The Unitarian – February 2, 2016

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Sunday Worship — February 7

Sermon: Social Justice as a Spiritual Practice

—Laura Wagner, LICSW and Executive Director, UU Mass Action

Laura Wagner

Laura Wagner

Our wholeness as individuals is realized in connection with other human beings. It is through this connection that we define our values. Being aware of the struggles of others and then engaging in social justice allows us to put our values into action. Living our values through social justice helps us to create a living, meaningful spiritual practice that both heals the world and ourselves at the same time.

Laura Wagner has been a Unitarian Universalist for over 20 years. She began her involvement with UU Mass Action as a volunteer working on the immigrant rights campaign. Laura was initially drawn to immigrant justice work because of her family history — her grandparents were survivors of the Armenian Genocide. In the spring of 2014 Laura accepted the role of Executive Director. UU Mass Action currently has four core campaigns: Ending Mass Incarceration, Immigrant Rights, Economic Rights and Climate Change. Laura balances community organizing with her work as a Clinical Social Worker. She maintains a part-time private practice helping people who are healing from trauma. Laura has been married to Ken Wagner for 26 years and they share four beautiful children together and two adorable grandchildren.

Welcome and Announcements: 9 a.m. Peter Guthrie; 11 a.m. Catherine Claypoole

Ushers: 9 a.m.: Martha Courant & Sarah Cliffe; 11 a.m.: Laurie Graham & Alan Cantor

Lay Pastoral Care: 9 a.m. Devon Beckett; 11 a.m. Martha Spaulding

The flowers on the Chancel table this Sunday are given by Martha Spaulding in joyful celebration of the 5th wedding anniversary of her daughter, Rachel, and son-in-law, Cristiano.

  • Services 9 & 11 a.m.; childcare is provided.
  • Sunday, February 14 — David Bryce
  • Sermon archive

Reflections from Rev. David Bryce, Senior Minister

Rev. David Bryce

Rev. David Bryce

You will be receiving this message on February 2, which most of us know as Groundhog Day.
     But February 2 is also Candlemas, the celebration of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. Actually, it commemorates three different events in the Christian tradition. In some places the celebration includes filling churches with lit candles (hence the name).
     It is also Imbolc, the ancient Celtic festival of Brigid. (The festival of Brigid just happens to also be the feast of St. Brigid, an important Catholic saint in Ireland.)
     In the northern hemisphere, February 2 is the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox (one of the “cross days” on the Pagan calendar) and so it is natural for holidays to cluster around this date.
     February 2 should be a happy day for everyone.
     If you like winter, you have a whole half of the season yet to go; if you dislike winter, you are already halfway through.
     If you are of Christian heritage you have Candlemas; if you are Pagan you have Imbolc; if you are calendrically Earth-centered you have the halfway point to spring and Groundhog Day.
     If you are of Irish Catholic heritage you have Saint Brigid; if you are of Irish Pagan heritage (or Irish historical heritage) you have the Goddess Brigid.
     Imagine a world where everyone is happy to share their holidays and their holy days with others, where participating in all of the world’s celebrations is open to everyone, and where different interpretations of the meanings of celebrations is not only allowed but appreciated.
     May it someday be so.

2016 March Stewardship Drive

pledgeOur March Stewardship Drive is approaching! This is how we fund the worship services, programs, and operations of First Church. The annual budget is over $700,000, and pledges from all of us, Members and Friends, provide about 80% of the church’s revenue. To help each of us decide our level of commitment for the July 2016-June 2017 church year, our campaign unfolds in three phases:

  • LEARN and REFLECT (during February): How can we all be stewards of our church? What is my connection to the church? What are all the types of ministry, programs, and intangible benefits First Church provides to me, my family, and our community? Please reflect on David Bryce’s January 31 stewardship sermon.
    The Stewardship Committee shortly will provide information on our webpage outlining the church’s finances.
  • DECIDE (late February): Your pledge packet, including pledge form and envelope, will arrive in the mail during the last week of February. Do not put it aside! We ask all of you to pledge generously to sustain our valuable church operations and programs for the 2016 – 2017 year. Generous increased pledges each year are essential to the success of the Stewardship Drive. On the pledge form, you will be able to select a payment schedule that works best for you.
  • RESPOND (Celebration Sunday, February 28): We ask you to make your pledge as promptly as possible. We invite all of you to bring your pledges to church on Sunday, February 28 and to come forward with your pledge envelopes during the Offertory. It will be a memorable worship service and musical celebration as we gather together. At coffee hour, enjoy special treats from Quebrada Bakery!

     We seek a very strong response on February 28. If you are unable to pledge by that date, we ask that you make your pledge no later than March 13. On-time pledging is essential, as the Parish Board has to finalize the budget in April for the congregation to approve in May. We request your timely response to our annual March Stewardship Drive, which we hope will be as generous as possible. Our church depends on all of us.
     Thank you for your careful consideration of these important calendar dates and the church’s financial needs.

The First Church Stewardship Committee — Roger Read, Chair

Note from the Parish Board President

I hope everyone has enjoyed our first dose of snow and some crisp winter weather. For the most part, activity at the Parish Board was fairly quiet over the fall. However, in the coming months, the Parish Board will be focused on the important task of finding replacements for our current children’s and youth directors.|
     Charlotte Lehmann, after two years of valuable service as our Acting Director of Children’s Religious Education, plans to move onto the next phase of her ministerial career. And after eight years, Julie Ennis will be stepping down as the Director of Youth Programs. We thank both of them for their service to the congregation, look forward to the remaining time we’ll have with them, and hope to glean some the wealth of knowledge and wisdom they have developed before they depart.
     While it will be hard to replace Charlotte and Julie, this presents an opportunity for these programs to evolve, while also trying to maintain the quality of the programs they have helped to steward during their tenures. In the coming months, as the search for new staff to oversee these programs, we plan to keep the congregation apprised of our progress.

~ Todd Schatzki, Parish Board President

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

It may seem awfully early to be saying or thinking about this, but with the launching of the annual budget drive by the Stewardship Team and the delivery of David’s annual stewardship sermon, it is important for me to remind the congregation that my service to you as Acting Director of Children’s Religious Education (DCRE) will come to an end when the church year ends in June. That is five months from now, but time flies when we’re having fun. And I have been having fun during my tenure at FCB.
     There is a search committee already hard at work looking for a person to direct CRE who will continue to inspire and lead with the quality you have come to expect of this program. The DCRE Search Committee is headed up by Catherine Claypoole, and includes Eleanor Sugarman and Beth Westlund. Be sure get in contact with them to express your support for CRE.
     During the worship service on January 31st, two members of the CRE Committee, Gerri Strickler and Karsten Kueppenbender, shared their reflections on why the CRE program is needed and what the program has meant to themselves and to their families. They included some thoughts from their own children along with their own thoughts.
     Gerri came to FCB looking for community. She told me about how important it was for her, as a newcomer to Unitarian Universalism, to volunteer to teach in the classrooms, because she was able to learn about UUism herself alongside her daughter. Gerri also mentioned that as a single parent, connecting with CRE families enhanced her feeling of community, thus strengthening her commitment to being in this community of shared values.
     Back in November, Karsten shared with me that his oldest son, a sixth grader, chose going to church on Sunday morning over going for a play-day at some friends. Although torn between competing interests, he went to church and was delighted he had made that choice to learn and grow in this community.
     During the next few months, as you make your annual pledge to FCB and as the leadership determines the budget for FY2017, ask your self what this congregation means to you and why you need it. Then go further than that: Ask every day how it is with the children, all our children (Ginger, 2015 LREDA McLean Award winner). Now, what can you give of your time, talent and treasure, to make sure that how it is with all of the children in this congregation is overflowing with loving human-kindness and they learning and growing every day.

Special Activities of interest this winter:

  • Parents and Caregivers as Sexuality Educators 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. For more information, and to register for the class, use the following link:
  • February 6: “All-Church Potluck and Game Night”, 5:30-8:30 p.m. Fellowship Event. Sign-up on bulletin board near church office.
  • February 7 at 7 p.m.: Mandatory Parent Orientation for OWL 5-6. If you have registered or are thinking about registering your 5th or 6th grader for OWL, please mark your calendars with this very important date and contact Wendy Conroy at if you have questions or need more information.

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 12th grade. All children must be registered for CRE.

CRE Volunteer Opportunities for All at FCB

  • Teach any of the CRE classes on Sunday mornings: You will need to have recent background check (done by FCB in the last 2 years) or submit a new one using this form:
  • 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 to sign-up: tinyurlcom/chalicelighting. 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. Click here: You will receive an e-mail reminder.

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

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

Among Us

Our deepest sympathies go out to Yolanda Aliberti on the recent death of her husband.

All-Church Potluck/Game Nightthis week

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.Saturday, Feb. 6, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m., Parish Hall

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.

Second Friday Coffeehouse features Jim Infantino and Holm, Miller & Greene

Jim Infantino

Jim Infantino

Friday Coffeehouse on Friday night February 12th! Jim Infantino will be appearing for the first time on our stage. He is a distinctive singer-songwriter whose songs are alternately funny and serious. Jim has enjoyed an active career for several decades. In the 90’s he collaborated with Jon Svetkey, Brian Doser, and Ellis Paul in the well recognized group, End Construction.
     Opening our show will be our own Roger Miller, teaming up once again with his longtime friends Chris Holm and Chuck Greene. This exciting and talented trio has entertained Second Friday audiences numerous times and we look forward to welcoming them again. Our featured beneficiary for the month is .Bristol Lodge: Metro West Network of shelters and soup kitchens.
     Check out the complete schedule at

Adult Programs News

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.

Fiber Arts — Eva Patalas

Thursday, Feb. 4 and 18, 8 p.m., Location TBD
Enjoy the fun and fellowship of crafting with a genial group on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of the month. If you knit, crochet, quilt, bead or dabble in other low-mess crafts, please come join us. Everyone is welcome and no commitment is necessary. Contact for location.

Spiritual Renewal through Poetry – Peter Guthrie

Sunday, 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.

New! 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.
     Class is limited to 10 people and registration is required: contact Lillian Anderson ( Students will receive a complete shopping list in advance from Donna, so make sure to provide an up to date email address when registering. (Also note, the Super Bowl begins later in the day).

Belmont UU Alliance Lunch and Program — All women and men welcome!

Wednesday, Feb. 17, 12 noon, Upper Hall
Bring your own sandwich; we will provide beverages, fruit, and dessert. The suggested lunch donation is $1.00 per person. This month’s program features Joe Cornish, president of the New England Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians and past president of the Belmont Historical Society who will speak about historic architecture/17th century homes in Belmont. R.s.v.p. to Janice Zazinski: 617-484-1054, x.201 or

Science and Spirituality — Ken Bernstein and Edwin Taylor

Thursday, Feb. 18, 7:30 p.m., Conference Room
Jeff Speller will lead the discussion of a reading from The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge. Our brains are plastic and ready for learning at any age. Is this true? What is the evidence? How can this ability change our lives? Download the reading from:

Living Positively (formerly Living with Serious Illness) — Kathy Lind

Thursday, Feb. 18, 7 p.m., Tinkham Room
We welcome you to join our ongoing group as we explore ways to live bravely while facing health challenges – either of our own, or of loved ones for whom we act as caregivers. Our group provides a safe place for us to talk about our concerns and our ideas for moving forward. We share strategies for setting goals and living positively with the medical issues in front of us. Through compassionate listening, we help one another understand his or her own challenges. Please join us on a path of living positively and boldly in the New Year. Meetings are held on the 3rd Thursday.

Understanding Hospice — Adult Programs Committee

Tuesday, February 23 and March 8, 7:30 p.m., Parish Hall
In this two-part series we will provide useful information to anyone who might need hospice services for themselves or their loved ones in the future. A panel representing roles on the hospice team will help us grapple with some of the more complex issues. Each session will include time for questions.

Breast Cancer Wellness Journey — Melanie Deveikas

Wednesdays, Feb.24, Mar. 9 and 23, April 6, 7:30 p.m., Parlor
An educational series focusing on life and wellness during and after breast cancer treatment. Each week there will be an education topic for discussion as well as an opportunity for sharing your breast cancer journey and related concerns through and beyond treatment. For more information or to sign up please contact Melanie at

Hootenanny/Jam Session — Jon Svetkey

Wednesday, February 24, 7:30-9:30 p.m., Parish Hall
Bring your instruments, your voice and your enthusiasm to sing the songs we all know and love. No experience required. Bring your iPads or iPhones so we can find the lyrics.

The complete calendar of events is online.

The Christmas Charities drive resulted in more than $2,000 for each of this year’s recipients:

  • CARE, chosen by the Youth Group, is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty
  • The Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry’s “new kitchen” campaign
  • The UUSC-UUA Refugee Crisis Fund, chosen by the Program Council, which responds to the forced movement of refugees caused by humanitarian crises around the world (org/updates/uusc-refugee-response)

Program & Committee News / Unitarian 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

Dr. Deborah Frank, Grow Clinic Founder writes: “We are very grateful for your congregation’s sustained generosity particularly as we are concerned about the increasing proportion of our young patients who are homeless. Your generosity will support nutrition and social work outreach to them in the shelters (and worse yet, motels).” Pick up a food list for shopping or bring a “Special Request:”

  • February Special Request: Baby Food and Formula

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

Food: One of the Most Important Medicines

Belmont Food Pantry Volunteers

First Church members staff the opening of the Belmont Food Pantry on the second Tuesday of every month. There will be a sign-up table after Sunday’s service to recruit volunteers for the months of February through May. Volunteers work for about 90 minutes, from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Please stop by the sign-up table in the Gathering Hall today to volunteer to help out one evening during the upcoming months.

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: February 9

The next issue of The Unitarian is Tuesday, February 9. Please send your submissions to by noon on Wednesday, February 3.

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