Opening Words from Sun. May 19 by Lance Finney

May 19, 2024

Good morning.

Most of you know me, but for new members and visitors, I use he/him pronouns, and my name is Lance Finney, as you would be able to see on my name tag if I weren’t up here on stage. This is the first Sunday in years that I’ve worn just one name tag. I turned in my “Board Member” name tag on Thursday, when my three-year term on the Board ended at the Annual Meeting.


2020 Ethics in Action Award: Gary Morse, PhD

May 17, 2024

The Ethical Society of St. Louis is delighted to present its annual Ethics in Action Award to Gary Morse, PhD, honoring his work with Places for People. Places for People was founded 47 years ago in response to the then new federal policy of deinstitutionalization, which moved patients living in mental institutions back into the community. Today, Places for People serves more than 2,000 people annually, offering an individualized approach to health and healing. In this special ceremony Dr. Morse will receive the award and speak about his work.

Listen to the Ethics in Action Award speeches.

Read about previous awardees.

Field Trip to a sustainable yard – Climate Action Now!

May 16, 2024
Vegetable garden in early summer

“I can learn from everyone.”— one of our favorite core values, recited by our kids every Sunday morning. On June 8, we have a very special opportunity to learn from one of the Ethical Society’s newest members—Toni Easter. Toni is one of the lead organizers of the St.Louis region’s Sustainable Backyard Tour, which takes place this year on June 30, from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM. But we are privileged to get a sneak preview and personalized tour of Toni’s garden earlier in the month. Here’s how Toni describes her yard…

With limited green space and sunlight, I have focused on perennial food production and native flowers. Thru yard sharing, I am able to expand my green spaces and have four households utilizing one culinary garden. With pollinator gardens and mature trees the yard has Audubon Silver Certification for native plants.  There are solar panels, a beehive, and tomatoes in wicking pots on the flat garage roof. I have quail for eggs, lots of patio pots, a Garden Tower, raised beds, trellises, composting, rainwater collection, and a goldfish pond.

To join fellow Ethical Society members and friends in touring Toni’s yard, please RSVP to the CAN! email at . We’ll provide Toni’s address and parking instructions.


Toni Easter, Ethical Society member

Suggested Actions for CAN!

  • TBA

Related Links

CAN! materials

These materials have been prepared by the Society’s CAN! (Climate Action Now!) team. This post and its links do not express or imply an endorsement by the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.

Opening Words from Sun. May 12 by Kathy Schrenk

May 12, 2024

I’m Kathy Schrenk, my pronouns are she/her. My husband, Nathan, and I have been members for about eight years. One of the main reasons we started coming to Ethical Society was to find a place for our kids to have an ethical education beyond what we talked about at home. Those of you who are parents know that kids often listen to others better than they listen to their parents. This certainly seemed true of our kids.


The Vanishing Night: The Need to Restore Our Natural Night Sky

May 3, 2024

In April, many of us experienced the awesome spectacle of a total solar eclipse. Continuing to look skyward, we’re going to learn about the importance of dark skies in promoting the health and wellness of the non-human animals that inhabit this planet alongside us. Although this is not strictly a climate change topic, it is an environmental one. Light pollution is not as commonly discussed as air and water pollution or even noise pollution. But protecting our natural night sky—the dark sky—protects migratory birds, many species of moths and other nocturnal animals.


Don Ficken, is the founder of Dark Sky Missouri and also of Lights Out Heartland, a multi-state collaboration to protect migratory birds. He is also a Missouri Master Naturalist, passionate about supporting conservation in Missouri.

Suggested Actions for CAN!

  • Turn off outdoor lights, particularly during the peak bird migration months – May and September.
  • Follow these five lighting principles for responsible outdoor lighting, limiting your lighting to what is:
    •  Useful
    • Targeted
    • Low Level
    • Controlled
    • Warm-colored
  • Learn how to certify your home as “Dark Sky Friendly”.
  • Donate to DarkSky Missouri
  • Become a member of DarkSky
  • Spread the word to friends, neighbors, local government officials about the problems of and solutions to light pollution.

Related Links

CAN! materials

These materials have been prepared by the Society’s CAN! (Climate Action Now!) team. This post and its links do not express or imply an endorsement by the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.

Leader Search – Member Update

May 3, 2024
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The Task Force completed its review of applications received thus far and identified applicants for interviews. The Task Force conducted Zoom interviews with those identified, and all members of the Task Force were present for the interviews. The Task Force has finalized the list of questions to ask references.

Core Values “by the book”

April 29, 2024
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Last Sunday our youth group and coming of age class presented a joint platform and graduation. During our platforms we always read our Ethical Education core values. For this special occasion youth group members Lola Compton and Matthew Finney paired them with books that echo those statements. Read on to see what a gift they gave us.

Every person is important and unique.

Graceling: Kristin Cashore

In the Graceling world, some children’s eyes change to two different colors, signifying that they have a special affinity, a Grace. Katsa feels that her Grace is a curse, but by the end of her arc, she loves it and accepts herself.

Every person deserves to be treated fairly and kindly.

Equal Rites: Terry Pratchett

Eskarina, the first known female wizard, fights against prejudice from both witches and wizards, to show that she too can be a wizard.

I can learn from everyone.

Mistborn: Brandon Sanderson

Vin goes to all the other members of her thieving crew, learning about their perspectives and powers to have a better understanding of her own powers.

I am part of this earth; I cherish it and all the life upon it.

Wild Magic: Tamora Pierce

Daine is uniquely connected to animals and cares for them.

I learn from the world around me by using my senses, mind, and feelings.

Project Hail Mary: Andy Weir

After waking with amnesia, stranded in space, Ryland Grace must use the few resources he has around him to make it home.

I am a member of the world community, which depends on the cooperation of all people for peace and justice.

The Hate U Give: Angie Thomas

Star watches her friend’s murder, and becomes an advocate for justice in her community.

I can learn from the past to build for the future.

Weyward: Emilia Hart

Altha in 1619, Violet in 1942, and Kate in 2019, are all Weywards, related to each other, and learn from their ancestors to survive their circumstances.

I am free to question.

Shatterglass: Tamora Pierce

Tris is a mage in a city that cleanses everything. She questions the methods of the city as a murderer runs loose.

I am free to choose what I believe.

Divine Rivals: Rebecca Ross

Iris and Roman decide that they will find out for themselves the truth about the devastating war between divines in their world

I accept responsibility for my choices and actions.

Oathbringer: Brandon Sanderson

Dalinar must accept the horrible things he’s done and the consequences of them, striving to become a better person for them.

I strive to live my values.

Leviathan Wakes: James S. A. Corey

James Holden tries to hold firm to his values through chaotic times, even as his friends and enemies challenge him.

“The People’s Parade”

April 29, 2024
Ethical Society members Matthew Hile, Diana and Jim Okleskevich, Cathy Pickard, Nancy Borders-Wing, Bob Pickard, and Brian Vandenberg.

To close out Earth Month a community celebration and parade to Ameren Missouri’s headquarters. Community members will call on the monopoly utility to stop burning expensive, polluting coal and accelerate building renewable energy to power our future.

“The region’s largest coal plant, the Labadie Energy Center, last year emitted far more of a major air pollutant than any plant in the country, a Post-Dispatch analysis has found.”

The parade and protest was collaboration between “The People’s Parade,” the Sierra Club, and co-sponsored by our own CAN! Team. 

This post and its links do not express or imply an endorsement by the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.

Opening Words from Sun. April 28: “Rites of Passage” by Sage Finney

April 28, 2024

Good morning. I’m Sage Finney, and my pronouns are it/she/they. I’ve been a member of the youth group for three years, making me the most senior member. In most societies I would be considered an elder, one consulted during rites of passage.


Opening Words from Sun. April 21 by Kara Hershberger

April 21, 2024

Good Morning. When I was asked to give opening words my first thought was to try out a tight five for some comedy open mic nights around town. Unfortunately, or fortunately, however you want to look at it, my first instinct was not to provide all of you with some thoughts that tied into a deeper message about how we’re all connected, and how everyone should become a Humanist. Then it occurred to me that despite meeting many of you (some of you multiple times, even if you may not remember), you may not know much about me. So, I thought I’d give you a bit of my background and if you find some of it amusing, or if you connect with it on some level, then I’ve done my job here, I think.


Art Show – Toni Wirts

April 17, 2024

This show will run from 31 May through 21 July. Her reception is Sunday, 23 June at 12:30.


When I began creating portraits of indigenous children, I was inspired by strong feelings that I was unsure how to put into words. I knew I wanted the viewer to look through the eyes of these children and be moved to seek knowledge and understanding of an Indigenous Worldview that would bring myself and others closer to the wisdom that the first peoples have for the Earth.

Image of a native child's head and shoulders.
By Toni Wirts

As a non-indigenous learner, my own culture, its power structure, and materialistic social ideology present certain challenges. The limitations of Western science compel us to face our inherent biases. So that we may better heal and restore the natural resources of the Earth, I encourage you to consider an alternative worldview – one that experienced through the eyes of indigenous children embraces the values of reciprocity, responsibility, and respect for our planet and the environment and the increasing uncertainty produced by climate change and resource depletion.

I am excited by what I have learned since I began preparing for this exhibit.  My personal search in “How We Come to Know” continues because the more I learn the more I want to know. I invite you to seek answers with me, in the hope that together our voices can join with Indigenous Voices for the sake of the future of all children, indigenous, yours and mine.


Toni Wirts is a sculptress who specializes in creating life-sized and miniature portraits. She has a wide range of experience teaching portrait head, figure, and relief sculpture across the St. Louis area. Her teaching venues have included Craft Alliance, Meramec Community College, Laumeier Sculpture Park, Webster University, and the St. Louis Art Museum. From 1975 to 1984, Toni served on the Lindbergh School Board. During her tenure, she became a champion for art education and a strong advocate for safe and environmentally friendly schools. 

As member of the Ethical Society, Toni has played an active role in sustainability education, and in organizing the Ethical Society Evolution Exhibit. Along with her educational projects, Toni has successfully sold her art on consignment, featuring her pieces in museum gift shops in St. Louis, Illinois, and Oklahoma. Since COVID, Toni has shifted her focus from sculpture to painting in acrylics and pastels.  Her current work focuses on environmental themes and seeks to raise public awareness about the pressing challenges posed by climate change. 

All art show posts.

Opening Words from Sun. April 14 by Scott Wright

April 14, 2024

Good Morning. My name is Scott Wright, my pronouns are he & him, and am I currently serving as the President-Elect of the Board of Trustees for the Ethical Society of St. Louis

I apologize in advance to visitors this morning, as these opening words will be primarily inside-baseball, so I’ll try to keep things brief.


Leader Search – Member Update

April 12, 2024
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The job posting for the Leader position indicated, “To be guaranteed consideration, applications are due by April 5, 2024. Applications received after that date will be considered until the position is filled.” With that in mind, we have begun reviewing applications, without closing down the possibility of receiving additional ones. We have also been working on reducing and finalizing our bank of interview questions.

“The People’s Parade”

April 12, 2024

At the end of the month, we have an opportunity for some collective social action as well as some fun at a parade with a purpose, followed by a people’s hearing on Ameren’s plans for continued use of its Labadie coal-fired plant.  Organized by our  February CAN! speaker, Jenn DeRose, of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, the event is a collaboration between “The People’s Parade” and the Sierra Club and is co-sponsored by us, the CAN! Team.  This event is suitable for the whole family—free food, costume-making workshops, a march and some testimonials.  Details and required registration.

This post and its links do not express or imply an endorsement by the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.

Come work with us! – Sunday Host

April 10, 2024
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Job Description

On Sunday mornings, you will be responsible for coordinating the coffee and tea services before and after each of our morning events. The shift has a variable end time, but typically you can expect 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Your responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Arrive at 9 a.m. and unlock all building entrances.
  • Set up chairs in the “church basement” (we call The Becker Room) and the smaller room, (The Hanke Room) before 9:45 a.m.
  • Brew coffee and boil water for tea
  • Set up coffee, tea, cups, and all related items in the Becker Room
  • Clean surfaces and wash dishes in the kitchen throughout the morning as needed.
  • At the end of shift, ensure all items have been cleaned, wipe down all surfaces, shut down the kitchen, stack chairs, ensure that restrooms have been cleared, double check the building, turn off all lights and lock all building entrances.
  • Some interaction with Ethical Society members is inevitable, but this is largely a solitary and self-directed role. You must be reliable and on time every week; you are responsible for opening and closing the building.

Pay rate is $16/hour to start; after 60 days it increases to $18/hour (for 5 hours per Sunday on average).


  • Previous experience is not required. We are happy to train the right candidate!
  • A willingness to learn.
  • Reliability, excellent organization, proactive attitude, and time-management skills.
  • Ability to work well in a fast-paced environment.


  • Free tea, coffee, and occasional hot chocolate during your shift (because we know you’ll need that caffeine boost!)

How to Apply

Interested? We’d love to hear from you! Please contact:

Adam Presswood, Rental Coordinator
The Ethical Society of St. Louis
(314) 991-0955, Ext. 230

Come work with us! – Event Assistant

April 10, 2024
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Job Description:

The Ethical Society of St. Louis is a Humanist congregation that also offers its building for rental. We are looking for an energetic and detail-oriented event assistant to join our small but growing team. Due to its size, design, and location, our building frequently serves as a venue for speaker events, gatherings, and occasional concerts. 

Qualifications and Expectations

Facilitating these events requires energy, a sense of responsibility, and the ability to manage details. The events are also dynamic, which means that successful event assistants must be flexible and able to handle unexpected changes and challenges.

Moderate to heavy lifting is a common aspect of the job, so applicants must be in good general health, and must possess the strength and endurance necessary for moving chairs, tables, sound equipment, and the occasional piano.

Applicants should also possess a high degree of comfort regarding the use of audiovisual equipment (or be comfortable learning relatively quickly.) Building rentals often occur multiple times per week, and they usually take place later in the evening. Event workers should generally be available from approximately 4pm until 11pm. Shift includes set-up, working the event itself, and clean-up and building lockdown.

Ideal candidates will possess their own reliable transportation and will be available to work multiple events per month as needed. This would be a good job for a college student with evening flexibility. Must be 18+ and able to pass a background check.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Arrive approximately 30 minutes prior to all events to ensure building readiness.
  • Unlock all building doors that will be in use during events.
  • Set up and arrange the areas of the building that will used during events. This may include rearranging furniture, arranging the stage, relocating and repositioning tables and chairs, and/or setting up microphones and audiovisual equipment.
  • Monitor and ensure the safety and security of the building.
  • Keep all restrooms stocked with toilet paper, paper towels, and soap.
  • Keep all floors and carpeted areas clean and free of trash and clutter.
  • Ensure that all outside renters and their guests exit the property safely and promptly following events. Upon their departure, ensure that all restrooms are clean and have been restocked. Reset furniture and remove all trash and recycling from the building. Vacuum as needed.
  • Following events, shut down the building, lock all doors, and check parking lot and building exterior.

Interested? We’d love to hear from you! Please contact:

Adam Presswood, Rental Coordinator
The Ethical Society of St. Louis
(314) 991-0955, Ext. 230

Come work with us! – Membership Coordinator

April 10, 2024
Category: ,

Job description

The Ethical Society of St Louis is a Humanist congregation. Like a traditional religious congregation, we gather on Sundays for our equivalent of a “service” and provide youth education programs, but we do so without promoting belief in any supreme beings or the supernatural. We also provide educational and social programs throughout the week, perform community service activities, and celebrate meaningful milestones in our member’s lives.

The Ethical Society of St. Louis is looking for an enthusiastic and personable Membership Coordinator to improve visitor experience and enhance member connections. This position is a crucial member of the Ministry Team and will require both vision and imagination as well as thoughtful execution and organization. It also requires strong interpersonal skills and sincere interest in the well-being of our community members.

This position is initially envisioned as part time, 20 hours a week, flexible. The specific requirement is to work from 9 am-1 pm on Sundays and 9am-3pm on Wednesdays, in person. Some of the work can be done remotely, although it is primarily an in-person position. There is room to grow the position.  This position reports to the Ministry Team Leader (clergy).

This is an unusual role that requires varying competencies, so all relevant educational, work, and lived experience will be considered. 

Starting rate is $22/hour, with accrued vacation and sick time each pay period.


  • Be generally present, flexible, and helpful on Sunday mornings (typically 9am-1 pm) as an integral part of the welcome experience
  • Welcome new visitors on Sunday mornings, provide information about our Society, and introduce them to existing members
  • Take ownership over the coordination and execution of all components of our membership pathway, from visitor to member.
  • Coordinate new member applications, pass them to the Board of Trustees for approval, and prepare and publicize new membership bios
  • Coordinate volunteers to host the Visitors Connect table after Platform
  • Send welcome emails to visitors who have signed up to receive them
  • Perform exit interviews with members who have decided not to renew membership.
  • Enter data on visitors and those who have attended programs in our data management system, Shelby Systems (training is available; this is not needed prior to hire)
  • Regularly update member information on Shelby, including overseeing the Membership Photo Directory
  • Prepare monthly membership reports to the Board of Trustees
  • Work with the Creative Director and other staff to update marketing materials
  • Make sure literature racks are stocked with updated material
  • Attend weekly staff meetings and be present on Wednesdays (other office hours TBD)
  • Support the Leader/Director and other staff members in the development of member outreach programs
  • Attend a monthly Lay Leadership Development Committee (LLDC) meeting
  • Organize the annual “Fall Gathering” and assist in the planning and organization of other traditional events such as the winter event “Good Cheer.”
  • Collaborate with Lay Leaders in the recruitment and organization of volunteers to aid in Society programming

Preferred Qualifications

  • Experience working in membership development for a congregation or non-profit, preferably one with aligned values to Humanism
  • Experience in customer service or customer experience
  • Experience in event planning, coordination and/or execution

Required Skills

  • Excellent organizational skills and attention to detail
  • Strong interpersonal skills, particularly fostering new relationships
  • Ability to think strategically regarding developing Society membership
  • Proactive desire to improve our membership pathway
  • Ability to work alongside and manage teams of volunteers

This is a great opportunity to join a passionate team seeking to improve the world through the creation and support of a vibrant, growing, justice-loving community. This flexible, part time position is perfect for someone looking to develop more experience in this area while doing work they can believe in and which makes a difference.

The Ethical Society of St. Louis is committed to the celebration of diversity and to the creation of a welcoming community for all people. We encourage applications from minority and marginalized communities to apply. We do not discriminate based on age, gender identity, sex, orientation, ability, race, ethnicity, or national origin.

Job Types: Part-time, flexible, 20 hours, $22/hour to start

Preferred start date on or before June 1, 2024 (flexible)

Please submit letter of interest, resume, and 2-3 references to Interim Director Amy L. Miller at

Opening Words from Sun. April 7 by Carole Beere

April 7, 2024

Good morning. I am not Catholic, but I know from experience and from my Catholic friends that confession is good for the soul. So I shall confess. I am not Pam Ross, despite what the printed program says and despite Melodee’s introduction. I am Carole Beere, and I screwed up on scheduling Pam Ross to do Opening Words today. It’s my understanding that there is a penance to be paid for bad behavior. My penance was to prepare Opening Words on very short notice. So here I am.


Come work with us!

April 1, 2024
Category: ,

Available positions

About Us

The Ethical Society of St. Louis is a large, welcoming, Humanist community of diverse members, recognized throughout the St. Louis region for its commitment and practices in support of ethical living, behavior, and action. The Ethical Society of St. Louis inspires ethical living in a humanist-centered congregation by affirming the worth of every person and advocating the primacy of ethical behavior above any creed.

The Ethical Society of St. Louis is committed to the celebration of diversity. We encourage applications from minority and marginalized communities to apply and do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or age.

Art Show – Rebecca Willhoft

March 30, 2024
Painting of a heroic woman with a sward.

The relationship between a mythological figure and a comic book character lies in the idea of an archetype. There are at least two ways to define archetypes, in terms of psychology and literature. Both are valid in their own fields and there is a great deal of crossover.  The Swiss psychologist Carl Jung said “Archetypes are primordial images that reflect basic patterns that are common to use all and which have existed universally since the dawn of time.” Another useful way  to look at this is through the lens of the literary archetype as defined by Northrop Frye: “a symbol, usually an image, which recurs often enough in literature to be recognizable as an element of one’s literary experience as a whole.”

For my purpose, I find these archetypal images in the works of Old Master’s and comic books and combine them into one image. Here is a small list:

Titian’s Prometheus Batman
John Singer Sargent’s Madame X Wonder Woman
Anonymous Wall Painting of the Egyptian god HorusHawkman
Anonymous Stone Carvings Shiva MaheshvaraGreen Lantern
Leonardo daVinci’s Anatomical and Machine DrawingsCyborg

 I have just touched lightly on what is potentially an endless list. Popular culture continuously mines archetypal stories and characters to fill our current fictions.

Finding these unlikely matches involves assimilating and combining images and ideas from different eras in art history, cultural traditions, beliefs, and practices giving them new meaning.

The gods, kings and heroes of our collective history are remade into ordinary people who have extraordinary abilities, often through the invention of technology.

This show will run from 29 March through 26 May. The artist reception is Sunday, 7 April at 12:30.

All art show posts.