within this community, we have found friends and a steady and stable religious environment that meets our needs for spirituality and education.  The topics for sermons and discussions never cease to amaze us.  We look forward to the special services such as Rites of Passage and Senior Sunday and cannot wait for our children to participate in them.  Tracy and I were founding members of the Young Families Covenant Group, and I have chaired the YRE Committee, served on the Board of Trustees, and also served on the Committee on the Ministry.  I just continue to be awestruck as to how special this place is.

 A common theme among countless Senior Sunday speeches, and the “Why I’m Here” speeches we have been hearing for quite some time, is that this place, this church, this congregation, is home.  I completely agree.  In my 13 years here, I have come to view this special place as my second home, and I feel just as comfortable here as I do at my house.  (Granted, there have been occasions for meetings or the like where I have spent so much time here, it begins feeling like home, but that’s a different subject!)  I truly like that my children enjoy coming here, and feel safe and feel at home.

 Tracy and I have also benefited from this church, in that we have a place that we can express ourselves politically, socially and religiously and not have to worry that we are going against the grain or that our opinions will be viewed as “wrong.” 

 On behalf of my family, I would like to thank everyone associated with this church, for welcoming us with open arms and allowing us to be members of this congregation.

Chuck Segall

Why I’m Here

The answer is “YOU”.

 Sounds like that TV game show, Jeopardy, right? The answer is “YOU”, but what’s the question?

 The question, of course, is “Why I’m Here”… and the answer is still “YOU”… and you… and you… and you… and the other members of our church community who are either elsewhere in the building or unable to be with us today…

 Because for me, it IS all about community – the things we do with and for each other – both the fun stuff and the things that are much more serious in nature. It’s not that other things – like being in the sanctuary for a Sunday Service or teaching in the religious education program haven’t been important and meaningful, but for me, it’s all in the context of sharing it with you.

 I’ve been coming to this church for 25 years now… and this is my first true experience as a part of a religious community.  When I started coming, I simply had no idea how much of a “game changer” this community would be for me… how much it would truly change my life.

 Like many other parents with young children, we initially came here for the religious education program for our kids. But then I got involved in other activities… and this community became much more for me.

 You see, for me, this community provides an opportunity to be engaged with a simply amazing group of people with a pretty basic common bond – the desire to support each other in our search for what’s true and real in this life, to be there for each other as we each pursue our paths to define our religious beliefs and live our lives.

 And from that common bond, this community has been built, where so, so much is available. LOTS of images cross my mind from over the years:

  • Teaching in our youth religious education program – from the toddler room through high school
  • Ripping up the old linoleum in Fellowship Hall one evening a long time ago with the rest of the 20s and 30s group and all of our children
  • Spending a social justice Saturday painting a house with a bunch of other folks from First UU so that a family in need would have a home
  • Having someone approach me in coffee hour when he learned that my son Phillip had enlisted in the marine corps and say “I was a marine corp pilot in Vietnam – here are two books that I suggest you read to better understand what happens next. And if you ever need to talk, just let me know”
  • And, most recently, receiving lots and lots of cards, e-mails and visitors to support me upon the death of my eldest sister…

 I could go on and on, but I’m sure by now you get the idea. Over the years, the faces in our community have changed – we’ve gotten older, some folks have moved away, others have passed away, and a whole bunch of other people – young and older – have joined us. But regardless of the changes, make no mistake about it – YOU ARE my community, and this place is my second home. As in any community with larger numbers, it’s a given that I’ll know some of you much better than others, and that’s ok. Because the important thing to know is that we’re in this community together, and, over time, our paths will cross, and we’ll get to know each other better. And then, as now, I’ll be blessed.

Thank you.

David Kantor

When I was asked to do a Why I’m Here – I thought, this will be easy

I’ve been coming here most weeks for 26 years, what’s the big deal with talking about it.

Then, the blank piece of paper.  Not so easy.

The difference between thinking about what to say and my feelings about my church were causing me a brain freeze.

So, I’m going with the feelings

I feel like this church is my second home.  We raised our children here, many of my friends are here, much of my volunteer work is here, my covenant group is here, my Sunday school class is here, many of our discussions at home are about something we heard here, celebrations are here, and on and on.  So, my body and soul are in a good place when I’m here.

I like the intellectual challenge I get from some of the sermons and events I go to here.  But, no offense to Daniel and other speakers – I can go somewhere else for that.  What I can’t get elsewhere is the feeling I get when sitting in a service listening to Daniel and Bethany, or in my Sunday School class with my kids, or in my covenant group knitting and talking.

I’ve been here through really good times in my life, not so good times, and some in the middle.  Through coming of age, senior speeches, son off to war, daughter coming back to this church as an adult, my own depression, son back from war, illness, deaths, births – and all other stuff life has to offer.  And, through it all, I felt better when I came through the doors of this church.

My feelings of peace, contentment, and the most important one - belonging.  People take care of me here without always knowing they are doing it – that’s what a family does.

And, you are my family.

Mary Ellen McNulty





Our Website

Welcome to the website of the First Unitarian Church of Cleveland! We are glad you stopped by. And we encourage you to explore the pages and information here. Please know that this website is for all of us. So feel free to send a noteif you want to add information or make suggestions for content. 

The tab labeled Spotlight On currently features upcoming Ohio Meadville District and UU Association events.  We change this feature periodically to highlight a program or other aspect of our community.  If you are involved with a group, effort or program anchored at First Unitarian that you want others to know more about, suggest that it be explored as a Spotlight On topic. (Just be ready to write the copy to submit!)

The tab labeled Coming Up features events and other details to inform our members and friends about the next week or two. If a special function or event is happening, this is where you can get the details, plus a link to more information in many cases.

 The tab labeled Press features links to articles about the church in the media so our church community can read and share them, if desired. Social media links and references to the church would be here, too. If you spot the church in the news, send it to usWe'll make sure to include it.   

And the Video tab features some short films that have been produced to show what it looks and feels like to be a part of the First Unitarian Church of Cleveland. As we get more video, from events or other programs at the church, we will add those, as well.