A liberal religious haven that cherishes the exploring mind and welcomes all souls.
6220 Jefferson Ave, Midland, MI 48640-2934
Jen Ciolino brings her considerable training and experience with improvisation to examine ways that improve can help you let go of fears and make the most of life’s opportunities.
Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion that celebrates diversity of belief, the value of personal religious experience, and the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
As Unitarian Universalists, we keep our minds open regarding the religious questions with which people have always struggled. We believe that personal experience, conscience, and reason should be the final authorities in religion. In the end religious authority lies not in a book, person, or institution, but in ourselves. Ours is a free faith, so we will not ask anyone to subscribe to a creed.
We believe that human understanding of life and death, the world, and its mysteries is never final. We celebrate unfolding truths known to teachers, prophets, and sages throughout the ages. We affirm the worth of all women and men and believe people should be encouraged to think for themselves. We know people differ in their opinions and lifestyles, and that these differences should be honored.
We seek to act as a moral force in the world, believing that ethical living is the supreme witness of religion. The ‘here and now’ and the effects our actions will have on future generations deeply concern us. We know that our relationships with one another, with diverse peoples, races, and nations should be governed by justice, equity, and compassion.
There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist's affirm and promote:
Greetings! Let me extend to you the warmest welcome of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Midland, serving Midland, Bay City, Saginaw, and surrounding Tri-City region. Midland is known as ‘The City of Modern Explorers,’ and we proudly represent the progressive religious spectrum exploring the farthest reaches of spirituality, community building, and justice seeking.
I was called in May 2011 and began serving as settled Minister of this Fellowship in August 2011. My call to the ministry developed over many years of lay leadership, serving as a youth advisor, writing religious education curricula, and teaching Sunday school classes at all age levels. I graduated with a Master of Divinity from the Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago in 2010 after a long career in higher education administration at the University of Pittsburgh. I completed my ministerial internship at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock in Manhasset NY after serving as part-time Student Minister at the First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh for two years.
Theologically, I hold the ideas of great teachers and religious movements in high regard, including the Beatitudes of Jesus, the Analects of Kung Fu Tse, the Five Pillars of Islam, and the Eight-Fold Path of Buddhism. I am mystical humanist and religious atheist, and see Unitarian Universalism as the one religion that treasures the search for truth, defends the tools for searching, and holds dear the seeker and the universe that is our laboratory.
I am also the author of the blog, uujeff’s muse kennel and pizzatorium, an interactive journal of reflection on the Unitarian Universalist ministry, life…and pizza. Please feel free to visit and share your thoughts.
If you would like to contact me directly, feel free to email me at email@example.com.Watch one of Jeff's Sermons
We are a multigenerational, liberal religious community in the Tri-City region. We offer a beacon to the religious seeker, supporting and nurturing the individual and collective pursuit of spiritual fulfillment.
To achieve this mission, we:
The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Midland is a unique religious community – one that makes a difference in Midland and beyond. Our Core Values define us, guide us and ensure that everything we do is aligned with our vision.
WE LOVE: "I came looking for friendship and found a loving community."
WE INSPIRE: "I came questioning and I found an unfolding path of spiritual growth and deeper meaning."
WE TRANSFORM: "I came searching for religious education for my children and found a place where they are nurtured, encouraged to question, learn and act upon their beliefs – and so was I."
WE KINDLE HOPE: "I wanted to make a difference and discovered ways to change the world by engaging with love."
Unitarian Universalist congregations are places where we gather to nurture our spirits, celebrate the passage of major life events, and build spiritual communities of support and friendship.
We offer worship services every Sunday morning that are diverse in focus and often form. Our minister speaks three Sundays each month. Other Sundays may feature inspirational and spiritual services by visiting ministers, guest speakers, members, and friends. Sermons are a central element in Unitarian Universalist worship and may address mystical, political, ethical, or historical topics. Often a minister’s personal testimony will help members of the congregation reflect honestly on their own lives.
Occasionally a sacramental expression - the Flower Communion in June, a child’s dedication, or the invitation to share personal statements - enhance our services. These special ceremonies serve to bind us to traditions, to the generations, and to holy ideals.
We believe in the value of an intergenerational society and invite our young people of all ages to participate in at least a portion of every Sunday morning service. Child care is provided for infants. Members and guests gather together for coffee, continued discussion, and fellowship following the program. Our choir, sings for at least two Sundays each month.
Covenant Groups nurture individuals and strengthen connections of our members. When someone comes to a new place, it can be hard to find friends and establish connections in the larger congregation. Covenant Groups are smaller, more personal gatherings of members and friends of our Fellowship. This supportive atmosphere of helps us provide the warmth of friendship in a diverse community committed to our Unitarian Universalist principles and encouraged by our religious heritage. We engage actively in each other’s lives by celebrating life’s triumphs and supporting each other in times of challenge or need.
The questions and topics discussed at each Covenant Group meeting also provide inclusive social, spiritual, and intellectual activities for all ages, stimulating the heart and mind with uplifting experiences, challenging issues, and exciting ideas. We explore many diverse topics at our meetings such as friendship, success, forgiveness, failure, what we believe and where we are headed. Group members often choose the topics themselves. Also, each Covenant Group completes an annual service project. This demonstrates our Unitarian Universalist principles and provides a voice allowing others to learn about them, while serving the needs of the larger community.
The Ancient Shores Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans meets the third Sunday of each month at 12:15 p.m. at the Fellowship for discussion of various topics related to Earth-Centered Spirituality. Our mission is to provide opportunities for the exploration and development of Earth-Based and Pagan spirituality. We honor the gifts brought by all who participate of every age and background, placing no one path before any other.
If you are seeking a place to join together in wedding or union, to celebrate a birth, or remember the passing of a loved one, welcome!
Whatever your situation, walk of life, religion, sexual orientation, or gender, we are honored to walk beside you in this meaningful journey and hope to assist you with this observance of life and love. People are often drawn to Unitarian Universalist congregations for rites of passage for a number of reasons. Perhaps you are not actively religious, but seek a more meaningful ceremony than a civil one. You may be searching for a service than recognizes and respects different religious traditions. You need not be a member of the Fellowship to request these services, although you may want to attend a service or otherwise familiarize yourself with our history and traditions.
Our minister, Rev. Jeff Liebmann, will meet with you to design a ceremony unique to your wishes. He can share with you a wide range of options for your ceremony. Our Fellowship also welcomes leaders from other faiths to attend and assist with the ceremony. Rev. Liebmann can also answer your questions about building use fees and rules, as well as and the fees for his services either at the Fellowship or at a site of your choice.
The great end in religious instruction, whether in the Sunday-school or family, is, not to stamp our minds irresistibly on the young, but to stir up their own; not to make them see with our eyes, but to look inquiringly and steadily with their own.
William Ellery Channing
For our children and youth’s religious education program, we envision a welcoming, safe, and exciting environment in which young people develop a rooted Unitarian Universalist identity and sense of community along with a personally meaningful, vibrant spirituality.
Our mission is to engage children and youth in fun and meaningful activities that help them develop a positive religious identity, an ethical approach to life, a personal spirituality, skills to live in a world of religious diversity, and a sense of interconnectedness with all people and the entire universe.
Our children learn:
Students in 7th-12th grades have opportunities to meet outside of Sunday morning for the purposes of building spiritual community, leadership development, outreach to the region, and involvement in the Heartland District of the Unitarian Universalist Association, including attending weekend youth conferences in the four-state area of the District (Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio). The Youth Group meets regularly with our minister, Rev. Jeff Liebmann, who has many years of experience in ministry with youth and is credentialed in Youth Spirituality through the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Office of Youth and Young Adults.
The Coming of Age program for seventh and eighth graders is a rite of passage that recognizes the transition out of childhood. We recognize that, while our youth are not yet adults, they have reached the stage of development where they are thinking and reasoning for themselves, and our part is to facilitate the continuing formation of their religious identity within a Unitarian Universalist framework. The program has four major areas of emphasis: Mentored Learning, Community Service, UU Identity, and Writing an Affirmation Statement. Highlights of the year are a field trip at the end of the school year (for which the group fundraises throughout the program), the Coming of Age Sunday service, and the ceremonial dinner the night before.
The Our Whole Lives curricula alternate years with Coming of Age and are based on a philosophy of comprehensive sexuality education designed to help youth make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual behavior. It equips them with accurate, age-appropriate information in six subject areas: human development, relationships, personal skills, sexual behavior, sexual health, and society and culture. Grounded in a holistic view of sexuality, the program helps youth clarify their values, build skills, and understand the physical, spiritual, emotional, social, and political aspects of sexuality. It promotes sexual and emotional health in our communities and fosters meaningful dialogue among peers, partners, families, and friends. The curricula’s approach speaks to the needs of today’s youth and helps prepare them for a meaningful tomorrow. The program is taught by specially trained facilitators. Parent orientation is included.
We offer a wide range of adult enrichment opportunities during the week, from one-time information discussions, to multi-session classes on subjects of theology, ethics, and social justice, as well as basic introductions to Unitarian Universalism.
Sunday Forum meets some Sunday mornings from 9:15 to 10:15 a.m. This is a discussion group open to anyone on a drop-in basis. No sign-up is required. Topics range from social issues and advocacy efforts to self-help and health. The Sunday Forum may feature a local expert or work as an open discussion facilitated by a member interested in the particular subject.
The New UU Program offers a three-session introduction to Unitarian Universalism and to our Fellowship. The program is designed for new members, for those who may be thinking about becoming members, or those who are just interested in learning more about us. Often, becoming part of a church community is a slow, random affair, fraught with moments of loneliness and uncertainty. This program is designed to capitalize on the energy and excitement new members bring to our congregations and to reduce the moment of awkwardness new members may feel as they begin to become actively involved in church life.
Adult Enrichment may include traditional Unitarian Universalist curricula, such as Our Chosen Faith, or Building Your Own Theology. Classes may also include instruction on everything from Tai Chi to ethical eating.
Unitarian Universalists work within congregations to live their principles of support, acceptance, and social responsibility. Unitarian Universalists also reach out to the larger community and the world to promote human rights and social justice.
The Pastoral Care Team organizes practical help for members and friends who are in crisis. Team members are a presence for these needing emotional support. They share in moments of joy, celebration, and sorrow, and assist people in finding community resources. Pastoral Care members make visits to homes and hospitals, communicate joys and sorrows through the Fellowship newsletter, and provide confidential, nonjudgmental, empathetic listening and support.
The Social Justice Ministry Team provides a congregational forum for the address of social justice issues. The team identifies social justice issues, providing information on issues and initiating action within our congregation and the greater community.
On May 20, 2001, after a year of study and discussion, our Fellowship passed a resolution to become a Welcoming Congregation, joining a nationwide Unitarian Universalist Association program to end discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. This means that we affirm and include people of all sexual orientations in our Fellowship. This affirmation of bisexual, gay, lesbian and transgender experience flows naturally from the Unitarian Universalist belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person.
In October 2004, the Fellowship acquired Green Sanctuary status, demonstrating our dedication to living out the our Seventh Principle of “affirming and promoting respect for the interdependent web of all existence” through the celebration and protection of the environment. The Green Sanctuary Program provides a framework for congregational study and reflection, with the goals of:
The Fellowship actively participates in the work of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), which advances human rights and social justice around the world, partnering with those who confront unjust power structures and mobilizing to challenge oppressive policies. The UUSC envisions a world free from oppression and injustice, where all can realize their full human rights.
Standing on the Side of Love is a public advocacy campaign that seeks to harness love’s power to stop oppression. It is sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Association and actively supported by the Fellowship. The Standing on the Side of Love campaign elevates compassionate religious voices to influence public attitudes and public policy. Through community activism, social networking, and media outreach, people across the nation are equipped to counter fear and make love real in the world.
As a member congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Association, we regularly engage in discussing Study Action Issues and creating Statements of Conscience, coordinated through the Commission on Social Witness. Recent statements have addressed peacemaking, ethical eating, and immigration as a moral issue.
These are some frequently asked questions from people new to the Fellowship.
What makes Unitarian Universalists different?
Our openness. We don't claim to have answers to life's mysteries. Instead, our challenge is to discover life's meaning for ourselves. But none of us is alone in this task. We help each other in many ways, including sharing our discoveries and our questions. And we have fun at the same time!
What do those who attend like about the Fellowship?
Our members value our community and the free sharing of ideas and feelings. This is a place of comfort for people whose spirituality doesn't always fit within the confines of traditional religion, or within any religion. We are gentle with each other, and respect each others' ways.
What is the religious background of your attendees?
Our Fellowship is a haven for people of many religious backgrounds and beliefs. Some of our members were raised in another faith, but found they couldn't accept the beliefs they were expected to adopt. Other members are not religious in the conventional sense; some do not believe in conventional notions of god. However, we are all interested in meaning, in morality, in the larger questions of life. Here, we can talk about deep issues without fear of censure.
What can I expect to experience in a typical service?
We sing, share readings, meditate, and pray. Our sermons cover a wide range of topics and styles. On a given Sunday morning, you may hear about history or the environment, Buddhism or humanist philosophy, the Bible, or a recent news event. Sermons will inform and inspire, evoke emotion, and comfort you from the challenges of everyday struggles.
Is everyone really welcome?
Absolutely. One of our central beliefs is respect for everyone. Whether black or white, gay or straight, Christian or atheist...it doesn't matter. The only people who find it difficult to fit in are those who are certain that their way is the only right way, and demand that others follow suit.
When are services?
From 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Sunday. We have coffee and light refreshments afterward, so plan on staying a little later to get to know us.
Where are services?
Is there a dress code?
Dress is casual. Jeans and a casual shirt are fine. Some people dress more formally, so you can too, if you like.
Can I bring my children?
Of course! We would love to meet them!
Will there be a "hard sell?"
Not at all. Our way of thinking is about free choice. The right of personal conscience is one of our basic principles.
Should I put money in the collection basket?
That's up to you. You can add a few dollars if you want, or nothing at all. First-time visitors are encouraged to be our guest.