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The Newsletter of First Unitarian Church of Omaha

The Flame January 2013

Our Chili Cook-off is January 19 — join us for the food and fun!

REV. ELATIONS I’ve changed my mind about Boxing Month. It’s not that I don’t enjoy a good argument. I do… and we will have an opportunity at an upcoming Tolerant Atheist meeting. Rather, it’s that I don’t want argument to be the paradigm of communication within the congregation. The paradigm that most attracts me is the one I encounter as we tell our spiritual odysseys. We sit in a circle, and one by one individuals speak of their childhood faith, the struggles and the reactions they have experienced as adults, and what they are now seeking. No one argues; rather, we listen in appreciation―even awe―at the other’s journey. It makes no difference whether one is earth-centered, atheist, or Christian. When we hear the journey of another soul, we experience something sacred.

Sunday Services

At 9:30 am and 11:15 am

January 6 | Rev. Frank Rivas | Our Universalist Tradition Universalists, who merged with Unitarians in 1961, complement our strengths. January 13 | Rev. Frank Rivas | Dreams of Synthesis I dream of a day when theism and atheism will merge into a paradigm that currently we cannot envision. I like to think our liberal tradition will play an important role. January 20 | Rev. Frank Rivas | A Prophet in Our Own Time Many of us have heard the prophetic words of Martin Luther King, Jr. The words continue to inform us, but we also need to listen for women and men who speak prophetic words today. The choir will sing this Sunday. January 27 | TBA

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(Continued from first page) I have the opportunity to speak of moments from my odyssey three Sundays a month; however, we do not often hear odysseys from other members of the congregation. I would like to invite people to share their stories―to identify the moments that have influenced their spiritual lives and to identify what they seek from a religious community. Some might feel comfortable sharing in a 3-to-5-minute segment (as we now do in the series “Why I Attend This Church”). Others might prefer filling the pulpit on one of the Sundays that I don’t preach. Still others might prefer filling the pulpit along with someone else. We might even be able to create a monthly column in The Flame. The goal is not to divide the congregation into two or three competing teams, but rather to appreciate the life experience and the depth of each of us. The goal is to expand our circle of inclusion. Blessings and love, Frank

Festival of Winds The Sunday after the Annual Chili Cook-Off, the First Unitarian Church Organ Heritage Society will present a Pipe Organ Demonstration Seminar, January 20, 2013 at 2:00pm in the church sanctuary. The 40-minute demonstration will show case some of the integral features and functions of the church’s Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ; including the three keyboards, the four pipes’ divisions, stops, pre-set pistons and other basic components. Church Organist Pat Will and presenter Nathan Kramer will team up for a fun and informative PowerPoint presentation and mini-concert for all ages. There will be a question & answer session at the console after the formal part of the program. Come and enjoy! It will be a gas!


Chili Cook-Off — January 19 It’s time to find grandma’s chili recipe and make sure you’ve got all the fixins you need. You can’t wait till the last minute because all the really good critters hibernate in the winter. As usual, you can feed yourself, your significant other, and all of your young ones at this chuck wagon for only $12 bucks tops. Kids under 10 eat free. Cornbread and soda pop are free. Adult beverages available.

The competition for best chili is fiercer than a deacon fighting sin. If you bring a pot of chili to share, you save the $6 adult entrée fee.

There is also a cowperson dress-up contest, so wax up your chaps and shine up your belt buckle. There are two categories for the contest. (1) cowperson, female and (2) cowperson, other. Note to complainers: against our better judgment, we are again lifting the ban on spurs, but this year please try to remember not to squat while you are wearing them.

This is an all-church, family-friendly, event. If you have little wranglers 5 and under, you can turn them over to the sheriff during this shindig but we need advance notice so we can be sure to hire enough deputies. For youngsters 6 and over, bring your own hobble.

For more information go to our online sign-up page at: go/10C0D44A9AE29A02-chili


Thinking of Warmer Weather... Sharon Conlon tends the garden back in the fall. Special thanks to the Garden Team. And thank you, Jack Perry, for sending in this photograph.

Finance Matters

UU & You Offered on

This is the time of year when we begin to put together the budget for the church year that begins on May 1st. We try to arrive at an estimate of how much money we need to run the church and how much we can expect to obtain from sources other than pledge contributions, so that we can arrive at a proposed goal for the stewardship campaign in time for the February board meeting. Most of our budget goes to the support of our amazing staff and the maintenance and operation of the beautiful building and those costs are predictable. Many other expenses can be estimated based on what was spent this year. We have asked for input from Rev. Rivas, the staff and team leaders about changes they would like to see in the budget for the coming year. We welcome input from anyone. Send suggestions or questions to

January 20 Unitarian Universalism and You classes provide an introduction to UU and our church, along with an opportunity to share our religious journeys. Visitors, newcomers, and the just curious are cordially invited. The class will convene in the Whitney Young Room 15 minutes after the ending of the 11:15am service on Sunday. January 20. That usually works out to be about a 12:30pm starting time. A light lunch will be served to bolster the always interesting conversation. Ending time will be 2pm. If you need childcare please let us know by the Friday before. RSVP or questions can be addressed to or call the church office at 402-345-3039.


Save the Date! Soiree of Songs and Sweets

This soiree is a not-for-couples-only Valentine’s Day party!

Saturday, February 16 at 7pm at the church.

Enjoy an evening of heart-felt live music and decadent desserts.


At Church This Month Check out our calendar at our website:

Women’s Religious Group The group meets every Thursday from 1pm to 2:30pm in the Merritt Lounge. Come join us!

In January we’re continuing to look at the Tao Te Ching, a significant source of wisdom from Chinese philosophy.

The Book Club The Book Club will meet on Monday, January 28 at 7pm in the Merritt Lounge. The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt is our January selection. Our February 25 selection is The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes. Please contact Dave Richardson for more info at

Share the Plate The First Unitarian Church of Omaha's Share-the-Plate program selects an organization each month and donates half of the weekly nonpledged offering plate proceeds with them. Our Senior Ministry Team selects the monthly recipients based on two requirements: 1. That the recipient is a non-profit organization with a local presence. 2. The organization's official efforts have a direct impact in our local community. Our Share-the-Plate recipient for January is UUSC (Unitarian Universalist Service Committee).


Witches’ Tea Whatever your interest in earth-centered spirituality, whether Native American (or other) Shamanism, Celtic Druidism, African Diaspora, Wicca and Witchcraft or other tradition or path, come and enjoy conversation, fellowship, and the occasional earth-centered experience with others who resonate with the UU's Sixth Source of Spirituality. We meet on Sunday, January 6 at 7pm in the Merritt Lounge.

Please Give: Food Pantries are Low As a partner with First Lutheran Church, we at First Unitarian Church want to help keep their pantry stocked. There will be a container in the church foyer in which to place non-perishable food items. Please help support this very important program in our neighborhood by bringing items to church this Sunday!

Joseph Campbell Mythological RoundTable The Omaha Mythological RoundTable is an “emerging” chapter of the Joseph Campbell Foundation's ( program to promote the study of mythology and the works of Joseph Campbell. We gather on the fourth Sunday of every month at First Unitarian Church of Omaha from 5 to 7pm for a one-hour video plus a one-hour discussion. Topics include the structure of myth, sacred stories, Jungian psychology, dream interpretation, comparative religion, and more. Contact for details. This month we meet on Sunday, January 27.


“All-Church” Sunday Services by Donna Neff Once a month, Rev. Frank and Meka Tate, our Director of Religious Education, have been working together to offer a church service aimed at including ALL ages, from infants to grand-friends. They call these “all-church” services (formerly known as “intergenerational”) to encourage us to change our mindsets a bit. While not a big change, the goal is to gather our whole church community for a shared, meaningful worship service, welcoming the diversity that comes with our ages. Adults can expect a little more noise and activity in the pews, and families can help their children and youth learn that Sunday service is an important part of how we grow, learn, and get inspired as UUs. If a baby or child gets too restless or fussy, the service can be heard in the Common Room and Nursery, where parent and child can go until they feel they are ready to rejoin the service. Let’s embrace this interesting experiment—successful in many UU churches—and get to know ALL the wonderful members of our church community across the generations. As with all “experiments”—patience is appreciated as we learn how to do this well.

RE News by Meka Tate, DRE Religious Education has been working very hard to build a community and develop close knit relationships since the beginning of the summer. That goal has been accomplished and the children have grown into a wonderful support system for each other. Now that we have built our relationships into a community of trust, it is time to move on to "phase two." As we approach the new year our focus will be on developing the knowledge of what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist. Together we will tackle issues relevant to your children and provide them with a basis of knowledge to be able to answer questions about their faith to any one of their peers. It is my goal that the kids go home on Sunday wanting to discuss the topics we covered in class. The first two weeks we are going to use our imaginations to create what they believe is the ideal church. The new year will bring new knowledge and new possibilities for the future.

Sunday Mornings Interested in helping our Religious Education program? Contact Meka at to find out more!


YRUU Update by Naomi Solomon YRUUers have enjoyed the first part of the school year as we explored interfaith topics and discussed some of the main tenets of Christianity. Over the next couple of months, we hope to have even deeper discussions about who we are and what kind of difference we want to make on the world. We will continue to explore major world religions, hopefully with diverse presenters and off-site visits to new places. Coming of Age spiritual exploration sessions are starting up this month for a couple of ninth-graders and their mentors. Some of our teen leaders are helping us to create 20122013 t-shirts and also to plan an overnight lock-in event this month. New members or visitors are welcome anytime! Anyone in grades 7-12 can visit us at First Unitarian Church on Wednesday nights from 6:45-8:30pm. We would love to see you! Contact Naomi Solomon at with questions.



The Merritt Scholarship The Women’s Alliance Merritt Scholarship is accepting applications for its scholarship until March 31. To be eligible to receive the scholarship, the applicant must be a member of 1st or 2nd Unitarian Church or a dependent of a member. The applicant may be planning to attend a two-year college, a four-year college, graduate school, or professional school Fall 2013. The application is available from the church office:

Send completed applications to: First Unitarian Church of Omaha Attn: Merritt Scholarship Committee 3114 Harney St. Omaha, NE 68131.


Nominating Committee

Help your Nominating Committee identify deserving candidates for the awards described below. The churches in Prairie Star District (PSD) will submit nominations by January 31, 2013, then the PSD will select the recipients, and will present these awards at the PSD Conference next spring. Complete information on these awards, including past awardees, can be found at

· Betty Gorshe Heritage Award: To recognize an individual or group who has made a significant contribution to preserving, understanding, and celebrating our Unitarian Universalist history.

Whether or not our nominees “win” at the PSD level, this is our chance to honor deserving members of our congregation for their service to our church and community. Email your nominations to

· Keeping the Faith Award: To recognize people who live by UU principles, who have worked to keep Unitarian Universalism alive in their community and who touch the lives of congregation and community members in a positive way. · Unsung UU Award: To affirm UUs whose actions inspire, support, and express Unitarian Universalism, but have not been previously recognized. The award is given to a person or group whose lifetime activities have made a significant contribution to the cause of Unitarian Universalism. · PSD Social Justice Awards (one youth and one adult): To honor those who witness to the ideals of social justice and responsibility so important to our UU heritage. · Ellie Morton Award: To honor an individual or individuals who have made a significant contribution to religious education in our District.



Rowena Morse Mann During the 1920s and 1930s she lectured extensively on art, ethics, peace and politics. In 1933 her candidacy for a diplomatic post in Europe was promoted by Eleanor Roosevelt, and Carrie Chapman Catt, the famous suffragette and founder of the League of Women Voters. The appointment of a woman was, however, at the time, deemed “unacceptable to Europeans.� In 1933 she accepted a post as visiting lecturer at the University of Jena in Germany where she experienced firsthand the rise of Fascism under Hitler. On her return to America, she lectured widely on the dangers of Nazism and German militarism. She died in Chicago in 1958.

Over the years our congregation has had a significant number of members who have contributed greatly to the community and beyond. Few can match the accomplishments of Rowena Morse Mann. She was a scholar, an educator, a Unitarian minister, an author, a lecturer, a social reformer and a tireless worker for world peace. Rowena Morse was born in 1870 and was raised on an Iowa farm, later graduating from the University of Iowa in 1891. After graduation, she taught science at Omaha High School (now Central High School,) and was a member of First Unitarian of Omaha. After hearing her deliver a lay sermon, the minister, the renowned Reverend Newton Mann, encouraged her to study for the ministry. She went to the University of Chicago Divinity School from 1898 to 1900, and was awarded a fellowship to study philosophy at the University of Berlin 1900-1903. In 1904, she became the first woman to receive a Ph.D. from a German university. Rowena was ordained a Unitarian minister in 1906, and served several large congregations in Iowa and Illinois between 1906 and 1925.

Her last visit to Omaha was in 1928 when she participated in the ceremony presenting the basrelief sculpture honoring her late husband Newton Mann. This beautiful work still hangs in the back of the sanctuary.

2019: Two

Important Events

2019 may seem a long way off; however, that year is the convergence of two such important dates: the 150th anniversary of the Founding of the First Unitarian Church of Omaha and the 100th birthday of our building, which was completed in 1919.

She married the Rev. Newton Mann in 1912. His first wife having passed away in 1908. In 1919 at the request of President Wilson she embarked on a speaking tour on behalf of the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations.


New Member News By Carolyn McNamara What new member Royal Bush found at First Unitarian was a congregation that allows him to believe in the sacred, and yet explore, learn and respect other paths as well. He found it to be a place where he can learn, teach and grow, and for those reasons he joined on December 6th. An Omaha native, Royal is an ordained minister, preferring the title of “Chaplain” rather than “Reverend” because it helps others understand a multi-faith approach to religion. He is the founder of Inclusive Life Pastoral Services which provides spiritual care to those who are not part of a church but need the assistance a church can provide. A former minister of hospitality at MCC Omaha, Royal enjoys serving as greeter at Sunday services. He volunteers with the Nebraska AIDS Project, has served as president of Heartland Pride, and assists with various fundraising efforts through the Imperial Court of Nebraska, an organization serving the LGBTS community. In his spare time Royal enjoys walking, camping, cooking and a good board game. He is married to long-time partner Jonathan Carleton, an employee of Omaha’s Parks and Recreation Department. In addition to a cat named “Kitty,” they have many nieces and nephews whom they adore and consider their children. Royal believes that when we share peace, love and compassion it only helps us live life easier. He believes that all people are beautiful, loved and worthy, just the way they are. Please welcome him into membership.


Board President Kate Godfrey President-Elect Tony Host Board Members Dean Christensen, Lana Hammel, Barb Herring, Louise Jeffrey, John Wagner, Ron Withem

Trustees of the Capital Trust Tim Duggan (2013), Steve Hutchinson (2014), Sandy Host (2015) Senior Ministry Team Jack Perry, Walt Jesteadt, Carolyn McNamara, Ben Wallace, Rev. Frank Rivas

Submit items for publication to Word limit is 200; deadline is the 15th of the month. Board meetings are on the second Tuesday of the month and are open to all members. Please note: in the month of January, the meeting will be held on the third Tuesday.


The Merritt Lounge Revamping Thanks to our awesome volunteers!

Ministry Team Leaders Adult R.E. Crystal DiGiorgi Archives Dave Richardson Building (short-term) Dave Rosser Caring Douglas Lee-Regier Chalice Guild Kay Lynn Goldner Community Meals Louise Jeffery Fellowship Nadine Keith & Judith Wright Finance Walt Jesteadt Fundraising Donna Neff Garden Sharon Conlon Governance Alex Nather Membership Jackie Anderegg Office Carolyn McNamara Partner Church Council Janet West R.E. Team Donna Neff & Kate Wiig Religious Services Megan Gustafson UU Class Yvonne Price & Jaime Alexander Women’s Alliance Vanessa Timberlake Young Adult Group Maria Wilson YRUU Ben Wallace & Shawne Coonfare

Contact Phone: (402) 345-3039 Fax: (402) 346-2662 Staff Minister Rev. Frank Rivas Director of Religious Education Meka Tate Office Administrator Catharine Dixon Organist Pat Will Choir Director Bob McMeen Choir Accompanist Patricia Allender Nursery Aide Justin Deffenbacher Custodian Bobby Medrano Minister Emeritus Ronald Knapp The Flame Editor Catharine Dixon Proofreaders Scott Kemper, Lana Hammel, Cyndi Nather The Flame Mailing Team Anne Massoud, Evelyn Whitehill, Howard Bolton, Jeanette Ryan, Shelton Hendricks


The Flame 3114 Harney Street Omaha NE 68131


Chili Cook-Off January 19 - 6pm

Food Friends Music


January eFlame  

This is the monthly newsletter of the First Unitarian Church of Omaha.

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