Our services feature inspiring words, music, and stories exploring themes in a multigenerational context. We are excited to welcome you! Information about upcoming services is listed below. View Past Services.

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Summer Services

Over the summer, we hold more casual services in the parlor between 9:30 and 10:30 am. These services feature sermons by First Unitarian congregants and guest speakers. Each sermon is followed by a group discussion. Coffee and tea served. All are welcome! Summer Services run from June 16 – September 1.

June 16: Jim Garbarino, A Spiritual Approach to Understanding Trauma
Most educated people have some appreciation for the psychological challenges posed by trauma—most notably PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). But beyond the psychological challenges are the existential challenges to core aspects of spiritualty, profound questions regarding the “meaning of life.” This sermon delves into those spiritual/existential issues, drawing upon both research and first-hand experience with trauma in the lives of kids and adults, in the United States and all around the world.


June 23: Carol Whitlow: Home Sweet Home
In 2003, Ithaca welcomed a Karen man from a refugee camp on the Burma-Thai border. He was then able to bring his mother, brothers and sisters – an ever extending family who now call Ithaca home. Carol will share a conversation with Paw Pha about the adventure and challenges of making a new home far away from familiar language, culture, weather and politics.


June 30: Philip Terrie: A Conversation About Wilderness in the Adirondacks
Is There Wilderness in the Adirondacks? If so, how does it nourish the soul and body? Is it protected by Article 14 of the NYS Constitution? What are the historical and potential threats to wilderness in the Adirondacks?


July 7: Therese O’Connor, Es Muy Complicado
Glennon Doyle writes, “Blessed are those who make things awkward, for they wake us up and move us forward.” We humans are very complicated and often mysterious. Can a complicated journey through fear, addiction, and art offer some nuggets of insight or sparks of compassion? This will be awkward, but I’ll try to address it.


July 14: Howard Nelson (guest speaker), So Much Depends Upon William Carlos Williams
William Carlos Williams is best known for a short poem about a red wheelbarrow, but there is a lot more to him and his work than that. He’s a writer who has been important to me since a high school English teacher showed me that poem – a lifechanging event. This talk will combine some of William’s poems and my reflections about him now, fifty years later. Handouts of poems will be provided.


July 21: Rod Howe, The Art of Seeing Altars Everywhere
How might one develop a practice of regularly honoring and remembering by seeing little (and sometimes big) altars everywhere? I’ll share my thoughts on this process and how it is helping me embrace life with a sense of gratitude and equanimity.


July 28: Preston Wilson, Popular Music as Empathetic Prayer
When interpreted by inspired performers, many popular songs can unite us in affirming life’s wonders and lamenting life’s sorrows. Concert videos of k.d. lang, Joan Osborne, Yusuf (Cat Stevens), Willie Nelson, and Simon and Garfunkel invite us to share in these powerful and empathetic musical prayers.

August 4: Phoebe Brown (guest speaker), What Does It Mean To Be in Alliance with Families for Justice?
The talk will be about Alliance for Justice (AFJ) programs, the importance of AFJ located in Central New York, and why Friends of AFJ is so important.


August 11: Wren Tuatha, Painters, Poets, Sculptors and Singers
We’ve heard of the Harlem Renaissance, the salons of Paris, and even the New York School. These communities mixed artists of every material and genre, blending their audiences in the process. What art results when writers, painters, choreographers, photographers, etc., deeply influence each other? Ithaca Poetry Center Director Wren Tuatha will explore this, with a fun look at an emerging genre, hybrid writing.


August 18: Walt Peck, Heresy!
Many of us are heretics. But what if the tables are turned? Follow the ebb and flow of one person’s faith journey as a Unitarian-Universalist


August 25: Fred Balfour, If “Community” is the answer, what is the question?
You have probably been asked some version of “Why do you go to a church that doesn’t believe in God?” Many of us say, “It’s for the community.” When your friends roll their eyes, what do you say next? Here’s the universal answer.


Sept 1: Bethany Ojalehto Mays, Lisa Levy, Dan Antonioli (guest speakers) Cornell On Fire
“We are a coalition of Cornellians and community members calling for a just and comprehensive university-wide response to the climate emergency.” (connect@cornellonfire.org).