A Unitarian Universalist Church | 1800 Bell Ave., Des Moines, IA 50315 | P: 515-244-8603
This Sunday, May 22, 2022
Skin Deep and Soul Empty:
Finding Depth in a Shallow Culture
with Rev. Amy Petrie Shaw
American culture tells us that appearance is important. How do we move beyond the surface of life and focus on the things that matter most? Join Rev. Amy Shaw for this service about the life-long search for personal and religious depth and meaning in a culture where race, handicapped status, weight, and adherence to conventional beauty standards all impact us.

This service includes a presentation for the recognition of the graduating high school seniors who have grown and learned from you all in our church. 

Zoom Passcode: Safford
(Please mute your mic before the service begins!)
No Forum this Sunday!

Join us for the Church Life Revival in Racoon River Park
from 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

West Des Moines
Cornflower Shelters A & B
Joys & Concerns
Joys & Concerns for Sunday should be submitted by noon on Friday.
Click on the Caring Community webpage for the following options:

  • Caring Ministry – for temporary assistance, such as meals or rides, or to volunteer 
  • Pastoral Care – for support through a difficult time 
  • Senior Minister – for an acute need (515-244-8603, ext. 102)
Pastoral Care: May 22 — 28
Sue Jellinger is the Pastoral Care Associate available for the week beginning at
10:30 a.m. this Sunday. Email pastoralcareteam@ucdsm.org for assistance or call the Associate's telephone number in the church directory.
Wednesday Night Childcare

Due to programs ending for the year, Wednesday Night Childcare will no longer be available after May 25, 2022.

Childcare can be requested for specific dates if a minimum of 3 families or 5 children ages will be present. Requests must be made a minimum of 2 weeks before the event. Email hnotch@ucdsm.org with requests or for more information.
Statement from Greg Nichols, President of the Board of Trustees
First Unitarian Church, Des Moines
May 20, 2022
It is my duty as President of the Board of Trustees to announce today that the board and Rev. Amy Petrie Shaw concur in the decision that their call to serve as our Senior Minister will end July 31, 2022.

Rev. Shaw was called in 2019 to a senior minister position, one which under UUA guidelines for churches of our size call for a full-time associate or assistant minister alongside the senior minister. Our financial resources within the operating budget, primarily funded by member pledges, could not sustain that second position and it was ended shortly after Rev. Shaw arrived. They were very clear with the Board that would, if sustained over time, limit their ability to meet all our collective expectations…and was likely not sustainable for them personally for an extended period.

In recent months, board leadership and Rev. Shaw have discussed the future prospect of addressing our ability to support a second ministerial position as we move into planning and implementing more robust programming than we have provided through the pandemic. Our shared conclusion is that obtaining the financial resources to fill such a position is not on the horizon at present, and therefore it was in our mutual interest to make a change…or time to push the reset button…for both the senior minister and the congregation.

On behalf of the board, I want to thank Rev. Shaw for their service to this congregation. They barely had their feet on the ground before we went into pandemic mode and yet were able to help us get up and running with virtual Sunday services, and transitions to multiplatform delivery of other programs and services that will serve members with difficulties attending in person for years to come. Their engagement and support for some of our new ventures such as the Music and Arts event, and the Trans Fest are also important and sustainable additions to our congregational life activities. Their knowledge and teaching skills, particularly relating to multiple faith traditions and rituals have provided great learning opportunities for us all, whether in a class setting or Sunday and holiday services. Thank you, Rev. Amy, for all those and other contributions unspoken in my comments today.
So, what lies ahead?

We will have Rev. Shaw in the pulpit for the last time on June 12. They will be working with the board on transition issues, and engaging with the UUA GA through much of June, then taking most of July as accrued personal leave and study time. 

Meanwhile, the board will continue work already begun this week to seek ministerial options for the coming church year through the UUA processes where interim ministers can be found. The nationwide interim process has been underway for some time already and we will be playing catch up in seeking an individual to assist us in the transitional year we have ahead. We will be providing more details on this in the days and weeks ahead as they become known to us.

To be candid this also means that instead of work on long term planning, programming and oversight issues we will necessarily be spending a great deal of time on this immediate need. I ask the congregation to be patient and understanding that this matter must take precedence in our work just now, important as other issues for the longer term clearly are.

This also highlights the need, once we resolve the interim minister question, to determine how best to address the presenting issue of our size and our expectations exceeding our collective commitment to provide the resources needed to staff at recommended levels. But that will be down the road from what we need to do right now.

It will be an interesting year. Let’s embark on it in a spirit of covenantal relations, human understanding, and a shared desire to move forward…together.
--Greg Nichols
Statement from Rev. Amy Petrie Shaw, Senior Minister
First Unitarian Church, Des Moines
May 20, 2022
To the Congregation of the First Unitarian Church of Des Moines:

After a full year of deep and mindful discernment, and repeated discussion with Board Leadership, I intend to end my call at UCDSM effective July 31st, 2022. The Board and I agree that this is an expected and appropriate course of action at this time.

I was called to the First Unitarian Church of Des Moines in 2019, and my call was as a Senior Minister supported by a full time Associate Minister. This staffing ratio was appropriate for a congregation this size and reflected the needs of the governance structure. I took this call, in part, in order to work in a multi-minister environment.

Unfortunately, the financial situation of the church required the almost immediate removal of the second minister’s position. At the time I was direct in telling the Board and congregation that the loss of the second position could be accommodated for one year, and probably, more poorly, for a second year, but that a third year or beyond were not possible while meeting congregational expectations.

Because the pandemic and accompanying building shut-down happened eight months into the first year of our shared ministry, the church was able to go forward longer than expected with one minister, but as we look toward another year of solo ministry, and a full return to in-person events and meetings, I am, sadly, unable to continue in this position which does not reflect the nature of my original call.

Thank you to everyone who did so much to support and sustain both my ministry and the various ministries of the church; you are amazing.

For the next four weeks I will be wrapping up and transitioning my workflows, and my last day in the pulpit will be June 12th. I will begin vacation on June 14th. My last day as called minister will be August 2nd and I will be available for emergencies from June 14th until then.

May your journey be wonderous.


The Board of Trustees
wants and needs your input!
from the Board of Trustees
The Board will soon begin setting its goals for the new church year that begins
July 1. Below is a link to a survey including two open-ended questions. Please help the Board plan by responding to the survey.

The Board's Governance Committee sought your responses to those two questions in meetings held at church earlier this spring. Since not all church members participated in one of those meetings, we wanted to follow-up by asking the same questions of all members via this survey.

Please complete and submit the survey by Thursday, May 26.
Let's Have a Rousing Revival: 
All of First Unitarian is Invited!
from the Leadership Team
This Sunday, May 22
11:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
West Des Moines
Cornflower Shelters A & B

Potluck and more - see what's happening around church! Get reconnected to things you enjoy or discover something new for you and your family.

Want to be part of discussion group or movie night? Help plan parties? Organize for social change? Teach our awesome UU children and youth? 

Bring a dish to share, your place setting (let's not throw too much in the landfill), a camp chair and lawn games. We have a playground right by the shelter, and lots of space.

We are REVIVING our faith in Central Iowa!

See you there!

Questions? Contact Leadership@ucdsm.org.
Faith in Action Nominees
from the Faith in Action Coordinating Team
Four nonprofit organizations serving our community will be on the ballot at our annual meeting on June 5, 2022. Two organizations will be selected by the congregation membership; each will receive one-fourth of the Sunday collection for the next church year. The nominees are as follows:

Al Exito
Al Exito’s mission is to accelerate Latinix youth’s academic achievement and leadership capacity through transformative opportunities for youth and their families to fully participate and thrive in Iowa’s communities. Their vision is to advance Iowa’s prosperity through Latinx excellence. Learn more at alexitoIowa.org.
Champion: Gene McCracken

Hawthorne Hills
The mission is to establish and operate housing programs for homeless families with children that help them obtain permanent housing and provides services to help families achieve economic self-sufficiency. Learn more at hawthorn-hill.org
Champion: Sally Boeckholt

Let’s Talk
AMOS Let’s Talk was formed to address the school to prison pipeline for students of color. A mediation group was formed to address the fact that students of color in Des Moines and across the nation are disproportionately suspended and referred to the Juvenile Justice System.
Champion: Ellen Taylor

Just Voices
Just Voices is a movement about speaking truth and seeking justice by raising the voices of Black people who have experienced racially-biased policing in Des Moines. Seven values form the platform which educates, advocates, and collaborates in order to end racially-biased policing in Iowa.
Champion: Harvey Harrison

For more information, please contact Faith in Action at faithinaction@ucdsm.org
Tai Chi Meeting
Auditorium | Wednesday, May 25 | 7:00 p.m.
Join us for a meeting at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 25, in the Auditorium to discuss a possible evening Tai Chi class.
First Unitarian Humanist Update
from First Unitarian Humanists
Book Group
You’re invited to join the Humanist book group on the first and third Sunday of each month. We are currently reading Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. We will cover chapters 9 and 10 on June 5, followed by chapters 11 and 12 on June 19. The book group meets at the church at 11:00 AM. Everyone is invited, either in person or via Zoom!
AHA Annual Conference
The American Humanist Association annual conference will be held June 24-26. There are a number of excellent speakers lined up, including author Andrew Seidel and several who will address the issue of separation of church and state. Our group will be watching the activities on Saturday, June 25, at the Stine Barn. More details will be coming, but mark your calendar now for this event.
IAF/Humanist Society meeting
There will be a joint meeting of the Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers and the Humanist Society of Iowa on July 17 at the Stine Barn, starting at noon. There will be a guest speaker. More info to follow.
Out With The Old Cupboards & Flooring; In With An Aesthetics Team!
Old Kitchen Cabinets Off To Their Final Resting Place 
The auction of kitchen stuff during the FFFFF added $590.00 to the renovation project fund! Thanks to everyone who made purchases.  Sadly, no one bid on the old kitchen cupboards. Following removal, they were brittle and unstable. Once again our stalwart project volunteer Ron Heideman stepped up along with Sherwin Back (Dash) to move them outside for demolition. They then loaded the debris and hauled it to the East Polk Landfill for final burial. Regretfully, they were the only mourners at the gravesite.

More photos and the full story at the Kitchen Project Page.
Removal of Kitchen Flooring Happened This Week
Because of the asbestos in the flooring, a special removal team was contracted to tear out the old tiles. They made quick work and were finished in one day. Special ventilation had to be used to insure the safety of those in the church and also to prevent contaminated dust being left behind.  Project Chair Ann Mowery captured the air containment process (lots of plastic covering kitchen door and counter opening with a plastic tube exiting out a Griffin Hall window). She also sent photos of the now bare floor showing multiple cracks.
Meet Our Team Creating the Kitchen’s New Look

Karen Kraemer, Aesthetics Chair
When Ann Mowery called me to ask if I’d chair the Aesthetics committee for the church kitchen project, I had recently retired from my part-time audiology job and was happy to be considered to serve in this capacity. I’ve remodeled kitchens and bathrooms in both of my own houses and experienced the joy and satisfaction of making them both more functional and aesthetically pleasing. I love taking a space and reinventing it. Given the opportunity to work together with an enthusiastic, talented committee to create a “new-and-improved”, timeless mid-century modern kitchen at First Unitarian that will last for years to come is a challenge I’m excited to take on!
Cheryl Long
I was never that interested in aesthetics until Meredith Corporation, where I worked for 21 years, started to transform its building. The original was very outdated. The original building had 1940's green tiles and old decrepit office furniture, dirty carpets and mismatched everything. Over several years this beast of a building turned into a beauty-an innovative architectural showpiece that featured natural light for every employee, comfortable furniture, interesting artwork (like 6' tall metal flowers), unusual paint treatments and new equipment. Suddenly it was a delight to go to work and a pleasure to have guests from New York who were expecting a backward town and company. Since then, I've realized the importance of our surroundings and the difference it makes in so many aspects of our lives.
Heidi Levine
I am excited to be working with the committee which gets to shape the look and feel of our new kitchen. I love mid-century architecture and design and finding ways to reflect that aesthetic while creating space that is warm, timeless, and functional has been a fun challenge. I have done two home kitchen remodels and was on the planning committee for a kitchen renovation at another UU church. Since I moved before that project came to fruition, being on our kitchen aesthetics subcommittee is giving me a kind of closure experience! 
Heidi Lackmann
I joined the kitchen aesthetics committee because I was inspired by the focused efforts of the initial committee, and I want to have a role in this reinvigoration of our church community. My goals are to create a warm & timeless environment where church members and friends can come together and feel at home. I appreciate Scandinavian simplicity and practicality, clean lines, natural wood and an overall sense of ‘hygge’ – coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of well-being.
Janelle Bailey
I have been a member of the church for the past 9 years and always enjoyed being part of a hospitality team. In our home the kitchen is a central place to be together as a family. My focus for the church kitchen remodel was its functionality. I want it to be a useful thoughtful space we can all enjoy for many years to come. My husband and I have been involved in remodeling our kitchen and many other home remodeling projects. I bring my knowledge and years of patience to this project to help us create a functional and welcoming space.
Submissions to the Intercom Weekly are due on Wednesday at 12 noon. Submissions after the deadline cannot be guaranteed a spot in that week's newsletter.
 For a full list of upcoming meetings and events, please visit our church calendar.
If you wish to add your meeting or event to our calendar, please contact: calendar@ucdsm.org
Calling for Coffee Crew Volunteers
from the Hospitality Team
Join our Hospitality Team's Coffee Crew and help promote community at First Unitarian!
With the kitchen closed, we could use all the help we can get to serve congregants and visitors after each Sunday service. Tasks include bringing snacks and carafes of coffee and cleaning up after coffee time (10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. on Sundays) in the Gathering Area.

Each team works at least one service every other month, and members rotate responsibilities. Join a team by contacting our volunteer Hospitality Coordinator at hospitality@ucdsm.org.

If you'd like to set up a regular (weekly or monthly) contribution to our social justice activities, click here and enter the dollar amount for "Donation." 
Faith in Action Partners
Knock and Drop | Just Voices
Our current partnerships run from September 2021 through August 2022. They were selected by our members at our June 2021 annual meeting. The organizations are:
Our Champion is Gene McCracken
Our Champion is Harvey Harrison
Staff Office Hours & Contact Info
Rev. Amy Petrie Shaw, Senior Minister
Sunday: Service 9:30-10:30, 11am-2pm by appointment
Monday: Sabbath
Tuesday: 11am-5pm
Wednesday: 11am-1pm and 3pm to 5pm (1-3pm slot is available for drop-in visits)
Thursday: 11am-5pm
Friday: Writing Day
Saturday: By appointment
https://calendly.com/revamypshaw - Please use to schedule appts

Alice J. Stewart, Director of Finance and Administration
515-244-8603 ext. 101
Mondays: by appointment
Tuesdays – Thursdays: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Fridays: by appointment
Zoom meetings available on request

Devon McClurken, Director of Faith Formation
Off Mondays
Tuesday-Friday, Sunday: by appointment

Emily Petty, Communications Coordinator
515-244-8603 ext. 103
Off Mondays
Tuesday-Friday, Sunday: by appointment
To submit an item for the Intercom, email communications@ucdsm.org

Hannah Notch, Social Media and Executive Support Specialist
Tuesday - Friday: 1:00 - 5:00 pm
To have an event or meeting added to the church calendar, email Hannah at calendar@ucdsm.org
Intercom Weekly Submissions
Deadline: Wednesday @ 12 noon

  • In the body of an email, please include a title, relevant dates and times, contact information, and a brief description of your event or announcement.

  • Please proofread your article before submitting (or ask a trusted friend to proofread if you need help!) We try to check every article, but we still miss things.

  • An image can help make your article stand out! Please feel free to attach an image to your email. (JPG or PNG files are preferred.) Note: images that violate copyright laws will be rejected.

  • The Intercom Weekly is sent out to our mailing list on Friday at 12:00 p.m.

  • We run announcements for no more than three consecutive weeks, so please plan accordingly.

  • Per church policy, we do not share private email addresses or phone numbers in our communications. We will set up an @ucdsm.org email address for you as the contact person for your group which will automatically forward to your private email, so you won't have to do anything special to view it. (Please allow a few extra days for us to set up the email when you submit your announcement.)

Please email communications@ucdsm.org to submit your information.
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