Welcome to The Alliance!

We are enjoying a great Alliance year of programs, using  our new Stipe Production Center in Eliot Chapel. Join us for our January meeting.

Our Leadership Team members (see below) is hard at work on this year’s Greens Sale. We are continually amazed and gratified to see the number of highly able members who volunteer in leadership and service roles for all of our programs. Thanks to all who help us live out our Mission, Vision and Core Values.

Our next program is on Wednesday, January 10th, 11:00 AM sharp! Don’t forget your reservation! We’ll begin using the extraordinary production facility that we now have to support our programs.  Thanks, of course, to Paul Stipe for his memorial gift honoring the long leadership role of his mother, Pat. And extra-special thanks to Jason Chapman, First Church Facilities Director, and his crew of miracle workers, for executing the construction/renovation project in time for the dedication celebration.

Our traditions are rooted in the service work of women in the early church and continues today with involvement in memorials and fund raising for important projects at First Unitarian. We find and fund the unmet needs. We lead by living our values forward.

If you’re not acquainted with The Alliance, you’re  invited to come to our next meeting or call our Membership Chair Petie Padden, 503-235-0892; petiepad@icloud.com.We are open to all who wish to carry our work forward. What a great time for you to be involved! Join our commitment to service now.



       Jan Wolf and Veronica Williams




The Alliance traces its roots to the historic “Ladies Sewing Circle” which was instrumental in the founding of First Unitarian Church in the 1860s. The group has evolved to include men and strives to be representative in age, gender, race, and ethnicity of the larger church congregation. The Alliance meets the first Wednesday of the month, Sept.–May, 11:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m. in the Buchan Reception Hall. Luncheons are sometimes catered and sometimes brown bag.  We support our activities through an annual membership fee of $20. We serve the church community by promoting friendships and working toward common goals. We raise additional funds each year, primarily through our annual Greens Sale in December. These funds are awarded as monetary grants to support church and community, programs which primarily benefit women, children and the homeless. Alliance programs educate and entertain and are open to all.

Alliance News

See our Fellowship newsletter on its own page under Affinity Groups:

Alliance Calendar  2017 – 2018

We meet for luncheon and an interesting program each month September thru May on the first Wednesday in our Buchan Room. Lunch starts at 11:00 am and the program at 12:30 pm.

Make reservations by Friday of the week preceding the meeting by emailing AllianceRSVP@Firstunitarianportland.org  or by calling Elsa Porter, 503-796-6890.

Leaders Working on New Activities

Our elected/appointed Leadership Team is at work on our program year. .  The Leadership Team consists of:

Jan Wolf, 503-319-2107, Jperrywolf@gmail.com, Co-President

Veronica  Williams, 503-320-2897, vlw14@comcast.net, Co-President
Ken Wheeler, 360-314-2480, oregonuuu@gmail.com, Treasurer
Albert Starr, 503-227-0406. starra1@hotmail.com, Secretary
Eric Terrell, 971-409-0540, ericterr1@comcast.net, Co-VP Programs
Suzanne Kosanke, 503-922-3478, kosanke@hawaii.edu, Co-VP Programs
Sharon Dawson, 503-327-4152, sharondawson14@gmail.com, Co-Luncheon Chair
Evie Zaic,503-635-3226-, eviezaic@comcast.net, Co-Luncheon Chair
Petie Padden, 503-235-0892, petiepad@icloud.com, Membership Chair

Mabsie Walters, 503-291-1085, mabsie@comcast.net, Allocations Chair
Barbara Morrison,  503-256-6767, bgmorrison43@gmail.com, Past-President


Leadership Team meets the second Thursday of each month at 1:00 pm during the church year in the Channing Room. All are welcome.


Finding and Funding Unmet Needs

For a century and a half, the leadership spirit of The Alliance has identified needs and then addressed them. Frequently, this has entailed raising funds through women’s work and then gifting money or goods to the Church to enhance the spiritual lives of the church membership. It started with $30 sent to San Francisco to purchase the silver communion service still in use at First Unitarian. It has continued for generations as noted in the Historic Leadership page.

Looking at the restated Vision of The Alliance produced in 2013, it is easy to see that we  view ourselves as those who find needs and take initiative to address them. Often, this is in line with Church priorities, as in the case of our lead gift to our annual Auction.  If you are aware of an aspect of the First Unitarian Church experience that needs improvement, please explain that need to any member of the Leadership Team.

In order to exercise this initiative effectively, we have made changes to our gift allocation process. Our Allocations Committee now oversees the donation of all funds contributed both to First Unitarian Church and to organizations that operate in our wider community. Guidelines and procedures have been revised to achieve a significant impact on any agency receiving Alliance support.



Donations are made by The Alliance each year with funds raised through the Annual Greens Sale, using criteria established by the board in 2008. Copy the form below and submit to The Alliance to have your input.

  • The Alliance receives a written request from the organization
  • Preference is given to local independent
  • Preference is given to organizations that support women, children, families and homeless people and to start up organizations.
  • Consideration will be given to Alliance members’ notes of recommendations.
  • Consideration is given to when The Alliance last funded the organization, so that we can spread our limited resources as far as possible.
  • We avoid duplication requests given out by the First Church Sunday morning offerings.


NAME OF NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION                                                                     


ORGANIZATION CONTACT PERSON                                                        

EMAIL ADDRESS                                                                                  

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF PURPOSE AND ACTIVITIES                                                             _


AMOUNT OF AND SPECIFIC USE OF FUNDS (e.g. $750 for computer compatible with state testing, $600 for camp for four girls.)

ALLIANCE MEMBER NAME                                                                                                   _






Revised 5/2016



Greens Sale Proceeds Help Fund Agency Awards

The record-setting proceeds from the December Greens Sale have provided funding for a number of local non-profit agencies that serve needy Portland residents. Our Allocations Committee (Mary Post, Chair) made the awards, announcing them at our February meeting.




Community Transition School


Reading group books for disadvantaged chlidren
Growing Gardens


Provides gardening education and experience for low income families
Home Free


Furnishings for child care room for families of domestic abuse
Village Gardens


Extensive youth run neighborhood gardens for poverty and low income families + supply a store
Women’s Foundation of Oregon


Funding for community discussion on Economic Fragility for women and girls in Oregon


A very emphatic footnote: The Alliance extends its thanks to all who bought greens, treasures and baked goods. Your support every year makes possible the work which creates a beloved community. Just for support of local non-profits, this comes to more than $5000!


Alliance Voted to Direct Extra Funds to Prepayment of Church’s Buchan Mortgage

Since 1865, The Alliance of First Unitarian Church has been supporting our congregation by finding and funding unmet needs. In 2015, in a historic action, The Alliance directed year-end spending toward prepayment of the church’s mortgage balance on the Buchan Building, built in 2007. At its general meeting in April, the former all-women’s organization, directed that available funds of $1000 at the end of its fiscal year be given to the church to assist prepayment. Savings in interest due to any prepayment will reduce interest costs to First Unitarian over the life of the note. “This works just like making extra principal payments on your home mortgage,” said Ken Wheeler, the group’s Treasurer,  “This is spending that keeps adding value year after year.”

Originally the Ladies mortgageSewing Society, founded in 1865, we have a long and colorful history of service to the church and the Portland community. This tradition continues in our sponsorship of the church auction, annual December Greens Sale, and the award of those proceeds to community non-profit agencies caring for women, children and the homeless.  “This is simply one more way for our tradition of leadership in service to have our desired impact,” noted Co-President Jan Wolf. The Alliance recently celebrated its 150th year of service by raising funds to renovate  the church’s 12th Avenue entrance facility, it’s primary access point of the handicapped, and an ADA certified entry.

“This is today’s equivalent of the Ladies Sewing Society purchasing the original silver communion set for the church 150 years ago”, recalled Liz Scully, Past Co-President. “It’s a simple, caring gift, that any group or any member can give to help the church in the long term,” she added.The current principal balance of the mortgage is $1,434,000 with a $1,186,000 balloon payment scheduled in 2023. First Church can prepay up to $320,000 in any year without penalty. Gifts to enable additional prepayments are very helpful to the congregation.


Spectacular Gingerbread House was Greens Sale Attraction. GBHouseBM

2014 Alliance Luncheon Chair and 2015-17 Co-President, Barbara Morrison, is shown here with the amazingly accurate rendition she did of our church using gingerbread, icing and candy for last year’s Greens Sale. From steeple to famous UU gravestones in the churchyard, the church took over 20 hours to sculpt. This year, the Greens sale also featured a gingerbread house in a raffle.

The Alliance lives its history forward. Today as much as ever, it is successful if it finds and funds needs that lift our church toward greater health and success. Auction projects at First Unitarian have made our job that much easier, and we look forward to similar positive impact in coming years.

Alliance 150th Anniversary Gift Project Completed!BillRecsAllGIft

A renewal of the courageous spirit of seven founders of the Ladies Sewing Circle is rising! At an Alliance meeting, Liz Scully, Chair of the 150th Planning Committee, presented a check for $6338 to Rev. Bill Sinkford. (See photo at right) This represented the proceeds of Alliance fund raising for significant project  to meet unmet needs at First Unitarian.  This entrance is the main access to the sanctuary and Fuller Hall for people with mobility issues.  After church and evening events, people wait at this door for rides.

12th Street EntryEnhancements include:
Installing an overhang to protect people entering or waiting from the elements.  It is lighted for safety.
Brick paving has been added on either side of the door to make access easier.
A one person bench will be installed to the right of the door.
The automated door opener was moved to the wall, left of the door.
The doors have been painted.
The windows on either side of the door will be re-done using glass block to match the other windows along 12th St.
A plaque acknowledging the Alliance gift will be installed.

More than 70 Alliance members made contributions to this historic gift before the close of the campaign.  The project will be completed in 2017.


Honoring Our Members

The Alliance  holds teas periodically in our lovely Channing Room to  honor  long-time Alliance members.  It is a rich experience bringing Alliance friends together who have not perhaps had a chance to see each other for a while.  They were once the active members of the leadership team and various committees, who gave their time and energy to the Alliance.  It is a time of visiting, catching up with friends and helping our history committee to learn more of our recent past.  We plan on having small teas and gatherings to honor members and to enrich our historical knowledge periodically.  — Judith Scott

In November, 2013, these teas were designated the Helen Lee Historical Teas in honor of Helen Lee, an active leader and Alliance contributor for more than three decades.

Alliance Leaders Welcome New Members:

In February, our Officers recognized new members at a luncheon hosted in the Channing Room. The gathering invited 12 of our newer members, some of whom have been church members for a long time. The purpose was to explain the Alliance; its mission, vision and core values; and some recent history to those wanting a closer connection to our work in the church. This luncheon helps new members feel welcomed and respected for the talents and experience they bring. More new member events are being planned for later in the year. Check this webpage often for updates. Contact Petie Padden.

holiday-piesA WORD ABOUT PIES ….

The First Unitarian Auction Committee asks Alliance members to bake pies for each year’s auction. Pies are a hallmark presence at the auction, annually bringing in more than $1000 to benefit the church.  This year, Alliance pies brought in more than $1400 to the event. The Leadership Team also voted for the fourth year in a row to donate $1000 to the auction as a sponsor.

Historic Leadership

History of The Alliance

The Ladies Sewing Society was formed in December 1865 for the express purpose of supporting the establishment of a Unitarian Church in Portland Oregon.  Further purposes were to provide companionship, education and support for the “Unitarian and Other Liberal Christians” in the city.
These have continued to be the purposes of the organization, ‘though at times somewhat differently expressed.  Indeed, many current members might be surprised to learn that the financial support of the church has been a major focus of the Alliance for most of the ensuing 150 years.
(The Ladies Sewing Society became the Women’s Auxiliary, the Women’s Alliance and the Alliance over the years.  For convenience the group is referred to herein as the Alliance.)

Following are highlights of the organization’s activities and financial support of the church since 1865.  Members took advantage of their home maker skills of sewing and cooking and entertaining to raise money for the church and church activities and social justice activities.

Initially, in 1866, The Ladies took in sewing and mending to raise funds (there were not many women in Portland CommSvc2at that time, and clothing repair was in great demand.) With their first $30 they sent to San Francisco for a silver communion service which is still in use once a year on Maundy Thursday. See at right.

By the end of the 1866, their $900 contribution was instrumental in allowing for the construction of a chapel at the corner of 7th and Taylor, and the hiring of our first minister.  The ladies provided most of the furnishings of the chapel and a member gave money for the organ.  In 1879 the ladies contributed $2,000, or about 11% of the total cost, to the completion of the new, larger church building.  Again, they provided much of the furnishings including, in time, a telephone located in the Parlor.

The Alliance continued to raise funds and promote the social life of the congregation through presenting “entertainments” – lunches, dinners, picnics, teas.  These often accompanied a lecture or book report presented by the minister or local academic.  The book reports were particularly popular, in some years bringing in more money than the December Bazaar.  The Bazaar has taken many forms over the years, with emphasis on hand-made items and food.  Committees of the Alliance, named for prominent members, e.g., Atwood and Burrell, met weekly to make items for the December Sales.   At one time, there were two clubs making table linens, one making rugs and another making decorative craft items. The last of these clubs, the Greenleaf Club, continued into the 1990’s as a social club before re-allying with the Alliance.

By the end of the 19th century the church had fallen on hard financial times and threatened to close, when the Alliance came to the rescue, paying off a troublesome $500 debt and assuming some operating expenses of the church – the music program, including organist and “organ boy”, janitorial service, church school, telephone and many other costs. In addition to their many fund raising events, the Alliance was favored with several bequests.  For example, in 1893 and 1894 the books record interest income of $50 on the Betty Farmer Fund.  We have not found balance sheets which would detail our assets over time.

EliotFrontThese tireless ladies also contributed their time and talents in support of many community needs.  In one year during the Second World War, one club reported having made 110 boy’s woolen overcoats and were awaiting further shipments of fabric to continue this service project.   New and used clothing was made and gathered by the ton for the war effort, benefiting civilians in the war zones. (In 1942 a member wrote to the War Pricing Board asking if we would have to collect sugar rationing stamps for the jams and jellies we would sell at the bazaar.  They replied that they did not know, but referred us to the Rationing Manual for the tariff on preserves, should we decide to do so.)

On many occasions over the decades, the Alliance sponsored educational, service and social groups centered on the church.  At one point there was even an Evening Alliance for those not able to attend day-time meetings.

In modern times, since volunteer and staff functions have grown, the music, education, social justice and funding projects have been taken over by others: knitting and quilting groups, social justice committees, the large and well-received music program, religious education for children and adults and the professional fund-raising and management services of the paid staff.  While it is well to remember that the Alliance was, in effect, the primary lay organization of the church for decades, times have changed.

The Greens Sale continues to be successful and profitable, enabling our charitable giving to continue. Fellowship, education and socialization comprise the major portion of our activities now.  That these serve a need is demonstrated by the 50% growth in membership over the last two+ years, bringing enthusiastic, younger people into our fold.

Helen Lee
Jan. 5, 2013