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Summer Worship Services

Summer Worship Services 2024

Our Summer Worship services begin Sunday, June 23rd and last through Labor Day, with services led by a slate of incredible lay leaders throughout the summer. Join us in person in our air-conditioned Parish Room or on Zoom at 11am each Sunday!

Summer Services Zoom link:
Meeting ID: 145 662 677

Call in number: (646) 876-9923
Meeting ID: 145 662 677

June 23: Fascia: the Body’s Interconnected Web

Fascia connects and supports all of our bodies. It is critical to how we feel, how we move, and how we grow. This service will explore the parallels between this physical interconnected web and the interconnected web of community. There is so much that we can learn about one from the other.

Worship Leader: Eliza Hammer Gage
Eliza Hammer Gage (she/her) currently serves First Unitarian Church as Worship Associate Chair and Member of the Choir. She has been part of First U for nearly 8 years and joined as a member a few years ago. She has been a practicing Buddhist for most of her life and recently became certified as a Kripalu Yoga Teacher. She lives in South Philly with her husband Ripley.

June 30: Why Is There So Much Economic Inequality?

This service will introduce the concept of economic inequality and its shocking rise. Morally, it is perplexing given the principles in some of the world’s largest faiths. I will describe some of the forces unleashed by neoliberalism, a form of capitalism, since the 1980s. Ending on a hopeful note, we will bring the issue closer to home by listing several organizations working toward economic justice in Philadelphia.

Worship Leader: Deb Figart
Deb Figart is Distinguished Professor Emerita of Economics at Stockton University in Galloway, NJ. She joined First UU in May of 2020. She lives in Philadelphia with her spouse Ellen Mutari and her cat Dewey. Deb has devoted much of her teaching and research career to economic justice concerns.


July 7: Good Communication for Good Relationships

Good communication supports the Second Principle, yet most people never learn how to communicate effectively. We will share how using structured, routine relationship check-ins improves and deepens our communication with each other; fosters justice, equity, authenticity, and compassion in our relationship; and positively impacts our relationships with others. How can better communication improve your relationships?

Worship Leaders: Dennis Schmieder & Melissa Strong
Melissa Strong (she/her) has lived in five states and taught college students in three. She enjoys books, movies, dance, state parks, and sparkling beverages. Dennis Schmieder (he/him) is a raconteur, a father of two, and a raccoon enthusiast. Dennis has demonstrated a life-long commitment to working towards justice and equity as a member of Teach for America in the Mississippi Delta, by serving on the Springfield Township Board of Education, and by serving on the Springfield Township Affordable Housing Board.


July 14: It Takes a Village

Living and working in community, whether chosen or imposed, means discovering how other people see you. If you pay attention to yourself you begin to understand who you really are. Choosing a community is an act of faith.

Worship Leader: Anne Slater
A retired college librarian, Anne Slater enjoys choral singing, Coffee Hour, cats, reading, cooking, and watching her children and their families grow. Anne joined First U/Philadelphia in April 1966 and has found being part of this congregation a continual growing experience.


July 21: Lessons From My House

We inhabit both chosen and unchosen places, which mold and become molded by inhabitants over time. These homes exist in neighborhoods that create networks of people, identities, and memories. We will consider our intimate ties to the past, future, and across the present through experiences of home.

Worship Leader: Phaedra Tinder
Bio: Phaedra moved to Philadelphia eleven years ago and has been attending services at First U almost as long, since November 2013. She lives in West Philadelphia.


July 28: Democracy as a Spiritual Practice

Unitarian Universalists hold a commitment to the democratic process within our congregations and the world. This service will explore the 5th principle, highlight the work of the nonpartisan UU the Vote, and encourage congregants to stay civically engaged even when it seems like voting does not matter. There is a lot at stake now, and we must challenge ourselves to continue to live democracy as part of our spiritual practices.

Worship Leader: Chuck Black
Chuck Black (he/him) has been a member of First Unitarian Church since Spring 2021, and has held a variety of roles in our community including recently completing a term as the Board Secretary. Chuck is a national leader in the youth voting space where he works with colleges and universities around the country to support their non-partisan student voting efforts. Outside of organizing, he enjoys traveling, creative endeavors, and all things Philadelphia (especially Gritty!).


August 4: “Mirroring and Magnifying Each Other’s Light”

This week marks the 100th anniversary of Author and Activist James Baldwin’s birth. How can we be transformed by his timeless wisdom and legacy?

Worship Leader: Rev. Abbey Tennis


August 11: Using our POWER

Each week we say together ‘may the light we now kindle inspire us to use our power to heal… to help… to bless… and to serve…’ How can we turn these words from aspiration to strategy? Join us this Sunday for a collaborative service with POWER Interfaith where we reflect on where we are powerful and how we can use that personal and shared power for justice in our world.

Worship Leader: Rev. Abbey Tennis


August 18: Questions of Faith

Join Rev. Alex and Rev. Abbey for a spontaneous, unscripted service to answer your questions on matters of spirituality and social justice. If you’d like to submit a question, please send it by Wednesday, August 14, to with “Questions of Faith” in the subject line. There will be plenty of time to ask questions during the service as well!

Worship Leader: Rev. Alex da Silva Souto and Rev. Abbey Tennis


August 25: A Season for Grace and Healing: It’s Our Time!

Join us for a worship service filled with healing music and song, sacred dance, spoken word, inspiring vignettes, and a powerful spiritual message.

Worship Leader: Rev. Zemoria Brandon
Rev. Zemoria Brandon, has been a member of First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia since 2011 and served as a former trustee; member of the worship arts ministry team, committee on ministry and Co-founder, First Church Voices Intergenerational Choir. Rev. Brandon is a medical advocate, certified end of life doula and administrator/social worker for the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, Philadelphia/Delaware Valley Chapter.


September 1: Unwanted Resilience: Surviving Hardship as a Spiritual Practice

Resilience is generally considered a positive characteristic, but oftentimes we can only truly become resilient because that’s our sole option. In this sermon, the speaker will examine how challenging times can force us to reexamine our values and even propel us to find peace and advocate for justice in new places.

Worship Leader: Constance Paige Young
Constance Paige Young is a new member of First Unitarian and new resident of Philadelphia hailing from South Louisiana. Known for her bravery, she has advocated for justice and Federal Court, Virginia state court, and Louisiana state court after surviving the racially motivated car attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, and gender-based violence in the Deep South. In her free time, Constance enjoys hanging out with her senior hound dog, listening to zydeco music, and learning languages. She alleges that she can probably make the best gumbo you’ve ever had.