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.

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
Please note new time!
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 6:30-7:15pm. Sullivan Chapel 3.

Flute Circle every other Wednesday, 7-8pm,   remaining dates are: 28 and April 11 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 for the every other week 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…  Easy-to-play flutes and recorders will be available for use, but if you have one please bring it.

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.

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! Find this month’s plan in the Upcoming Events section of the website.

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 held second Sundays from 12-2pm. They 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.

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.

Mindful Communication: Creating Real Dialogue
May 12, 9:30am-5pm

This daylong program explores the foundations of an integrated approach to Mindful Communication with a focus on how to create dialogue in any situation.

How can we use our spiritual practice as a resource to address a polarized political climate, divisive speech, and violent acts towards marginalized communities? How do we bring qualities of integrity, truth, and kindness into our relationships and conversations, staying true to our values while creating conditions for real dialogue?

Join Buddhist meditation teacher and Nonviolent Communication Trainer Oren Jay Sofer for this unique program in Mindful Communication.

In this daylong workshop, we will explore an integrated approach to bringing mindfulness and care to our communication. The tools shared will be a combination of the core guidelines for Wise Speech offered by the Buddhist tradition, as well as the contemporary discipline of Nonviolent Communication. Together, these practices form a powerful foundation for insight, compassion, and skill so that our conversations can create meaningful change.

This event is co-sponsored by Springboard Meditation Sangha and the Unitarian Society of Germantown, PA.

Space is limited, please register early. Fee is $35.

  1. Go to tinyurl.com/usgregister
  2. You can also register using text messaging. To register for this retreat via text, send “35 Oren” to 215-607-6191. Follow the prompts to enter name, contact and payment info.

Community Day
Community Days are held twice a year in the Fall and Spring. 

For Spring 2018, we will celebrate Community Day at the All Church Retreat, June 2, at the Diamond Ridge Conference Center in Jamison. Save the date and details for follow.

At USG, 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
Andi Bernstein, third Sundays 12- 1:15pm in the Daskam room. An introduction to Unitarian Universalism for visitors and friends. Childcare is provided. Attendees will receive a free copy of The Unitarian Universalist Pocket Guide. For more information or to RSVP, contact Andi at (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 10:15am in Sullivan Chapel 3 or in the Grove in nice weather. On the First and Second Sundays, the Mindfulness Group will follow this schedule:

  • 9:15-9:35am – Sitting meditation
  • 9:35-9:55am – Dharma reading and sharing
  • 9:55-10:15 – Sitting or Walking meditation
All are welcome to join in quietly at any transition point. On the other Sundays the space is open for those who choose to come and sit. Beginners as well as experienced meditators are always welcome. For more information contact Stephanie Bonner at slbonner2@gmail.com or 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 Maura Gallagher, garden294@yahoo.com 

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 ASD board or share your suggestion with the link below. 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.