The Unitarian – February 16, 2016

Click here to download a printable version of The Unitarian (pdf file)

Sunday Worship — February 21

Sermon: Does Religion Matter? — Rev. Doris Hunter

With the ongoing development of artificial intelligence, the future might involve a super intelligent computer that can respond like the human mind. At that point will there be a theologian present who will program the religious questions about the meaning of life and the ethical questions of right and wrong? Does religion matter to the future of artificial intelligence?

9 a.m. Nova Choir Anthem: Sing to God, O Sing His Praises! Hugh S. Livingston (composed 1989)

11 a.m. Senior Choir Anthem: Lo, My Shepherd Is Divine, Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

Offertory: King David, Herbert Howells (1892-1983); Chuck Claus, baritone

Welcome and Announcements: 9 a.m. Jack Weis; 11 a.m. Downing Cless

Ushers: 9 a.m.: Sara Oaklander; 11 a.m.: Mark Rosenstein & Jody Renouf

Lay Pastoral Care: 9 a.m. TBD; 11 a.m. Tom Neel

The flowers on the Chancel table this Sunday are given by Paul Santos & Anne Stuart in loving memory of Robin, Cristina, Paul, & Peter Santos.

  • Services 9 & 11 a.m.; childcare is provided.
  • Sunday, February 28 — Rev. David Bryce
  • Sermon archive

Reflections from Rev. David Bryce, Senior Minister

Do we need fear in order to be good?

Rev. David Bryce

Rev. David Bryce

A complaint that I commonly hear from people about the Catholic Church is that people can misbehave then go to confession and be absolved, so this — supposedly — opens the door for all kinds of bad actions.
     As someone who believes in repentance, forgiveness and redemption; and as someone who recognizes how damaging guilt can be, I do not find this to be a valid criticism. The ability to be cleansed, if you will; to start over, is an important one. Without it decent people would be burdened down with guilt and shame.
     And the person who uses the confessional in order to go out and sin again has misused the confessional. That is not a Church problem, that is a person problem.
     In the past our Universalist heritage was even more strongly condemned by some—including the Unitarians–because in its more radical form it proclaimed that all of our sins are forgiven without even the necessity of the confessional. The “Ultra-Universalists” proclaimed that no matter who we are or what we believe, what faith or creed we hold, all of our sins were taken away by the sacrifice of Jesus.
     This was both outrageous and absurd to many. And it was seen as promoting sinful behavior.
     A story about the get Universalist leader Hosea Ballou answered this claim:

Hosea Ballou…was riding the circuit in the New Hampshire hills with a Baptist preacher one afternoon. They argued theology as they traveled. At one point, the Baptist looked over and said, “Brother Ballou, if I were a Universalist and feared not the fires of hell, I could hit you over the head, steal your horse and saddle, and ride away, and I’d still go to heaven.” Hosea Ballou looked over at him and said, “If you were a Universalist, the idea would never occur to you.” —told by the Rev. Elizabeth Strong

    The Universalist response was two-fold. First, the theological (some would say the theoretical) argument was that when people accepted universalism, and accepted the fact that God loved them and forgave their sins, they were so joy-filled and grateful that they simply would not do evil.
     The second response was the more practical: Show us, they said, the prisons full of Universalist law breakers; you cannot because they do not behave as you predict.
     May we be as filled with joy and gratitude as our Universalist forebears, may we feel the love of the universe and love from and for others.

2016 March Stewardship Drive

Dear Members and Friends,stewardship logo

Pledge Packets will arrive in your mailbox this coming weekend — look for the envelope with the First Church clock tower logo. The Pledging phase of our campaign kicks off just a week later, at our special Celebration Sunday services on February 28. So, when you get your packet, please:

Reflect on:

  • The value of First Church to you, your family, your fellow parishioners, and the broader community;
  • The role First Church plays in promoting social justice and standing up for what is right;
  • David’s Jan. 31 Stewardship sermon
  • First Church as one of your top charitable priorities

Decide on your pledge:

  • Please consider a generous increase over last year’s pledge — the continued vitality of church finances depends on generous increases each year
  • If you are a first time donor, please pledge as generously as you can

Join us with your pledge on Celebration Sunday, Feb. 28, for a festive service and special coffee hour.

Thank you!

The First Church Stewardship Committee — Roger Read, Chair

Among Us

Congratulations to David Deese on the birth of a second child to his son, Brian, and his wife.

Congratulations to Dorothy Stoneman and John Bell on the recent birth of a son to their daughter, Sierra.

Condolences to Sarah Marie Jette on the recent death of her father.

Children’s Religious Education: It Takes a Congregation



After that gorgeous snowfall on Friday, the winter winds blew in a guest from the ancient deserts of the Middle East. On the first Sunday in February, the Biblical patriarch Moses visited the combined grades 1-6 class for Community Sunday (aka Children’s Chapel). What follows is a brief summary of what the kids learned from Moses about his life, the time that he lived, and why his story is still important to us in the 21st century.
     Moses was born in Egypt. The Israelites were slaves to the Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt. The story of Moses in the Bullrushes tells about how Moses came to be raised in Pharaoh’s household, with his sister Miriam as his nursemaid.
     As an adult, Moses left Egypt, but eventually he came back to try and free the Israelites from slavery. God gave Moses special powers to use in convincing Pharaoh to let his people go. Moses told Pharaoh that if he didn’t agree to freeing the Israelites, God would send 10 plagues. With God’s help Moses parted the Red Sea and saved the Israelites from Pharaoh’s army.
     During the long time that the Israelites wandered in the desert with Moses as their leader, Moses was in communication with God. Moses spent 40 days and 40 nights on Mount Sinai. It was during this time that God gave Moses the Ten Commandments on two tablets. Moses was the “keeper of rules” but even he disobeyed God. He broke the tablets when he was angry and killed some of his people. Was Moses punished by God for breaking the “thou shall not kill” commandment?
     Moses had a very long life, he lived for 120 years! But in the end he did not live to see the Promised Land, the new home for the Israelite people.
     The story of the Exodus – when Moses led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land – is one that people who are marginalized and oppressed in our day use as a powerful metaphor for their fight for liberation and equal civil and human rights. For example, African Americans often refer to the Exodus and Moses in song and story.
     The kids had some particularly interesting questions that they asked Moses. They wondered, for example, why there were two tablets. Were there five commandments on each tablet? Maybe Moses made two copies of the Ten Commandments?

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: com/teachCRE. 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: com/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 a.m. each Sunday. Click here: com/sundaynursery. You will receive an e-mail reminder.

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

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

Can you help with a UUUM youth service project?

From Ben Ackerson:

I am working on a youth service project at the UU Urban Ministry in Roxbury. Reverend Hinds from the Ministry has asked me to build a fence and a firm foundation to hide a dumpster from view and keep it from wrecking the ground. I have a team of friends and some adult helpers lined up to do the work this spring. I just need an experienced builder or landscape architect who is willing to do some volunteer work to help me write up the plans. I expect that the commitment would be:

  1. A trip to the Urban Ministry one weekday afternoon or one weekend day to view the site;
  2. Help writing up a plan or diagram and coming up with a list of required materials.

If you are able to help, please contact me at, my dad (Lee Ackerson) at, or my home at 617-484-1910. Thanks, Ben Ackerson

Looking for a summer rental/home exchange

Greetings from Tina Tomlow-de Muinck Keizer

I am the daughter of Bea de Muinck Keizer … I live in the Netherlands with my husband and three growing children. We would love to visit my mother over the summer and are looking for lodging in the greater Belmont area. We are looking for a summer rental for 1-3 weeks for a reasonable price in the period from mid-July to mid- August. We can also offer our home in the centre of the Netherlands as a home exchange. This is something we are experienced with.
     Please contact me at You can call Bea if you have any questions, at 617-489-1781. Thank you!

Belmont Open Sings — February 21

Come hear Irina Kareva in Mozart’s stirring Requiem; and, even better, get to sing the choral parts too, when Mary Beekman conducts Belmont Open Sings on Sunday, Feb. 21 at 7:30 p.m. This is the last piece Mozart wrote, and in it you can hear his uncertainty as to whether God will judge him as a sheep or a goat. The reading takes place at Payson Park Church, 365 Belmont St. and $10 gets you a seat, a score, a full orchestra and fine soloists, and even a cookie or two! Hope to see you there!

Adult Programs News

Belmont UU Alliance Lunch and Program — 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.

Fiber Arts — Eva Patalas; Thursday, Feb. 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.

Understanding Hospice; 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.

Our UU Principles and Purposes — Doris Hunter & Edwin Taylor; Sunday, February 28, 12:30 p.m., Library

“Unitarian Universalists can believe anything they want to believe.” WAIT! That is not true. Let’s look at our Principles and recognize again the religious demand they place on our lives. Refreshments served.

Solar Information Workshop; Sunday, February 28, 12:30 p.m., Parish Hall

Learn about the status of solar energy technology, when it makes sense to add a solar system to your house, the economics of going solar, the inside of the current Belmont Goes Solar campaign, experiences from solar owners, and how we can add a solar system to FCB. Solar energy is a great way to help reduce our carbon footprint without having to give up the things we are so fond off, and every small system does make a difference for the planet.
     The workshop will be hosted by FCB members and friends (Martin Plass, Phil Thayer, Darrell King and Mark Davis) who are experienced in Solar Energy and will show people how to jump on the solar bandwagon. The presentations will be followed by a Q&A session. Topics to be covered are:-Solar Energy resources and potentials, growth of solar-Rooftop solar: when it makes sense, benefits, costs, potential savings – Experiences with solar systems by homeowners that have done it already – Background and information on the current Belmont Goes Solar campaign -Alternatives to owning your own solar system (Mothers-Out-Front, Yeloha, energy savings)

Film & Discussion – “Lena: My 100 Children” — Miriam Baker; Monday, February 29, 7:00 p.m., Parish Hall

This film, which stars Linda Lavin, 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. This group was subjected to continued persecution and deprivation. There is a First Church connection to this story as one of the children was adopted by Miriam Baker’s parents.

“A Brush with the Past: Painting in the Boston School Tradition” — Jean Lightman/Laurie Noble; Sunday, March 6, 12:30pm, Library

The Boston School of Painting combines the drawing and design of the 19th Century European academies with the vibrant color and light of the French Impressionists. Jean Lightman will talk briefly about the founders: Edmund Tarbell, Frank Benson, Joseph DeCamp, and William Paxton; and the European masters who inspired them: Vermeer, Velasquez and Chardin; and their painting descendants from the early 20th Century until the present time. She will discuss her painting process that incorporates the principles of the Boston School tradition and show one of her own paintings photographed from blank canvas to finished painting.

Theatre Discussion Series: The Convert — Downing Cless, Jane Minasian; Sunday, March 6, 4pm, Parlor

See or read the play and join us for an interesting discussion!

The Convert tells a powerful tale set in Southern Africa in 1895 during the height of colonization and missionary action. A young Shona girl escapes an arranged marriage by converting to Christianity, becoming a servant and student to an African evangelical. As anti-European sentiments spread throughout the native population, she is forced to choose between her family’s traditions and new newfound faith. Look at for a fuller description of the play and some background information. The Convert runs January 28 through February 28. Use the promotional code DOWNING to receive a 25% discount.

The complete calendar of events is online.

Program & Committee News

First Church and Refugee Resettlement

At First Church we are exploring the possibility of working with a resettlement agency to help resettle refugees coming to the US. The process began as an outreach to Syrians fleeing their country but in all probability they will not be in the US for resettlement until late 2017 or early 2018.
    Just the same, there are many others who need help finding a home in the US. If you would like to be part of this discussion, please send me, Sam James, with your e-mail address and I will add your name to the distribution list. My e-mail address is We are working to initiate a town wide response with all congregations participating in this effort. So please join us. The first step is to send an e-mail and we will place you on the list.

Grow Clinic!alt

 The seriously ill infants and toddlers served by the Grow Clinic are in need of dietary supplements. Would you be willing to help? Items needed:

  • Bright Beginnings Pediatric Soy Supplements ($18/6 pk);
  • Duocal ($30/can);
  • Enfagrow Toddler Transitions Soy Infant and Toddler Formula ($72/4 pk);
  • Poly Vi Sol with Iron Liquid Vitamins;
  • Flintstone Complete Chewable Vitamins or equivalent;
  • Infant Formula.


  • 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 23

The next issue of The Unitarian is Tuesday, February 23. Please send your announcements, news, events, and other submissions to by noon on Wednesday, February 17.


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