FUS Youth – Fighting for Clean Water Across the Globe

Water Justice Project

FUS Youth Group water interns are raising funds to help people in specific
international communities obtain access to clean water. If you wish to donate directly to the project please address checks to First Unitarian Society of Madison with “Water Justice Project” written in the memo area. (You don’t need to be a member).

The weekend of October 25/26, 50 percent of the service offerings will be used to fund small-scale, clean water projects selected by the Youth Group.

For more information, please contact Cindy Rose at 271-6440 or at crose5@att.net

“What church do you want to steal people from?”

by Andy Gussert, your very white and privileged FUS COO

Two years ago, at the Phoenix General Assembly, I swapped ideas with a more seasoned (and also white) UU administrator on our goal to increase racial diversity at FUS Madison, and asked for advice.  She couldn’t help picking on the new guy, asking, What church do you want to steal people from?”

Reacting to my alarm, and almost on cue, she poked at me again with, “Ohhhhh, I see…You are going to convert people. Do you plan to go door to door?”

After stumbling over some words, claiming that’s not what I meant, she playfully taunted, “Sounds like you just want to have a black friend.”

She had previously struggled with this difficult issue before.

Over seventy of our members came together last month to discuss diversity with a much better read on these nuances than I.  Here are some of my favorite comments from the September 21st forum:

  • “Are we doing this for people of color, or for us?”
  • “If we want diversity, we should go meet others out there, not demand they come to us.”
  •  “We need to avoid tokenism….we are not looking for a quota, after all.”
  • “We want to remain authentic, and invite in people who believe as we do.”
  • “We need to continue to partner with diverse outside groups.”
  • “We need to distinguish between the diversity we can see, and that which we cannot.”
  • When we demand more low income, or LGBT, or Christian members “we often ignore the diversity of those here now, and it disrespects people in the room with us.”

One member shared how her African American friend, whom she had encouraged to swing by for service, frankly responded, “Sunday morning is the one time during my week I don’t have to deal with white people.”

Dane County is 5.4% African American. Perhaps it’s selfish to think people of color should all flock to the Frank Lloyd Wright Church on a Sunday morning to hang out with us and drink coffee.

Many smartly suggested we must become more welcoming on Sunday morning. Our FUS mission is to provide ‘a safe and nurturing environment’. Are we doing that if a person of color, a grad student, or low income person doesn’t feel comfortable coming back?

Our first step is to be more welcoming, and here are a few fresh tips recently offered to me on our use of Sunday greetings:

  • Context.  Questions like “Where Are You From?” can unintentionally throw up immediate barriers.  This may seem Sunday morning normal, but a person who’s Asian or Latino has been asked that question before, often to screen for citizenship. Instead, if the person has a guest nametag, ask “Do you live nearby?” Subtle difference, but important.
  • Assumptions.  In Appleton, while walking downtown with a black student from South Africa, he was routinely asked, “Are you a Green Bay Packer?” Times have changed…but not completely.  Minorities frequently complain they’re mistaken for others who share their ethnicity.  It’s usually best not to ask “Are you so and so?”
  • Don’t guess friends.  If there are three Hmong families in your neighborhood, that doesn’t mean that they all know Phan.  It’s an obtuse question, but people of color share they get asked this type of thing all too often.  Poor choice in small talk can inadvertently signal segregation.
  • Listen.  Mostly, people want you to care what they have to say. To be welcoming, relax in your curiosity, ask an open-ended question, and sit back and enjoy the response.
  • Approach.  Go to the person who least looks like you, and you are hesitant to approach. They probably need it most.

When asked what we do here at FUS, I often respond “We help people transform themselves.”  This growth often comes from being exposed to new – sometimes uncomfortable –  ideas and backgrounds. And that’s why we need diversity at FUS, in forms seen and unseen, and not just on Sunday mornings.

Andy Gussert is Chief Operating Officer for the Frank Lloyd Wright Meeting House, and writes a column each month for the “Unitarian” newsletter.  To see more, visit http://fusmadison.org/newsletter 

Democracy from the ground-up rather than top-down

Our Board of Trustees

The heart of our congregation is membership. Together, we ratify the annual budget, change the bylaws, and elect our leaders, including our ministers. The Board is elected by the membership, and act as the agents of the congregation.

The task of the Board of Trustees is to:
• Listen to and learn from the congregation,
• Set the short and long-term mission of the church, and
• Create policies to guide the staff and membership in carrying out that mission.
These policies include bringing by-law changes to members at Parish Meetings, making changes to our policy manual, and determining our annual vision of ministry.

Our current vision, as re-affirmed or amended by the Board each year, currently includes:
• Motivating members to live our UU values in the greater community
• Strengthening ties between the generations
• Increasing connections among our members
The Board of Trustees meets at 7 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month — All members and affiliates are welcome to attend and observe.

We are passionate about democracy, and that is how FUS is organized: from the ground-up rather than top-down. Local first. The rights and power of our members are real and make a difference.

For more, visit fusmadison.org/philosophy.

“Why is it called the Isom House?”

Solving histories mysteries with your friendly FUS COO, Andy Gussert 

On Sundays, we fill every single room at FUS with children, teens and adults.  It’s worth remembering this wasn’t always the case.

In 1940, FUS had a mere 48 pledging units, average worship attendance of 30, and fewer than 20 children enrolled in Sunday school.  Financially strapped, the Society accepted an offer from a gospel group to share worship space. Fortunately, a young firebrand named Kenneth Patton came in, determined to resuscitate our moribund membership.

Patton’s seven-year ministry was successful and controversial. In short order, our church on East Dayton was sold, allowing the congregation to retire its debts and seek new digs. He provoked parishioners by proposing Frank Lloyd Wright design the new building. We temporarily moved into 222 State Street while we built a new church in an open farm field, on land we purchased from the Isom Family.

The Isom’s original homestead building rested in our current front yard, between where the bike rack and FUS sign now stand. Max Gaebler moved his family into the home, which was intended as a ‘future parsonage” in original blueprints.  According to FUS legend, Max changed his mind, and his address, when his very young daughter walked in on a wedding service in progress. As she clung to his leg while he performed vows, he figured it might be time to move the young family off of the FUS grounds.

The once intended ‘rectory’ became open for use, up for grabs, and a question to be answered.  Over the next 60 years, it would be utilized for youth activities, educational space, staff offices, meetings, workshops, living quarters, rental property, a library and storage.

In 1963, the entire home was physically picked up, moved to our back lot, and set in its current location. Resting across from the Shorewood city dump, it was partially renovated in 1964, and had access only through our FUS property.

Initially named the “Education Wing”, over time it would also colloquially be called ‘the annex”, ‘youth building”, “895 Cornell Court”, and “the Isom”.  Shorewood building permits sporadically designated its zoning status as commercial, governmental, medical offices and residential.

In 1985, an easement was negotiated with Shackleton Square to provide an exit and entrance point, now a public circle.  (Shackleton, consequently, received its name from a developer who got too far into the apartment project, became trapped, and couldn’t find a way out.)

Shorewood Hills rezoned the village, and our FUS parcel, in August of 1989. The Isom went from commercial zoning of ‘institutional office’ to ‘residential status’ with conditional use as a religious institution. When a new fire code passed in 1990, we upgraded once again, including smoke alarms, exit signs, extinguishers, sprinklers and a telephone alarm service. Over twenty years, between 1991 and 2011, we also added new siding, roofing, landscaping, heating and electrical to keep the house attractive, as well as up to code.

We are now in the final phase of cosmetic and code upgrades, including adding a fire escape so we can safely use the top level. Most of the work consists of drywall, painting and refurnishing wood floors. The Isom will have a conference room, living room, digital media room, art classroom, upstairs rental rooms, two bathrooms, storage, and current classroom for “Mind, Body and Soul”.

Thinking back to 1940, and realizing our biggest problem is now building out more space and parking, it’s a reminder these are good problems to have.

Learn more about FUS history by visiting fusmadison.org/story on our website.

New UU available in November

Wondering about Unitarian Universalism and the First Unitarian Society?

Our New UU Orientation series is available in November. This class consists of four sessions. This class is offered on Sundays from 1 to 3 p.m. beginning November 2, and on the 9,16, and 23. Childcare is offered during this class. New UU is an orientation class for newcomers and friends of the First Unitarian Society. During the four weekly meetings, participants have the opportunity to:

  • get acquainted with other curious adults,
  • learn about Unitarian Universalism and the organizationof the Society,
  • explore whether their beliefs and values are consonant with Unitarian Universalism,
  • consider your next steps to deeper involvement at First Unitarian Society.

Registration are available in the Commons, or at /newuu.

MOSAIC Meets Monday – Join Us @ 6:30 pm

This fall, members, friends and affiliates will have a new and innovative path toward building community, and strengthening connections at FUS. Our monthly MOSAiC gatherings continue on Monday, October 27 as we meet to discuss the theme of “Duty and Obligation.”

Join us as we come together to explore through conversation and expand our understanding of this topic. The evening will begin with a welcome and introduction by Reverend Kelly Crocker, followed by small group discussions.

Mark your calendar: Our November 24 MOSAiC will tackle “Eternity!”   MOSAIC will be a monthly gathering that invites people to discuss and delve more deeply into our monthly worship themes. On the fourth Monday of each month at 6:30pm in the Atrium Auditorium, we will come together to explore and expand our understanding of each topic.

  • •October 27, Duty/Obligation
  • •November 24, Eternity
  • -December 22, Myth and Imagination
  • •January 26, 2015, Privilege
  • •February 23, Charity
  • •March 23, Moderation
  • •Last one for the spring- April 27, Hope

Questions? Jeanne Sears /memberprogramscoordinator.

More at http://www.fusmadison.org/MOSAIC

News From the Red Floors for October 24-31, 2014

News From the Red Floors for October 24-31, 2014

Dear Friends…

It’s going to be a spooky weekend here at FUS with our annual Halloween Parade during services. Our children will be wearing their Halloween best as they march through the Auditorium – some scary, some sweet, all sure to be adorable in one way or another!  Our services will be led by Rev. Roger Bertschausen who has been minister of the Fox Valley Congregation in Appleton since 1990. I am sure his reflections on “duty and obligation” will challenge us, cause us to ponder, and nurture our spirits.

If you missed Select to Connect last weekend, you will have a Second Chance this weekend to sign up for events that have open spots. It was wonderful to see people signing up for Winter Fun, Soup and Scrabble, Game Nights, Bad Poetry and more.  Thank you to everyone who participated.  We hope you have a wonderful time meeting new faces and making new friends.

Monday is our second MOSAiC evening, starting at 6:30 pm in the Atrium Auditorium.  We will be exploring duty and obligation as our theme.  I won’t say you are obligated to be there, but we would love to have you join us.

There is much going on at this large and lovely place.  I hope to see you here this weekend and in the coming weeks.

with gratitude and love,



Our Halloween Parade
October 25 and 26 bring our annual FUS Halloween Parade for children in pre-K – 5th grade. Children will line up in the Loggia on Saturday, the Commons on Sunday, at the start of the worship service. At the time when we typically have an Intergenerational Message, we will instead have our Halloween Parade! Creative dress is encouraged, but please, no weapon-like props. Kids will go straight to class following the parade. They are welcome to stay in their costumes if they’d like.

UU Campus Ministry * It’s the fourth Sunday of the month, so we are at church! Student-led evening with supper at 5 p.m. and discussion to follow. We will cook spaghetti and create Lego masterpieces as we talk about what it means to “be in community.” Busses #2 and #8 travel from campus to First Unitarian Society. ALL college students welcome! Questions? Contact Janet at /DAE

Select to Connect Second Chance Weekend! Stop by the commons this Saturday or Sunday and take a look at the Select to Connect events that are still available. Last weekend was a great success with 24 events selling out! BUT, don’t worry. There are still great events for you to check out! List of events at

New Singers sought for Society Choir and Meeting House Chorus…We are now offering childcare for the Meeting House Chorus and Society Choir rehearsals. Childcare will begin for the Meeting House Chorus on Wednesday, November 5 and the Society Choir on Thursday, November 6.  Rehearsals will begin at 6:30 p.m.  Join us!

Attention Library Lovers! Our FUS Library could use your help. The Library Ministry Team is currently looking for new members. If you love libraries and want to help keep our library a great resource, please contact Rev. Kelly at /MCL.

Water Justice Project *  FUS Youth Group water interns are raising funds to help people in specific international communities obtain access to clean water. This weekend (October 25/26) 50 percent of the service offerings will be used to fund small-scale, clean water projects selected by the Youth Group. For more information, please contact Cindy Rose at 271-6440 or at crose5@att.net.

Men’s Group Meeting * All men are invited to join the Open Men’s Group meeting on Monday, October 27, at 7:30 p.m. in Courtyard C. Topic: What election issues have been neglected? What are your election pet peeves? For more information, Gordon at /mens.

Community Forum for Jail Alternatives * On Monday, October 27, 6 p.m.  come to a panel discussion and brainstorming session on increasing and improving opportunities for jail alternatives at Fountain of Life Church, 633 W Badger Rd. Presented by MOSES. Hosted by JustifieDanger. RSVP: http://jailalternatives.eventbrite.com/

Spiritual Topics Book Group * The next meeting of the Spiritual Topics Book Group will be in the Gaebler Living Room on Tuesday, October 28, at 7 p.m. The group will discuss William R. Murry’s book: Becoming More Fully Human: Religious Humanism as a Way of Life.

Veterans Stand Down: Attend or Volunteer * Stand Down is a military term for soldiers removed from the battlefield for rest and relaxation. Madison Area Stand Down is a day of rest for veterans from the daily struggle of lack of housing, unemployment, physical and emotional hardships, and hopelessness. If you are a veteran in need of services, attend Nov. 1, 8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. at the National Guard Armory, 1420 Wright Street. Free vans will give rides from stops around Madison. If you are a community member, volunteer. Call Mary Liz Murphy at 449-0699.

Art in the Wright Place Needs Your Help * As many of you know, each year FUS hosts a wonderful art fair as a fundraiser for our Children’s Religious Education program. Art in the Wright Place will be on Sunday, November 23. We need your help to make this wonderful event happen. You can sign up at http://www.signupgenius.com/go/artsale. And we hope you’ll come shop with us!

Our Next Friday Musicale will feature virtuoso pianist Mark Valenti.
The Chicagoland pianist will play Estampes by Debussy, Bartok’s 1926 Sonata, and Variations Serieuses by Felix Mendelssohn. Friday, October 31, at 12:15 p.m. in the Landmark Auditorium. Free!

The Festival Choir of Madison will be performing a concert at First Unitarian Society on Sunday, November 1.

Wondering about UU and the Society?
Our New UU Orientation series is available in November. This class consists of four sessions and will be offered on Sundays from 1 to 3 p.m. November 2, 9,16, and 23. Childcare is offered during this class.
New UU is an orientation class for newcomers and friends of the First Unitarian Society. Registration materials are available in the Commons, or at /newuu.

Mentoring Fair * On Sunday, November 2, from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., FUS will present the Henry Hagedorn Mentoring Fair. Learn about how you can make a real difference in your life and the life of a child, teen, or adult. Be a mentor, a tutor, a circle member, a supportive volunteer. Downstairs and upstairs, in the Atrium Commons and Crossing, 10 local organizations will be here to meet with you. Questions? Contact Becky /socialjusticecoordinator.

Immigration Talk * A presentation about the broken U.S. immigration system will be at FUS-Milwaukee on Sunday, November 2, at 1 p.m. Presenters will include Leila Pine, a former member of FUS-Madison. More info at www.uumilwaukee-events.org/event/families-torn-apart.

Free Public Talk: Searching for a Solution to Alzheimer’s Disease * In recognition of November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center will present a free community event sharing the latest research on Alzheimer’s disease on November 4, at the Monona Terrace, 5 p.m.

“UU Theological House”
with Nastasha (Sasha) Ostrom, Ministerial Intern
Mondays, November 3, 10, 17, 24 and December 1 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. * Courtyard D $30 pledged/$40 non-pledged Come join Sasha as she explores UU theology in this 5-week program, with each week exploring a different part of the “UU Theological House.” Complete class description and registration at /adult-ed.

Alliance to Meet Nov. 5 * The Alliance, mostly retired women and friends, will meet at noon on Wednesday, November 5, for brown bag lunch in the Community Room of Oaks Apartments, Oakwood Village West. Emeritus Prof. Robert H. Dott of UW Dept. of Geology will be guest speaker. His topic will be “Fracking: Pros and Cons.” Information? 831-2075.

“PAUSE: an Afternoon of Breathing Space for Women” with Janet Swanson and Sasha Ostrom Sunday, November 9 * 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. * Landmark Auditorium $25 pledged/$35 non-pledged * Childcare available upon request Join us on a Sunday afternoon in late autumn to pause, breathe and move from “doing” to “being.” Savor an afternoon for yourself in the company of other women. Complete class description and registration at /adult-ed.

The annual Thanksgiving potluck dinner is now being planned, and you are invited to come to FUS on Thursday, November 27, for a wonderful feast as has been in the past years. Donna Cangelosi will be the coordinator of the event this year and she would appreciate hearing from anyone who is interested in pitching in – including someone who would be willing to cochair the event. Give her a call at 287-4703 or drop her an e-mail at svc7258@gmail.com .

Wanted: Holiday Elves! * With the Family-to-Family Holiday Giving Program, FUS provides a happier holiday for families in need. Last year, we gave wrapped gifts and grocery cards to 539 family members. Please join us this holiday season by helping for a couple of hours. Between November 15 and December 16, we need to sign up gift donors, organize the collected gifts, and match social workers with their clients’ presents. Click here to volunteer: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0f44aea92ca2f49-family2

“Grief Explored” with Nancy Johnson, Certified Death Educator
Monday, November 17 * 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Landmark Auditorium
$10/$15 non-pledged
FUS End-of-Life Ministry Team member and former funeral director, Nancy Johnson, will facilitate the last of our End of Life Planning Series on Monday, Nov. 17. Grief is among the most widely shared human experiences and yet the character of grief is not well understood. The group will explore the many dimensions of grief and healing, as well as the developmental stages in children that affect concepts of death. More at /end.

Green and Clean. A little ‘shout out’ to Crystal Cleaners, our janitorial service here at FUS. Much like an NFL referee, they are at their best when you don’t notice them. They use “green” approved chemicals for an environmentally friendly space, and do great work with us. More at www.crystalcleanersinc.com.

Board of Trustees Selects Vision

On October 22, our FUS Board of Trustees came up with new Vision of Ministry language.

We will…
  • Increase opportunities for exposure to the rich diversity of human experiences, beliefs, and identities within our FUS community and in the larger world.
  • Build and nurture deeper connections among our members in all our work.
  • Live our UU principles within our larger community.

Staff and members will use this language to set strategies and work goals over the upcoming year.

Today’s Friday Noon Musicale….

…will feature soprano Rachel Eve Holmes, baritone Christopher Apfelbach, and pianist Michael Keller.

Hear music of Floyd, Hahn, Beach, Strauss, Britten, Faure, Bowles and Mozart on Friday, October 24, at 12:15 p.m. in the Landmark Auditorium.

Free, but we should probably charge $9.  It would be worth it.

This weekend @ FUS – “An Exploration of Duty”

by Rev. Roger Bertschausen

Saturday Services are at 4:30 p.m. Sunday Services are at 9 & 11 a.m.

Fulfilling duty is a good thing, right?  Or can it be a negative thing?  Yes.

In truth duty is a slippery thing.  It’s a value worth upholding, but figuring out how and when to live it is extremely difficult.  Rev. Roger Bertschausen is the Senior Minister of the Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Appleton, a position he’s held since 1990.  He’s been an occasional visitor to the pulpit of FUS.

This will be his final pulpit exchange with Rev. Michael Schuler—Rev. Bertschausen has announced his departure from the Fox Valley UU Fellowship next summer.

On Saturday, pianists Pamela McMullen and Linda Warren will play hymns arranged for piano duet. Sunday, The Society Choir will sing Dale Warland’s arrangement of the Shaker tune Simple Gifts.


See the film ‘Food Stamped’ Thursday at FUS

Economic Justice Film Festival Coming To FUS

FUS will host one night of a 5-week film series on Thursday,
October 23, at 6:30 p.m.

Learn about hunger in America! The film Food Stamped will be shown at in the Landmark Auditorium, followed by a discussion led by staff from 2nd Harvest Food Bank. Free and open to the public.

RSVP and see all festival listings at http://wisconsinfaithvoicesforjustice.weebly.com/.