Check individual group listing for current meeting status.
Compassion & Choices
PANDEMIC UPDATE: Meeting via Zoom
Compassion & Choices is a 501(c)(3) organization striving to expand options and empower individuals to chart their own end-of-life journey. C&C works nationwide in communities, state legislatures, Congress, courts and medical settings to educate and empower the public and to advocate for improved medical practice that puts patients and their values, treatment plans and quality of life first. We advocate for expanded options, including medical-aid-in-dying, and against efforts to restrict access to them. Check out Compassion & Choices Facebook page.
Our Central Iowa Action Team meets the first Thursday each month at 1:00 p.m. CT. Contact church members Steve and Karen Herwig at email@example.com for current meeting information.
PANDEMIC UPDATE: These groups are not currently meeting
Energy and Justice for All
Are you concerned about global warming? The Energy and Justice for All committee is concerned, and they are taking action to organize the church to do something about it. Energy and Justice for All committee members strive to encourage UUs and the broader public to take personal and political action in response to the crisis of climate change. They hope that together we will be able to envision and create a new, more just, greener local and global economy.
Contact: Roger Lemons
Green Sanctuary Designation
“Green Sanctuary” is a designation awarded by the Unitarian Universalist Association to recognize the congregations that have shown a strong commitment to our Seventh Principle: “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.” To earn this designation, congregations must complete at least 12 projects in four different areas: environmental justice, religious education, worship and celebration, and green living.
Members of the Energy and Justice for All Team initiated the process at First Unitarian Church in 2011. By the fall of 2014, members of several committees and dozens of additional volunteers completed 18 projects toward the accreditation. The UUA awarded the Green Sanctuary designation to First Unitarian Church of Des Moines in February 2015.
Learn more about the UUA’s Green Sanctuary.
Housing and Hunger
PANDEMIC UPDATE: During COVID-19, our building is not serving as a host site. Volunteer opportunities at the main location are still available.
Family Promise of Greater Des Moines (FPGD) assists families experiencing homelessness through a network of 14 area faith-based host congregations that provide clean, safe overnight shelter and nutritious meals for a period of one week every season. The host congregations provide each family with a private room for sleeping as well as dinner and food for breakfast and for packing a lunch. Each time our church hosts, about 100 volunteer job slots are filled to assist with meals, kitchen clean up, driving, and serving as evening and overnight hosts.
Contact: our volunteer coordinator, Elaine Imlau, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Online sign-up links are available about one month before each hosting week. Watch for announcements on our homepage and in the weekly Intercom.
FEDS (Feed Every Deserving Soul)
PANDEMIC UPDATE: During the pandemic, FEDS has been limited to the purchase, preparation and delivery of food to the homeless shelter. Our hope is to resume our full service there as soon as the safety of servers and shelter residents allows.
This social justice task force concerned with hunger and hunger issues (commonly identified as the FEDS: feed every deserving soul/stomach) attempts to identify, pursue and facilitate projects for church members interested in helping to alleviate hunger in central Iowa. Activities since the FEDS inception in 2008 have included preparing and serving dinner monthly at the Central Iowa Homeless Shelter, quarterly at Children and Family Urban Movement (CFUM), and collecting for the DMARC Food Pantry.
Contact our volunteer coordinator, Bruce Martin, at email@example.com.
First Unitarian Church has been deeply involved in immigration and sanctuary issues in Central Iowa. We’ve been called to this work by our personal values, by our shared congregational values, and by our denomination’s Seven UU principles.
Our congregation voted in 2017 to declare our building a Sanctuary Church for people facing the threat of immediate deportation. While the need for sanctuary space has decreased in the Des Moines area and we haven’t been asked to take someone in, the need for asylum seeker support has increased. Rising to the challenge, individual members of our church have served as sponsors for asylum seekers from Latin America hoping to make a new home in Des Moines.
Our congregation is also a founding member of the Des Moines Cluster of the Iowa Sanctuary Movement, formed under the umbrella of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). We are one of several area churches that have agreed to provide financial and other forms of assistance to immigrants in Central Iowa who are facing hardships because of immigration policies.
Our Immigration Justice Team addresses issues as they arise, including guaranteeing financial and other support to the asylum-seekers we sponsor. If you’d like to join our efforts, contact our Immigration Justice team leader, Morgan Dredge, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are just some of the ways members of our congregation have been involved in immigration justice:
- Hosted get-acquainted potluck dinners for our members with members of Latino and allied churches
- Held public screenings of immigration-oriented films for community education
- Organized speakers and panel discussions introducing our congregation to immigration issues
- Participated in city-wide marches, rallies, and public displays, and opened our building and grounds when needed to provide community support
- Provided financial and/or volunteer support to local organizations, including Al Exito, Central Iowa Immigration Support Fund, SURJ (Standing Up for Racial Justice), JFON (Justice for Our Neighbors), AFSC, Latino Heritage Festival, Iowa Sanctuary Movement, DACA renewal fund, and the Drake legal clinic for Immigration Law.
- Joined in letter-writing campaigns to elected officials regarding various immigration injustices
- Provided transportation and served as companions for sanctuary-seekers for court dates or administrative proceedings
Write Here, Write Now!
Each month members of First Unitarian Church partner with the Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice (UUSJ) and participate in this project. Write Here! Write Now! is a letter-writing campaign of the UUSJ Capitol Hill Advocacy Corps. The Corps members help make the UU voice heard on Capitol Hill by delivering letters from UU’s nationwide to members of Congress and their staff. Priority issues include defending our democracy, economic justice, environmental and climate justice, immigration justice and other pressing UU issues.
Since the first Advocacy Corps Day in February, 2017, Corps members have:
- Made over 1,827 visits to Capitol Hill offices
- Conducted more than 430 scheduled and drop-in meetings
- Delivered more than 9,868 Write Here! Write Now! UU constituent letters.
More than 550 of those letters came from members of First Unitarian Church!
Before the advent of COVID-19, letters were delivered in person. Until further notice, letters are being delivered via email.
For more information about Write Here! Write Now! contact Donna Jo Wallace at email@example.com.
Iowa UUWitness Advocacy Network (IUUWAN)
The Iowa Unitarian Universalist Witness Advocacy Network (IUUWAN) is Iowa’s state action network, working to build relationships and engage Unitarian Universalists across Iowa. We work to experience and integrate our affirmations of the” inherent worth and dignity of every person” and the “respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part,” two pillars of our Seven Principles. Representatives meet via Zoom at 6:00 p.m. on the third Sunday of each month.
Individual UUs can participate by paying a yearly $5 membership. We also request that congregations pay a yearly membership of $1 per member. Other donations and contributions are always appreciated.
PANDEMIC UPDATE – These groups are not currently meeting
Since 1992, First Unitarian Church has been a Welcoming Congregation, a volunteer program to take intentional steps to become more welcoming and inclusive of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. After nearly two years of work we were one of the earliest churches in the Unitarian Universalist Association to earn this designation.
Our congregation identifies Five Practices of Welcome which guide our work. Welcoming Congregations should implement each of these practices annually.
- Becoming a Welcoming Congregation, or working to renew your designation
- Holding Welcoming Worship Services that include honoring a milestone or rite of passage for an LGBTQ+ member of the congregation
- Participating in Welcoming Days of Observance, which commemorate and elevate landmark days and seasons in LGBTQ+ communities (Pride Season, Transgender Day of Visibility, World AIDS Day, etc.), through worship services, public events, or other gatherings organized by the congregation
- Supporting Welcoming Faith Formation programming that highlights LGBTQ+ issues and topics for all ages
- Engaging in a Welcoming Project by providing monetary support to a local LGBTQ+ organization
If you want to learn more about our work as a Welcoming Congregation, or want to talk about implementing a practice, please contact member Birch Spick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Transgender Action Group
The Transgender Action Group is working to increase awareness of transgender lives and issues within the church community, as well as provide a safe haven and resources for transgender people in need. Through education and speaking events, the group educates the congregation on what gender identity is, how it is separate from sexual orientation, and ways they can provide support and encouragement to the transgender people within our community.
For more information, contact member Franco Berardi at email@example.com.