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.

Click here to register for the Virtual 4th Monday Journey Circle
Click here to register for the Virtual 3rd Tuesday Journey Circle
Click here to register for the Virtual 3rd Wednesday Journey Circle
Click here to register for the Virtual 3rd Thursday Journey Circle
Click here to register for the Virtual 2nd Saturday Journey Circle
Click here to register for the Virtual 3rd Sunday Journey Circle

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.

Writing to Awaken the Spirit

The spiritual writer Henri Nouwen said writing can untangle thoughts, express our emotions, and give artistic expression to life. Writing can be a way to connect with our spirits, get in touch with our hearts, process confusing or difficult emotions, reflect on our lives and give artistic expression to our lives. Writing can become a lifesaving practice. Join Rev. Kelly for these 3 sessions to take a moment to connect with yourself and others. Simple writing prompts will be given each week and for the time between sessions.

Join Rev. Kelly Crocker via Zoom on November 5, November 19, and December 3, from 6 pm – 7:15 pm.

Click here to register.

New UU Class

Our New UU Class is for those exploring membership with First Unitarian Society. This class explores Unitarian Universalism and what it means to become a member. Please click on the date below to register for that class.

Please check back for upcoming classes.

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

Trans-Inclusive Congregations Class

Join us for a course that “pushes participants to the next level of congregational welcome, relationship-building, and skills-building. It counters mainstream narratives about who trans people are; supports understanding of non-binary identities (such as genderqueer, agender, and two spirit); and employs a deeply intersectional approach.”

This class part of the Wartmann Lecture Series. This three-part class begins on October 25, 2020. Please visit www.fusmadison.org/wartmann to register. Contact Brittany at brittanyc@fusmadison.org with questions.

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.

Interest Groups

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

UU Campus Ministry

All area college-age students are invited to participate in our campus ministry offerings at FUS. Each academic year, we provide worship, discussion, and fellowship for interested 18-24 year olds. Find UUCM at the UW Student Org Fair at the beginning of each semester. Shared meals, study days, and other opportunities for engaging in the life of the congregation are available.

Visit their webpage at www.fusmadison.org/uucampus.

Contact Youth & Campus Ministry Coordinator, Sophia Granger at sophiag@fusmadison.org for more information or to get involved.


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

Currently suspended due to COVID-19

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.

Centering Prayer

Currently suspended due to COVID-19

The Centering Prayer group meets weekly on Tuesdays from 4:45–5:45 pm. One description of this twenty-minute meditation practice is “resting in love/God.” We often add a time to talk about our own meditation practice and share the ups and downs of a daily spiritual practice. Come and join us if you are looking for a way to begin, or for companionship in your own practice.

Contact Robert Block-Brown at rlindleybb@hotmail.com.

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.

Ann Schaffer leads a session on Thursdays from 5–5:30 pm, and can be contacted at schafferan00@gmail.com or 608-232-0004.

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.

Non-Fiction Book Group

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

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 lgolson51@gmail.com.

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.

Food Haulers

Currently suspended due to COVID-19

This amazing group cooks and serves food and fun during our parish meetings and special events. Offer a little or a lot.

For more information contact Trudy Karlson at trudy.karlson@gmail.com or 608-233-4526.

Friends of the Meeting House

Currently suspended due to COVID-19

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

Currently suspended due to COVID-19

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.

Contact Florence Jessup at florencej@fusmadison.org to learn more or to sign-up.

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.

Newsletter Assembly Team

Currently suspended due to COVID-19

On the last Monday of each month, volunteers gather at 9:15 am to collate, label, and prep over 900 newsletters for mailing. This is a great opportunity for fellowship and service.

Contact Monica O’Brien at monzarose08@gmail.com to learn more.


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.

All gathering opportunities have been suspended due to COVID-19.

2nd Saturday Potlucks

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.

Trees for Tomorrow

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.

Janet Swanson

Director of Membership & Adult Programs