News & Updates


10/26/2020: Auction Reminder with Highlighted List of Items

Support the church and shop--it’s Auction Week! Go here for details:


10/26/2020: Teams Meeting Happening in November 

The MTC is pleased to announce the date for our next Teams Meeting. We will meet on Saturday, November 7 at 10am via Zoom. The Zoom event information is below. A meeting agenda will be sent in the leaders newsletter which goes out at the beginning of November.  It will be great to hear from you all!  We understand that some teams haven't been as active during the pandemic, but please do join us so we can reconnect, discuss the new Annual Vision of Ministry just approved by the board, and discuss the future.  

Topic: November Teams Meeting
Time: Nov 7, 2020 10:00 AM Central Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 949 9447 1948

10/25/2020: EMR Video

Did you miss the Sunday service or want to see the EMR video again? Check it out here:



10/24/2020:  It's Auction Week!

Register to bid! See a list of highlighted items and get more info here:

10/23/2020: Enews! 

Check out this week's church enews here:




10/22/220: Exciting News for the Book Club 

Author Kurt Anderson will join the First U Book Club Discussion this Monday, 10/26 at 7pm via Zoom! We are thrilled to have this nationally known writer zoom in with us as we discuss his latest book "Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History" (Penguin Random House, 2020). Andersen was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and graduated from Westside High School. He notes that in his youth he and his family had affiliations with First Unitarian Church. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College, where he edited the Harvard Lampoon. Need the Zoom event link? Email Dave at

10/21/2020: Sign up TODAY for the Great Pumpkin Hunt! 

Today is the deadline to sign up for the hunt. Go here for all the details:

10/20/2020: Auction Reminder

Now is the time to make your donations to the auction and to register to bid. Go here for all the details:

10/20/2020: WANTED: Writers, Artists, Photographers, Dreamers!
Chalice Connection, a quarterly publication of First Unitarian Church, Seeks Art, Poetry, Reflections, and Stories from our church members and friends. The issue theme is: imagination. Deadline for submissions is 11/27/2020. Learn more here:

10/16/2020:  This Sunday service information: Sunday, October 18 at 10:30am online

"Cycles of Survival & Symbiosis"

By Aly Tharp
Weaving together lessons from the plant and animal kingdoms and stories from social & climate movements, guest speaker Aly Tharp will cast a vision for collective liberation through collective healing & regeneration.  

​About the guest speaker: Aly Tharp is the Program Director of the Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth (UUMFE), and has been leading various national UU climate justice programs for six years. She grew up in Plano, TX, is a member of Wildflower UU Church in Austin, TX. Aly's greatest joy & passion is community building for social change through art, culture, and food.

The Zoom event link is the same one we use every Sunday:
Meeting ID: 994 8692 9188

10/16/2020: Weekly enews packed with info! 

This week's church news is filled with many opportunities to get involved: share a story of deep listening with our minister for next week's service, take part in the great pumpkin hunt, register to bid during the H&H online auction, film yourself as a chalice lighter, join Rev. Shari for a connection session on Zoom (one is scheduled for today at noon!), or plan to attend one of the many other Zoom events (Book Club, CommUUnity Night, UU the Vote Meeting, AHA meeting and more) coming up!

Everything you need to know about what's happening at First U is right here:

10/15/2020: Opportunity to Share!

Do you have a personal story that illustrates how listening to people with life experiences or worldviews different than your own has enriched your understanding of life? It could be through our sister church in Omaha, our partner church in Transylvania, through conversation with other UUs right here, or with friends from different cultures, etc. Rev. Woodbury would love to hear your anecdote and may incorporate it into her message on Sunday, Oct. 25. You can email her at or go to to schedule a 15-min. conversation to share your experience. To see upcoming Sunday services, click here


10/14/2020: WAYS YOU CAN HELP: The next Clair Cares Food Pantry will be Saturday, October 17.

Pastor Portia is requesting: ​
Spaghettios or ravioli

Your pantry donations can be delivered TOMORROW Thursday, Oct. 15 between 10am and noon to Clair Memorial United Methodist Church (5544 Ames Ave.) Go to the drive-up door on the east side, under the canopy.

**Please introduce yourself and say you're from First Unitarian Church when donating to Clair. Thank you!

Questions? Email

10/13/2020: Heart & Hand Auction News 

  • YOU ARE INVITED to our annual Halloween “Heart & Hand” Auction!   A FUNdraiser for the operating budget.  It is entirely on-line this year with pandemic precautions for safety—but still awesome!


  • Please explore the AUCTION WEBSITE:  With no in-church auction party, the website IS the auction!  Click here to get info, donation forms, register to bid, and plan your prize-winning costume. Click here to browse the ever-growing CATALOG of wonderful items to be auctioned. (Tickets to Vala’s and Bellevue Berry Farm on sale now!)


  • Please DONATE something to the auction this coming week! The deadline for donations is fast approaching:  Wednesday, Oct 21.   Large or small, serious or fun—we need your donations for a successful auction.  Click here for donation forms and pandemic safety guidelines or contact (Do not deliver donations to the church. You will be contacted to arrange safe pickup/delivery.)


  • REGISTER to bid and mark your calendars: AUCTION WEEK is Oct 23-30: On-line bidding begins 7 pm Oct 23, and ends (sales final) at 7 pm Oct 30th.   Click here to register to bid on the Auction Website.


  • HALLOWEEN AUCTION PARTY (via Zoom) 7-8:30 pm, Friday, Oct 30th   Costumes strongly encouraged. Prizes for best costume in 4 categories:  Masked Disguise, Family Photo, Posh Pets (yes!), and Spook’s Choice (open).  “Door prizes”!  Join friends for fellowship and fun.


10/11/2020: The Great Pumpkin Hunt!
In this time of social distancing, our RE Team has come up with the idea of a Great Pumpkin Hunt across the city, modeled after our Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt last Spring! You can create a pumpkin for participants to find at your house, or go hunting for pumpkins, or both! Both activities are open to anyone, this is a multigenerational activity. If you’d like to be a stop on the map, please sign up by Oct 21. See more details, view some inspirational UU pumpkins, and sign up here

10/11/2020:  The Next AHA (Atheists Humanists Agnostics) Group Event

AHA invites all to join us for this historically interesting presentation and discussion on Thursday, Nov. 12 at 7pm via Zoom. Rev. Shari’s subject is "The Intersecting Histories of UUism and Humanism."  Join the Zoom session at this link: 

Questions? Email 

10/10/2020: New! Theme Connection Sessions with Rev. Woodbury

Theme Connection is an occasional online gathering which offers the opportunity to connect with the minister and a small group via Zoom. Rev. Shari will facilitate, springboarding off the monthly Soul Matters theme. The intent of these experiential sessions is to create pathways to deeper connections within ourselves and among the session’s participants, while exploring how the theme speaks to our lives. Each session stands alone and no preparation is required. Days of week and times of day will vary to accommodate different schedules. Initial sessions will be on Friday, Oct. 16, noon to 1pm, and Tuesday , Oct. 20, 6-7pm. The theme this month is Deep Listening. The number of participants per session is limited to foster connection, so sign-up is required.

To sign up, go to:

10/07/2020: This Sunday service information

Sunday, October 11 at 10:30am online

“Roots Hold Me Close”  

By Rev. Shari Woodbury

In times of anxiety and uncertainty, a sense of continuity with the past can be an anchoring force. If I listen deeply to where I come from, how does that affect the journey of life?  What if your roots are lost? In the spirit of our October theme of Deep Listening, and on the brink of Indigenous People’s Day, we’ll listen to indigenous wisdom on this topic. Join us as we consider just how our roots might hold us close – and help us find a way forward.

The Zoom event link is the same one we use every Sunday:
Meeting ID: 994 8692 9188

10/05/2020: NEW Auction Facebook Page

Check out the new 2020 Heart & Hand Auction Facebook page for all your auction action:



10/02/2020:   Planning to attend the Sunday service on Zoom?

Please arrive to the Zoom event 5-10 minutes early. We will use the Zoom waiting room feature to screen out any uninvited intruders. Please be sure that you put your first and last name as the Zoom username so the host will know that you are someone who should be allowed in. If you need the dial-in instructions, please email and include your phone number so we can send you the Zoom number and access code, and let the host know your number belongs to an invited guest.

Need help with Zoom? Email

10/01/2020: Pledge Update

So far we have received $21,240 in increased and new pledges. Thank you to everyone who considered what you can do to close our $33,000 pledging gap for this pandemic year, and who has let us know your updated pledge commitment. We can do it! Every pledge counts -- if you haven't responded yet, please go here:

This supplemental pledge campaign will help us know where we stand so leadership can plan responsibly to sustain our mission. We will be reaching out individually to those we do not hear from. Thank you for taking a few minutes to let us know what you can do to keep the fire of our liberal religious values burning bright. You can do that at this simple web form:
or by emailing Cat Dixon at


10/01/2020: The October issue of the Chalice Connection

The newest issue of the quarterly magazine of our church is now available. Click here.

We are looking for art, poetry, photos, stories, and reflections for our next issue which will come out January 2021. The theme is imagination. Send your submissions to the church office by November 27. Email


9/30/2020: This Sunday service information

Sunday, October 4 at 10:30am online

"There Is More Love"

By Rev. Shawna Foster

In times of a terrible pandemic and horrific politics, it's hard to feel like there's any more love out there for us to give to our neighbors and nation. What are the sources of love in our tradition that we can reach for to get through hard times? Explore with Rev. Shawna Foster the thoughts of our nation's forebears on the nature of divinity and where we can find more love for ourselves, our communities, and our world through the toughest of times.

We will also continue honoring our interconnection in worship through Joys & Concerns. You can share yours in the chat, or submit one via the web form to have your joy or concern lifted up in worship. Go here for the web form:

​The Zoom event link is the same one we use every Sunday:
Meeting ID: 994 8692 9188

9/29/2020:  Next UU the Vote Meeting

As the election approaches the UU the Vote group has been busy. We met on Wednesday, September 23 to discuss our various activities. Over the next couple of weeks we will be conducting a congregational canvass to encourage voter participation and make sure every eligible voter is duly registered. We have also initiated a dashboard on Google Docs to record our activities. Members have been active in a number of get out the vote activities with groups with goals similar to ours. We also have a lot of individuals who are independently working on various campaigns.  Our next Zoom gathering is scheduled for Tuesday, October 27th at 6pm.

Questions?  Need the Zoom link? Email Dave at

9/27/2020:  CommUUnity Night is Still Here & Happening on Friday, October 2nd

Because we need to practice good social distancing, we have set up a Zoom Meeting that can be joined anytime between 6pm and 7pm on Friday, 10/2. Obviously, kid and pet noises are absolutely fine during this time and everyone is welcome. Pajamas are great, but make sure you’re wearing pants! (This is a family-friendly event, after all.) We’ll see you online!  If you need the link to the Zoom event, please email Kate at or the church office at

9/24/2020: Auction 2020


  • YOU ARE INVITED to our annual Halloween “Heart & Hand” Auction!   A FUNdraiser for the operating budget.  So-named because it features items that build connections (e.g., lessons, outings, sharing food) as well as lots of intriguing stuff.  It is entirely on-line this year, but still will be awesome!

  • Check out the AUCTION WEBSITE:  With no in-church auction party, the website IS the auction!  Click here to get info, donation forms, register to bid, plan your prize-winning costume, and browse the ever-growing CATALOG of items to be auctioned.

  • DONATE SOMETHING TO THE AUCTION! Large or small, serious or fun—we need your donations for a successful auction!  Donation forms and pandemic safety guidelines are on the auction website or contact  (Please do not bring donations to the church.) 

  • Mark your calendars: AUCTION WEEK Oct 23-30: On-line bidding begins 7 pm Oct 23, and ends (sales final) at 7 pm Oct 30th. 

HALLOWEEN AUCTION PARTY (via Zoom) 7-8:30 pm, Friday, Oct 30th.   Join friends for a costume contest, “door” prizes, fellowship and fun.   

  • For anything auction, contact Sara (720-312-4854) or Donna (402-699-3183). 

9/23/2020: Pledge Update

Thank you to everyone who considered what you can do to close our $33,000 pledging gap for this pandemic year, and who has let us know your updated pledge commitment. So far we have received $18,245 in increased and new pledges. We can do it! Every pledge counts. This supplemental pledge campaign will help us know where we stand so leadership can plan responsibly to sustain our mission. We will be reaching out individually to church members we do not hear from. We know that many are doing the best you can to get through each day, with attention pulled in many directions. Thank you for taking a few minutes to let us know what you can do to keep the fire of our liberal religious values burning bright. You can do that at this simple web form:

or email the church office at

9/23/2020: In case you missed it! Community Caravan

Check out the photos from our Saturday, Sept 12th Community Caravan. Thank you to everyone who participated and to those who brought donations for our Sister Church food pantry. Go here for more photos:

9/22/2020: This Sunday service information

Sunday, September 27 at 10:30am online 

“A Higher Image” by Rev. Shari Woodbury

Our cultural and political climate reflects what theologians call a “low anthropology” or image of the human being. Lifting up a higher image may be not just a source of renewal and relief for all the heartbroken witnesses and activists among us, but a deeper antidote to what ails humanity today. In this time of fear, cynicism and derision, join us to reawaken a loftier view.

​We will also continue honoring our interconnection in worship through Joys & Concerns. You can share yours in the chat, or submit one via the web form to have your joy or concern lifted up in worship. Go here for the web form:

​The Zoom event link is the same one we use every Sunday:
Meeting ID: 994 8692 9188

9/19/2020: Stewardship letter mailed out to church members who have not yet responded to supplemental campaign 

Dear Friends and Fellow UU’s:

We are personally reaching out to every person in our church community during this supplemental pledge campaign. If you have already responded to the campaign, we thank you and you do not need to respond again.

While we, as UUs, focus on making this world a better place, we must face the fact that we need money to keep our congregation operative. We have a large and magnificent building to maintain and repair, staff to pay, dues and bills, and our community promises to keep.

Our regular spring pledge campaign was cut short by the pandemic. We ended up $33,000 short of our goal. That goal still relied on us drawing from reserve funds. We launched our fall supplemental campaign with some success but are still almost $15,000 short of our goal.

If we do not meet our goal, we still must honor our obligations and pay our bills. In the short term that means using money set aside for future growth, large scale building repairs and as assurance against the unknown. We can also consider larger cuts than we have already made to expenses, and face the hard decisions that come with that tactic.

To enable us to proceed as planned, we are asking everyone to please pledge or increase your pledge to help us maintain what we have and cherish. Any new pledge or increase helps. We understand that not everyone is able to pledge or increase a pledge, and we appreciate hearing from you even if that is your situation. You can also consider making a one-time supplemental contribution in addition to your current pledge. It all helps, and every investment in our mission is deeply appreciated.

Enclosed is a form to fill out and mail back to us. If you prefer, you can respond via email ( or on our church website (Stewardship tab). If we do not hear back from you by September 25th, we will reach out by phone to touch base. We need to know what our funding parameters are so that we can plan our church year in a realistic and responsible manner.

Thank you for your support. Together we can sustain the church community we love, and continue to put our principles into action in the world around us.


Rev. Shari Woodbury, Minister

Sharon Piehler, Board of Trustees

9/18/2020: Pledge Update  

Thank you to everyone who considered what you can do to close our $33,000 pledging gap for this pandemic year, and who has let us know your updated pledge commitment. So far we have received $17,270 in increased and new pledges. We can do it!  Every pledge counts -- if you haven't responded yet, please go here to share what you can do. This supplemental pledge campaign will help us know where we stand so leadership can plan responsibly to sustain our mission. We will be reaching out individually to those we do not hear from. We know that many are doing the best you can to get through each day, with attention pulled in many directions. Thank you for taking a few minutes to let us know what you can do to keep the fire of our liberal religious values burning bright. You can do that at this simple web form or by emailing Cat Dixon at 

9/18/2020: A Message from the MTC (Ministry Team Council)
We want to remind everyone that the church building is still closed. We hope to return to in-person services in the summer of 2021, at the earliest. Church leadership will assess the situation every month and will keep the congregation informed of any changes. Starting this month, leadership has agreed to allow volunteers (who are doing the work of the church) into the building for limited visits. Entrance to the building will be handled case by case and visiting the church will require scheduling time with the church office. There are special protocols to keep other volunteers and church staff safe. Please email the church office at with questions.

9/17/2020: This Sunday service information

Sunday, September 20 at 10:30am online 
“Who Is My Neighbor?” with Sr. Kathleen Erickson, member of the OTOC Immigrant and Refugee Action Team

Our response is both personal and communal.  In this time of what seems like extreme racism, xenophobia, and polarization, we will explore the extreme of human beings recognizing that we are one.  Scientific discoveries and contemplative recognition related to this truth are complex, and challenge the structures which have benefited some and resulted in terrible suffering for many.   Our spirituality is also challenged, as we let go of certainties determined in another time and strive to welcome a new consciousness of what we may be called to as human beings in the 21st century.

About the guest speaker: Kathleen Erickson, RSM has been involved in immigration ministry since 1991, working at the US/Mexico border with immigrant women.  She has provided spiritual support to detained immigrants in Federal Detention Centers and county jails and spent weeks volunteering in El Paso as 2,000 immigrants a week were being released by ICE with a need for shelter and support.   
To submit a joy or concern to be shared during the Sunday service, click here
​Time: September 20, 2020 10:30 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join the Zoom Meeting (same link we use every Sunday):
Meeting ID: 994 8692 9188

9/17/2020: A Note Regarding KIOS Bundled Donations
For several years First Unitarian Church has promoted the KIOS bundled donations drive in the month of October. This campaign raised money for church advertising on Nebraska Public Radio’s Omaha broadcasting station, KIOS, 91.5 FM.  Due to the pandemic and other church fundraising efforts, the fundraising team along with KIOS coordinator Lois Norris have decided to postpone the KIOS campaign until June 2021. Of course, you are free to donate to KIOS as individuals any time or you can wait until the June campaign at church as those bundled donations given through First Unitarian Church help pay for our radio advertising. If you have questions, please contact Lois or the church office. We want to thank those who have given past support to the First Unitarian Church KIOS Bundled Drive and we look forward to 2021!

9/16/2020: Morning Reflections will begin Sept. 21.

Join church members Kim Dunovan and Sharon Conlon Monday-Friday 8:15am to 8:45am for a period of reflection and silent meditation/prayer on Zoom. Whether you’re seeking a regular spiritual practice, or just wake-up some mornings needing a little extra support and connection to our church community. This is an informal drop-in and all are welcome! Click here for more information

​9/13/2020: The Tree of Life and Our Fire Burning Bright: A Message from Rev. Shari Woodbury

A few days ago I stepped out of my church office for a breath of fresh air between meetings. As I wandered over the church grounds, a flash of bright green caught my eye. An acorn, tender and new, attested to the drive for life and growth inherent in each one of us. This embryonic seed is much like my relationship with you, in the early stage of developing. I held the shiny fruit of the oak in my hand, pondering the possibilities of this next phase for the church. What good things, in time, will grow?
Of course, even the mightiest tree is vulnerable to the forces of nature. Last month, when the derecho blew through our area, several large limbs of a towering tree in my backyard broke off. Sad as this was, I felt lucky that the silver maple had not fallen into our home, but merely to the ground. Before the debris was carted away, I grabbed a piece of wood. This timber, remnant of a larger tree that survived, evokes the resilience of life. While I mourn what was lost, I am also watching for the new growth that will come to this tree, and waiting to find a new use for the downed piece that I set aside.
The pandemic was a derecho through all our lives over this last half a year. Precious limbs are lost from our tree of life, and the landscape of our society is forever changed. The church began immediately to adapt to these new conditions. The caring networks of this congregation were activated, worship and many small groups continue apace online, and soon we’ll even be bringing church to the doorsteps of many families with at-home religious education kits. Natural history teaches us that those who survive divergence and disaster are those who evolve. And so we are.
Outside the church, it was the gleaming young acorn that drew my attention. Inside, I often find myself pausing on the chancel steps to gaze at the beautiful banner that hangs in the sanctuary. It displays a flaming chalice and was part of the congregation’s pledge campaign last spring. Lovingly painted by hand, the flames represent all that members are grateful for in the work of the church. More flames were to be added as the congregation grew closer and closer to reaching the pledge campaign goal. Alas
as our Treasurer, Walt Jesteadt, described last Sunday, the campaign was cut short by the pandemic – and the congregation remains $33,000 short of the funds we need to raise through pledges to sustain our work.
While the banner has been static since the pandemic began, this church is not frozen in its mission. 

As Board President Sharon Piehler described earlier this week, this community rallied to support each other, and continues to reach up and out with an eye toward the future. With each small group gathering and worship service, we rekindle relationships, spark new insights, and break through the isolation of these times. With each food delivery or card or phone call to a member or friend in need, we add another flame to the fire of caring community. With each neighborhood care package handed out at the church door… with each donation to our sister church’s food pantry… and with each call to mobilize voters at this unprecedented moment, we add another flame to the fire of commitment that warms and transforms all that is cold and stuck in the world around us.
Whether you have remained engaged with the church community, or are plugging back in now – or are simply glad that we are still here as a beacon of liberal religious values in greater Omaha – we need your support to keep these flames burning brightly. We are asking every person or family that was unable to pledge last spring to reassess what you can do now, and let us know. If you already pledged, I invite you to consider whether you are able to increase your pledge by 10 or 20 percent to ensure that we continue to thrive and to evolve in our mission. Simply click here to record your updated or new pledge for the 2020-2021 church year. Leaders will be reaching out individually to those we do not hear from, so that we know where we stand and can plan responsibly.
I am here and eager to connect with you, as we grow and evolve together. Thank you for doing what you can to tend the flames of our mission, and help plant seeds for the future.
With love and gratitude,
Rev. Shari Woodbury


9/11/2020: This Sunday service information

Sunday, September 13 at 10:30am online 
“Water In-Gathering” with Rev. Shari Woodbury

At this Water In-gathering service, we’ll mark the ending of summer and celebrate our interdependence with the earth and with each other. Join us for virtual ritual with our combined waters, sharing of the smiles and heartfelt hopes of our members and friends, murmuring music and more. Come renew your connection to the church community!

Note:  Waters and wishes for this service will be collected at the Community Caravan [click here for details] on Sat., Sept. 12, 11am to 1pm in the church parking lot. If you can’t participate then but would like to share your own hope for the church community this year, you can cut out your own water-drop-shaped paper, write on it your hope or wish for the church community this year, and send a selfie of yourself holding the drop to by noon on Sept. 12. (All ages are welcome to participate! Feel free to send multiple pictures.)  Pictures will be incorporated into a slide show for the in-gathering.

We will also continue honoring our interconnection in worship through Joys & Concerns. You can share yours in the chat, or submit one via the web form [click here to submit your joys and concerns] to have your joy or concern lifted up in worship.

​Time: September 13, 2020 10:30 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join the Zoom Meeting (same link we use every Sunday):
Meeting ID: 994 8692 9188

9/10/2020: Reminder: Come to the Community Caravan THIS Saturday!

You're invited to an an all-ages drive-through event starting the church year with welcome, water, and distanced connection. Come take part in the activities and help us welcome Rev. Shari to First Unitarian Church!  Learn more at our Facebook event page:


9/9/2020: Beyond 2020: A Message from the Church Board President

Many of us are eager for this year to be in the rear-view mirror. We have been forced to learn so much this year. We learned new words such as COVID-19 and novel coronavirus. We learned how to make a mask, social distance, use Zoom, and grocery shop in the early hours when the stores are empty.

We have had friends and family members become sick or pass without the ability to touch or hold each other close. A generation of eager teens lost their chance to celebrate an important milestone as they graduated from high school. Careers were lost or put on hold. We have been assaulted by a pandemic and now endless political ads as we try to sort fact from fiction, truth from lies.

Through all these trials we have done our best. We learned to bake bread, hiked in the beauty of nature, enjoyed blooming flowers, and figured out how to be there for each other. Overall, we have done a great job of caring for each other in these trying times. We shared food and transportation, found time to make phone calls and mailed cards and letters. I can attest that, in a state of grief and panic, receiving cards with loving messages and phone calls from church members just asking, “are you ok?” is a gift like no other. I could never assign a value to what our church community has given to us.

We are now tasked with mapping out what our future looks like.

How do we navigate this election season and stay solid and grounded? One of the ways is centered in the work our UUTheVote team is doing. We CAN make a difference.

We can continue our amazing RE classes, enabling our children to stay in touch and keep learning the valuable lessons we can gift them with.  Our kids are the future and are our finest resource. They must be nurtured and protected.

Our two-year wait is over, and we have our settled minister! Rev. Shari Woodbury will be with us for years to come. It is time to plan and set goals. Your board will be spending several weekends in planning sessions with Rev. Shari and Phil Lund, a great UUA resource, kicking off our short and long-term planning to assure our success and sustainability.

One of the keys to a successful future is financial stability.

In reading Walt’s email you know now that we came up very short on our pledge campaign. We have over 230 members and received pledges from only 126 pledge units (some of these are family units).  We are $33,000 short to balance a budget that already includes us drawing against our reserves. Our reserves need to be protected to assure that when we are ready, we have startup funds for future needs and growth. We need funds now to pay the bills to maintain our building, pay employees, and honor our obligations to the community. We will not be able to honor these financial obligations through the remainder of the church year without further drawing down our reserves unless we close the gap.

Our ask is that you think deeply about what our church means to you and your loved ones. We can all protect and nourish our church through donations, large and small. Any pledge amount helps. Five dollars per week is as important as large endowment bequests. 

We are hoping you will recognize the value of what we have: our historic building, friendly faces ready to help each other, a bright future with our new minister, and a community of education and faith grounded in our values and principles. 
Please help us sustain this amazing gift by clicking here to record your updated pledge. 

If we don't hear from church members regarding your pledge (whether you can increase your pledge or not), board members and finance team members will be reaching out by phone to make sure we touch base with all church members. 

In Gratitude,
Sharon Piehler
President, Board of Trustees


9/6/2020:  Treasurer's Update on Church Finances 
Our spring stewardship campaign was rudely interrupted by a pandemic.  After many phone calls and other efforts to obtain pledges during the lockdown, we ended up with about $217,000 from 126 pledges, well short of the $280,000 required to balance our church budget.  We have had fewer expenses during the pandemic, but we still have to maintain the building. It continues to support our staff’s work, and we all want our beautiful building to be ready for us when we can resume gathering in person.

We are maintaining our programs as well. Zoom services have been successful and have allowed us to reconnect with members and friends who had been unable to come to regular services.  Most of our church groups have sustained vital connections by shifting online, too. We were even able to call a new settled minister! We all look forward to the time when the pandemic will be over and we can get back together and meet Shari Woodbury in person.

At the time that we made pledge phone calls in the spring, some people were concerned about their jobs or their investment income.  Hopefully there is less uncertainty now.  Other people told me last spring that they were doing fine and had just received an additional $1200 from the government.

We adopted a revised budget at the Zoom congregational meeting in May that assumed $250,000 in pledge income and used money from the federal PPP program to make up the difference.  We will not have income from renting the church for weddings and will still need to use some of our reserves, but we can make it work – if we receive an additional $33,000 in pledges to get to $250,000.  We are launching a supplemental stewardship campaign via email, to ask those who have not been financially impacted by the pandemic to pledge or to increase their existing pledge.  Every pledge counts, and whatever you can do, we appreciate your response.

In the coming week, you will receive additional messages about the campaign from Sharon Piehler, our Board President, and Rev. Shari Woodbury along with a simple pledge form that you can return via email.  Phone calls will then be made to members and friends we have still not heard from. Please give some thought to what you can contribute to sustain our First Unitarian community, and stay safe.
~Walt Jesteadt, Treasurer

9/4/2020:  This Sunday service information

Sunday, September 6 at 10:30am online 

“Nodes of Renewal” by Rev. Shari Woodbury

“Live a life you can endure,” writes poet Marge Piercy. She encourages us to “Weave real connections, create real nodes, build real houses.” As we delve into our September theme of Renewal this week, Rev. Woodbury and friends invite you to consider how small groups – including those at the church – may serve as nodes of renewal in your life. 


Would you like to share a story of how participation in a small group has renewed you?  What has the "real node" of a small group meant in your life?  Drop a note to Rev. Shari at and she just might incorporate it into the Sept. 6 service. (Please let her know if it's okay to quote you by name, or anonymously.)

We are also trying out a new way of weaving connections in worship. You'll have the chance to share Joys & Concerns in the Zoom chat during the service. Another option is to submit your joy or concern on the website. Click here to submit your joy or concern. Whether it's via chat or submission on the website, Rev. Shari will briefly lift up personal joys and concerns from the congregation during worship.

The Zoom event link is the same one we use every Sunday:
Meeting ID: 994 8692 9188

9/2/2020: Come to the Community Caravan

Save the Date: Saturday, Sept. 12, 11am to 1pm
An all-ages drive-through event starting the church year with welcome, water, and distanced connection. 

Come take part in the activities and help us welcome Rev. Shari to First Unitarian Church!  Please remain in your car and follow the path outlined here:

Volunteers and staff will be masked and will handle sanitizing. Note: You don't have to stop at every station but please wave hello! 
We will have multiple stations:
1.The Stuffed Animal Sleepover Drop Off Station with Christina: 
You are invited to bring one of your inanimate fuzzy household members to participate in a Back-to-Church Stuffed Animal Sleepover. Note to the Stuffed Animals: This is a sacred mission to reconnect your human companion to the building, community, and traditions they have been missing during the pandemic. Click here for more information and to register.
2. The Engagement Station with Carrie: 
While we're welcoming back members and friends, we'd also like to offer a chance for visitors and newcomers to stop by, say hello, and ask questions.  Visit Carrie at the "engagement table" to pick up your welcome packet! Not new but considering how you want to plug into the church this year?  Carrie will have handy info for you too, on current ways to participate. 
3. The Water Deposit Station with Rev. Shari: 
Say hello to our new minister and pour water from your local watershed (from a stream, creek, pond, lake) into the provided container in the church garden. The combined waters will be incorporated into our virtual Water In-gathering worship service the next day.  Please bring one water deposit per car. If you cannot venture out, feel free to bring tap water. 
4. The Wish Water Droplet Station with Mary Kay Peters: 
Share your hope or wish for the coming church year on the paper water droplet cutouts you'll be given and then have your photo taken with your water droplet. We'll have enough clipboards and paper for everyone in the car to take part and all ages should share. Consider writing just a word or phrase on your water droplet. 

5. The Sister Church Food Pantry Drop Off Station with Cat and Carol Ramsey:  
Each month our sister church Claire Memorial hosts a food pantry.  Bring canned food/nonperishable goods and leave them here.  Our Sister Church Team will deliver these donations to the food pantry. Click here for a list of suggested food donations. Thank you! 
If you didn't get a chance to mail your welcome card to Rev. Shari or you have a small gift, please leave it at this table with Cat as well. 

We look forward to seeing everyone on Saturday, September 12th in the church parking lot!

Questions? Email the office at  

8/30/2020: UU the Vote Follow Up

Check out the links and resources we shared in the August 30th service at this link (along with some elements of the service):

8/27/2020: This Sunday service information

Sunday, August 30 at 10:30am online 

"UUtheVote: Democracy and Participation in 2020"

Presented by the UUtheVote Task Force

People of faith can take a meaningful role in elections without being partisan. In this critical election year, the UUtheVote Task Force is working on a number of projects designed to provide voter education and increase voter participation. All projects are grounded in UU principles. There will be limited time for some people in the service to share short stories about their voting experiences. Please consider sharing this Sunday. ​

The Zoom event link is the same one we use every Sunday:


8/25/2020: Call for submissions for Chalice Connection, a magazine of First Unitarian Church 

Do you have an idea for an article for this new quarterly publication?  Do you take photos at church and want a place to share them? Are you interested in interviewing church members or staff? Do you write poetry? Do you have an amazing recipe that people keep asking about? Do you have an important issue that you’re passionate about? If so, please submit your items  to Word count limit: 1,000 words. If your plan involves a longer piece, please contact the office. Notes: 1. Articles will be approved by the Editor, the Office Team, and in some cases in conjunction with the staff and MTC.  2. All articles will be subject to editing. 

3. Articles must comply with the First  Unitarian Communications Policy.

More information can be obtained by emailing the church office.  

Deadline for the October 2020 issue is Sept. 1st.

Fall issue theme: Solidarity 


8/23/2020: Soul Matters Forum Coming Up on Sunday, August 30 @ 9:30am on Zoom (50 minutes)
We have room for new members and we want YOU. Learn what Soul Matters is and find out how connecting in small Zoom groups can help you get through 2020. Join us! The Zoom meeting link will be sent in the church enews. Or you can email the church office at  Our 4 existing groups will begin meeting again in September.  We have room in those groups for new members and will add more groups as needed.  Maybe you would like to form your own group?  We can make that happen too!
To sign up and for more information, go to  and join us via Zoom ( )  for a Soul Matters forum Sunday August 30th at 9:30am.


It's time to register for Religious Education. Please fill out the registration form even if your child is an infant or you don't expect to participate in remote Sunday School this year. It's important for our record-keeping and future program planning! This year's registration includes questions about how our community can best meet your family's Religious Education needs while social distancing during the pandemic.   Form link:

8/20/2020: Outside Opportunity: Virtual Midwest Leadership School 2020
The Extended Virtual Leadership Experience, a 4-part series, will be running Sept to Nov.

(The meetings will happen on Saturdays,  9am-12pm).
They are encouraging congregations to send teams and each person registering needs a letter of support from the minister or board president.  Cost is $150. Please review the information at the link and if you are interested,  email: by Sept 1st. 

8/18/2020: This Sunday service information

Sunday, August 23 at 10:30am online  

"The Problem with Moral Perfectionism" with Ryan Cook, Church member

How analyzing our own experiences can lead to greater acceptance of others. Ryan will talk about some of his own experiences and how they lead him to become a more moral individual.

8/12/2020: Signals -  A Note from Rev. Shari

Thank you to all of you who have welcomed me and my family to Omaha with chalk art at the church, a continuing card shower, smiles and kind words. We feel your warmth and we are so happy to be here!
As I write this from my home office, between one Zoom meeting and the next, communication methods are much on my mind. People have a proliferation of tools – like this e-blast – to help us connect with each other. We use them in a wide variety of ways and they are always evolving.
While I expect to return to Zoom often in the weeks and months ahead, I revert happily to older forms of communication. Someday we will enjoy again the most time-honored way of connecting:  face to face.  Until then, you can connect with me by email, at; note that you may have to update your Contacts to get it to display my name rather than Rev. Michelle’s. I also have a local cell number I’ll use for the church, including pastoral care and working with groups. That number is ‪531-600-8313. And if you are on Facebook or LinkedIn, feel free to connect with me there. I don’t manage to keep up with everything on social media (who could?!) but I do occasionally share articles or pictures.
Of course, communication is a two-way street. I look forward to hearing from 1st UU’s members and friends and getting to know you. Please stay tuned for structured opportunities to connect with me, individually or in small groups, in coming weeks and months.

During this first month, like most new settled ministers, I’m setting myself up in the church and community, beginning to connect with key groups in the congregation, and starting to plan for the church year. We will begin at a measured pace and take the time to get to know each other. For now, I will attend and experience the service, getting a sense of what it’s like for a member or visitor to join this community in worship. I will start preaching and leading full worship services in September.


At a recent hike at Fontenelle Forest, I heard some of my favorite signals:  birdsong floating down from the trees, and frog calls echoing out from the streams. I witness the calls many of *you* have been making, too. You are communicating your desire to stay connected with your church community, to follow your curiosity and make meaning, to embrace a spirit of creativity and new possibility, and to make a difference in some of the great social movements and challenges of our time. These calls are as musical to my ears as those of our Fontenelle friends.
Whether you communicate by Morse code, smoke signals, letter, texting, Zoom or social media, I look forward to connecting further with you. If you made it all the way to the end of this special e-blast, you can help me with church communications by dropping me an email at to let me know that you did so. I may not respond to these messages, but the number I get will tell me something about how many people are reading the digital words coming from the church these days.
See you soon!
Rev. Shari Woodbury


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