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First Unitarian Church

of Des Moines

1800 Bell Ave
Des Moines, IA 50315

Staff Contact Page

Sunday services at 10 am on Zoom

First Unitarian members and friends enjoy a variety of social and service groups. The exchange of new ideas, interests and opinions stimulates minds and builds friendships. First Unitarian is a Welcoming Congregation for people of all races, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, class, nationality, or religion. These groups welcome any newcomer or congregation member. Please see the Calendar of Events for meeting schedules.

Click here for more information on how to form and promote an Affinity & Activity Group at First Unitarian.

Contact information can be found in the church directory, or contact Membership Coordinator, Lyra Halsten at or 515-244-8603 x 103.

Afternoon Tea with Membership

On the third Saturday of each month, join Membership Coordinator Lyra Halsten for an hour of tea and conversation. Some months we’ll have a casual chat and other times we may have a focused topic. Don’t drink tea? It’s okay; come anyway! Contact: Lyra Halsten

Bent Needles

Bent Needles is back via Zoom! This group is for individuals who love to do needlework of all kinds. If you crochet, cross-stitch, knit or weave, you’ll want to join Bent Needles on Wednesday evenings at 6:00 pm. The Zoom link is Click here to join Bent Needles on Zoom; you’ll be sorted into a breakout room to meet with your fellow crafters.

UU Board Game Night


Please join fellow UU friends for a fun night of board games in Channing Hall. Bring your favorite game as well as any beverages or snacks you might want to share. Meets the second Friday of the month, 6-10 pm, in Channing Hall. Contact: Gianfranco Berardi

Dinner Discussion Groups

Looking for an opportunity to get to know other UUs? Groups of 6-8 adults who would like to meet for potluck dinners are invited to sign up for a “Dinner Discussion Group” to meet 4-5 times over 8 months. The members of each group will take turns hosting, and the host will provide the main dish; others will provide the rest of the meal for the potluck. While the events are to be primarily social in nature, some groups may want to have a discussion topic.

A sign-up sheet will be posted on the new “Connect with Others” bulletin board in Channing Hall in September & early October. If interested, sign-up the number attending and which evening(s) you are interested in (Friday, Saturday, or Sunday). While all participants should be willing to host one potluck, please indicate if you’re willing to host the first event. By October 15, groups will be formed based on the meeting time choices. The host will be provided the names in the group and it will be up to the host to contact the other group members to arrange the first meeting. Contacts: Barb Glass or Bob Henderson

Food Still Matters Vegan Potluck

Great Decisions (on hiatus)

Great Decisions, a group that has met for many years at our church, is a discussion program produced by the Foreign Policy Association, New York City, and featuring a briefing book titled Great Decisions. The latest version of the book is available for purchase. Meets monthly on the fourth Sunday at 11 am in the Stonewell Conference Room (no meetings June-August, or December). Click here for a list of 2020 topics. Contact: Fred La Croix

Humanist Society of Iowa

The Humanist Society of Iowa, a chapter of the American Humanist Association, is an affiliate of First Unitarian Church of Des Moines. We emphasize a non-theistic life-stance which promotes caring, fairness, community and science. Join our book discussion group at 9:30 AM 11:00 AM on the first and third Sunday of each month. (For more info on that, contact

We also have a quarterly business meeting (with a speaker on a current topic of general interest), with dates and times announced on the Church calendar. Contact:  Al Powers at

Let’s Do LUUnch

Let’s Do LUUnch meets on Zoom, Monday – Friday @ 12:00 noon. Sweatpants and comfy clothes may have replaced the “power suit”, but you still need to eat! Starting September 28, grab your favorite lunch and take a seat at Des Moines’ newest hot spot: your computer! We have room for 100 and reservations are not required!  Contact: Lyra Halsten

Play UU Parenting Group

Play UU is a parenting group at First Unitarian for parents & caregivers with children age infancy to high school. Activities are varied and include: monthly playdates/gathering, family outings and parent-nights out (childcare provided). Playdates are usually the second Saturday of each month, 9-11 am, in the lower level of the church. See the Calendar of Events or the Intercom Weekly email for the latest scheduled events, or join our Facebook group! Contact: Chelsea Hayes

Sacred Bridges CUUPs

Sacred Bridges chapter of the Covenant of Unitarian Univeralist Pagans hosts Earth-based rituals and social gatherings to create a safe, positive, and uplifting space where pagans and people who are curious about paganism can meet and learn. In addition, we gather monthly for event planning and discussion about involvement and group growth. We encourage participation in Unitarian Universalism, but membership is not required to participate in events. The chapter supports both pagan and UU paths and works to help one another and grow as a community, linking pagans together and giving others the chance to explore Earth-based spirituality.  Contact:

Small Group Ministry (on hiatus)

A continuation of the Small Group Ministry format that began in 2002.  The first hour is an opportunity for members to share recent events in their lives. The second hour is a discussion around a chosen topic from the Small Group Ministry collection. Members meet the first and third Mondays of the month, 10am – Noon, in the Game Room at Scottish Rite Park (2909 Woodland Ave, DM). Contacts: Carol Henderson or Jill Moser

Circle Groups

These small, relational groups made up of six to ten people led by trained facilitators meet once a month to establish and nurture themselves in this community, to explore and engage monthly religious service themes in more depth, and to reconnect with their deepest selves, life’s gifts, and needs greater than their own. Click here to learn more about Circle Groups.

UU Book Club

Do you love to read? Are you looking for an opportunity to discuss what you’re reading with others? If so, come to the UU Book Club!

When:  2nd Tuesday of each month

Where:  Waterworks Park (while we can’t be in the building) in the shade near the amphitheater – 6:00 p.m.

Our Books:  Selected by group members from Des Moines, Urbandale and WDM Public Library Book Group Sets.

For more information, contact Jean Tauber or Theresa Miller at


Unity Circle-Alliance (often referred to as “Unity Circle”) began as a women’s service group at First Unitarian in 1879. The group has a very proud heritage of contributions over the years to our church, our city, our state, and our national American Culture. From the Women’s suffrage movement, to social issues in early Des Moines, through post-World War II support for war refugees via the national Unitarian Service Committee and into the current group’s speakers of the month, the organization has worked to improve church life and the lives of others.

Today the group is a merger of two women’s groups, Unity Circle and Evening Alliance, and now admits men into its membership.

Meetings: Third Thursday of most months, with a potluck at noon and a program at 1 pm. Our speakers are always related to something of current interest.

Yearly dues are $10 per person, though anyone is welcome to come and enjoy the lunch and the speaker. (Our informal motto is: We eat well, talk much, sit long, and laugh lots!)

Click here for more information on Unity Circle program topics. Updates will be noted in the Intercom. Contact: Theresa Miller, President and Nancee McDowell, Publicity Chair at

Women’s Meals Group

The UU Women’s Meal Group meets the second Tuesday of each month at 1:00 p.m. via Zoom  (  Feel free to eat ahead of time or while we chat. All UU women are welcome to join in the conversation. See the Calendar of Events or Intercom Weekly email for any updates. Contact: Barb Royal

Prior to the pandemic, this group of women loved to visit over a shared meal, usually at restaurants. We took turns hosting, which meant  picking a restaurant, getting a count of people planning to attend, and making a reservation. We look forward to being able to gather in person again.

Young Adult Group (Ages 21-35)

We are a group of 20-30-somethings who are brought together by our shared Unitarian Universalist values. Throughout the year we meet up at social gatherings in and outside of the church as well as share a small-group ministry. We aim at having two social meetups per month at varying locations and times. Please check the Intercom Weekly email for upcoming events, or check our Facebook page. We are welcoming to LGBTQIA+ people as well as people of any religious, ethnic or economic background. Contact: Kathryn Sutton