An Urban Center in Detroit for Spiritual Renewal and Social Justice

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Vespers at First Church

Every month on the fourth Wednesday, resident poetry maven Al Acker reads a selection of seasonally and spiritually appropriate poetry, with music to match. (Occasionally there is a special guest speaker.) From 6:00 - 7:00 pm -- enter via the Cass Avenue entrance.

March 22 Vespers will welcome back a favorite: Ruby Jones will bring words and instruments and share Goddess Chants and Circle songs. She calls it Vernal Equinox Sing-a-long. Please come March 22nd at 6pm in the church parlor.


Given the current political climate and the proximity to Valentines Day, February Vespers featured poetry about all kinds of love except the Hallmark variety and some lovely music.

Vespers in November featured T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats and music from the musical inspired by it, "Cats."

October vespers highlighted the poetry of early African-American poet Paul Dunbar along with selections from other poets, a taste of Halloween and recorded music.

September vespers featured famous and not so famous Unitarian-Universalist poets and poetry.

For the August 24 vespers, various people shared favorite poems, including one original work.

For our vespers on July 27, we had four talented young poets from InsideOut join us, just a week after they have participated in "Brave New Voices" a national competition in Washington, D.C. for school-age poets. Check out their website insideoutdetroit.org.

For our June vespers, the spotlight was on the Summer Solstice.

May 25 vespers featured the poetry of recently deceased poet and antiwar activist priest Daniel Berrigan among others, interspersed with musical selections.

April was National Poetry month so vespers featured some old favorites, Mary Oliver and Billy Collins, along with several other less famous poets, interspersed with musical selections.

The March 23 vespers was entitled My Voice is My Instrument. Anita Jones shared original songs and poems along with the story of her alter ego, Ruby Woods. She sang a capella and brought along her bag of percussion instruments.

The February 24 vespers was cancelled due to snow.

January 27: Inspired by her wonderful church service last year, the first vespers of the new year featured the poetic lyrics and music of songwriter extraordinaire Lee Thume.

In November 2015, we revisited a vespers favorite, poet Mary Oliver.

The October 28 vespers featured the works of Donald Hall and his late wife, Jane Kenyon, interspersed with musical selections.

The September 30 vespers featured short poems by a wide variety of female and male poets, young and old. Autumn and moon poems were prominent as we reflected on the recent blood moon. Danny Rebb read a poem composed by our Universalist minister, Reverend Willis Moore, from the building's perspective at its dedication in April 1916. Cheryl Greene also contributed some powerful emotional readings.

The August 26 vespers featured the poem "Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot and an essay about the poem, along with Beatles music, and Ruth Seifert's selection from Garrison Keillor's book.

The July 29 vespers featured a couple of favorites: Mary Oliver and Billy Collins, plus a delightful essay from the July 5th New York Times.

The June 24 vespers featured a wide variety of poets, beginning with a poem Maryli Secrest wrote for Alena Acker's wedding. Also several authors' take on aging. Music was from a great new CD called "The Longest River" featuring singer/guitarist Olivia Cheney.

The May 27th vespers service featured a wide variety of poets, including Detroit-born Marge Piercy, Randall Jarrett and others, along with some relaxing guitar and mandolin music. Sally Borden read her selection from Garrison Keillor's book.

The April 22nd vespers featured poems about goddesses. The musical interludes were by Norah Jones.

The March 25 vespers featured various poets' views of God and some poems by Philip Levine, the Detroit-born poet laureate who died in February. Also music from Paul Simon.

The February 11 vespers was presented by Nancy Owen Nelson, who read a variety of poems of her own (and at least one by her mother) about love in its many manifestations. Outline of Presentation

The January 14, 2015 vespers service featured a wide variety of LGBTQ poets and poetry. Interspersed with the poetry was music from lesbian singer k.d. lang. Transcript of January 14, 2015 poetry program.

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