Rev. Jennifer Brooks

Awaken to Life

Service at 9:15 and 11:00 am Celebrant,  Every flower is beautiful and whole unto itself. Today is Easter in the Christian tradition The Easter story features a tomb with the stone rolled away. Less well-known is that the earliest versions of the gospel according to Mark ended the story with the discovery of the empty … Continued

Not a Lightbulb


Video (You Tube)

On this Sunday as we begin the month’s theme, Wholeness, let’s think about light bulbs. We know how they work: if one burns out, we remove it and insert a new one. Maybe one that’s brighter, or dimmer, or more climate-friendly. But it’s a simple act of replacement. People are not replaced so readily. To adjust to a new person in a familiar role—whether it’s the new manager at work or a prospective new settled Senior Minister—it’s important to get to know the whole of that previously unknown human being. What are the bumps in the road ahead? How do we cope?

The Perfect Heart

Service at 9:15 and 11:00 am

Celebrant, Birch Spick

On this Sunday, the last day in our exploration of the theme Journey, David Witke shares his “Religious Journey” during Our Life Together; the Search Committee reveals the conclusion of their journey in the search for a candidate to be our next settled Senior Minister; and children who participated in the Kids Celebrate! class help tell the Paulo Coelho story, “The Perfect Heart”—about a village that learns what special trait the “perfect” leader really needs. Through story and song, we explore the ways our journey together is one of love and trust. This is a service for all ages.

Service for All Ages/ Child Dedication; Note: this is the service from the Sunday we were closed due to snow.

Special Music: Small choral group to sing When Jelly Beans are Criminal

Justice Journey

Service at 9:15 and 11:00 am

Celebrant, Katie Allen

Who are our prophets today? Can we learn to hear marginalized voices as prophetic voices and follow their lead? Yolo Akili says that “for us as a world to end economic inequality, we have to do both the inner work in our hearts, and the outer work in our societies.” This service invites us to embark on a justice journey, internal and external, that isn’t merely “in support of the margins” but is “because of the margins.”

Special Music: Bell Ave. Ringers

It’s All About the Journey

Service at 9:15 and 11:00 am

The youth of First Unitarian share their perspectives on the journey through high school and into the rest of their lives. In this service, they anticipate all that life has to offer and the myriad of ways their futures might unfold.

“Welcoming” written and performed by Madeline Echternacht

Passport to Our Future

Service at 9:15 and 11:00 am

Stewardship Celebration Sunday

Today we celebrate 142 years of the First Unitarian Church of Des Moines and the bright future ahead. At this moment, First Unitarian is poised between our proud history and the heritage we are now creating for future generations. In this month when our theme is Journey, we hold the passport in our hands.

UU Singers – Bridge Builder by E. Daly and In Meeting We Are Blessed , Music by Troy Robertson, Words by R. Gatsnahos and Donne

The People Build a Home

Service at 9:15 and 11:00 am

In 1877, a few big-hearted, open-minded people created the First Unitarian Church of Des Moines. That act of trust and faith is what led us to this moment. We are the spiritual descendants of those pioneers who, 142 years ago, imagined a future for their hope. We are their future. What is ours? UU minister Eileen B. Karpeles wrote: “Out of wood and stone, out of dreams and sacrifice, the People build a home. Out of the work of their hands and hearts and minds the People fashion a symbol and a reality.” What symbol, what reality, are we building?

The Trust that Love Built

Service at 9:15 and 11:00 am

Celebrant: Ben Spick

On this Sunday soon after Valentine’s Day, we celebrate the power of love to build trust. Through story and song, we explore the ways that love can build trust. This is a service for all ages.

Trust the Web


Click Here for Video (You Tube)

Service at 9:15 and 11:00 am

How do we live? Are we, as our UU principles suggest, part of the “interconnected web of existence”? Or do we sometimes act as if we are separate and isolated, as if we have no impact on the web and it does not touch us? In this era of division and narcissism, perhaps we need a touchstone to guide us toward a life of in harmony with all creation. Trust is that touchstone. This is the sermon topic recommended by the winners of the 2018 Food Fair “Sermon Topic” lunch.

Remember the Dark: A Solstice Cantata


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Celebrant: Ben Spick

In “Remember the Dark,” UU musician David Glasgow has written an evocative cantata, part choral performance, part one-act musical, that honors the dark of winter and the opportunity for rest and restoration. Thee UU Singers, under the direction of Karen Kraemer, will share the music and insights of Glasgow’s work during the Sunday service.

A Stone of Hope


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Celebrants: Susan Gross (with support from Martha Shen)

In 1963, Martin Luther King delivered his remarkable “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington. Dr. King asserted his faith that our nation could “hew out of a mountain of despair a stone of hope.” In this month when our congregational theme is “Possibility,” and our national political life sometimes feels like a mountain of despair, Dr. King’s words challenge and inspire us to find that stone of hope.

Will the Real Jesus Please Rise?


Watch the Video (You Tube)

On the verge of Christmas Eve, as Christians around the world celebrate a birth that happened more than 2,000 years ago, we Unitarian Universalists seek to discern the true meaning of that birth. As people of diverse theologies, we respect and celebrate a diversity of religious traditions. And we may rightly ask: “What is there in the life of Jesus of Nazareth that invites respect? Who was this Jesus, really?” Two millennia of history aside, what is there about Jesus to celebrate? Answering this question means looking past the assumptions and conventions of the season to discover the real Jesus. This service is suitable for people age 6 and older and is designed to welcome all our diverse theologies.

A Unitarian Christmas


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Anyone who follows the UU Advent Calendar this season may already discovered, with surprise and delight, the unique contributions of Unitarians and Universalists to the celebration of Christmas. As UUs, we make an effort to respect and honor all the world’s religious traditions, not merely the traditions we celebrate as individuals. During the 19th century, our Unitarian and Universalist forebears brought a non-conventional perspective to the celebration of Christmas. This morning the UU Singers and Choir Director Karen Kraemer usher us through “A Unitarian Christmas,” with beautiful music, meaningful readings, and a delightful patina of history.


Special Music, UU Singers & Bell Ave Ringers

Star of Wonder

Watch the YouTube video here


On this day before the beginning of Hannukah in the Jewish tradition (Dec. 3-10), and the first Sunday of Advent in the Christian tradition, we pause to contemplate the nature of miracles. Whether it’s the birth of a baby, the Fibonacci numbers that predict the spiral shape of our galaxy, or the ever-renewable light made possible through solar technology, there are miracles (and mysteries) aplenty. Join in the spirit of free inquiry, curiosity, and wonder as Rev. Jennifer Brooks shines a little light on the mysteries and miracles of the season.

Stone Soup

Watch the You Tube video here

The old story of Stone Soup tells of two weary travelers who arrive in a small village and unexpectedly bring a community together under the guise of making a delicious soup from stones.To make this story come to life, we’re encouraging everyone who can to bring pre-cut veggies to add to the pot (from which volunteers will make a veggie soup for delivery to home-bound members), as well as non-perishable food to support our children with their food drive to benefit families in need in the Des Moines community. This participatory service will engage young and old alike in this important tale and also offer food to the hungry.

Special music by the UU Singers – I See Colors by PinkZebra

We the People

9:15 & 11 am
Celebrant: Martha Sherick Shen

In this service, the first of the month when our theme is “Memory” and the Sunday before election day, we take time to remember the origins of our nation. There is a close connection between the development of our constitutional democracy and the engagement of Unitarians and Universalists in the public life after the American Revolution. The philosophy and principles underlying the US Constitution resonate with the later-developed UU principles, and it is no accident.

Special music by the Bell Ave. Ringers – Ash Grove

Wayfaring Strangers

9:15 & 11 am
Celebrant: Ben Spick

The sanctuary of our beloved community holds us in love as we learn and grow, seek and serve, and discover the wonder and mystery of life. The experience of community can give its members a sense of belonging. But not everyone has this experience. Everyone longs for community, for that sense of belonging, for sanctuary, yet have experienced rejection and isolation for who they are. In this Sunday following October 11 National Coming Out Day, we consider how to extend a genuine welcome, and sanctuary, to people marginalized in our society because of gender or sexual orientation. Rev. Jennifer and Ben Spick, who co-lead this service, will each offer a reflection.

Special music by Bell Ave Ringers

Listen for the Voices

Watch the Video (YouTube link)

In this month when our theme is “Sanctuary,” we’re invited to consider the many ways in which a Unitarian Universalist congregation can be a sanctuary. The obvious connection is that we might host someone who is literally in sanctuary, yet the possible meaning of sanctuary is much broader. By our attitudes, actions, and compassion, we can create sanctuary here for many people in need of it, including ourselves. It begins with listening to all the voices that long for us to hear them.

Special music by UU Singers

Heart of the Church

9:15 & 11 am
Celebrant: Kellie Patterson

What is the “heart” of First Unitarian Church? How do individual values and aspirations combine to form the heart of this beloved community? These are the questions members have been answering over the last year through Visioning Circles and at the September 22nd Visioning Workshop—as well as at the September 9th ingathering service. Rev. Jennifer, inspired by your answers, shares her perceptions of this congregation’s heart.

Special music by UU Singers