Sunday, February 4, 2024     


Hello everyone. I hope everyone is enjoying the Community Builders offerings. We are looking for more people to help us organize events. If you have ideas for new events, or if you’d like to be involved in the events we’re currently offering, please contact us at

The February Monthly Potluck – TODAY!!!
Please join us in the Ellen Hall Room after church.

Adult Game Night – February 9th, 7pm-9:30pm: Let’s come together on a cold winter evening for some warm fellowship over board games and cards. We’ll meet in the Ellen Hall Room. Games will be provided, but feel free to bring your favorites. Please bring snacks if you can; beverages will be provided. Please note that this event is designed for adults; no child care is provided.  Contact Patty Kelly with questions.

Family Game Party – March 2, 2pm-4pm: snacks and games for toddlers through preteens provided. Join us for an afternoon of fun

March Monthly Potluck – March 3rd:
Please join us for our monthly potluck

Patricia Rohrer                    
Chair, Community Builders Team


EVENTS-First Church Parking Lot on designated dates ONLY, not inside the building
January 7, 2024                    Styrofoam  (Cinti Recycle Hub & Eco Development)                                          
March 10 2024                     Denim & Shoes (Cinti Recycle Hub)                       
                                             Blankets/Towels/Pots/Pans (Matthew Ministries)
June 9, 2024                         Gardening Pots (Cinti Recycle Hub)
July 21, 2024                        Books (Cinti Public Library)
September 15, 2024             Latex paint         (Matthew Ministries)
November 10, 2024              Electronics:  Scanners, Stereos, DVD players, CD & DVD media, Keyboards, Printers, Fax, Video games, floppy discs, Laptops, Mice, Speakers        (Cincinnati Recycle Hub)


WHEN: Evening of May 17 to a full day May18
WHERE: Transfiguration Spirituality Center in Glendale (same place for several years)
WHO: All people  who identify as women (18 years or older)
WHY: To connect with other women and their female experiences as culturally marginalized persons.
THEME: Connecting with ourselves and each other.

We said last year that if a Non-Binary Retreat doesn’t work for the majority, we would return to a Woman’s Retreat as in the past. Despite the reported success for those who attended in 2023, no one wants to exclude those for whom it did not work. Each woman has a valued perspective to share in a safe space. We heard from many women before, during and after the Retreat 2023 and know how important it is to share and connect with other persons having female experiences. 

Woman’s Retreat 2024 welcomes anyone identifying as a woman who wants to connect and learn with other women in a safe space.

Plans for a different non-binary retreat may be made by those interested in this and the Woman’s Retreat will continue until such time it evolves into something new (maybe when women have equality in our culture!).

We are looking for input about or maybe assistance in planning; please contact Sherri Ogden Wellington, Mary Mark or Barbara Bonney if you have something to contribute.  We have  variety in mind- fun, discussion, laughter, learning! The goal is to connect! Watch for details as we plan! Join us for the First Unitarian Woman’s Retreat 2024!


January was a busy.  We took clients on 507 “shopping trips” to get food for their households.  This provided an estimated 25,000 pounds of food, enough to serve 1300 individuals over 6,000 meals.  This was a substantially larger group of clients than normal and included 56 new households. This continues a trend we’re seen month after month.

Our major challenge remains fund raising.  Some extraordinary truck expenses the last several years (>$30,000) have put a hit on our budget.  While that’s a large sum, the truck is necessary to allow us to receive donations of hundreds of thousands of dollars of meat and other frozen products each year. Many pantries do not have access to these.  A new truck costs more than $90,000 so repairs are still prudent.
Two areas where we could use help:

  1. A company that would handle our truck repairs at a large discount or better still as a charitable deduction.
  2. Members who would be willing to apply for monetary donations to companies they work for or Foundations where they have contacts 

I can provide much of the hard data you’d need to make the applications.
Separately, we continue to have 10-12 members volunteering at the pantry, and all find interacting with and helping their “customers” a rewarding experience.  Try it.  You’ll like it!!

We continue to gather every Sunday both in person and online at 10:00 a.m.
Our building is opens at 9:30 for worship and coffee hour.
Masks are not required, but encouraged for those with health concerns. Vaccinations are very highly recommended. 
For the health and safety of our community, please respect our COVID protocols.
If you choose not to attend in person, you may watch our services at anytime on YouTube.
For more information on how to join our community events

This Sunday

“I have about a dozen books I want to write before I die. Several of those are in a book series I have planned called “Person X As Spiritual Guide.” Shakespeare is one of my Xs. There is great psychological and spiriutal wisdom in Shakespeare, which I will distill into a sermon along these lines.”

Can’t come in person? Watch this Sunday’s service at 10:00 a.m. with this YouTube link:

You can access our channel for all services here:

Learn more about First Unitarian Church by exploring this website,

I LOVE roses – mysterous… spiritual… beautiful… roses! On this Sunday, preceding Valentine’s Day, I will read one of my favorite stories, Oscar Wilde’s “The Rose and the Nightingale,” along with several poems that bespeak the wonder of roses – and of course muse about each a bit (one must earn one’s keep!)

The power of belief on the human psyche is powerful! Surprisingly, little attention is given to the effect beliefs have on us as human beings. Second only to our biology, they are powerful motivators for human action in the world. In this sermon I will suggest that one of the most effective ways forward for our species in these challenging times is not through military might, economic success, or political persuasion, but the altering of the beliefs that we hold.

Dennis will speak to us about DARVO, which is an acronym for “Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender.”  DARVO is an abuser’s strategy for manipulating their victims, and also bystanders.  It is a strategy that abusive/narcissistic types use and is increasingly showing up in today’s world.

Presiding: Amy Bottomley      Vice President: Barbara Bonney        Secretary: Chris Dendy
Treasurer: Dennis Finney        Minister: Dr. Alex Riegel

Bylaws Article X Section 2.3:
All business meetings of the Board shall be open to all Members of the Congregation and Staff.
Church members in attendance may speak with permission but not vote or make motions.

For supporting docs, see (and add to) meeting folder on internal Board docs:

  1. Welcome – (5 minutes)
    1. Call to Order and Chalice Lighting (Amy)
    2. Opening Reading/Music (Julia)
  2. Unanimous Consent Agenda Approval – (2 minutes)
    1. Adopt Board Meeting Agenda (Amy)
    2. Accept Minutes from Jan. Board meeting (Amy) 
  3. Developmental Ministry Goals Update – (10 minutes) – Developmental Ministry Team
    1. Invited Guests: Dick Miltner, D Steele, Nancy Sawyer (congregants), Ramona Beck (liaison), Alex Riegel (Minister)
  4. Closed Session: Staffing Update (15 minutes) – Alex
    1. Invited Guests: HR Committee (Sarah Estes, Brandon Bottomley, Jane Hopson)
  5. Future Staffing Update (10 minutes) – Alex
  6. Finance and Staff Reports (15 minutes)
    1. Treasurer’s Report (Dennis)
      1. Preliminary Budget
    2. Minister’s Report (Alex)
  7. Updates (15 minutes)
    1. Share the Plate Recommendation (Dennis/Julia)
    2. Policy & Data Organization Task Force (Patty)
    3. Video/Streaming Guidance (Amy)
    4. March meeting in person (Amy)
  8. Board Member/Liaison Check-out (10 minutes) – (Amy)
  9. Alice the Chalice Presentation (2 minutes) – (Dan/Julia)
  10. Adjournment of Board Meeting (1 minute) – (Amy)

Upcoming events

  • March board meeting in person, March 14
  • Special Congregational Meeting, March 17 

Board Goals 2023-2024

Become a beloved community.
1. Go from ideas to actions. Determine the actions we need to take as a church and as individuals to become a beloved community. Commit to altering institutional and personal behaviors.
2. Assess the vision, mission, goals, and structures that guide us. What is helping us become a beloved community? What is hindering?

Initial Developmental Ministry Goals

  1. Examining the congregation’s culture and patterns of being with each other, finding ways to change the congregation’s culture, and constructively confront non-covenantal behaviors. This includes furthering work on anti-racism and anti-oppression, to make our welcome and inclusion broader than it has been in the past.
  2. Building on the new bylaws by clarifying the best organizational structure and determining how power and authority should be shared and understood on various levels: individual, committee, team, board, and congregation.
  3. Strengthen Board communication and involvement of the congregation.

One month in to 2024, and the Board has been busy, working to make the church run efficiently and to become an even more beloved community.

The Board reviewed and accepted the structure task force’s recommendations to reduce the number of Board trustees, designate a Vice-President of administration and a Vice-President of programming, add the Treasurer as a voting member, end the Committee on Shared Relations, change the Building and Grounds Team to a Committee, and give the minister the authority to supervise, hire, and fire staff. Forums to discuss these proposed changes will occur in person after church on February 11 and on Zoom on February 27. On March 17, there will be a Special Congregational Meeting during which we will vote on the proposed changes to the bylaws.

The Board discovered that some offertory donations that were intended to be donated to Share the Plate recipients were deposited in the church’s general fund. Therefore, the Board convened a task force consisting of Karen Rohrer, Denise Olden, Dan Schneider, Gary Gebhart, and Dennis Finney to research this, determine the amounts of money involved, and recommend how to move forward. Thank you to the task force for serving. Unanimously approved by the Board, the task force recommended reallocating 2023 offertory funds to the various Share the Plate recipients.

At the January 28 Congregational Meeting, Dan Schneider was ratified to fill the board vacancy, and Reverend Sharon Dittmar was approved as Minister Emerita.

The Board continues to work toward personal and institutional change, to focus on the big picture, and to keep the short term and long term future of the church in mind. As always, please share feedback, concerns, and questions via the email address.

Julia Almaguer    
Member, Board of Trustees            

Alexander’s Meander

Directing Attention Determines Reality

          Whenever I teach introduction to meditation, I talk about the fact that by learning actively to direct one’s attention (which is really what beginning meditation is all about (see the book, “The Attention Revolution,” by Alan Wallace)) one can literally define one’s reality.
            Most people do not realize that they do not actively direct their attention.  Rather, environmental stimuli pull one’s attention to various objects – without one’s assent.  That is, attention is normally passive.  Hence, one’s “reality” is passively determined, meaning that whatever the environment offers to one becomes one’s experience.
            For instance, look at the image above.  At first glance it seems to be spinning clockwise.  This is because one’s attention is passively absorbed by the entire image.  But the truth of the matter is that this apparent clockwise spin is an illusion!  That this is the case can be seen by actively directing one’s attention to a single orange spot on the image, and keeping one’s attention on that spot alone.  When one does this, the illusion of the clockwise spin ceases and one sees the image as it truly is.  This simple example demonstrates that by actively directing one’s attention one determines one’s reality.
            This lesson in directing attention can change one’s life.  For instance, consider a difficult situation or individual with which/whom you struggle.  Under normal circumstances your attention is passively pulled to those aspects of the situation/individual that you find difficult.  But by actively directing your attention to a different part of the situation or aspect of the individual, your experience of that situation or individual will change. You will, without exaggeration, create a new reality for yourself.  A situation will become less negative (or even positive) or the individual will be viewed less negatively (or even positively).
            Take a moment and conduct this thought experiment.  Think of a situation/individual that you experience negatively and then think about (actively direct your attention toward) something positive about that situation/individual (No situation or individual is all negative.).  Then, after conducting this thought experiment, actually engage that situation/individualand put the lesson into practice.  You will discover that the reality of that situation/individual is significantly different than how you have been perceiving it.  In fact, you will likely experience that situation/individual positively.  What a gift that would be, both for others and yourself!



Thank you to everyone who donated to our Capital Fund Drive. We surpassed our goal and raised $11,793.17 thanks to 31 donations! We know everyone has been missing our Heart & Hand Auction. First Unitarian Church has, too. Money raised in our Heart & Hand Auction is used to fund capital projects. Without the Heart & Hand Auction, some capital projects (which include new windows and a new roof in the Ellen Hall room, a disability ramp, and exterior stonework and cleaning) have been put on hold. Thanks to your generosity, we can put these much-needed funds toward our long to-do list. 

Kara Uhl   

On August 25, 1619, the ship the White Lion arrived at Point Comfort, now known as Fort Monroe National Monument in Hampton, Virginia. The ship contained enslaved Africans. This is the first recorded arrival of Africans in America. This year, this anniversary was commemorated at Fort Monroe as a day of healing and reconciliation. The community was asked to ring bells at 3:00 for 4 minutes, signifying the 400 years that have passed since that historic moment.

“How do we mark that first day, that hour, that minute
the White Lion docked at a point that would be of no comfort
to the twenty enslaved Africans chained in her bowels—
heralds of a coming storm of millions
whose bodies would break—through soil and rock to
build an America that could never fully embrace its progenitors.
How do we mark that day, that hour, that minute,
that foreshadowed the centuries of degradation, violence,
of attempts to separate the soul and spirit
from the deep well of Black lives.
How do we mark that day, that hour, that minute
four hundred years ago when the first drop of African sweat
co-mingled with the earth’s warmth, planting the seeds
of a new culture, a new way of life, a new heartbeat
into the fabric of a new world—
When the roots of freedom sparked deep underground
and spread, from generation to generation,
blossoming into resistance and resilience.
So today we will ring bells of sorrow, bells of grief,
bells of atonement.
We will ring out the ghosts of those lost in the middle passages,
lost to the whips and depravation, lost to the lynches and the bullets,
lost to the prisons and the chains of racism.
Today we will ring bells, so that tomorrow we may ring in freedom, ring in liberation, ring in peace.”

Dr. Kristen L Harper                   
Unitarian Church of Barnstable 


Char Jackson               Feb 5
1234 Oak Knoll Drive
Cincinnati, OH 45224

Feb 28                Clemmie Wiley
5251 Dixie Hwy Apt 1104
Fairfield, OH 45014

Please get to know a little
about our newest church members
who joined in the fall. 

Contact information for Claire, George, and Emily is in Breeze.  Keep an eye out to extend a warm welcome to each and help them get connected to the many activities and opportunities within our First Church community. 

Claire Danzl
Claire lives in Northside with her husband, Isaac, and two daughters, Willa and Berti.  She grew up at Northern Hills Unitarian Universalist Fellowship but took a long hiatus before venturing back to a new UU congregation.  Claire is a self-employed attorney.  When she is not working or with her family, Claire enjoys learning new creative outlets.

George Hood 

George is a retired manager of electronic payments systems. Since retiring, he has enjoyed traveling domestically and internationally.  Being a proponent of life-long learning, he serves as an ambassador for Road Scholar. George was raised Presbyterian and Episcopalian, but finds Unitarianism a better fit for his beliefs and interests in social justice.

Emily Moores
Emily lives with her husband, Dan, and children in Northside. Emily grew up Catholic, and Dan grew up in the Greek Orthodox Church. They like the UU church because it aligns with their values, and First Church is a welcoming community. Emily and Dan love to spend time with their girls (Julia 5 and Clara 7).

Our February Share the Plate offering is
the “New Life Furniture Bank.”

New Life Furniture Bank (NLFB) is Southwest Ohio’s only furniture bank collecting gently used furniture and household items to provide to those in need throughout Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, and Dayton.  It delivers and set-up an entire household of furnishings to families overcoming homelessness, domestic abuse, extreme poverty, and other devastating circumstances.

Having a furnished home restores dignity, brings pride of ownership, adds confidence, and allows families to stabilize while working toward self-sufficiency. NLFB recognizes that a home requires more than just four walls. A home requires essential furnishings such as beds to sleep on, a table & chairs to eat at, a sofa to gather, and other basic household items to transform empty spaces into livable homes.

You can support this needed service by your monetary contribution, donating items, or by volunteering! You can learn more at To donate to Share the Plate (STP), please designate “STP February” on your online donations or make checks payable to First Unitarian Church of Cincinnati with “STP February” in the memo line.

Donations of all types (STP, pledge, or general gifts) may be made on our website, or through these additional methods: Members may also donate through the Breeze online member system.

Cincinnati UUs Anti-Racism Dialogue
February-April on Zoom

UU Council of Greater Cincinnati once again offers its anti-racism dialogue on Zoom to local UUs for 8 Tuesday evenings, 7-8:30 p.m., beginning Feb. 20, 2024, and ending April 9. This fee-free program builds off the UUA curriculum “Building the World We Dream About II.” It emphasizes deep personal reflection and also upstander actions appropriate for Universalist Unitarian individuals and congregations to take. The interactive curriculum is designed to help local UUs from all levels of multicultural experience to personally reflect on and share how we become better anti-racists, especially in Greater Cincinnati.  Topics to be explored include culture and identity, USA and UU history of racism, perspectives on privilege, and how we can learn from multiple truths and multiple realities. Registration is required to obtain Zoom link:

Linnea Lose                                                   
UU Council Anti-Racism Co-Facilitator   

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