In our current climate of partisan politics, radical extremism, and social unrest, you might be searching for community — one that values reason and respects each fellow member on a human level.

You are not alone. Consider the following:

What does it mean to live an ethical life? How can we better ourselves and the world around us? How should we treat each other? These are a few of the questions that guide the practices of Ethical Societies across the country and the globe. The Susquehanna Valley Ethical Society (SVES) is our local chapter of this movement. Under the governance of the American Ethical Union (AEU), SVES and all Ethical Societies are secular congregations of people searching for meaning and morality in life, as an alternative or a supplement to traditional religion. Their members come from all walks of life, including a range of religious or atheist backgrounds. The societies are based on Ethical Humanism — sometimes called Ethical Culture — a belief in the value of human wisdom in the forms of science, ethics, and philosophy, as a guide to elevate oneself and one’s community to a higher moral standard. As Albert Einstein, a Humanist, said, “Without ‘ethical culture’ there is no salvation for humanity.”

SVES is not a political organization and is inclusive by nature. That said, the congregation takes a firm stance in favor of human rights and against oppression, advocating for people of color, the economically disadvantaged, women, LGBTQIA+ people, and people with disabilities.

“Family values” are held by all of us, regardless of political affiliation. They may differ in some ways, but at their core, there is a sense of universal right and wrong. If you believe that treating others with respect and dignity is the right way to behave in life, you will be in good company with SVES.

Meeting every Sunday morning, members and visitors participate in a variety of community-building and educational activities. Monthly guest speakers offer a range of topics to ponder and discuss, which revolve around ethics, social action, and well-being. The group also organizes social events and opportunities to volunteer or take action in the greater community. Recent examples include partnering with the NAACP to combat voter suppression and donating $1,000 to deliver books to local children.

SVES has a renewed vision for growth as more and more people seek ethics and morality in their lives on earth, particularly of a secular nature. Planning is in the works to offer a secular Sunday school program called SEEK (Sunday Ethical Education for Kids), a common feature of ethical societies.

SVES invites you to learn more about the congregation and its activities by joining a Virtual Open House on Zoom, at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 18 or by visiting as a guest of any Sunday meeting (on Zoom until further notice). Go to for more information.

Jessie Almstead lives in Lewisburg and is a member of the Susquehanna Valley Ethical Society.

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