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Drop-In Discussions

In-person drop-in discussions are held on the first Sunday morning of each month in the Chalice Room on the second floor of our church, starting at 9:15 am. during the regular church year (off during the summer months), and virtual drop-in discussions are held on Tuesday evenings via Zoom. Sometimes our discussions are based on certain books or articles, but you don’t have to read anything or do any advance preparation to participate. Just drop-in. People of all viewpoints are welcome to make presentations or join in the discussions.

Do you have a topic for us? Please contact

Drop-In Discussions are virtual!

We meet on Tuesday nights from 6:30-7:30pm.

We are also having in-person discussions on the first Sunday of each month in the Chalice Room at First Universalist. 

Zoom Link:

Meeting ID: 875 3528 4436
Passcode: 665971

February 2024

Tuesday, February 6: Universal Character of the Hebrew Bible

While many of us know the Hebrew Bible to contain legal commands, statutes, and judgments, its universal character and echoes of other religious ideas are lesser known. However a brief review of its legal codes, mythic narratives, and structure will reveal ideals that are found beyond the confessional walls of the synagogue. Our guest presenter is Daniel Chadwick, online professor of Religious Studies.

Tuesday, February 13: Rev. Lane-Mairead Series—Staying Soft

Brené Brown writes about having a strong back, soft front, and wild heart in order to live vulnerably and authentically. How do we maintain softness? How do we embrace softness as a gift?

Tuesday, February 20: Equity Issues: One Eye In & One Eye Out

Melissa Parrish will lead a discussion on issues of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, class, disability, intersectionality, and other forms of social location. In order to be a more equitable and inclusive community, we will be asked to reflect on and discuss our personal, societal, and institutional assumptions, practices, and beliefs regarding equity and social justice issues.

Tuesday, February 27: Open Topic—Possible Future Topics?!

John Lukes will lead an open-topic discussion, starting with a request for suggestions for possible future topics (and presenters), and then let’s see where we go from there!

March 2024

Tuesday, March 5: Religions versus Cults: What’s the Difference?

Driving east along the NY Thruway I see highway billboards proclaiming that a certain religious organization is a cult. I’ve heard political commentators talking about the personality cult surrounding Past President Donald Trump. What is a cult? What is religion? Can a religious organization be a cult? Are there ways to tell the difference? John Lukes will define terms and lead our discussion.

Tuesday, March 12: Controversial Bible Verses Part 1- Genesis: Creation, the Fall and the Flood

Rev. Michelle Yates will lead a discussion taken from a list of "21 Controversial Bible Verses.”  We will look at verses from Genesis, particularly from Creation to the Flood. Bring your questions and observations regarding the text and its context within history, culture, theology, and more.

Tuesday, March 19: The Agonizing Death of Newspapers

Daily newspapers were once avidly read in most American homes, but are now in sharp decline and heading toward extinction. The 9,000 newspapers once published in the USA are down to about 6,000, nearly 5,000 of which are now weekly-only. Since 2005, the publications that remain have reduced page-count and cut their reporter and editor staff by two-thirds, which is roughly 43,000 jobs lost. What happened? Do newspapers have any future? Do you care? Our guest presenters are two retired journalists and media educators, Mary Gottschalk and Paul Lukes.  

Tuesday, March 26: Open Topic -- Do we have any off-limit topics?!

John Lukes will lead an open-topic discussion, starting with an open question about whether we have any off-limit topics, or at least how best to handle and recover from any ‘crossing of boundaries’ that might occur — and then let’s see where we go from there!

In-person Drop-In Discussions:

Sunday, January 7 at 9:15am in the Chalice Room *In-Person* - Living in a Science Fictional World

We live in a world in which science fictional tropes - space colonization, artificial intelligence - are actual goals. Can yesterday’s science fiction become tomorrow’s reality?


Sunday, February 4 at 9:15am in the Chalice Room *In-Person* - "What This Country Needs Is…"

Suppose you were running for President and were certain to be elected. What would your platform be? Ignore the present candidates. What do you think the country actually needs?

Sunday, March 3 at 9:15am in the Chalice Room *In-Person* - What will the next 100 years bring?

In the last 100 years, the world has changed immeasurably. What do you think may happen in the *next* 100 years? What kind of changes do you foresee in the areas of cultural awareness, submission to climate change, genetics, technology, artificial intelligence (AI), communication, and more? Will we have Utopia or Dystopia?  Join David Damico as we discuss and share our thoughts and feelings.

Sunday, April 7 at 9:15am in the Chalice Room *In-Person* - The Forever Wars

We in the United States have come to accept perpetual war as normal. Hundred of thousands of people have died in these wars, including thousands of Americans. What purpose does the U.S. war policy serve? Is it sustainable? Can it be stopped?

Sunday, May 5 at 9:15am in the Chalice Room *In-Person* - Distributive Justice

According to one measure, the top 5 percent of the U.S. population owns 72 percent of the wealth, and the bottom 80 percent owns 7 percent. Is this fair? What should it be? How can undue concentrations of wealth be avoided?

Sunday, June 2 at 9:15am in the Chalice Room *In-Person* - What Makes You Happy?

Leo Tolstoy said happy families are all alike and unhappy families are unhappy in their own way.  Is this true?  Are there different kinds of happiness?  We’ll share what makes each of us happy and see what we come up with.  

Phil Ebersole is facilitator unless otherwise mentioned. Topics are subject to change. If you have a topic you would like discussed or, better still, would like to lead a discussion, speak to Phil Ebersole.

Have you read or written a book or article, attended or presented a workshop or talk, or have a topic that you would like to share with us? Is there a topic you would like to learn more about? Please contact Drop-In Discussion Committee:


If you have an outside speaker in mind that you think should be invited, have a topic you’d like discussed or, better still, would be willing to lead a discussion, please contact

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