The Unitarian – January 26, 2016

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Sunday Worship — January 31

Sermon: Why This Community is Needed — Rev. David Bryce

We have something special here; really, we have many special things here. And this is important for us, for our children and for the future.

Prelude: Berceuse by Louis Vierne (1870-1937); Dylan Sauerwald, organ

Postlude: Ricercar in C major by Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706); Dylan Sauerwald, organ

Welcome and Announcements: 9 a.m. Ana Hammock; 11 a.m. Jackie James

Ushers: 9 a.m.: Sara Oaklander & Debora Hoffman; 11 a.m.: Martin Plass & Milo Plass

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

The flowers on the Chancel table this Sunday are given by Laurie Graham.

  • Services 9 & 11 a.m.; childcare is provided.
  • Sunday, February 7: Social Justice as a Spiritual Practice — Laura Wagner, LICSW and Executive Director, UU Mass Action
  • Sermon archive

Reflections from Rev. David Bryce, Senior Minister

If you want to give God a good laugh, make plans.

Rev. David Bryce

Rev. David Bryce

Planning is a fascinating thing: quite important and yet often irrelevant.
     The Program Council met a few weeks ago to plan the major events for the 2016 to 2017 program year. Yes, they were looking a year and a half into the future.
     I am already “late” in planning the Sunday service schedule (just the schedule, not the topics) for the 2017 to 2018 year. It sounds odd to be thinking that far ahead, but it is important to do so in order to allow many different services to fit into the calendar. We have a multigenerational spring service, the Coming of Age and Youth Group services, the annual celebration of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee and the New Member service to schedule.
     And we have to build that schedule round the “floating” service for Easter which also means that the Music service on Palm Sunday changes dates from year to year. Add in Earth Day and Stewardship Celebration Sunday and the scheduling process becomes quite an intricate task.
     Please note, I am not complaining or moaning about the “difficulties” I face; I am merely reporting what we all know about the process of scheduling and how complex it can be. We all do it, we all work through competing needs and priorities to finally develop a schedule and a plan for the future.
     And God laughs.
     Because no matter how carefully we plan, circumstances change, life changes, we change. And that means that so many of our plans and schedules need to be modified or even become irrelevant.
     Yet planning is a necessity, because some things will come to pass as expected and if we have not planned and prepared for them, we will be scrabbling to catch up with events.
     So in our lives, let us plan, but let us do so with some level of humility—and with some sense of humor about our efforts. Because if we develop a sense of humor, we can sometimes laugh with God.

Opportunity to Lead Summer Worship Services

Summer Lay-Led Services have become an important aspect of our shared ministry. These are important touchstones during the summer months, when travel and vacation separate us as a community. They provide opportunities to gather in less formal ways and smaller numbers to engage in worship led by members and friends of First Church.
     Have you ever thought to yourself “This would make a great worship service” or “This aspect of spirituality is rich and intriguing for a lay led theme”? Do you have a personal or professional interest that would enrich us?
     The Worship Committee welcomes inquiries about leading a service this summer from June 19- September 4. Committee members will be available for support, resources, and brainstorming themes/ideas for services.
     Recent themes have included Ethical Eating, Buddhist Meditation and Mindfulness in Everyday Live, Tolerating Intolerance, Lughnasadh Ritual Celebrating First Fruits and many others.
     If you would like to consider leading a service this summer or partnering with someone else to develop a meaningful experience for fellow parishioners, please contact Ariane Frank at 617-484-2149 or Although it’s hard to imagine with storm and freezing temperatures outside, summer will come to lighten our hearts again!

Children’s Religious Education: It Takes a Congregation

The CRE classes are wrapping up their exploration of Unitarian Universalism — the values, actions and people that exemplify the meaning of our 7 UU Principles – at the end of this month. You could check out the favorite principle of some of them or read the “footstep” and “wheel-chair” messages left by the 3rd and 4th graders on the path of their “Faithful Journey” over the past four months. Wander down the hall of the CRE Wing to appreciate these visual reminders of who we are as UUs.
    The 7th grade Building Bridges class continues its chronological journey through our neighboring faith traditions. They will visit different types of Christian congregations and the Islamic Center in Wayland during the second half of the year.
     Grades 1 through 6 classes will be starting the Judeo-Christian Heritage pillar on February 7th, with a visit from Moses, of Bible-fame. They will have one other set of time-traveling visitors from the Fertile Crescent and plenty of other interesting activities and lessons between February and June. Classes hear Bible stories and learn about ethical and theological questions raised in Judaism and Christianity. Judeo-Christian heritage is one of our six sources from which we embark on our search for truth and meaning. Stay tuned, but even better, sign-up to volunteer in our classes as a teacher. See below to sign up to teach.
     Our “Chalice Children” pre-school and kindergarten classes recently have been learning about some time honored rituals and rites of passage: memorial services, marriages, child dedications, and other special worship services. They will continue to learn about what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist during the next two months.

Special Activities of interest this winter:

  • January 26, 7-9 p.m. in the FCB Library: Parents and Caregivers as Sexuality Educators It continues on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month through May 24th. This program is especially helpful for parents/caregivers of tweens and teens but we welcome anyone who wishes to participate. Offered by CRE. FMI, and to register for the class, click here.
  • January 31: “Children and Technology” program for parents and other interested adults, between services (10:15 – 11 a.m.); childcare provided. Facilitated by Diana Dill. Offered by Adult Programs.
  • February 6: “All-Church Potluck and Game Night,” 5:30-8:30 p.m. Fellowship Event. Sign-up on bulletin board near church office.

Children’s Religious Education Program Registration and Information:

If you haven’t registered your children for CRE, please do so ASAP using the registration link found on the Children’s Religious Education page of the FCB website ( which allows you to register children from birth through 12thgrade. All children must be registered for CRE.

CRE Volunteer Opportunities for All at FCB

Are your kids interested in traditional English dancing?

CRE received notice of two opportunities to learn and participate in Morris dancing and other traditional English ritual dances at First Parish of Sudbury, one of our neighboring UU congregations. Hop Brook Morris is for 4th-8th graders interested in learning Morris and sword dancing basics; first meeting is Sunday, January 31st from 11:45 am – 1 pm at First Parish in Sudbury. Great Meadows Morris & Sword is a rapper sword and Morris dance performance team for teens, age 13-18 meeting Sunday evenings from 4:45-6:45 pm. FMI go to: Flyers are posted on the CRE bulletin board. Contact Tom Kruskal, or 978-443-8940 to ask questions or register your child(ren).

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

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

All-Church Potluck/Game Night – Saturday, Feb. 6, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m., Parish Hall

Brush off the winter blues and come to the All-Church Potluck and Game Night. This will be a wonderful opportunity to kick back, relax, and have fun.
     Savor a diversity of cuisines as varied as our congregation. Bring your favorite dish and bottle of wine to share, and a healthy appetite. Show off your culinary talents, secret recipe, or bring a pizza. Enjoy an evening of fine food and conversation at this fun evening together!
     There will also be games for all ages — cards, board games, poker, Twister. Bring along a favorite game you’d like to play!
     Potluck begins at 5:30 p.m. and games begin at 6:30 p.m. Questions, contact or see us at coffee hour.

Adult Programs News

Click here to download the Winter 2016 Adult Programs Brochure (pdf file)

Spiritual Renewal through Poetry – Peter Guthrie; Sundays, January 31, Feb. 7, 3 p.m., Parlor

Robert Frost once defined a poem as a “momentary stay against confusion.” Good poems can help us see ourselves and our lives more clearly, trigger moments of epiphany, and cut through the confusion of life to what truly matters. We will read and discuss poems that deal with spiritual issues in the broadest sense of the term.

Hootenanny/Jam Session — Jon Svetkey and friends; Wednesday, Jan. 27, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Library

Are you a closet guitar hero with no band? A great shower singer? Have you ever wanted to just sit around the porch with a bunch of friends singing and strumming songs that you (mostly!) know?
     Then we’ve got just the thing for you: a good old fashioned hootenanny! Bring along your portable acoustic instrument (i.e., guitar, mandolin, banjo, harmonica, shaker, suitcase, jaw harp, spoons..), your voice or just yourself and — most of all — bring your enthusiasm. Bring your iPads, iPhones etc. so we can access words to the songs. All levels encouraged!
     We will meet on the last Wednesday of every month. Mark your calendars (Feb. 24, March 30, April 27).

Parenting Concerns – “Children and Technology”; Sunday, January 31, 10:15 – 11 a.m., Classroom 5

This program is an opportunity to briefly explore concerns and issues and connect with other parents or interested members of the congregation. We will pose some questions, share information and have a facilitated discussion. Childcare will be provided so let us know of your interest.

Theatre Discussion Series — Waiting for Godot
Downing Cless, Jane Minasian, Debbie Dobbins; Sunday, January 31, 12:30 p.m., Library

Join Downing and others as we read Samuel Beckett’s first and most famous play, which launched the movement known as Theatre of the Absurd. Two tramps in a void exchange humorous banter and existential queries as they day-after-day wait for the arrival of Mr. Godot, a continuous no-show. We’ll read the play together and then discuss it. Please bring a copy of the play with you if possible. Our next discussions will be about plays from the current Boston theatre scene which we will attend in our own time. The following plays will be explored:

  • The Convert at the Underground Railway Theatre playing from January 28-February 28th – discussion on Sunday, March 6, 3 p.m., Library
  • Bootycandy at the SpeakEasy Stage Company playing from March 10 – April 9th – discussion on Sunday, April 10, 3 p.m., Library

Beyond Ferguson: Bridging Class, Cultural and Racial Separations – Social Action Committee; Sunday, January 31, 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.

Caring for Older Adults — Miriam Baker and Deborah Blumberg; Thursday, February 4, 7:30 p.m., Conference Room

Many people are juggling jobs, families and their parents’ or other family members’ increasing medical needs, frequent emergencies and ongoing need for care. How do we cope with the needs of our loved ones and find some balance in our own lives? What do we need to learn as we take on this task? How do we find information and community? If you find yourself in this position, you are welcome at this group for discussion and support.  This is a drop-in group so please attend when it is convenient for you.

Learn to Make Italian Wedding Soup — Donna Ruvolo; Sunday, February 7, 1 – 3:30 p.m., Kitchen

Come in from the cold to a nice pot of soup! In this very basic, step by step class, participants will learn how to make Italian wedding soup (escarole, mini-meatballs and orzo) and its cousin, Polish wedding soup (kielbasas, kale and white bean) from scratch. Each participant will bring their own meatball ingredients and will go home with enough for two or three quick and easy pots of soup to make at home. Sample soups will be made in class for everyone to try.
     Limited to 10 students (or pairs of students, working together), ages 15 and above. Taught by First Church member Donna Ruvolo in the First Church kitchen. Students will receive a complete shopping list in advance from Donna, so make sure to provide an up to date email address when registering. (Note, the Super Bowl begins later in the day).
     Registration is required. Contact Lillian Anderson (

The complete events calendar is online.

Program & Committee News Universalist Service Committee Team of First Church

Monthly Note (Jan. 2016)

At the UUSC Guest at Your Table Sunday in November, contribution boxes and Stories of Hope were distributed to the congregation. We trust that these stories promoted conversation and reflection and that your box has become fuller and fuller over these weeks. As you remember, this year’s funds are going to refugees and displaced persons. This message is to remind you to send your donation by the end of January.
     Please write a check for the amount in your box or more, and use the form on the box or with the story booklet when you mail it (address on form). Or, you may donate directly through the Guest at Your Table page of $40 or more earns membership benefits, and $125 or more will be matched by another congregation.
     And there’s more — if our church is in the top 75 of fundraising totals or has more than 75% participation, we will be included in the 100th anniversary UUSC time capsule. Thank you for your tax deductible donation for refugees through this program!

~ Alice Trexler for the UUSC Team

Grow Clinic!alt

Many, many thanks for the wonderful contributions to this year’s Great January Jar Race.  Your generosity was grand, and the Grow Clinic families are supremely grateful to you for taking part in the race. Jars and jars and jars of gratitude…..Your Grow Clinic Committee

  • The Great Jar Race — Baby Foods of All Kinds!

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 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;
Office Assistant: Alexandra Nichipor — 617-484-1054, ext. 207;
Membership Coordinator: Jim Staton — 617-484-1054, ext. 207;
Sexton: Luis Carrion — 617-484-1054

Office hours: Monday – Friday, 9 – 3
617-484-1054 |
Street:       404 Concord Ave., Belmont
Mailing:   PO Box 113, Belmont, Mass. 02478

Parish Board, 2015 – 2016

President: Todd Schatzki —
Vice President: Ana Hammock —
Treasurer: Penny Schafer —
Clerk: Downing Cless —
Ex-Officio President: Carolyn Howard —


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

More ways to support & connect with FCB


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Next issue: January 26

The next issue of The Unitarian is Tuesday, February 2. Please send your submissions to by Wednesday, January 27.

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