Upcoming Services

11 am (unless
otherwise indicated)

February 1, 2015

The Sound of You and the Sound of Us
the Rev. Daniel Budd & Ms. Bethany S. Ward

February 8, 2015

Radical Hospitality
the Rev. Daniel Budd & the Membership Team

Religious Education



Stop by, take a look, peruse the many musings of our RE Director, leave a comment, and then FOLLOW us!

January 18

Junior High Youth Group 6:00 pm
Senior High Youth Group will not meet

January 25

RE Classes

February 1

Multigenerational Service

Teacher Appreciation Luncheon 
February 8
RE Classes

Join the Homeless Stand Down


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

February 1, 2015

ISIS: International Threat or Mideast Civil War?
Pete Moore & Avidan Cover 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Common Core Testing: Myths, Realities and Consequences
Dale Whittington 


Sunday, February 15, 2015 4:00pm

Voice and Oboe Recital
Melissa Sorohan, Soprano, Gaetano Schipani, Oboe, and Patrick Wickliffe, Piano present a varied program. 

Monday, May 18, 2015 7:30pm

Daniel Shapiro, Piano

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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:

  • Healing the Corrupt Imagination: Approaching Cultural Competency lectures nurture antiracist, antioppressive, multicultural hearts and minds.
  • Our Community Forum series connects you with pressing topics and issues and the experts who examine them.
  • Adult and youth education espouse our nearly 150-year liberal religious tradition.
  • We unite with other congregations and organizations to take a stand against gun violence.
  • Folks just like you found First Unitarian . . . and why they stay.
  • How simple and rewarding it is to join us!

First Unitarian Church of Cleveland: To Search and Serve







Wed., January 14 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Wed., January 28, 7:30 pm to 9:30 (following the Mix)

Wed., February 11, 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Wed., February 25, 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm (following the Mix)

 As Unitarian Universalists, we hope developing antiracist, antioppressive, and multicultural habits and skills will lead us to build the multicultural world of beloved community we dream about. “Healing the Corrupt Imagination,” an adaption of Building the World We Dream About by Marc Hicks and Gail Forsyth-Vail, is a program that seeks to interrupt the workings of racism and transform how people from different racial/ethnic groups understand and relate to one another. These four workshops create opportunities for participants to practice dreaming our world otherwise, and then commit to new, intentional ways of being. Facilitated by: the Rev. Daniel Budd and Ms. Bethany S. Ward.


Winter doldrums got you down? Come lift your spirit in community at our first Youth Religious Education Yoga Fundraiser on Saturday, January 31 at 1:00 pm in the Worship Center. Our very own Meghan Breitzmann will teach a one hour yoga class appropriate for all levels.  Your donation of $10 will benefit your spirit as well as the spirit of our growing Y.R.E. Program.   Bring a mat if you own one, some extras will be available. Class intended for adults and older children. A  healthy snack sale will follow.  Childcare provided.

Community Forums

Discussions That Matter 

All Are Welcome!

Sundays:  9:30 am-10:45 am

in Fellowship Hall

Pre-School Child Care Available


 February 1

ISIS: International Threat or Mideast Civil War?

The world has rarely seen a well funded, well organized terrorist organization such as ISIS, a fundamentalist Sunni Islamic state.  How did they become powerful so quickly?  Our military cost: 8 million/day and rising.  Is our strategy of drones and bombing legal under international law or US law?  Pete Moore, CWRU Associate Professor of Political Science and Avidan Cover, Assistant Professor of Law and Director, CWRU Institute for Global Security, Law and Policy.

 February 15

Common Core Testing:  Myths, Realities, and Consequences

Common Core is a federal program that outlines quantifiable benchmarks in English and math from kindergarten to high school. Over 43 states, including Ohio, have adopted it. Public reaction is mixed on mandatory testing, costs, and impacts on teachers and students. Dale Whittington, Ph.D., Director, Research and Evaluation, Shaker Heights Schools, and former Associate Professor, John Carroll University.

 February 22

The What, How and Why of the Millennial Generation

There are major differences on values, culture, family life and the use of social media among the generations.  How do millennial priorities differ from those of other generations?  How will the lifestyle and economic interests of the 85 million millennials, aged 20-35, affect our future? Richey Piiparinen, Director, Center for Population Dynamics, CSU College of Urban Affairs.

March 1

Neighborhood Safety:  Increasing, Decreasing

or Unchanged?

Between 50-90% of urban youths deal with violence as a matter of everyday life, with resulting behavioral and psychological impact.  Lack of family support, vacant homes, underemployment and racism create challenges for residents and opportunities for crime in urban and suburban areas. Panelists: Michael Walker, Executive Director, Partnership for a Safe Cleveland; Scott Lee, Chief of Police, Shaker Heights, Dawn Arrington, Bridging the Tracks, and Moderator:  Jim Chriss, CSU Sociology Professor.


Surveying Local Art: Expectations, Outcomes and Funding

How important is art to you?  What is essential to you or our community that only artists can accomplish?  The Cuyahoga Arts and Culture funding ($15 million/year) will be up for ballot renewal via a local tax this year.  How will we be affected by its loss or renewal?  Michael Gill, Editor/Publisher, Collective Arts Network, in conversation with Karen Gahl-Mills, Executive Director, Cuyahoga Arts and Culture.


Sweet Home First UU

Saturday, February 7th

First Unitarian Church

Please join the Stewardship Committee for the annual

Stewardship Potluck Campaign kickoff

5:30pm – 9:00ish

Main course and beverages provided by Harry’s Kitchen Crew

Your Board of Trustees will provide appetizers

If you can attend,

Please bring a salad for 4-6 people, if your name begins with A-H

Please bring a non meat side dish for 4-6 people, if your name starts with I-P

All those whose names start with Q-Z, should bring a yummy dessert

But wait, this is more than just a dinner!

Back by popular demand……we have square dancing!

Strap on your boots and mosey on over to First UU!

There will be activities for children over 5. 

Childcare, upon request, for those under 5.

Let us know if you would like a ride.


RSVP by February 3rd to  Christine Kozlevcar:  216-751-2320





Many small group gatherings in our church begin with some kind of worship or readings. This type of worship is very different than the worship we experience on Sunday mornings. Some group’s members, e.g. Lay Pastoral Care Team members, have been taught the how’s, why’s and what of small group worship to create a thorough experience for all attending. This training is now available to all members of the congregation who would like to know the secrets and charms of planning and leading small group worship. Rev. Patricia Shelden will teach a three week class on Planning and Leading Small Group Worship

Thursdays, March 5, 12 & 19, 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm.

Questions? Email Patricia at: pastorpas@sbcglobal.net. In order to ensure that there are enough materials please contact Patricia to save your space by Monday, February 23.


First Unitarian Receives Interfaith Power and Light Award

First Unitarian Church is proud to be the recipient of one of 20 Cool Congregation awards in the entire U.S. from Interfaith Power and Light.
More on this at our To Search & To Serve tab/UU Ministry for Earth.

The Next Mix...

...will be Wednesday, January 28th, at 7 p.m. in the Sanctuary Chancel.  Jethro Tull's "Hymn 43" will be featured.

GCC News

Heard about the Dept. of Justice report for the Cleveland Police Dept.? Want to learn more, and how we can create a caring and effective response?  Greater Cleveland Congregations is sponsoring a Teach-in on January 13 at 7:00 pm at Antioch Baptist Church, 8869 Cedar Ave, for all GCC congregation and organization members to understand what is in, and what is missing, from the DOJ Investigation Report. The teach-in will offer executive summaries of the recommendations that focus on a use of excessive force by Cleveland Police that is “neither isolated nor sporadic”. You will also hear about why the report does not address a significant issue that GCC must address: the racial disparities that are evident in Cleveland Police stops, arrests, and use of force. To be able to make a powerful statement on these issues, we need everyone to be well informed about the DOJ report, and to come prepared to work towards a major turnout for an Assembly when we expect all of GCC to meet with the State’s Attorney. At Antioch on January 13 we will ask the team from each congregation or organization to make a turnout commitment for a GCC General Assembly on February 3.

January 29, at West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church in Rocky River we will hold an open delegate assembly of GCC, at which recommendations from research teams will be presented and a GCC platform approved. While this meeting is for the GCC voting delegate and our core team leaders in particular, you are most welcome to attend. It will still be an opportunity for anyone wishing to learn about the DOJ report, but those presentations will be brief so that we can focus on the demands we are making for what needs to be in the Consent Decree between the DOJ and the City.

February 3 at 7:00pm at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church, 8712 Quincy Ave. 

GCC PUBLIC ACTION - Transforming the Criminal justice System
GCC will publicly state our recommendations for the Consent Decree to US Attorney Dettelbach.  Two carpool locations are set up.  Meet at the church at 6:00 pm or at Dave's parking lot in Cleveland Hts. at 6:15 pm. See Laurie Albright or the GCC table during coffee hour TODAY.  Please lend your voice to GCC's well researched request for priorities in the upcoming consent decree. At least 30 people from First U will be attending.  You can help us achieve and exceed our goal.  Ljalbright@hotmail.com or 216 371-8163.

Contact Pam Gibbon or Laurie Albright for more information and to coordinate attendance and rides to these events.  We look forward to hearing from you!

Our January Mitzvah...

BE A PART OF THE HOMELESS STAND DOWN - JANUARY 24: This important event provides homeless individuals, families, and veterans a day of respite from the elements, renewal of the human spirit, and reconnection to needed services that assist in the totality of human wellness and sustainability.  There are ways for everyone to contribute.  Which one will you choose? 


Volunteer on January 24.  Volunteer training is provided in advance and we will coordinate transportation for those interested. 


Cleaning Kits - Goal of 10.  Donate supplies to make these kits: cleaning bucket, sponges, paper towels, all purpose cleaning solution, dish soap, laundry detergent, dryer sheets.


Waterproof winter gloves/hats (new or like new)- Goal:  100 of each.


Donate cash.  Funds raised from collection offerings and other donations will be used to support a First Unitarian sponsorship with the HSD event (Goal of $1000). 


Bring your donations to Service on Sunday, January 11 and 18.  Items will be collected in the Sanctuary.  All donations must be received no later than January 18.  Questions? Contact Edie Phillips (edie.phillips@gmail.comor or 216-235-8855).



Getting to Know Us at First Unitarian...

...is easy through these opportunities:  The first Sunday of each month, we hold a Newcomer Coffee Chat in the Library immediately following the service.  This is a casual gathering where you can meet a few people and ask questions about our congregation.  On the third Sunday of each month, our New Connections group is available for those who would like to meet other new people and learn more about our congregation.  It is an easy way to get introduced to our values, activities, and community and see if we might be a good spiritual home for you.  This group meets from 12:15 - 1:30 pm in the Baker Room (#213, second floor).  Hope to see you at either or both gatherings!


For information about our Solar Panel Array and our Permaculture Garden, navigate to the To Search and To Serve tab and click on Environmental.

First Unitarian Church is a proud member of Greater Cleveland Congregations (GCC).  See more under "To Search and To Serve/Service & Justice".

“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.


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.

 Forum Addresses Death


The January 25th community forum, titled My Own Death:  An Important Conversation, helped the audience of 80 clarify their thoughts on how they wanted to end their days.Personal experiences were readily shared that demonstrated that dying is more problematic than ever given current legal issues, medical practices, and the misunderstandings that arise when important issues are not clearly written down and shared with loved ones and medical practitioners.  Forum panelists included Bill McCullam, President, Cleveland Memorial Society, Dick Christie, Geriatrician and Hospice Physician, and Patricia Shelden, Community Minister Affiliated, First Unitarian Church and Director, Miriam's Way:  Support For All Losses & Grief.  Panelists will meet in the near future  with those who wish to continue the discussion Details will soon be announced. 
Recent Community Forums:

Armond Budish, newly elected Cuyahoga County Executive, spoke at the January 18 forum on county priorities, increased alignment of economic development efforts with social services, and quality of life issues that affect us all.  A packed house of 125 listened intently.  Audience questions were wide ranging and thoughtful; answers were concrete and straightforward. 


“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.  And let’s not forget Jack Ulman, Emcee and Live Auctioneer Extraordinaire, whose commanding presence and corny jokes kept everyone on their toes.  The martinis were to die for (bad choice of words in a speakeasy?!), and fellowship and fun ruled the night.

The bidding was brisk, and gross receipts totaled nearly $10,000!  The Committee will keep you posted on the final take, and a special Tip of the Fedora to Gordon Maas, who guessed the secret password (“fundraising” . . . go figure!) and won Duncan Tanner's voice on his voicemail message.

Thanks to those who donated, those who bid, and those who brought guests.



UUA Districts Recognize First Unitarian Campaign

Recently, the Ohio Meadville/St. Lawrence Districts posted a blog detailing the 2014 - 2015 stewardship campaign.  The post can be found by going to www.ohiomeadville.org/bettertogether, clicking on "Recent Posts" and accessing "Congregations Create Unique Stewardship Plans Part .3"  The article is entitled "First Unitarian Cleveland Changes Its Style" and lets folks around the region know how our valued volunteers make a difference as they strive to Search and Serve!


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


Stewardship Committee Announces Campaign Theme & Schedule

The 2015 – 2016 Stewardship Committee (Laurie Albright, Barb and Bill Morgan, Heather Torok, David Kantor, Dennis Grossman, Duncan Tanner, Jr., Mary O'Shea, Kelli and Tom McKenna, and Co-Chairs Meg Pauken and Gail Arnold) is pleased to announce this year's theme: Sweet Home First UU.  According to Meg, the “home” concept speaks to family and fellowship:

“Ingathering Sunday always feels like coming home to me.  In this cherished community, we share together the milestones of both the church year and of our lives, which makes us family and this church our home.”

Once again, the Campaign will feature personal connection with First Unitarian members and friends, with volunteer callers scheduling meetings to listen, learn and share.  An orientation meeting for volunteers will be held Saturday, January 31 at 9:00 a.m., and the traditional Campaign Kickoff Potluck Celebration will take place the following Saturday, February 7 at 6:00 p.m. 

Please watch for more announcements and updates – including this year's campaign goal – in newsletters, email blasts, on the website, and during services!




















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’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 note if 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 will be changing 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 is updated more frequently, and feature 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 us We'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.