The Unitarian – November 15, 2016

Click here to download a printable Unitarian (PDF)

Sunday Worship — November 20

Called To Give — Rev. David Bryce

Many religious traditions call upon their adherents to give to others, to do so as if giving to God, to give out of abundance, and to give with gratitude. As we enter into the season of thanksgiving, and of gift giving, let us count our blessings and heed the call of love.

Prelude: A Voluntary, John James (d. 1745); Simon Andrews, organ
11 a.m. Senior Choir Anthem: Let All Things Now Living, a traditional Welsh melody, arr. Katharine Davis
Postlude: St. Anne Fugue (Part 3), J.S. Bach (1685 – 1750); Simon Andrews, organ
The flowers on the Chancel Table this Sunday are given by Jen Roderick in memory of her mother, Barbara.

  • Services at 9 & 11 a.m.; childcare is provided.
  • Sunday, November 27: Joy — Andrea Spencer-Linzie, Ministerial Intern
  • Directions and parking information at
  • Sermon archive:

Reflections from Rev. David Bryce, Senior Minister

Rev. David Bryce

Rev. David Bryce

I am writing this column on the morning of Election Day, 2016.
     I have no idea who will win, though by the time you read this we should know.
     My column this morning is about democracy, which in America arose out of the Puritan churches (our direct religious forebears) and which is part of our Unitarian Universalist Principles:
Principle 5: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
     For us, democracy is a religious principle. It rests in a belief about human nature, a belief that the individual can hear the voice of truth within. It rests in a liberal religious belief that individuals are not innately saturated with sin; rather, however broken any individual may be, goodness and worthiness lie within—and therefore the will of the people is to be trusted.
     Now the Puritans were not always the best of people, and did not always behave with respect for others. Most of us know that Quakers, for example, were driven from the Massachusetts Bay colony or—in particularly obstinate cases—were hanged. Not an act of tolerance, justice or love.
     And so while we can thank those Puritans for the democracy that evolved from their congregational practices, we can also be thankful that we have moved beyond their intolerances.
     And we all know that the United States did not begin with the level of democracy we have now. Originally only white, male landowners could vote. But little by little—though far too slowly—we have extended the right to vote. Or, more properly, we have recognized that this right extends to greater numbers of people.
     I often refer to the Doctrine of Human Rights, a rather amorphous thing. Even the Bill of Rights in our Constitution is somewhat unspecific: Article 9 “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” Generally, I agree with the more expansive version of human rights as described in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations.
     But my point in this column is the religious one: that we recognize the inherent God-given or Goddess-given or Cosmos-given capabilities and rights of each person. And it is based upon this belief that we work to build a society of inclusion and justice for all.

Interfaith Thanksgiving Service, November 20

All are invited to an Interfaith Thanksgiving Service, co-sponsored by the Belmont Religious Council and the Belmont Clergy Association:

  • Sunday, November 20, 7 p.m.
  • Hosted by the Plymouth Congregational Church, 582 Pleasant Street, Belmont
  • Come join a special interfaith choir led by our Minister of Music Emerita, Rev. Alfa Joy Radford; rehearsal is at 5:30 p.m. at the Plymouth Congregational Church.

Collection for the Belmont Food Pantry

The paper turkeys you see scattered about the pews on Sunday are designed to hold your donation to support the Belmont Food Pantry’s holiday meal effort. The donations we make today will enable The First Church to contribute to the Food Pantry’s Thanksgiving holiday meal program by purchasing Star Market gift cards. And, if we collect enough, the Food Pantry can make use of the funds to better meet the ongoing needs of the families and individuals they serve – during the holidays and beyond. You can tuck your special donation into one of the turkeys and put it in the offering plates along with your regular weekly contribution to the work of the church. Checks made payable to The First Church in Belmont are welcome – please write “Belmont Food Pantry” on your check. Thank you for your generosity!

Worship Committee Seeking Leaders for Lay-Led Services on Christmas and New Year’s Day

As many of you know, there is traditionally a lay-led service planned in the time between Christmas and New Year. This year is unusual in that both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day fall on a Sunday. This has happened only twice in the last 20 years.
     Lay-Led Services have become an important aspect of our shared ministry. They provide opportunities to gather in less formal ways and smaller numbers to engage in worship led by members and friends of First Church.
     If you are interested in leading a service or in partnering with someone else to develop a meaningful experience for fellow parishioners, please contact Ariane Frank at 617-484-2149 or

Social Action Holiday Gift Fair – Sunday, December 4
10:15 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Do your holiday shopping…and help others. Buy gifts for everyone on your list by choosing from an array of products featuring the work of both local and international artisans and craft makers.
     Items for sale will include crafts, clothing and accessories, bags, baskets, children’s items, jewelry, coffee, note cards, calendars, photography, specialty food items, and more.
     This year’s Social Action Gift Fair has been expanded to include a bigger selection of gift items and will benefit a greater number of charitable causes, including the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, Amnesty International, the Coral Reef Alliance, the Sharing Foundation (Cambodian children), Tilonia (rural poor in India), Zienzele Foundation (villages in Zimbabwe), Chalatenanto Province in El Salvador, and our very own Youth Group and Social Action Committee! It’s a not-to-be-missed longstanding, new and improved holiday tradition at First Church!

Music Notes, by Ian Garvie

Last call! The First Church Children’s Choirs will be presenting Mozart’s Magic Flute on:

  • Thursday, 11/17 at 5:30 p.m.
  • Friday, 11/18 and Saturday, 11/19 at 7:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, 11/20 at 3:00 p.m.

The Magic Flute is the 38th annual children’s musical, and is guaranteed to be a great time for all.
     It tells a story of romance, magic, and good triumphing over evil in a mythical, Egypt-like setting. We have a cast of over 70 young players, as well as a small army of volunteers who have made the production possible.
     All proceeds from ticket sales go directly to benefit the operating fund of the church. Tickets have been selling out fast, but any seats available can be purchased online, or at the door; click here for tickets; must be purchased online by midnight on 11/15.

Looking ahead
There is still time to join the choir for the December Major Music service. Bach’s Cantata #140 “Wachet Auf” is an incredible piece of music, and we have the opportunity to perform it with a professional orchestra. Please contact if you are interested in singing.

Among Us

As reported in a recent Unitarian, former FCB member Christine Sullivan died suddenly on October 25.
     A public celebration of Christine’s life will take place on January 7, 2017 in Salem. Location and time TBA.
     In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Christine’s name to The Salem YMCA (Attention: Charity Lezama, One Sewall St., Salem, MA); or to Northeast ARC ( 1 South Side Rd., Danvers, Mass. 01923.
     Click here for the obituary from the Belmont Citizen-Herald.

Adult Programs News

Belmont UU Alliance Lunch and Documentary — All Women and Men Welcome
Wednesday, Nov. 16 — 12 noon lunch Upper Hall; 12:45 p.m., documentary, Library
Please join us on Wednesday, November 16, for lunch and a documentary film. Bring a sandwich — soup, fruit and dessert will be provided. The suggested donation for the meal is $1-2.
     After socializing over lunch, the documentary, Merchants of Doubt, will be shown in the Library at 12:45 p.m., with a brief intermission at 2 p.m. when you can leave or stay for the last 20 minutes.
     Last spring, a coalition of groups, including FCBGreen, presented this fun and educational documentary to a full house at Temple Beth El. Don’t miss the chance to learn how paid pundits have presented themselves as scientific spokesmen in important national debates. You will be amazed at the facts and the entertainment values packed into this film. R.s.v.p. to

Facing Illness Together — Kathy Lind
Thursday, Nov. 17, 7 p.m., at Kathy Lind’s house.
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. By nurturing our connections, we comfort and support each other. Through compassionate listening, we help one another understand his or her own challenges. Contact

Fiber Arts Fellowship — Eva Patalas
Meets every 1st and 3rd Thursday — November 17, 8:00 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. Projects could include creating items for non-profit organizations such as Caps for Kids, making small gifts for the Holiday Fair or working on personal projects. Everyone is welcome and no commitment is necessary. Contact with questions and for location.

Theatre Discussion Series of The Scottsboro Boys — Jane Minasian, Downing Cless, Debbie Dobbins
Tuesday, Nov. 29, 7:30 p.m., Parish Hall
We are pleased to have cast member Maurice Parent with us to discuss this very interesting play. For more information contact

The Scottsboro Boys at Speakeasy Theatre performs Oct. 21 – Nov. 20
In this, their final collaboration, legendary songwriting team John Kander and Fred Ebb (Cabaret, Chicago) bring to light one of the most infamous events in American history: the shocking true story of nine African American boys jailed in Alabama in 1931 for a crime they did not commit. Featuring a mix of gospel, jazz, and vaudeville, this audacious musical uses the construct of a minstrel show to tell the harrowing true story that provoked a national outrage and helped launch the American civil rights movement. Approximate running time: 1 hour 45 minutes; no intermission. Tickets are going fast!

Hootenanny/Jam Session — Jon Svetkey and friends
Wednesday, November 30, 7:30 p.m., Parlor
Are you a closet guitar hero with no band? A great shower singer? 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. And your iPads, iPhones etc. so we can access words to the songs. All levels encouraged!

First Church Book Group — Karl Klasson and Anne Stuart
Wednesday, November 30, 7:30 p.m., Library
We will be meeting to discuss the poetry of Walt Whitman. We have selected three short poems for all to read and discuss. The poems are:
“I Saw In Louisiana a Life-Oak Growing”
“A Noiseless, Patient Spider”
“When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer”
These other poems by Whitman can be found at: and
     We hope that many of you will join us for this special evening to discover, rediscover, and savor Walt Whitman’s work. We ask that participants select at least one other Whitman poem to share with the group that evening.

Prequel to Major Music — Ian Garvie
Wednesday, November 30, 7:30 p.m., Parish Hall (back to its original date)
Ian will help us to appreciate and more fully enjoy J.S. Bach’s Cantata #140, “Wachet Auf”.

Parenting Kids with Challenges — Melissa Irion
Friday, December 2, 7:30 p.m., Library
Does your child have special challenges? Has he/she been diagnosed with Aspergers, ADHD, or sensory problems? We will offer support and share experience in a non-judgmental space. Childcare upon request. Snacks provided.

Social Action News

Click here to sign up for the Social Action e-newsletter.

Being a Muslim in the United States These Days
Thursday, November 17, 7:30 p.m.
Come learn how three Muslim Americans have experienced the past several months of political discourse, including the anti-Muslim sentiments stirred up during the presidential campaign.


  • Aishah Abdul-Musawwir, Library Media Specialist, Cambridge Public Schools, member of Masjid An-Nur, & Madinah Islamic School, Inc., Roxbury. Co-founder of Boston Islamic School, the first full-time Islamic elementary school in Boston.
  • Tahir Chaudhry, Former President, Islamic Center of Boston/Wayland, member Lexington Interfaith Clergy Association, Founding Member of BRIDGES (a forum of community and government representatives) and Project GEM (Girls’ Education Matters)
  • Saadia Ahmad, Master’s Degree Student in Conflict Resolution at the University of Massachusetts – Boston, specializing in religious conflict and interfaith dialogue


  • Maggie Herzig, Follen Church member and Founding Associate, Essential Partners (formerly Public Conversations Project)
  • Free and open to the public
  • Follen Community Church, 755 Massachusetts Avenue, Lexington
  • Cosponsored by UU Mass Action

VDAY 2017
The Social Action Committee will be presenting our 2nd VDay event on February 16 and 17 or 17 and 18, 2017. V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls founded by Eve Ensler. Our 2014 event, readings from A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer, was well received.
     This year’s theme for the National VDay movement is “Solidarity”.
     We are currently forming the Planning Committee. If you are interested in supporting expanding awareness of violence /abuse against women this is the place for you. The meetings are fun, productive and informative. We anticipate that planning meetings will begin in late October, early November.
     Auditions will consist of readings from the essays in the book A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer, edited by Eve Ensler and Mollie Doyle. These will be scheduled in January with rehearsals beginning soon after, continuing periodically until the performance dates in February. No experience necessary.
     If you are interested in being part of the Committee please contact Jackie Neel at Both men and women are welcome.

Coffeehouse Season Tickets still available. Tickets can be purchased by mail, by drop-off at church, and in person to any Coffeehouse Committee member.

Continuing Volunteer Opportunity — Grow Clinicalt
Calling all BIG BOX STORE SHOPPERS! Help us fill the GROW CLINIC baskets by Buying One More in Bulk when you shop. Please pick up a shopping list or bring a Special Request:

  • November and December: Start the Day Strong (Infant rice cereal, cold and hot non-sugared cereals, Flintstone chewable vitamins, Polyvisol with Iron liquid vitamins)      
  • Collection baskets are in the Lower Hall and Sanctuary vestibule.
  • Food: One of the Most Important Medicines

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee Team Monthly Note (November 2016);
Many of us at First Church recently viewed Defying the Nazis, a documentary about the work of Rev. Waitstill and Martha Sharpe in World War II Europe. This compelling story connects to the 1940 origins of the Unitarian Service Committee located at our church.
     This organization evolved into the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee which, from then to now, continues to be on the front line of disasters and hot spots and to implement social justice campaigns.
     Go to to read about Haitians affected by Hurricane Matthew and the organization’s actions to aid those who are most likely to be overlooked by traditional relief efforts. You can donate to this specific work on the site as well as signing a petition to DHS Secretary Johnson to stop the deportation of Haitian families from the US back into disastrous conditions.

Committee News & Updates

Space at My Table
Thanksgiving is just around the corner! If you’re celebrating at home and have extra space at your table, the Fellowship Committee asks if you would be interested in hosting other members of the church? Or perhaps you’d love to join your fellow Unitarians on the holiday?
     Then sign up, either to host or be a guest, and we’ll get you connected with others in our community. Sign up at the coffee hour after services, or email

Volunteer Sign-Up Form
Share your time, talent and interest with our church community. Volunteer opportunities can be one-time activities, limited short-term projects or serving on an on-going committee.
     Click on this link and take a minute to complete the survey so the Membership Committee can match your interests and talents with volunteer opportunities at the church. If you have any questions or comments, please contact the Membership Committee at

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

Kitchen Update from the UU Urban Ministry

Dear Belmont members;
Last year, several of our friends from Belmont approached the UU Urban Ministry with an ambitious idea: raise $25,000 from members of The First Church in Belmont, UU, in support of important renovations to our kitchen. Within six months that goal was met and surpassed, and one year later the total amount raised stands at more than $35,000!
     We were impressed by how quickly and generously the congregation responded to this need, but we were not surprised. Over the years, the Belmont congregation has often stepped up at crucial times to support the UU Urban Ministry, including raising significant funds in 2011/2012 to upgrade our student computer lab. The First Church in Belmont is one of this ministry’s most steadfast friends, and we are blessed to count you in our circle!
     We launched our renovation effort because the kitchen is a crucial part of the UU Urban Ministry, but its set-up and equipment are preventing us from providing this important service efficiently or in an environmentally friendly way. Belmont’s wonderful fundraising is providing us with a much-needed industrial dishwasher, new double sink, and new island/prep sink.
     We also started thinking bigger — with an upgraded kitchen, what else could we offer to the Roxbury community, and what would it entail? The answer is that renovating the adjacent dining area (now outdated and worn), in addition to the kitchen, opens up a world of opportunities for serving the community and bringing people together across the divides of race, class and faith. From community dinners to a welcoming teen space to a full-blown community café with a job-training component for women leaving domestic violence — our dream! — we see our kitchen upgrade fitting into a larger picture.
     Thus, we have been bringing in architects and contractors to help us determine how to tackle the immediate kitchen repairs while also laying the groundwork for more extensive renovations in the future. We would love for you to see initial floor plans for a proposed café and teen space. Please take a look at
     We are developing a timeline for this longer-term project — which will include the work you have made possible — and will keep you informed.
     The Belmont congregation’s initiative helped us dream about a space that puts our shared UU values into action. It will serve our program participants benefit the entire Roxbury community. We are deeply grateful for the support of everyone at The First Church in Belmont, and we look forward to sharing more updates with you as we move this important project further along toward completion.
     Please don’t hesitate to contact me to answer any additional questions. I’d love to talk with you! You can reach me at or at 617-318-6010, x202.
With gratitude and in faith,
Rev. Mary Margaret Earl, Executive Director and Senior Minister, UU Urban Ministry

Next issue: November 22
The next issue of The Unitarian is Tuesday, November 22. Please send submissions to by Wednesday, November 16.
     Because the church office will be closed November 24 and 25, the deadline for the November 29 issue of The Unitarian and Order of Service announcements is Friday, November 18.
Submissions may be edited for space and clarity. A complete schedule of the year’s deadlines is online here.

New Publication Schedule for The Unitarian
Recently, the Program Council voted to distribute The Unitarian only by e-mail, beginning with the January 6, 2017 issue. This e-mail will be sent on Fridays, rather than Tuesdays. Print copies of The Unitarian will still be available in the church and a printable version will continue to be online.
     This new production schedule will allow a timelier edition of the newsletter to be sent and have The Unitarian deadline coincide with the Order of Worship announcements deadline.
     The deadline is still Wednesday at noon and will now be for events, news, and programs that will occur in the next few days/subsequent week, rather than 10 days in the future. Please click here for an updated production schedule (PDF file). Please contact Janice at with any questions.

Church Staff — click here for directory

404 Concord Ave., Belmont | 617-484-1054 |
Office hours: Monday – Fri
day, 9 – 3. 

Parish Board, 2016 – 2017
President: Ana Hammock —
Vice President: Catherine Claypoole —
Treasurer: Penny Schafer —
Clerk: Downing Cless —
Ex-Officio President: Todd Schatzki —


  • Lauren Corning
  • Deveaux Duckworth
  • Peter Guthrie
  • Jackie James
  • Eloise McGaw
  • Sara Oaklander
  • Marion Westgate

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

Reverend Bryce’s Spring 2017 Sabbatical
Please visit for details about pulpit and pastoral coverage while Rev. Bryce is away, from January to June 30, 2017.

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