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The Flame Our Monthly Newsletter


Join us for Sunday Services at 9:30 or 11:15am November 6—Stalled Out: A Gender Revolution Going Nowhere? Rev. Dr. Jean Heriot We made great strides in gender equality and in equity of pay for several decades, but now many observers indicate that progress has stalled. Why? What role does our denomination need to play in confronting the powers and structures of the world that maintain this gender imbalance? What role do we need to play in affirming the inherent worth and dignity of everyone—no matter what gender? Music: 9:30am: Donovan Johnson and the Early Morning Risers; 11:15am: The First Unitarian Choir under the direction of Bob McMeen with accompanist Patricia Allender and pianist Patricia Will. November 13—The Good UU Rev. Kate Rohde A youngster who was brought up in a church I served was described by her teacher as a “good Christian girl.” She indignantly corrected him as did one of her fellow UU’s in the same high school class. It is an

November 2011 | Vol. 11: Issue 7

interesting question though. How is being a Good UU different? 9:30am: Donovan Johnson and the Early Morning Risers; 11:15am: pianist Patricia Will. November 20—An Attitude of Gratitude Rev. Kate Rohde Are those of us blessed with the things we think we want happy? Grateful? Music: 9:30am: Donovan Johnson and the Early Morning Risers; 11:15am: The First Unitarian Choir under the direction of Bob McMeen with accompanist Patricia Allender and pianist Patricia Will. November 27—Partner Church Sunday: The Pilgrimage Rev. Kate Rohde I had never been on a real pilgrimage before last summer. It had far more meaning to me than I expected. I shouldn’t have been surprised, yet I was. Who would have known Transylvania would be so inspiring? 9:30am: Donovan Johnson; 11:15am: pianist Patricia Will.

Women’s Alliance Bake Sale November 20

See back page

New Member Potluck Coming! November 13

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Update on our Share the Plate Program

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Ahead For more info on any of these events, contact or visit our website at Nov. 6, 7pm Witches’ Tea Nov. 8, 7pm Board Meeting Nov. 13, 1pm Bridge Group Nov. 13, 1pm Board Talk Back Nov. 13, 5pm New Member Potluck Nov. 13, 7pm Creative Art Night Nov. 14, 6:30pm Women’s Alliance Nov. 15, 7pm Board Talk Back

Kate’s Corner By Rev. Kate Rohde

One of the things I love about the holiday of Thanksgiving is all the associations it has surrounding hospitality to strangers. While many Americans may associate the holiday with family, my Thanksgivings throughout life have often been more like the legend: feasts where people come together across boundaries. I remember Thanksgivings where my parents invited those with no family nearby—often college or graduate students from another country or single friends with no family nearby. Years later, I was that single friend invited for a feast with friends who eventually became like family. I also remember many years when the Unitarian Fellowship I grew up in had the “Fest Event” in which the Fellowship Hall was filled to overflowing with members and friends sharing Thanksgiving. They feasted, played games, and sang together. That is one of the special memories of the congregation I grew up in: that hospitality and the way we shared our lives. Welcoming strangers is sometimes a difficult virtue. In hindsight, we wonder how smart the Indians were to welcome the pilgrims! Still, it is what most of us think a church should be about. It is tempting to stay in our comfort zone and talk with friends only—or at least to talk only with strangers who are like us in some obvious way. Welcoming the strangers, hosting the immigrants or pilgrims, there is a special joy in that which makes for a true community.

Nov. 15 Flame Deadline Nov. 19, 3pm Private Recital Rehearsal Nov. 19, offsite Circle Suppers Nov. 20, after both services Women’s Alliance Bake Sale Nov. 20, 2pm Transition Omaha Nov. 20, 3pm Private Recital

From the Church of the Larger Fellowship Looking to explore your own spirituality? The Church of the Larger Fellowship offers online classes and email discussions. Go to (click on Resources), or call 617-948-6150. 2

Right Relations


By Tom Foster Board President


Once, my daughter Rose could not sleep because of her over active imagination. She couldn’t stop thinking of bad things. Proving to her that there was nothing to worry about by looking in the closet didn't abate her fear. Beyond all tiredness, I told her a story. It's that everyone has two dogs inside of them, always fighting. One is a good dog that helps us do good things in the face of fear, and one is a bad dog that makes things worse. The dog that wins, I told her, is the one she feeds. This helped her understand that feeding her anxious thoughts was preventing her (and everyone in the house) from sleeping. It's understandable when people feed the bad dog, but I must commend those who feed the good dog in the face of change and anxiety, such as the people who developed the Rights Relations Committee (RRC). In October, your board ratified a rights relations process to facilitate disputes over church practices and policies. Here is the RRC’s mission: Help the Congregation uphold its covenant; facilitate healthy and effective communication within First Unitarian Church of Omaha by encouraging safe, respectful, and open communication, healthy debate and collaboration. In addition, the RRC will provide training in communication and building healthy community. The Board is impressed by the work of the RRC adhoc committee, consisting of board members Barb Herring and Maria Wilson. With the help of Rev. Rohde, the RRC looked at other Policy Governance churches and the feedback from our congregation to develop its mission. The RRC will be a committee of the congregation - meaning members will be elected. This will start at the May congregational meeting. In the meantime, the board will appoint the first members to serve until May so that the RRC is up and running as soon as possible. You can find the RRC's description and more information about it on community/leaders/rightsrelations. The committee will also post the information on a bulletin board in the Common Room. The next steps for the committee will be to re-covenant with the congregation. They will be using the existing right Something is happening . relations policy that can be found in the current board policies under appendix A.

Save these dates: Feeding dog, Tom Be surethe togood do something


Nov. 20, 6pm UU & You Nov. 24-25 Church Office Closed Nov. 26, 5pm Private Wedding Nov. 28, 7pm Book Club

The Choir practices every Wednesday evening at 7pm. Please note: we do not practice the day before Thanksgiving.

Welcome Abby Borgmann! She joined the church on October 2.

Sarah Joslyn Society By Carolyn McNamara

On Sunday, October 23, the Sarah Joslyn Society welcomed its newest members at the annual luncheon in the Common Room. Harriet Major has joined the ranks of those members and friends who have committed to leaving a bequest to the church. The Society, which was started in 2004, now has 69 members who have made the decision to remember First Unitarian in their wills. Society members were treated to a delicious lasagna meal prepared by Louise Jeffrey, Deb Duggan and Donna Neff and served by our Finance Team. If you would like to learn more about how to join this distinguished group, please contact Dixie Lemon at 402-393-2882 or Pictured right: Harriet Major accepting a commemorate slate. Photo by Carolyn McNamara.

Survey Update Thanks to all the Members and Friends of First Unitarian who took the time to fill out the evaluation survey in September and October. This information will be extremely helpful to the board in setting a direction for the church, celebrating our strengths, and dealing with problem areas. The survey committee is working on collating the data and will be presenting it to the Board.

Finance Matters By Walt Jesteadt

Eighty percent of our income comes from pledge contributions. We had a successful pledge campaign, but as of the end of September, we were behind on pledge payments by $15,000, a troubling amount. There could be many reasons for this. (1) There are always some members and friends who get carried away at our exciting stewardship parties and pledge more than they can really manage to contribute. (2) We have heard from several people with personal financial difficulties and we would not expect them to contribute at the same rate if their financial situations have changed. (3) As noted in an earlier column, we also have many people, perhaps a majority of the congregation, who traditionally pay their pledges, but do not contribute on a regular basis throughout the year. (4) We have heard from a few people that they are holding off on contributions because they are unhappy with the current state of affairs. We have always had the resources to cope with the uncertain timing of those in group 3 and we still do. Our problem this year is in coping with the additional uncertainty introduced by the 4th category. Everyone has to make a personal decision about honoring their pledge. If you will be unable to honor yours, please send a brief confidential note to or notify the church office.


Support of Our Partner Church Makes a Difference By Janet West The members and friends of First Unitarian Church have been supporting the Unitarian Church in Firtosmartonos, Transylvanian, Romania since the 1990s. Church members have visited and sent money. Have we made a difference? Absolutely yes! Last summer the minister of our Partner Church, Rev. Katalin Szasz-Cserey held a summer camp for early teens in our village as well as the neighboring villages. Rev. Katalin’s goal was to teach the teens the history and theology of Transylvanian Unitarianism and to have a good time. Our church provided some of the funding for this summer camp. It is the hope of the First Unitarian Church Partner Church Committee that we will be able to send some of our teens to the camp in the future. Dave Olson and Janet West visited Rev. Katalin and the village in 2010. A room in the parsonage needed to be renovated so that Rev. Katalin would have a space to hold Sunday School classes as well as providing a place for village women’s group to meet. The renovation included some structure problems, caused by flooding, under the room. Rev Katalin applied for funds from an international UU source, Harvest Hope, for a grant to renovate the room. A member of First Unitarian Church donated $1500 as a matching contribution for the grant. Rev. Katalin received the grant and the room is almost completed with lots a


labor from members of the village congregation. First Unitarian church Partner Church Committee recently sent $1200 to help the older village teens in the village to pay for room and board at the Unitarian high school and tuition and fee at the local college. The money for the scholarships came from congregational donations and a contribution from the Women’s Alliance. Would you like to visit Firtosmartonos? Janet West is organizing a trip for May 2012. Rev. Katalin has suggested this time of year because “Transylvania is so beautiful in May.” The travelers would leave Omaha about May 15, 2012 and be in the village between May 25-30. In addition to visiting Transylvania and our village, we would visit Bucharest and Budapest. The trip is designed to be flexible so travelers could have different travel dates and itinerary; but we would all be in the village together. Airfare is about $1600. The cost when we travel in the Romania and Hungary would be about $120 per person per day. If you are interested, contact Janet West, for more information. This will be the fifth trip to Firstomartonos for Janet.

Annual Holiday Dinner Saturday, December 11 at church!

Social hour at 5:30pm — Dinner at 6:30pm in the Common Room Another fabulous, delectable menu prepared by Attitudes on Food (vegetarian selections included) Cost is $20 per person Please make your reservations by sending your check to the church. The check needs to arrive in the office by December 2. Please put your check and this form in the offering plate or mail both to the church office. Your check is your reservation. Please circle what you are able to bring: Wine



Name(s): ____________________________________________ ____________________________________________________ Please make your childcare reservation when you RSVP for dinner. Pizza and all the fixings will be provided. Yes, I will need childcare ___ # of children ____ Ages and names ________________________________________

Please note: We want everyone to be able to come and celebrate. However, if confidential financial assistance would make it possible for you to attend, please contact Rev. Kate Rohde.


Church Events

Be a part of our bustling church community! UU & You Membership Class on November 20 Learn more about the church and UU faith at our special class. Newcomers and frequent visitors are invited to an informal session with church members to learn more about the specific programs and offerings at First Unitarian Church. If you are interested in attending, please call the church office today at 402-3453039 ext. 101 or register online at education/new-to-unitarianuniversalism/uu-youregistration.

Circle Suppers Saturday, November 19

New Member Potluck November 13 After honoring our newest members during the Sunday morning service, we'd like to celebrate them joining our church family and get to know them better by sharing a meal with them. All are invited, whether you’re a new member, long time member, or not a member yet! Please bring a dish to share (new members being honored are not required to bring a dish). Hope to see everyone there to greet our new members!


hankful for your church community? Then make time to attend a Circle Supper. Circle Suppers offer a unique opportunity for meeting other people in our church community. Surrounded by good food and new friends you’ll have great time! Circle Suppers are small gatherings of 6-8 people in private homes. The host provides the main dish and guests bring a side dish. To register as either a host or a guest, call the Church office, sign-up in the Common Room or email Alex Nather at Come on… you know you want to do it!

Sign up for our Holiday Dinner Don’t miss out on the fun. Sign up before December 2! See opposite page.


At Church This Month

Transition Omaha, Share the Plate & Witches Tea! Transition Omaha Meets November 20 at 2pm Transition Omaha meets monthly to engage the community and heighten awareness in moving from oil dependency to local resilience. Each month a related topic is presented, followed by an opportunity to practice the open space concept.

Share the Plate

Our Share the Plate recipient this month is Omaha’s Stephen Center. The Stephen Center partners with the community, families and individuals to overcome homelessness, addiction and poverty. Visit their website for more information:

Witches’ Tea A quiet monthly evening of fellowship is offered at our church for anyone interested in earth-centered or pagan spirituality. This month it will be on Sunday, November 6 at 7pm in the Merritt Lounge. All are welcome. If you need to contact the organizer, please email or call the church office.

Share the Plate Every month, half of the cash in the offering plate goes to a ministry of First Unitarian or to a cause that is aligned with our church values.


Follow us on twitter! Book Club

Bridge Group

Creative Art Group

The book club will meet on Monday, November 28th to discuss The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt. This book was described as a “riveting tale of the great cultural ‘swerve’ known as the Renaissance.”

The Bridge Group meets on the second and forth Sundays after the second coffee hour for about two hours. We meet in the Whitney Young Room.

Need a little quiet time to feed your creative impulse? Bring your passion—writing, painting, journaling, quilting, drawing, etc.—and work without interruption.

The Book Club does not meet in December. Please join us this month!

The Bridge Group meets on Sundays, the 13th and 27th. If you want to learn, teach or play bridge, you are welcome to attend. The more, the merrier! Contact the church office if you need more information.

Join us Sundays, November 13th and 27th, at 7pm in the Whitney Young Room. For contact information for the group organizer, please contact the church office.

Join us on Facebook Search First Unitarian Church of Omaha on—join us! We have a group and a page to ‘like’, please use both!


Reminders Daylight Savings Time Ends on November 6

YRUU Meets Wednesdays in the Common Room

Reminder: Be sure “fall back� Saturday, November 5. You get an extra hour to sleep! Set your clocks back before heading to be so you can be on time for church Sunday morning.

YRUU is a youth group for 7th -12th grade youth that meets weekly on Wednesday evenings to provide a community focused on social, spiritual, and intellectual activities and, most of all, to have fun! Are you excited about a new year of YRUU? We are excited to have you! If you have questions, please email them to or call Ben Wallace (402-680-6226) or Shawne Coonfare (402-6774931).

Pantries Are Low One of the most pressing needs in our community for our low income and homeless neighbors is food. First Lutheran Church, one of the faith communities active in Neighbors United/Community Meals, has a food pantry. Many of the pantries in Omaha are very low on non-perishable food items. As partners with First Lutheran Church, we want to help keep their pantry open and full. There will be a container in the foyer in which to place non-perishable food items. Please help support this very important program in our neighborhood by bringing items to church.

Auction makes over $11,300! Thanks! Under the leadership of Donna Neff, and thanks to all who shopped, donated, and volunteered, the church made over $11,300 for its operating budget!


Children & Youth R.E. News At the 9:30am service: Nonnursery children will gather together in one group in the Whitney Young Room to participate in an activity, such as a children’s social action project or art activities led by an adult volunteer. Please contact Nicole Giron at if you are able to assist in any way.

In the Nursery at 9:30am:

Nursery Aide: Catie Miller

Supervised care and structured community-building activities are offered for children from birth through kindergarten age in the lower level in the Sarah Joslyn Nursery—our colorful and spacious infant and preschool area. The Nursery is open for 20 minutes before church services begin and 20 minutes after services conclude.

R.E. Classes for the 11:15am service At the 11:15am service, children and youth attend the service and then go to their designated classrooms after the Story for All Ages. Kindergarten through 2nd Grades Curriculum: "Wonderful Welcome" from Tapestry of Faith Grades K-3 meet in the Robert Weston Room (the middle classroom of the upstairs R.E. Wing). 3rd through 5th Grades: Curriculum: "Windows & Mirrors" from Tapestry of Faith Grades 3-5 meet in the Whitney

Young Room (the west classroom on the lower level by the elevator). 6th through 7th Grades: Curriculum: "Heeding the Call: Qualities of a Justice Maker" from Tapestry of Faith Meeting Place: The Merritt Lounge 8th through 12th Grades: Curriculum: "Heeding the Call: Qualities of a Justice Maker" from Tapestry of Faith Meeting in the room at the backend of the hallway in the R.E. Wing (formerly the DRE’s office).


In the Nursery at 11:15am: Curriculum: "We Are Many, We Are One"

Women’s Alliance November 14th, 6:30pm The Women's Alliance will hold its meeting on November 14 at 6:30pm in the Common Room. Our featured speaker will be Beverly Lau from the Yates Community Center which is dedicated to teaching adult refugees, immigrants and other community members skills that will help them be successful in the Omaha community. The Yates program currently teaches adults from many countries including Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Burma,

Bhutan and Mexico. The students are encouraged to sew tote bags, hats and mittens that are shared with their classmates and families in the OPS schools. As a grantfunded program, the Sewing Room welcomes donations of fabric and sewing supplies, such as thread, zippers, and seam rippers. We will take fabric of any kind as long as it is clean and smoke-free. If you have any questions regarding your donations, please contact

Beverly Lau at 402-659-6751. Please bring your donated materials to the meeting! Our dinner ($10) will be "Surprise Chicken" plus a vegetarian choice prepared by our own excellent chefs: Barb Dewell and Lois Norris. Reservations must be made no later than Friday, November 11 to Janet West (402-553-3162) or We hope to see you at the meeting.

Women’s Religious Studies Group Thursdays at Church!

Group open to all selfidentified women

“There is a thing inherent and natural, which existed before heaven and earth. Motionless and fathomless. It stands alone and never changes; It pervades everywhere and never becomes exhausted. It may be regarded as the Mother of the Universe. I do not know its name. If I am forced to give it a name, I call it Tao, and I name it as supreme.” —Lao Tzu, 6th century B.C. 12

Every Thursday in the Merritt Lounge, rain, snow or sunshine, you will hear bursts of laughter and heart-felt discussion. This group which has studied various religious texts over its history, is now studying the Tao Te Ching which was written by Lao Tzu. If you are free on Thursday from 1-2:30pm please come down to the church and join in the discussion and fun. The group will not meet on Thanksgiving.

Who Will It Be This Year? From the 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, 2011, 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 http://

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.

· 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 UU’s whose actions

· PSD Social Justice Awards (1 youth and 1 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. · 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. Contact members of the Nominating Committee with your suggestions (Georgia Barber, Tony Host, Kerry Case, Bob Hess, Lynette Ryder and Judith Wright) or email/phone me as Convener (, 402990-6630). The nomination process requires some work and documentation—so the earlier we have your input, the better!

A Thank You Everyone who gives to the offering plate is not only helping our church...

Every month our church gives half the cash left in the offering plate to an organization. We just received notes of thanks from recent recipients of our donations, Planned Parenthood and the UU Fellowship Prison Ministry. Both organizations were grateful for your generosity. Our share the plate recipient in September was the orphanage and school in Uganda we heard about from Rev. Mark Kiyimba who visited our church in August. Combined with donations given at Rev. Mark Kimiyba’s speaking engagement on August 20 and our share the plate donations, we raised $1,103.50. Thank you!


Be Part of the Team!

President Tom Foster

I wasn’t sure how to get involved…


Have you ever felt that way at church? The best way is to volunteer. You will meet more people and get to know the church and its members. Every Sunday, awesome friends and members of the church work together to make the service and the fellowship go smoothly.

Kate Godfrey

Board Members Joe Schaaf Kim Dunovan Barb Herring John Wagner Maria Wilson Ron Withem

Ex-official Non-Voting Board Member

Greeters What a great way to get to know church friends! When people arrive, hand them an order of service. Then take up the collection plate and count heads. It’s simple and easy, but provides the church a service we need. Sign up today online here or call the church office.

Kate Rohde (Minister)

Coffee Hour Hosts

Trustees of the Capital Trust

After an interesting service, head downstairs to our Common Room. There you will find hot coffee and tea, snacks and conversation. Anyone—a visitor, a long-time church friend, or member can host coffee hour. It requires brewing some coffee, bringing and some snacks and some clean-up. Sign up online here or contact the office to contact the coffee hour team leaders.

Kenneth Deffenbacher (2014) Tim Duggan (2013) Jack Heidel (2012)

Nominating Committee Shelton Hendricks, Convener Georgia Barber (2012) Lynette Ryder (2012) Bob Hess (2013) Judith Wright (2013) Kerry Case (2014) Tony Host (2014) Board meetings are normally on the second Tuesday of the month and are open to members. Holland Lecture Series Committee Steve Hutchinson, Chair

A heartfelt “THANKS!” to all who helped make the Oct 15th Heart & Hand Auction such a great success—especially Donna Neff! With over 80 items donated, our profit for the operating budget is estimated at $11,300!!Special thanks to Kate Wiig as our auctioneer. Raffle winners were Pat Allender for the reserved parking space, and Ben Wallace for the “Chocolate Orgasms” brownies.


Ministry Team Leaders Adult R.E. Laurie Gift Archives Dave Richardson Building (short-term) Dave Rosser Caring Debbie Hunsberger Chalice Guild Kay Lynn Goldner Coffee Hour Roman Noriega & Charmayne Harper Publications Shawna Foster Community Meals Louise Jeffery Fellowship Nadine Keith & Judith Wright Finance Walt Jesteadt Fundraising Donna Neff Garden Sharon Conlon Green Sanctuary Ken Deffenbacher & Glenn Pollock Long-Term Maintenance Ellen Shurson Nursery Patricia Soto Membership Molly Wilson Partner Church Council Janet West R.E. Team Joan Benziger & Nicole Giron Religious Services Megan Gustafson Women’s Alliance Bev Fleckten YRUU Ben Wallace & Shawne Coonfare

Staff Phone: (402) 345-3039 Fax: (402) 346-2662


eNews The Flame is published monthly, but a lot happens between issues. We offer a weekly email service to update you on church news sent directly to your inbox. If you would like to receive our eNews please contact the Office Administrator at

Rev. Dr. Kate Rohde

Office Administrator Catharine Dixon

Custodian Bobby Medrano

Nursery Aide Catie Miller

Organist Patricia Will

Choir Director Bob McMeen

Choir Accompanist Patricia Allender

Early Service Musician/ Coordinator Donovan Johnson

Minister Emeritus Ronald Knapp

The Flame Editor Catharine Dixon

Proofreaders Scott Kemper, Cyndi Nather, Shawna Foster

The Flame Mailing Team Howard Bolton, Audrey Freyer, Anne Massoud, Jeanette Ryan, Evelyn Whitehill


Submit items for publication to Word limit is 200; deadline is the 15th of the month.

The Flame

First Unitarian Church of Omaha 3114 Harney St. Omaha, NE 68131 November 2011

Women’s Alliance Bake Sale The Annual Thanksgiving Bake Sale is on November 20th! How about a little help with your Thanksgiving preparations? Women's Alliance will be holding its annual "PreThanksgiving" Bake Sale on Sunday, November 20 in the Common Room after each service. Please stop by after church and purchase some delicious baked goods and other home-made items! Proceeds will help support the Merritt Scholarship Fund. Be ready for a grand assortment of coffee cakes, muffins and breads. See you there!

The Flame  

First Unitarian's monthly newsletter