Our Small Group Ministry offerings through Adult Religious Education invite you to engage in learning and sharing at FUS. Included are opportunities for deep listening, discussion, and the exchange of ideas. Through a variety of experiences, we want to ‘open the doors’ more widely to our community, our faith, and our mission. Learning together brings us the gifts of growth in self-knowledge and awareness, of support among a loving and intentional community, and of a new depth of connection to Unitarian Universalism.

Please note that during COVID-19, many of our offerings have been adapted for virtual gatherings. For drop-in groups, you can find Zoom links on our homepage each week. For groups such as Journey Circles and support groups, please contact Director of Membership & Adult Programs, Janet Swanson, at janets@fusmadison.org to learn more about getting involved.

Journey Circles

Journey Circles are comprised of small groups of 6–10 individuals that meet once a month and are facilitated by a trained volunteer. Reflection and discussion at each two-hour gathering will focus specifically on our congregational monthly theme, and our time will be structured to help us set aside daily distractions and make connections with one another.

Why would someone want to join a Journey Circle? In a large faith community such as ours, small groups are a pathway to deeper connection and fulfilling engagement. As we extend ourselves to one another, we find space in these small groups to deeply listen to others, to learn more about ourselves, and to create meaningful relationships where intentional community thrives.

Class Offerings

At First Unitarian Society we believe learning and spiritual exploration are life-long practices. Throughout the year we hold events and classes to provoke the mind, enrich the soul, and engage in community. If you are interested in teaching a class at First Unitarian Society, please email Janet Swanson.

Please see the offerings below. Registration links for upcoming courses will be provided below the description. If there is no link provided, we are not currently offering this course. Please check back frequently.

The Wisdom of the Golden Girls

A spiritual investigation of four iconic characters from American pop culture with FUS member Deb Lawrence and Rebecca Malke, Director of Faith Development at Memorial UCC. Contact janets@fusmadison.org for registration. All are welcome!

Women's Retreat

A Life of Enough with Rev. Kelly Crocker & Janet Swanson: The myths and mind-sets of scarcity are everywhere and are hard to release. We often assume more is better, there’s not enough, we don’t have our fair share, and there’s not much we can do about it. The messages in our culture encourage the chase for more. We are not enough as we are. We need (fill in the blank) to be (fill in the blank). What if we could transform this? What if we could look beyond the material? What if we could find prosperity in the deepening of our relationships to others and self/in finding joy in the every day and in the ordinary? What if we could be nourished into this fullness of prosperity? What if we felt our way into a prosperous and generous life? Join us for a time in community with other women as we gather to reflect, create, share ideas and practice nourishment of the spirit.

Friday evening, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm, and Saturday, 9 am – 2:30 pm (lunch provided), November 3 & 4, 2023.

$40 per person covers food and supplies. Contact Janet at janets@fusmadison.org for more information.

Childcare is available upon request. Please contact Janet at janets@fusmadison.org by Wednesday, Nov 1st if you will need it. 

Click here to register for the Women’s Retreat.

Chalice Groups

Chalice Groups, small groups of 8–10 individuals that meet regularly to practice a shared ministry of building community through intentionality.

For Chalice Group openings, or if you have an interest in beginning a new Chalice Group, please contact FUS member Nancy Seaman at nancy184@charter.net.

Affinity Groups

These interest groups foster community around age demographics. Learn more about these groups below.


We welcome and encourage young adults to join in the ongoing life of the congregation. In addition, there are events throughout the church year geared specifically to this age group. Starting with an open house in the fall, our young adults come together and brainstorm ideas and experiences for the upcoming program year. Young adult events are announced in the Red Floors.

Have an idea for an event? Want to get more involved? Contact Janet Swanson.

Elder Ministry

Several years ago, FUS established an outreach ministry at Oakwood Village West where many of our older members have settled. These members are some of our most enthusiastic lifelong learners and committed volunteers. Our ministers and Director of Membership and Adult Spiritual Programs facilitate a monthly program at Oakwood West. Members, as well as non-members, living at Oakwood or elsewhere in the Madison area are welcome to attend.

Our ministers and lay ministers are also available to address the pastoral care needs of elders in our community. You may call upon them at any time, particularly during times of hospitalization, transition to a rehabilitation or skilled nursing facility, or any time you are facing difficulties.

Please contact layministry@fusmadison.org for more information.

Spiritual Practice Groups

Spiritual Practice Groups are drop-in groups that meet regularly to practice and explore formal spiritual practices. Learn more about our current group offerings below.

Japanese Crane Meditation

Japanese Crane Meditation is a gentle standing set of movements performed with a quiet musical background. It is appropriate for a wide range of ages and abilities.

This group is currently full. We hope to open more opportunities in the future.

Insight Buddhist Meditation

“Insight” or Vipassana meditation originates in the Theravada tradition of Buddhism and uses techniques accessible to Western practitioners. Sunday evening meditation sessions are scheduled from 6–8 pm throughout the year. An introductory session is held on the second Sunday of each month. Periods of sitting meditation last 45 minutes; walking meditation, and discussion are also included during our evening sessions. More extended periods of practice are scheduled for occasional Saturday mornings throughout the year.

Contact Lori and Dave Creswell at 608-238-1234.

Support Groups

The following groups are open and available to all who might be interested in receiving support in a community setting.

Healing Journeys

The pain of losing a partner, parent, child, or other loved one can be profound. It often helps to talk and share with others in a warm, supportive, and confidential environment. Learning and hearing of others experiences and sharing your own has been shown to be restorative. This group meets throughout the year on the first Saturday of the month from 10–11:30 am.

For more information contact Rev. Kelly Crocker at kellyc@fusmadison.org.


Caring for someone with a terminal or chronic illness can be depleting. When a person gives most of their time and life-energy to the care of another’s well-being, their own sense of self can become diminished. Join us on the third Saturday of every month at 10 am as we provide companionship, comfort, and the opportunity to reframe our stories as experiences of learning and expansion.

For more information contact Karen Rose Gredler at rosekat777@yahoo.com.

Shawl Ministry

This program provides knitted, crocheted, or quilted items of comfort for those experiencing challenging life experiences such as illness, hospitalization, and loss. They also provide blankets for child dedications.

For more information contact Dorit Bergen at elanor3560@att.net or 608-238-1773, or Lorna Aaronson at lorna464@gmail.com or 608-255-0296.

Exploration Groups

Exploration Groups are small groups that meet around a shared interest and cover a wide variety of topics. Learn more about our current group offerings below.

Men's Group

This group meets to discuss important topics in their lives. They meet on the second and fourth Mondays of the month from 7:30–9 pm. Facilitator: Gordon Olson at olson99gl@gmail.com.

Non-Fiction Book Group

Meets second Friday of the month from 2–7 pm.

Spiritual Topics Book Group

Meets the fourth Tuesday of the month at 7 pm. Facilitator: Ken Gage at 608-230-5068

University Bay Ukuleles

Meets weekly on Tuesday evenings at 6:30 pm. Facilitator: Amy Noble at amywnoble@gmail.com.

Volunteer Teams

Our beloved building and grounds require many volunteers to help in variety of ways. We also rely on volunteers for everyday tasks to ensure we remain a vibrant community.

Worship Volunteers

If you’ve enjoyed a worship service at FUS, you’ve got our volunteers to thank! Greeters, ushers, and hospitality volunteers help ensure a seamless and comfortable worship space. Please click here to visit our Saturday volunteer page, or click here to visit our Sunday volunteer page.

Music Volunteers

  • Choir Members: each singer in our choir is a volunteer, and you are invited to join us! Email drewc@fusmadison.org for adult choirs and thorpeh2@gmail.com for children’s and youth choirs.
  • Music Librarians: typically (but not necessarily!) members of one of the adult choirs. Email drewc@fusmadison.org to inquire.
  • Musicians: our String Band, Chime Choir, and Solstice Harp Ensemble are made up of volunteer musicians. Email lindaw@fusmadison.org to get involved.
  • Soloists and Instrumentalists: We often feature solo singers and instrumentalists to augment the worship experience. Email drewc@fusmadison.org if you’re interested.
  • Event Assistants: The Friday Noon Musicale, FUS’s distinguished recital series, needs volunteers to assist the music director in putting on the weekly event. Email drewc@fusmadison.org.

Friends of the Meeting House

Established in the 1970s, the Friends of the Meeting House is an organization affiliated with FUS. Every year, this organization hosts thousands of visitors through a guided tour of our Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Landmark Meeting House. The Friends provide education on the architectural significance of our building and help raise funds for its preservation. If you would like to meet interesting people from around the world and share our story, consider becoming a guide. Training is provided.

Contact Rose Detmer at rdetmer@charter.net.

Learn more about the Friends at www.unitarianmeetinghouse.org.

Front Desk Volunteers

Wonder about what goes on at FUS during the week? Our front desk volunteers greet visitors, answer phones, and assist staff with light tasks. Build a schedule that fits your lifestyle. Typical shifts are 9 am to 12:30 pm or 12:30 pm to 4 pm, Monday through Friday. Training is offered.

Guardians of the Grounds

Join the crew on Thursday mornings from 9 to 11 am. Volunteers weed, prune, plant, rake and mulch the FUS grounds during the spring through fall months. Special clean-up projects will be announced through the Red Floors.

To confirm dates and projects, contact Chuck Evenson at cgevenson@yahoo.com or call 608-833-5991.


Nurturing relationships and connecting more deeply often happens during our planned social gatherings. Our gatherings range from monthly potlucks to retreats to fundraising events. At FUS, building community also happens while sharing a meal.

Trees for Tomorrow

For over thirty years, FUS members have enjoyed a special weekend of cross-country skiing, sledding, and skating. The accommodations are rustic, and the fellowship is fabulous. Open to individuals and families, the retreat is typically held in February at Trees for Tomorrow in Eagle River, WI. Registration information will be available in the Red Floors.

For questions, contact Mary Savage at marypsavage@att.net or 608-233-6129.

Learn more about the retreat center at www.treesfortomorrow.com.

2nd Saturday Potlucks

During our Saturday worship season, we hold a potluck most months after worship. Please provide a generous dish, crock pot, basket, or plate of your favorite recipe to share with others. You can bring your dish to the Commons kitchen before the Saturday service or before the 6 pm dinner bell. When you arrive, you will be asked to label your dish (please include allergens). All are invited to attend.

For questions, contact Janet Swanson at janets@fusmadison.org.

Janet Swanson

Director of Membership & Adult Programs