Opportunities at USG for Adults of All Ages

The Adult Spiritual Development Committee of USG is committed to offering a variety of programs that deepen and broaden the range of spiritual practices in our congregation. ASD seeks to promote offerings that engage the heart and stimulate the intellect and create opportunities for USG members to share their talents and wisdom, as we strengthen the bonds of our Unitarian Universalist community.  Come to whatever interests you. No registration, no fees, no deadlines, no commitments.

View this week’s SPIRIT newsletter with up to date program information.

Fall 2017 ASD brochure

Dialogue on Tuesdays
(Previously known as Meditation and Dialogue)
This group uses dialogue as a means for self-exploration. Dialogue is different than formal or informal conversation, in that it requires the capacity to listen deeply and ask fundamental questions. In dialogue, we are primarily focused on expanding our awareness and growing in self-knowledge. This group is inspired by the revolutionary work of David Bohm and Jiddu Krishnamurti. Using the dialogue format, we explore many of their insights. Typically, we begin the evening with a centering activity, then we read a short prompt and move into dialogue. Tuesdays 7-8:30pm. For more information, contact Jason Bender, Director of Spiritual Development at dsd@usguu.org.

Mindfulness Meditation with Rev. Kent
Come together to sit, move, or lie down to meditate, mostly in silence. Jon Kabat-Zinn defined mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” With the goal of engaging in mindfulness, Kent will provide basic guidance for paying attention to breath, or sound, or simple body movements. The documented health benefits of mindfulness for body, mind and spirit are irrefutable and wonderful. Come on in to pay attention.Thursdays 5:30-6:15pm. Sullivan Chapel 3.

New Flute Circle Wednesdays, 7-8pm, January 31-April 4 in the Sullivan Chapel. All ages welcome!
Of all the instruments of all the myths and religions of the world, one of the most universal is the flute. The Hindu Krishna, the Greek Pan, the Hopi Kokopelli; in Celtic tradition, in Zen meditation, in Judao-Christian scripture – it is the flute that speaks to the ancestors, calms the soul, and guides us home.

You can be part of this deep tradition. Please join us in the weekly Philadelphia Flute Circle at 7:00pm on Wednesdays, January 31 until April 4 in the Sullivan Wing. Together we will breathe, explore, and share the possibilities for music-making and meditation through the flute

No musical experience is necessary, and all types of flutists are welcome – from advanced players to absolute beginners. The circle is open to all types of flutes – western “classical” style, Native American, recorders, whistles… — and easy-to-play flutes and recorders will be available for use.

Facilitating the group will be Meg Ryan, fluter, meditator, and improviser. An experienced musician, teacher, and workshop facilitator, Meg has led numerous music-and-meditation improvisation groups, including the Minneapolis Flute Circle and Soul Taizé, an interfaith music circle at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Jersey City, NJ. Meg holds a Master of Music degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and has performed as a soloist and chamber musician throughout the U.S. and in Paris, France. An avid student and advocate of cultural understanding and exchange through music, she also plays flutes from Ireland, Japan, India, and indigenous American cultures. She has been a student and practitioner of Zen meditation since 1991.

Exploring Elderhood
This program meets on the second Friday of each month at 2PM in the USG Assembly Room. Its purpose is to celebrate the path, with emphasis on the spiritual path, of all who are aging (that’s all of us!) but especially those who consider themselves Elders (or wannabe Elders) and is open USG members, guest and visitors with no minimum age requirement.

This month’s gathering is about The Second Half – or Next Chapter – of Life; rites of passage; opportunities to reflect and acknowledge where we are at this time in each of our lives.
This  program is especially fitting for this month named after the Roman god Janus.  All forms of transition came within his purview – beginnings and endings, entrances, exits, and passageways. You may have seen the classic statue of Janus that depicted the god bearded with two heads. This meant that he could see forwards and backwards and inside and outside simultaneously without turning around. Janus held a staff in his right hand, in order to guide travelers along the correct route, and a key in his left to open gates.
There are many transition points in a life. You might think of them as a series of gates – as you move through your life, you can see them up ahead, but you don’t really know what’s on the other side until you get there. That mystery is one of the ways that as an Elder you can support one another and our broader community — you have been through a lot and have a lot to give! 

What transitions come to mind for you as important Passages? Things like your first two-wheeled bicycle, getting your driver’s license, graduations, deciding to partner up, retirement? Changes in your family, changes in economics or geography – each of these can be seen as a gateway between the familiar past and the unknown future. As Beloved Community we will journal, share and play with the process of moving consciously through the Gates of Wisdom.
Join us – ALL WELCOME – as we speak, listen, write, share and even take a walk on the wild side! And finish up with a nice little TGIF.

Each month a team of Exploring Elderhood members prepare and present a program on a relevant topic and after initial presentation there is generally a time for small group discussions and then a reconvening to share experiences. Each session is also followed by a potluck TGIF with wine and cheese, tea and crumpets and such. At all times our goal is to accentuate the positive and have fun together as we share our journeys into the second act of life! And we do!

For more information contact Gerry Whelan at gwhelanmd@gmail.com or visit and join our Facebook page, just search Exploring Elderhood @ USG.

White Privilege Conversations

White Privilege Conversations are opportunities for white people spend some time examining their privilege and reflecting on ways to give it up. This is a very deep personal process that is essential to becoming a truly equal society. With the goal of helping the white people of USG on this journey, we offer a variety of resources and times to share experiences with and feelings about this process.

Our next session will be January 14 from 12-2pm. We are grateful to Intern Minister Connie Simon for helping to present a review of Black UU History to the congregation. All are welcome. Connie has studied Black UU history on her own and through her time in seminary, including taking Mark Morrison-Reed’s class: African Americans, Unitarians, Universalists and Unitarian Universalists. This is a very rich history, that you won’t have learned unless you have gone looking for it. And it is very important to understanding where our faith movement is now. Please join us.

If you would like a preview or are unable to join us, please read Mark Morrison-Reed’s article from October’s UU World: The black hole in the white UU psyche.

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In order to end racism, we need to be able to talk about it. Please join us as we continue this journey.

White Privilege conversations are facilitated by Eli Scearce, Gail Mershon, Sandy Campbell, Treva Burger and Su Stout. They are Adult Spiritual Development offered in the education arm of the Ending Racism Committee.

The Ending Racism Committee and White Privilege group are also encouraging the reading of Waking Up White by Debbie Irving, Negroland by Margo Jefferson and Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen. The clickable links will take you to Amazon so that you can read a description. If you purchase from Amazon.com, please do so through SmileAmazon.com, which will benefit USG.

The books will be available for sale at cost at the Ending Racism table or you can find them wherever books are sold or at the public library.


Community Day
Community Days are held twice a year in the Fall and Spring. The next Community Day will be on Sunday, March 18, 2018. Click the link for details.

The day begins with a choice of several workshops presenting different modes of spiritual practice. In the past we have offered workshops on meditation, yoga, drumming, chanting, dance, poetry and a chance to sing in The Wannabe Choir. There are also programs for youth of all ages and childcare. See link above for details about this years’ event.

Following the workshops there is an intergenerational worship service in the Sanctuary where many of the components of the workshops, including performance by the Wannabe Choir, are integrated into the service. In November, Bread Communion Sunday, which has traditionally been observed the Sunday before Thanksgiving, will also be included in the Service.

Community Day appropriately concludes with a communal brunch when all are invited to partake of a scrumptious feast.

For more information contact Gerry Whelan at gwhelanmd@gmail.com

Unitarian Universalism 101
Gale Gibbons & Andi Bernstein Second Sundays 9am – 10:15am, USG An introduction to Unitarian Universalism for visitors and new members. It is held on the second Sunday of each month in the Sullivan Chapel. Childcare is provided. Attendees will receive a free copy of The Unitarian Universalist Pocket Guide. This class will only be held if the leaders receive rsvps by the Friday before the class. For more information or to RSVP, contact Gale Gibbons (gigi3318@gmail.com) or Andi Bernstein (215-327-7122) or email (uu101@usguu.org).

There are also a number of online classes offered through the UU Leadership Institute. The courses can be completed online on your own schedule while wearing your PJs. The cost is only $30. They are offered Fall, Winter/Spring and Summer. Highlight the Online Courses menu to see which classes are currently offered.

Sunday Morning Meditation Group
Welcoming space for meditation is available every Sunday at USG from 9:15 to 10:15 in Sullivan Chapel or the Grove. On the first two Sundays of the month there may be guided meditations, meditations on readings, walking meditations, silent meditations or whatever those in attendance prefer. On the other Sundays the space is open for those who choose to just come and sit. Beginners as well as experienced meditators are always welcome. Note the announcements in the weekly order of service or contact Sharon Mafuru at smallaxetz@gmail.com

The Caregiver Support Group provides a safe space where caregivers can make connections with others facing similar challenges, share their experiences and ideas, and provide emotional support to one another. Participants include individuals who provide various levels and types of care for partners, parents, and grandchildren. The group meets monthly at USG. Group size is limited. For information, contact Delores Hill at hillott@comcast.net

Bring Your Own Spirituality!
Is there a topic that you have been hoping would be offered in an ASD course? Is there an issue relating to the spiritual journey that you would like to explore? Do you have an interest in a spiritual teacher, resource or practice that you would like to share with others? Now, here is your chance! The BYOS program invites you to name and briefly describe what it is that you would like to explore, discuss, share, or even argue about. We will provide a simple form on which you can name it, briefly describe it and tell how you’d like to approach it. Maybe you would like to discuss the teachings of Eckhart Tolle or explore the Enneagram or talk about Chicken Soup for the Soul or share the poetry of Mary Oliver. You provide your name and contact information. This will be posted on a board that will be prominently placed in the hospitality area every Sunday. Then USG folks and even visitors can peruse the board and others who may share your interest can add their names and contact information. If you have even a few takers, ASD will assist you in setting up an initial get-together. Then your little group will take it from there, deciding where, when and how often to meet. If ASD can help in any way, we will, otherwise we will only ask for some feedback as your group progresses or finishes. So no more complaining that you don’t see what you want. BYOS puts you in the driver’s seat for your spiritual journey. Come on, it’s your turn! Blank forms will be on the board starting with the ASD Faire and every Sunday after that. Questions or comments? gwhelanmd@gmail.com

The Elders Storytelling Circle
This Elders Storytelling Circle is a joint project between Adult Spiritual Development (ASD) and Children’s Spiritual Development (CSD). Through the storytelling workshop, elders will be given the opportunity to reflect on their lives and choose significant moments that could be shared with others. Workshop participants will then be given support in developing these stories into tales that will be told to the children in our congregation. One storyteller will be brought into the 3rd-6th grade class per month for the duration of the program year. The purpose of such a storyteller’s circle is to link the elders with the young people in our community. In other words, the storytelling format acts as a vehicle so that the children in our community can begin to form meaningful relationships with those grandparent-aged folk who can teach them a thing or two. But again, it is not primarily about imparting knowledge. Building relationships is at the core of this project. An initial group has been asked to establish this workshop. In time, it will be open to any grandparent-aged elder in our community who wishes to participate.

If you have questions about ASD courses and programs, please contact Gerry Whelan, ASD Committee Chair gwhelanmd@gmail.com. Other questions related to Spiritual Development at USG can be directed to Jason Bender at dsd@usguu.org.

New ideas and suggestions are always welcomed. Just follow this link.