Child Dedications at FUS – Join Us Anytime

Dedication Ceremonies will be held during all three services on the weekend of October 4 and 5.  A child dedication is a uniquely UU naming ceremony. It offers the opportunity to celebrate these young lives, welcome them to our community, and offer our blessing to them and their family. For more information, please contact Rev. Kelly Crocker at /MCL or 233-9774, ext. 112. More at /child-dedications.

‘Separate but Equal’ is No Standard for Categorizing Love

Weddings at FUS, by COO Andy Gussert

“Imagine getting married where nature and architecture meld into balanced harmony. Imagine a building where sweeping rooms serve to sweep you off your feet. Imagine a place seeped in a century of Madison history, where hundreds of couples have joined together in union, but where your ceremony is altogether unique. Imagine an ambiance filled with spiritual energy, glowing colors, and all of the beauty you deserve on your special day. Imagine getting married at FUS.”

This is just some of the new language promoting weddings at FUS.

Nine years ago, on a beautiful Saturday on the 17th of September, my wife Lisa and I declared our love in front of hundreds of people.  We paid for it ourselves, did it on a budget, and still hear accolades from friends who loved the event. But, unfortunately, we didn’t hold it at FUS, because we simply hadn’t heard about this beautiful venue.

As we strive to become a spot for all progressive couples who wish to marry, we recently updated our FUS brochures and our wedding webpage with new copy and photos. We have about two dozen weddings each year on the grounds of FUS, in different ways, and in different rooms and spaces.  About two of every five – fewer than half – are our own members. In the future, we’d like to host even more. (That’s a hint to pass the word, and share our brochures liberally.) 

Over the past sixty-five years, thousands of liberal and progressive couples have chosen FUS as the place to begin their lives together. There are many reasons people come here:

•We are more open and flexible about the design of the ceremony

•We will perform ceremonies for couples from different faith traditions

•Membership in our church is not required in order to be wed by our clergy

•We do not stigmatize couples who have been cohabiting prior to marriage

•We don’t judge if one or both parties have been married previously, and

•We charge less than $1000 for the four hour building rental.

Our Parish approves the specific ministers able to conduct FUS weddings, and recently did so again at our June 1st Parish meeting. A license must be procured from the County Clerk’s office within a month of the ceremony, which must be duly signed and witnessed on the day it is performed. At the very least, the law requires that an oral vow or oath also be exchanged by the couple.

Significantly, in July, FUS conducted our first same ‘official’ sex marriage on the grounds– and we don’t expect it to be our last. In the past, we’ve only offered a ‘Service of Spiritual Union’ to same-sex couples — a commitment ceremony similar to a wedding, but without legal sanction.

Last month, we decided to no longer distinguish between different types of wedding services, unless somebody asks. We will simply refer to all ceremonies as weddings and marriage, regardless of orientation of the couple. We’ve watched with joy as three FUS staff members married their partners this past year, it’s a reminder that love is love, and commitment needn’t be categorized. “Separate but equal” didn’t work in the fifties for race segregation, and shouldn’t become the working standard for love or legal unions today.

If you know somebody who is getting married, have them check out our information at They can call or email Mark Renner to find out more, including what dates and times are available. ( Phone: 608/233-9774 x 118)

Unsung Heroes: Reenie Euhardy and Lisa West

Participants in this year’s Service Sunday found it to be a smooth experience.  They signed up online or in person one Sunday  and then came on the day to join project leaders in meaningful work.  At every step, there was a friendly offer to help  –  in the Commons, by phone, or by email.  Many of those communications and the days’ excellent coordination came from event co-chairs, Reenie Euhardy and Lisa West.

Married with two adult children, Reenie came to FUS nine years ago, looking for a faith community where she could belong and be active.  She followed a friend to FUS and, lucky for us, found it.  A lifelong Catholic, Reenie decided the best way to learn more about Unitarian Universalism was to learn along with children.   She volunteered to teach and continues to do so today, enjoying the intergenerational setting.

Committed to being involved year-round, Reenie answered the call for a Service Sunday coordinator in 2013.  “There was a need,” she said, “and it was something I could do.”   For Reenie, “ a sense of community service is what FUS is about.”  Reenie asked Lisa to co-chair with her in 2014.  She found that she and Lisa are a great team, and that working  with Lisa is fun.

A member of FUS since 2003, Lisa is also married with two adult children. Lisa got involved with the Social Justice Program at FUS when she first invited FUS to join MOSES, work she continues today.  Lisa has also been active with the plant-based eating group, Quest, a Chalice group, and gardening.

Lisa accepted Reenie’s  invitation, because “it is powerful to get together and provide hundreds of hours of community service in just one morning.”   Feeling a responsibility to act on certain issues herself, Lisa feels that “it is an honor to create a space for others to do the same.”   And, she echoes her co-chair, “It was really fun working with Reenie.”

Bringing It Home

A Page and Post for families

Can Less Bring More?

One of my favorite stories is one of a wealthy merchant who comes to the town where a Rabbi famous for his wisdom lives and he asks to be allowed to meet him. A meeting is arranged and the merchant is ushered into the Rabbi’s house. When he looks around he is flabergasted. “Where is your fine furniture? Where is your silver and fine dishes?” he asks the Rabbi. “I might ask you the same thing,” the Rabbi says. “Where are your fine things? Where is your silver and your dishes and furniture?”  “But, but but…I am travelling. I cannot be weighed down with those things. I am on a journey! “ “There, I knew you would understand! …For I too am on a journey.”

This life is, indeed, a journey and there’s no time like this month to think about what we are carrying with us.  This month we spend some time looking at Simplicity and it’s a great theme for this back to school month.  We are revving up and taking off as fast as we can after our summer’s break and it’s definitely full speed ahead.  Activities begin again, school work picks back up, and we are even reminded by some savvy retailers that the holidays are not all that far away (no worries, I groaned too when I heard that!).  Mostly it’s good, right?  Our kids have passions and interests and we want to help foster that for them and watch them unfold as they age and grow. And yet….

How do we slow down and appreciate this precious time that we have?  How do we resist the urge to schedule in every activity possible, buy every new toy that looks promising and rush headlong through our days?  We know that less really is more – less activities means more time together, less stuff means cherishing and enjoying the things that do bring us joy.  Simplicity allows us to see the magic – in the everyday, in one another, in ourselves.  It also gives us the gift of connection, celebration and joy. There are some ideas below for slowing down and simplifying below; I would love to hear yours.

in hope and peace,



Chalice Lighting

May I know the circle of love

into which I was born.

May my life make the circle

wider and wider,

starting with my family and


starting today.

            -Betsy Darr



One day a rich man took his son to a poor fishing village.  He wanted to show his son just how lucky and blessed they were with all of their expensive belongings.  As they entered the village a woman with three small children approached and asked if they would like to join their family for lunch.  The man and his son joined in the family, ate a delicious meal and then toured the village with the family.  After the day was over, they thanked the villagers for their gracious hospitality, promised to return one day, and headed home.  On the way home, the rich man turned to his son and said, “What did you learn today?  Do you understand now what it is to be poor?”  And the son replied, “Yes, Dad, I did.  I learned that we have one dog and they have four, we have a pool, they have the rivers, we have lights to turn on at night, they have the stars to guide them, we buy food in a big supermarket, they grow theirs in a garden, we have walls to protect us, they have friends, we have books on shelves, they have stories.  Yes, Dad, now I see who is truly wealthy.

There are many ways we can teach the art of simple living to our kids and ourselves.  Many of these you know already – limiting screen time, having a toy cleaning out party with a big box ready for donations, having kids do chores or save birthday money to buy the new toy instead of purchasing it right away.  Here is a list of some other ideas:

Cook Together – whether it’s breakfast or dinner, it doesn’t matter.  Spend some time together in the kitchen creating your favorite meal or snacks.  Beyond bringing math to life (gotta love those fractions!), it makes everyone enjoy the food so much more when we all have contributed to the feast.

Treasure Nature – bring out the naturalist in all of you and begin a nature collection.  Take walks together as a family and see what speaks to you – feathers, rocks, shells, pine cones – everyone has something that is a treasure to them.  Once inside, these beautiful pieces draw out our imaginations with endless possibilities for play, craft, and exploration.

Family Cards – set aside some time to make thank you cards, get well cards, birthday cards, etc. that express the beauty of your family.  Pull out the paints, the crayons and markers, stickers or photos and create magical gifts that your loved ones will appreciate for years to come.

Family Story Night – Gather together and share your favorite family memories.  The oldest person can start and can tell stories of their childhood or from family lore.  Older children can go next and tell their favorite family memories.  And on and on down to the youngest members.  At the end you can write these stories in a family storybook and have younger ones draw photos or pictures to add to the book.

Books for the Whole Family

Simplicity Parenting * Kim John Payne

The Perfectly Orderly House * Ellen Kindt Mackenzie

The Quiltmaker’s Gift * Jeff Brumbeau

Too Many Toys * David Shannon

The Gift of Nothing * Patrick Mcdonnell

More * I.C. Springman

Stuff * Margie Palantini


Select to Connect Events Coming In!

How does a Souper Sunday sound? That is soup and conversation after the 11 a.m. service at Mary & Joe Murphy’s home. • Or, Amuse Bouche: A Tasteful Journey at Jen Gaber and Bart Terrell’s home? This event last year sold out in a flash! • Or, Birding & Brunch with Trudy Karlson and Dave Weber? Also a repeat from last year that sold out quickly!

More at

So, have you given any thought to one you might donate?

It can be as simple as you want it to be, offering the opportunity to make connections. Events must be scheduled between November 1 and April 1. The deadline to submit your event is Wednesday, October 1, so go to /select right now. Questions? Call Sally at 233-9774 ext.123 or drop her a message at /developmentdirector.


News From the Red Floors for September 12 to 21, 2014

Dear Neighbors… 

As I sit in my study pondering the points I plan to make in my reflections for this week’s worship services, I look out the window and notice that the bird feeder I filled this morning is now almost empty. The sparrows, chickadees, cardinals and blue jays have been almost frantic in their efforts to eat. I suspect that the sudden drop in temperature has alarmed them. Like me, they find the change a little disconcerting.

No, life is not simple and neither are Wisconsin’s weather patterns. Building on and departing somewhat from Kelly Crocker’s introduction to the monthly theme of “simplicity” I’ll give you some provocative ideas and anecdotes to chew on. Great music is in store, with accomplished flutist Margie Marion teaming with Linda Warren on Saturday and virtuoso pianist Gloria Chung showcasing her skills on Sunday.

- Michael



Shawl Ministry Drop-in * There will be two Shawl Ministry drop-ins next week, both in the Atrium Library. The first will be Monday, September 15, at 7 p.m. with Dorit Bergin hosting. The second will be Thursday, September 18,  at 10 a.m. Lorna Aaronson will host, and we will be joined by our intern, Sasha Ostrom.  Want to learn more about the Shawl Ministry? Contact Lorna or Dorit?You’ll find it all at /shawl.

Poetry Group * The FUS poets group is changing its meeting night to Wednesdays, 7:30 to 9 p.m., Courtyard D. Bring original poems or poems by others to read and discuss, or just come to be entertained. This group  meets every two weeks; Upcoming dates include September 24 and October 1, 15, 29. All welcome. Contact Marc Glazer, or Jeff Glover, Come join the fun!

Introducing Sasha Ostrom * Please come to a meet and greet for FUS’s new intern minister, Sasha Ostrom, at 6 p.m. Saturday, September 20, after the Saturday service and Sunday, September 21 between services.  The Ministerial Intern Team will serve a light snack. Natasha (Sasha) Ostrom is originally from Phoenix, AZ. She will be with us for the current academic year.

Parish Meeting Next Sunday!

Discerning Diversity A Forum
for Member Feedback

  • 12:30 p.m. on September 21
  •  Atrium Auditorium
  •  Foodhaulers Lunch immediately following 11 a.m. service

I.      Welcoming Invocation – Senior Minister Michael Schuler
II.    FUS Annual Report – COO Andy Gussert
III.    FUS Foundation Report – Foundation Member Richard Miller
IV.    Member Forum on Discerning Diversity -
Board President Betsy Hauser
V.    Closing Reading – Intern Minister Sasha Ostrom
Background: A recent survey revealed the wide-spread sense we value diversity. But it is not clear from the survey exactly what members mean by this, or how they see it impacting day to day congregational life. The goal of the meeting is to better discern what the congregation means by “diverse”, how we might achieve it, and what steps we could take-if any-to bring it about. The board will use this feedback to inform future efforts.


MOSAIC: Making OurSelves
Alive in Community 

Join us September 22 at 6:30 p.m. in the Atrium Auditorium as we delve more deeply into our September theme of “Simplicity.” ‘Tis a gift to be simple, but can it be done in the 21st century? /MOSAIC.

Peace & Justice Book Club * Next meeting: Monday, September 22, at 7 p.m. in Courtyard C. Book:  A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines. Many library copies are free to be checked out. Questions: e-mail or call Carole Briggs at 333-2723 or

Spiritual Topics Book Group * The next meeting of the Spiritual Topics Book Group will be at 7 p.m., Tuesday September 23, in the Gaebler Living Room. The group will discuss David Abram’s book: The Spell of the Sensuous. Contact Ken Gage at 230-5068 for more information.

Job/Career Networking Group Resumes * The monthly meetings of the FUS employment support group will start on Thursday, September 25, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in Courtyard C.  This informal drop-in group meets on the 4th Thursday of each month and offers caring and insightful help to anyone who faces a change in their job or career. Come share your stories and concerns so we can all learn together.

Dave Ranney: “New World Disorder”

On Wednesday, September 24, at 7 p.m. Dave Ranney, author of New World Disorder: The Decline of US Power will be speaking at James Reeb Unitarian Universalist Congregation here in Madison. Mr. Ranney, who is a Professor Emeritus in the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois Chicago, will discuss the political and economic crises that rage around the world which he believes cannot be attributed to simply a “great recession” but are part of a larger “new world disorder.” Suggested donation: $5 and/or donation to a food pantry. More at

Upham Woods Outing for Middle School Youth * Don’t miss a chance to come hike, canoe, stargaze and more with your FUS friends! We’ll be heading to Upham Woods 4H Environmental Education Center in Baraboo September 27-28. For more information, go to /crereg.


Select to Connect: Events Needed!


  • How does a Souper Sunday sound? That is soup and conversation after the 11 a.m. service at Mary & Joe Murphy’s home.
  • Or, Amuse Bouche: A Tasteful Journey at Jen Gaber and Bart Terrell’s home? This event last year sold out in a flash!
  • Or, Birding & Brunch with Trudy Karlson and Dave Weber? Also a repeat from last year that sold out quickly!

So, have you given any thought to one you might donate? It can be as simple as you want it to be, offering the opportunity to make connections. Events must be scheduled between November 1 and April 1. The deadline to submit your event is Wednesday, October 1, so go to /select right now. Questions? Call Sally at 233-9774 ext. 123 or drop her a message at /developmentdirector.

20s30s Open House *
Join us for the FUS 20s 30s Fall Open House!

Sunday, September 28, Landmark Meeting House 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Come connect with an FUS/UU/intellectually and spiritually curious community, and enjoy food, beverages, and stimulating and stirring conversation. Contact for more information.

The Ancora String Quartet will be in concert at FUS on Sunday afternoon, September 28… One of Madison’s premier chamber ensembles will perform music of Haydn, Mendelssohn and Amy Beach in our Landmark Auditorium on Sunday, September 28, at 2 p.m. Admission at the door is $15, $12 for seniors and students, and $6 for children under age 12.

Friday Musicales Return October 3…
The Arbor Ensemble with flutist Berlinda Lopez, violist Marie Pauls, and cellist Rebecca Riley will usher in the Musicale season on Friday, October 3, at 12:15 p.m. in the Landmark Auditorium. Free admission.

Child Dedications * Dedication Ceremonies will be held during all three services on the weekend of October 4 and 5.  A child dedication is a uniquely UU naming ceremony. It offers the opportunity to celebrate these young lives, welcome them to our community, and offer our blessing to them and their family. For more information, please contact Rev. Kelly Crocker at /MCL or 233-9774, ext. 112. More at /child-dedications.

Reconnections Veterans Support Group To Resume In October * The Reconnections Veterans Support Group will be starting up again on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of every month from 6:30 to 8 p.m. beginning October 8 in a new location; Bethel Lutheran Church’s Library Media Center. Pizza the first night and we’ll figure the rest out! Free child care available on site. 312 Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Madison, parking available. For more information contact Roz Woodward at 251-1074 or, or Mike Gourlie at 556-2012

Learn about Unitarian Universalism and FUS!
If so, you should join us for one of the two “New UU” orientation classes to be offered this fall. The next will be Thursday evenings from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on October 9,16 and 23 and 30. Our next Sunday sessions will begin Nov. 2, 9,16, and 23 from 1 to 3 p.m. Childcare will be offered during the Sunday sessions. Details and registration are available in the Commons at the Information tables or at /newuu.

Charlie King in concert at FUS! * On October 18 at 7 p.m. Sister Maureen McDonnell will celebrate 50 years of vowed Sinsinawa Dominican life, and has chosen to honor the Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice with a benefit concert as her Jubilee event. Honor Sister Maureen and hear renowned folk and labor activist musician Charlie King in our Atrium Auditorium. $20 in advance/$25 at door. Contact Rabbi Renee Bauer for tickets or to volunteer at or (608)819-4740.


Take a Fall Adult Education
Class and Expand Your Brain

Class list and registration at /adult-ed.


Elder Law Attorney Heather Wilson to Speak on September 15
Join elder law attorney Heather Wilson as she explores alternatives for financial, estate, and charitable planning ($10 pledged/$15 nonpledged).  We will be accepting  people at the door.  Attend this program or register for the End of Life Series which includes programs about Advanced Health Care planning, October 30 and Grief Explored, November 17.  Visit /end.

An Evolution Forum begins with pre-forum
discussions September 23 and 30
We’re exploring evolution in a 2014-15 forum. Our eight monthly programs will be led by guest professors and Rev. Scott Prinster will join us in November. To provide background, we have two pre-forums, which are free and open to the public. FUS member Mara McDonald will lead “What is Evolution?” on September 23 and FUS member Nick Schweitzer will lead “Evolution in the Courts,” on September 30. Check the catalog for our schedule or visit /evolution.

Dances for Universal Peace begins
Thursday, September 25
Jerry Mosser will lead Dances for Universal Peace on Thursdays, beginning September 25.  Rooted in the Sufi tradition, the simple and soulful circle dances are a spiritual practice in motion. No singing or dance experience is necessary; each dance is taught and everyone is welcome. Visit /dances.

Hesitant to dance?
Newcomers Welcome on Mondays

Have you thought about taking a dance class, but were too hesitant in the past?  Join Kristanne Stone in Dance Explorations on Mondays, 1 to 2:30, in the Gaebler Living Room.  Kristanne especially likes working with those new to dance and creates a welcoming environment for all.  A $10 fee registers you for the drop-in classes; consider a free-will donation for each class. Visit /exploredance.

“Life if Not Simple”

Saturday, Sept. 13 at 4:30 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 14 at 9 & 11 a.m.

by Michael A. Schuler, Senior Minister

For the title of my remarks I borrow a phrase that the estimable ellsworth snyder, former Music Director at FUS, often used. Whenever a situation developed that caused confusion, perplexity or uncertainty, ellsworth would shrug his shoulders and remind us of this basic truth. And of course, life is not all that simple. But should it be? If so, in what respects?

On Saturday, flutist Marjie Marion will play folk song arrangements accompanied by Linda Warren on piano. On Sunday, virtuoso pianist, Gloria Chuang, will perform.

Wondering about joining FUS?

Two “New UU” orientation classes will be available this early fall. Each will consist of four sessions. The first class is offered on Sundays from 1 to 3 p.m. beginning September 14 and on September 21, 28 and October 5. Childcare is offered. The second class will be held on Thursday evenings from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on

October 9,16 and 23 and 30.     New UU is an orientation class for newcomers and friends of FUS. During the four weekly meetings, you will have the opportunity to: • get acquainted with other curious adults, • learn about Unitarian Universalism and the organization of the Society, • explore whether your beliefs and values are consonant with UU, • consider your next steps to deeper involvement at First Unitarian Society.

Registration is available in the Commons or

The Fall Adult Education catalog is here…

Not to be missed… • Rev. Kelly Crocker is offering a workshop on forgiveness • Rev. Michael Schuler will introduce us to the Abrahamic religions • Janet Swanson and Sasha Ostrom, ministerial intern, will lead an afternoon women’s retreat. • The beloved film series returns with Rev. Michael and Trina Schuler as they engage us in film and discussion about Healing and Reconcilliation. Curious about the rest of the classes? Take a look at the catalog online!

Our fall semester begins with the following programs in September:

“Letting Go – Contemplative Practices for Living and Dying” FUS is sponsoring a one-day retreat with Steven Spiro, Karen Reppen and Grant Abert on Saturday, September 6, 9 to 4:30 p.m. in the Atrium Auditorium.  The cost is $50 pledged/$60 for non-pledged. Information and registration is available at /practices or by contacting Janet Swanson, Director of Adult Spiritual Programs, at 233-9774 ext. 131 or /DAE.

End of Life Planning Series begins Monday, September 15 Are You Prepared? Join Madison estate, special needs planning, and elder law attorney Heather Wilson as she explores alternatives for financial, estate, and charitable planning.  The series will continue with Advanced Health Care planning, October 30 and Grief Explored, November 17.