The Unitarian – December 15, 2015

{ click here for a printable copy of The Unitarian }

Sunday Worship — December 20

Multigenerational Services: “Giving Our Gifts: A UU Holiday Tradition” — Rev. David Bryce

  • 9 a.m. — Junior & Nova Choirs
  • 11 a.m. — Youth & Chancel Choirs

Welcome and Announcements: 9 a.m. Sara Oaklander; 11 a.m. Jackie James

Ushers: 9 a.m. Dave Scott and Catherine Scott; 11 a.m. Judy McSwain and Laurie Graham

Lay Pastoral Care: 9 a.m.: TBA; 11 a.m. James Hencke

The Christmas greens & poinsettias that decorate our Church are given by the Farnham Memorial Fund.

  • Services at 9 & 11 a.m.; childcare is provided.
  • Sunday, December 27: Lay-led service at 10:30 a.m.
  • Sermon archive

December 24 — Christmas Eve Candlelight Services

  • 2 p.m.: Junior Choir; Lessons and Carols, Pageant
  • 4 p.m.: Chancel Choir; Lessons and Carols, Pageant
  • 6 p.m.: Youth Choir; Lessons and Carols, Pageant
  • 11 p.m.: Alumni Choir; Lessons and Carols
Rev. David Bryce

Rev. David Bryce

Reflections from Rev. David Bryce, Senior Minister

What is this Mid-Winter Festival really about?

     We (most of us) are preparing to celebrate a time of family gathering, of gift giving, of travel and visitation. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere it happens to occur in the darkest time of the year—that is, the time of least sunlight.

 According to an article in Business insider back in 2012, a full 90% of the world’s population lives in North of the equator; with about half living above the 27th north latitude, so the vast majority of people experience some form of winter at this time of year.

     And many of them celebrate the midwinter turning and tilting of the earth.

     Celebrate what?

     That depends, of course, upon who you ask because various traditions have put their own meanings upon it.

     For me it is partly about the metaphor of light in the darkness, warmth in the cold, the renewal of hope and good arising from (or surviving) evil.

     But it has all of those other things that make this season special: The idea of family gathering around a table or a fire, the celebration of life and love, the recognition of the ongoing cycle of life that I am part of.

     Whatever your theology about this season, whatever your rituals at this time, I wish for you all a time of abundant love and joy.


This generous, music-loving, social action-oriented, and very special church family had purchased 50 Second Friday Coffeehouse Season Tickets as of November 13 — getting very close to our 30th season goal of 60! BRAVISSIMI! Thank you, First Church! And our ten highly worthy beneficiaries and their deserving clients thank you from the bottoms of their hearts, as do your First Church colleagues on the Coffeehouse Committee!

     Please join in the final push and purchase of one of the last ten tickets we need to sell. We really do try hard to complete our major sales drive in the fall season. We know there are still a number of former and new friends who plan get a ticket. So here is your reminder: NOW is the time to get on board! Send your $99 check made out to First Church in Belmont, memo line marked Coffeehouse, to First Church in Belmont, 404 Concord Ave., P.O. Box 113, Belmont 02478. Or hand your check or cash to Jim Staton, Lauraine Dalton, Anne Selman, or Janice Zazinski.

     Your becoming part of this exciting and deeply important social action commitment guarantees that the clients of all the causes we support will get the full benefit of your help, making it a real time for Thanksgiving! And again … MANY, MANY THANKS! You are the greatest!

Children’s Religious Education: It Takes a Congregation

On Sunday, December 6th, our third UU Visitor came through the Time Machine (that the kids built in September). The combined classes in grades 1-4 met with Reverend Charles Follen to learn about his life and significance to us as Unitarian Universalists. Here is a short report of what they learned from him.

     The Reverend Charles Follen was born in 1796 in Hessen, Germany. He had two brothers. As a young man, he protested the monarchy in Germany. He also served time in jail. Charles Follen was exiled to Switzerland, and then in 1824, at the age of 28, he decided to emigrate to the United States of America. On his voyage to America, Follen learned the English language on board the ship.

Charles Follen was hired as the first professor of German at Harvard University and he also taught gymnastics there because he believed that it was important to exercise the body as well as the mind.

     Charles Follen married Eliza Cabot and they had one son named Charlie. He and his wife were abolitionists, and Charles Follen was fired from five positions, including his professorship at Harvard and as the minister of the [Follen] Unitarian church in Lexington, for his outspoken anti-slavery views.

     Reverend Follen then moved to Boston. In the 1830s, people still did not joyously celebrate Christmas. Christmas was spent in church with your family. There were no decorations or lights or even Christmas trees with presents underneath. This was very different from Charles Follen’s experience as a child in Germany and he wanted his son, Charlie, to experience the joy of Christmas. So when his friend and fellow abolitionist, the English writer and early sociologist Harriet Martineau came to Boston to meet with Follen and make plans to protest the slavery of non-Europeans, Charles Follen set up a Christmas tree for little Charlie. He put the tree in a bathtub to keep it from catching fire from the candles that he put on the tree. People passing his house in the street could see the tree through the windows to Follen’s house. Harriet Martineau wrote about Follen’s Christmas tree and this is why Unitarian minister Charles Follen is credited with introducing the Christmas tree to America.

     (Charles Follen sang a few verses of “Oh Christmas Tree” – “O, Tannenbaum” – in English and German, which Charlotte joined him on.)

     Charles Follen died in 1840, well before the founding of Belmont. Rev. Follen founded and designed the [Follen] Unitarian church in Lexington, Massachusetts. He knew about Watertown and Cambridge, Arlington and Lexington, but when he lived in the Boston area there was no Belmont or the First Church in Belmont.

CRE Opportunities for All at FCB

  • Would your family like to lead the Chalice Lighting during the worship service one Sunday this year? CRE is coordinating this effort to involve families in this element of the worship service on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month. Click on this link to sign up: com/go/409044ca9ad2aa02-light. You will receive an e-mail reminder.
  • Non-parent teacher-volunteers are needed to assist our Childcare Provider, Denise Azar, in the Nursery at 9 and 11 am each Sunday. You can easily sign up here: com/go/409044ca9ad2aa02-nursery. You will receive an e-mail reminder.

Special Activities of interest to families in December:

  • Multigenerational Worship Service on December 20th – celebrating the winter holidays, UU-style. Your participation is encouraged. Contact Charlotte ( for ways you can help.

CRE Program Registration and Information:

If you haven’t registered your children for CRE, please do so ASAP using the registration link here ( which allows you to register children from birth through 12th grade. All children must be registered for CRE.

~ Charlotte Lehmann, Acting Director of Children’s Religious Education

Office hours: Mon-Tues-Weds, 10am-6pm. E-mail:

Among Us

Congratulations to our Sunday Childcare Provider, Denise Azar, on the recent birth of her grandson.

Youth Group Reunion Potluck, January 8

Dear Youth Group Alumni,

Merry December to you all!

It’s time for another Youth Group Reunion and we hope you can join us on Friday, January 8th at 6:00 p.m. in the Upper Hall. We will have a potluck dinner and goodies for dessert to entice you. The best part, of course, will be all of us! Need some Youth Group LOVE? This is the time and place! Print out the flyer here.

The Youth Group Coffeehouse will take place after our dinner, so feel free to stay for the show or if you’d like to perform send me a quick note to let me know! We miss you and want to catch up!

~ Julie and the YG seniors

  • What: Youth Group Reunion Potluck
  • When: Friday, January 8, 2016 at 6:00 p.m. in the Upper Hall
  • Contact:

Christmas Offering

We invite you to consider special gifts for the Christmas offering:

  • A gift to The First Church (“gift”), or
  • A gift to be divided between the charitable projects of the First Church (“Xmas charities”):
    • CARE, chosen by the Youth Group, is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty (
    • The Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry’s “new kitchen” campaign
    • To be decided by the Program Council

Please make checks payable to First Church and note on memo line either “Xmas charities” or “gift.”

Celebrate the season with Mary Beekman and Belmont Open Sings in a reading of Handel’s Messiah on Sunday, Dec. 20 at 7:30 p.m. at Payson Park Church, 365 Belmont St. $10 admission at the door allows you to enjoy singing this work with a full orchestra and accomplished soloists.

Adult Programs News

Belmont Unitarian Universalist Alliance
Wednesday, December 16, Upper Hall, 12 noon — Lunch & Program “Lena: My 100 Children”

Please join us on Wednesday, December 16 from 12 noon – 2:20 p.m., starting in the upper gathering space for lunch. Please bring your own sandwich. We will provide soup, fruit, dessert and beverages. The suggested lunch donation is $1.00 per person.

     The program will be at 12:45 the church library. We will be viewing the movie, “Lena: My 100 Children,” staring Linda Lavin. This tells the true story of Lena Kuchler, who at the end of World War II took on the care of 100 Jewish refugee children in Poland. There is a First Church connection to this story as one of these children was ultimately adopted by Miriam Baker’s parents. R.S.V.P. to Janice in the church office (617-484-1054,

Science and Spirituality — Ken Bernstein and Edwin Taylor; Thursday, Dec. 17, 7:30 p.m., Conference Room

Edwin Taylor will lead a discussion on A Beautiful Question by Frank Wilczek, Nobel Prize winner, MIT professor, and popular science writer. Three chapters, The Question, A Beautiful Answer?, and Emma Noether – Time, Energy, and Sanity, may be downloaded from

Fiber Arts Fellowship — Eva Patalas; Thursday, Dec. 17, 8:00 p.m., Classroom 4

Enjoy the fun and fellowship of crafting with a genial group. If you knit, crochet, quilt, bead or dabble in other crafts, please come join us. Everyone is welcome and no commitment is necessary.

Beyond Ferguson: Bridging Class, Cultural, and Racial Separations — Sunday, Dec. 20, 7 p.m., Library

Please join members of the Social Action Committee, the Belmont Religious Council, Belmont Against Racism, the Belmont police department and graduates of YouthBuild as we continue our discussion about how to end racism in Belmont and in the wider world.

Save the Dates: Spiritual Renewal through Poetry with Peter Guthrie

Sundays at 3 p.m. — January 10, 24, 31 and February 7, 2016

{ The complete events calendar is online. }

Program & Committee News

Ushers wanted for the Holiday Services

The Membership Committee is looking for ushers for all four Christmas Eve services — 2, 4, 6 and 11 p.m. It’s now easier than ever to sign up with our online form:

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee Monthly Group Note

The UUSC’s December refugee update includes a list of its global partners:

  • Praksis in Greece to ensure decent reception conditions for new arrivals
  • The Helsinki Committee in Hungary to reunite refugee families
  • The Asylum Protection Center in Serbia to provide comprehensive mobile aid across the migration trail
  • The Center for Peace Studies in Croatia to provide long-term resettlement support to refugees

The UUSC upholds the right of all people to seek asylum across borders, irrespective of their place of origin or documented status. Go to to donate to this cause. Read more about the refugee update at:

~ Alice Trexler for the UUSC Group of FCB

Grow Clinic!


We are often asked about monetary donations to the Grow Clinic. What a welcomed holiday gift! The Grow Clinic’s critical services of home visits, nutritional supplements and multilingual outreach cannot be billed to insurance. The Clinic relies completely on philanthropic care for these services:

Grow Clinic for Children
Boston Medical Center
771 Albany St.
Boston, Mass. 02118

November and December is “Start the day Strong!”

  • infant rice cereal
  • cold and hot non-sugared cereals
  • Flintstone chewable vitamins
  • Polyvisol with Iron liquid vitamins

There are collection baskets in the Lower Hall and the vestibule outside the Sanctuary.

Food: One of the Most Important Medicines

Caring Connection

The Caring Connection provides support to members of our community who need short-term help. Please let us know if you or someone you know would benefit from our support. Contact Laurie Graham at or Janice at the Church, 617-484-1054, ext. 201.

Lay Pastoral Care Team

The Lay Pastoral Care Team works with and supports the senior minister in reaching out to members and friends of the First Church who are adjusting to change, loss, illness or death. We share in moments of celebration and happiness. We reach out to those who are unable to get out and who would like a visit. Please contact us through the Web site or the church office if we might be of help or comfort.

{ A list of all church committees & groups is online. }

Connect with UU actions, events & resources

Church Staff

  • Senior Minister………………….. Rev. David M. Bryce; 617-484-1054, ext. 202;
  • Minister Emeritus……….. Rev. Dr. Victor Carpenter; 617-676-6186;
  • Minister of Music Emerita….. Rev. Alfa Joy Radford;
  • Director of Music…………………………….. Ian Garvie; 617-484-1054, ext. 206;
  • Organist & Assistant Music Director: …Dylan Sauerwald; 617-484-1054, ext. 206;
  • Acting Director of CRE…………. Charlotte Lehmann; 617-484-1054, ext. 205;
  • Director of Youth Programs………………. Julie Ennis; 617-484-1054, ext. 204;
  • Adult Programs Advisor……………. Lillian Anderson; 617-484-1054, ext. 207;
  • Church Administrator………………… Janice Zazinski; 617-484-1054, ext. 201;
  • Membership Coordinator…………………. Jim Staton; 617-484-1054, ext. 207;
  • Sexton………………………………………… Luis Carrion 617-484-1054
  • Office hours: Monday – Friday, 9 – 3. The church office will be closed from Thursday, December 24 through Sunday, January 3.
  • 617-484-1054 |
  • Street: 404 Concord Ave., Belmont
  • Mailing: PO Box 113, Belmont, Mass. 02478

Parish Board, 2015 – 2016


  • Catherine Claypoole
  • Deveaux Duckworth
  • Betsy George
  • Peter Guthrie
  • Jackie James
  • Sarah Oaklander
  • Jack Weis

Parish Board minutes are available online and are posted on the Lower Hall bulletin board.


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Our Facebook page is regularly updated with news, events & programs – and you don’t need an account to view it!

Next issue: December 22

The next issue of The Unitarian is Tuesday, December 22. Please send your submissions to Janice Zazinski at by Wednesday, December 16.

Please note upcoming special deadlines for the Unitarian:

  • No Unitarian on Tuesday, December 29.
  • Tuesday January 5 issue: deadline is Wednesday, December 16
Posted in Caring Connection, Fellowship Events, Second Friday Coffee House, Unitarian