The Unitarian – November 22, 2016

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Sunday Worship — November 27

On Joy — Andrea Spencer-Linzie, Ministerial Intern

The Hasidic teacher Rebbe Nachman of Breslov says that “Joy is not incidental to your spiritual quest. It is vital.” We will explore the varying facets of joy, including in times of sorrow or distress.

  • Prelude: Adagio for Mechanical Clock, W.A. Mozart (1756 – 91); Simon Andrews, organ
  • Senior Choir Anthem: Leave No Song Unsung, Linda Spevacek-Avery
  • Offertory: “Make Them Hear You,” from Ragtime, the Musical (1996); music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens. Davron Monroe, tenor
  • Postlude: Nun danket alle Gott, Sigfrid Karg-Elert (1877 – 1933); Simon Andrews, organ
  • The flowers on the Chancel Table this Sunday are given by Debora Hoffman in honor of her parents, Tom and Barb Hoffman, who were married November 17, 1945.
    • Services at 9 & 11 a.m.; childcare is provided.
    • Sunday, December 4: Being Born and Letting Go — Rev. David Bryce
    • Directions and parking information at
    • Sermon archive:

Reflections from Rev. David Bryce, Senior Minister

Rev. David Bryce

Rev. David Bryce

We are now in the great festive cycle of the year: Thanksgiving, Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah and others.
     It is the time of family gatherings, food and friends.
     Some of us lack one or more of these things, and the feeling of that lack can be heightened in this season.
     But these holidays are not just about family, food and friends. They each are unique and are based in their own history, providing their own promises.
     We are urged by the festivals of Solstice, Christmas and Hanukkah to have hope, to recognize that no matter how dark our night, there is always at least a small flicker of hope somewhere. It is in the darkest night that the stars are at their brightest, and that we see the most distant ones.
     Thanksgiving reminds us to be grateful, and to be grateful for even the smallest of gifts.
     May our days be full of family, friends and food; but may we see the deeper meaning of our holidays and may this remind us to be always grateful.

From Andrea Spencer-Linzie, Ministerial Intern

Andrea Spencer-Linzie, Ministerial Intern

Andrea Spencer-Linzie, Ministerial Intern

“One dynamic quality of spiritual community is hope. When Thomas Potter built a chapel ten years before John Murray, the Universalist preacher, arrived on American shores, he was acting on hope, not reason. When Olympia Brown decided to enter seminary, against the advice of many, she, too, was acting in the present for a future yet to emerge.” (John C. Morgan, Awakening the Soul: A Book of Daily Devotions)
     Hope is an essential ingredient for our spirit and daily lives. Even when days seem dismal and the future lacks a vision, hope is still available to us. Hope is expectation, it is trust, it is reliance. It may feel to many of us that these words are meaningless in these days and times. And yet, it is precisely now that we need to believe in hope, expectation, trust.
     Our future is ours to make. Will there be battles? Yes. Will there be disappointments? Yes. Will there be sadness and dismay? Yes. And yet, there will be victories. When we share hope among ourselves we are stronger. Every time we feel hope we build a foundation for the future that we want to create for ourselves and our communities.
     Where is your hope? What visions does your hope inspire? How can you share your hope with others as we walk into the future together?

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!

Hanging of the Greens: Saturday, December 3

Please join us from 10 a.m. – noon on Saturday, December 3 and help us decorate the church for the holidays.
     We will have 23 small, large and gigantic wreaths and we will be hanging them all around the church. Tasks range from tidying up the bows to climbing ladders. No need to sign up ahead, but if you have questions, please contact the Flower Committee at

Music Notes, by Ian Garvie

Words cannot begin to express my gratitude to the multitude of parents, friends, and volunteers who helped with the musical this year. The sets looked stellar, the costumes were captivating, and the music was magnificent. Thank you to each and every one who made this production possible!
     We had a cast of 74 young people this year, who had the opportunity to perform Mozart’s incredible show to a full audience. I’m sure the memories will last a lifetime! All of the proceeds from the musical go directly into the church’s operating fund, making it an important annual fundraiser for the entire community.
     Coming up next, the music program will be continuing the annual Major Music tradition, with J.S. Bach’s famous Cantata #140, “Wachet Auf.” The service will be on December 11, at 10:30. Admission is free, and open to all! Bring your friends and family to enjoy this wonderfully uplifting piece.

Among Us

Our deepest condolences to Patricia (“Pat”) Paul and family on the recent death of Pat’s father.

Our deepest condolences to the friends and family of First Church member Frederick Irving, who died this past week. A memorial service is being planned for December.

Coffeehouse Season Ticket Purchases Take on New Meaning

In the wake of the election and with the approach of Thanksgiving, many of us are consciously focusing on our gratitude for those we love and what we have each day, and we are working to conquer fear. We also seek avenues of support for those who live good and innocent lives that now make staying safe and pushing away fear even more difficult.
     The clients of the Coffeehouse beneficiaries are all at newly increased peril. If you have been considering the purchase of a Season Ticket, the time could not be better. Together, we address wellness, food and shelter, employment, poverty, the needs of diverse at-risk youth, the environment, racism, the safety of all children, women, whole families, and our LGBT population, and social justice across the world and around the corner. Make it a time of less fear and more giving thanks for this wonderful client population.
     How? Write a check (fully deductible) for $119 made out to First Church in Belmont with “Coffeehouse” written in the memo line. Submit it in one of three convenient ways:

  • Mail: Check to First Church in Belmont, 404 Concord Ave., P.O. Box 113, Belmont, MA 02478.
  • Drop-off: In a clearly labeled envelope, put your check (or cash) into the secure drop-box immediately to the left of the door to the church office, Janice’s office.
  • Face-to-face: Give your check (or cash) to Janice or a Coffeehouse Committee Member. Please include your contact information.
  • With our deepest gratitude, Richard Curzi, Lauraine Dalton, Kathy Dunlap, Jim Hall, Roger Miller, Anne Selman, Lanier Smythe, Jim Staton, Jim Sugarman, Jon Svetkey, and Deborah Youngman.

IINE Clothing Drive Update

Thank you to the many who have contributed winter clothing for the refugee families Belmont Resettle Together is supporting in Lowell. The warm items are deeply appreciated by the people who receive them. For now, winter clothing needs are met, and IINE (the supporting agency) has nowhere to store surplus items. We will let you know as future needs arise.

Caps for Kids

Eva Patalas went to the Wellesley Congregational Church to help package knitted donations, bearing 17 hats made by the members of our Fiber Arts Group

Eva Patalas at the Wellesley Congregational Church, bearing 17 hats made by our Fiber Arts Group

On November 12, Eva Patalas went to the Wellesley Congregational Church to help package knitted donations, bearing 17 hats made by the members of our Fiber Arts Group. This was a very welcome drop in the bucket of thousands of handmade hats and other items donated to Caps for Kids, which sends the items to schools and community centers in the Boston area. The children are often very excited to get something that was hand made for them. Let’s start making hats for next year!!

  • great stash busters
  • all sizes from newborn on up are needed.
  • Please contact Eva at for more information.

Adult Programs News

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. 26
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”.

Caring for Older Adults — Miriam Baker and Deborah Blumberg
Thursday, Dec. 1, 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 Fellowship — Eva Patalas
Meets every 1st and 3rd Thursday — December 1, 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.

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.

Belmont UU Alliance Lunch & Program — All Women & Men Welcome
Wednesday, Dec. 14: 12:00 Lunch; 1 p.m. Program
Please join us on Wednesday, December 14 for the Alliance lunch and program. Bring a sandwich — soup, fruit and dessert will be provided. The suggested donation for the meal is $1-2.
     Nicole Bernstein will present “Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain for Artists and Non-Artists.” The participants will be shown how to see differently when they draw pictures leading to results they might not have expected. Please bring a photo of a person whose image you would like to create.
     R.s.v.p. to Janice Zazinski at or call 617-484-1054 (ext. 201).

Social Action News

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

Belmont Food Pantry
On Sunday, November 20, we supported the Belmont Food Pantry in its upcoming holiday meal effort. Each year, First Church joins with other Belmont congregations to provide funding to the Food Pantry for the purchase of Star Market gift cards for families and individuals who might otherwise go without.
     Donations go directly to the Belmont Food Pantry to cover the cost of providing those holiday gift cards. And if we collect enough, the Food Pantry can make use of the funds to better meet the ongoing needs of those they serve — during the holidays and beyond. Thanksgiving has passed but there is still time to give: you can send or drop off a check payable to The First Church in Belmont — please write “Belmont Food Pantry” on your check. Thank you in advance for your generosity!

In the spirit of the season, please join in the Holiday Gift Program…
First Church’s holiday gift program is underway and you can pick up gift giving information at both coffee hours on Sunday, November 27. The program benefits children and adults at four different organizations:

  • Heading Home – serving homeless adults through housing and support services that lead to self-sufficiency
  • Bristol Lodge – serving homeless in various sites
  • Mary’s House – serving homeless families with children
  • The Grow Clinic – serving failure to thrive kids and their families at Boston Medical Center.

     Gift-giving information will also be available during the Holiday Gift Fair on December 4, with the gifts due on Sunday, December 11. Don’t miss this chance to involve your kids in giving to other kids! For more information, contact Joan Stoddard at 617-347-3037 or We look forward to your participation and seeing those gifts piled high! Happy Holidays!

Collect travel-sized items for Bristol Lodge
First Church has supported the Bristol Lodge Homeless Shelters for many years. Recently we learned that their clients are very happy to get the types of travel toiletries that are found in hotels. Let’s start collecting those toiletries (unopened and unused, please!) to send to our friends at Bristol Lodge. Please remember Bristol Lodge clients when you travel. A collection basket is on our Social Action table. Thanks!!!

Needed: Second First Church Delegate to Belmont Religious Council (BRC)
The Belmont Religious Council is a coalition of all Belmont Faith Communities. It provides a means for their congregations, clergy and staff to communicate with one another and share ideas and concerns relevant to our Town. The BRC also organizes community service projects and provides a way for people of different faiths to come together in support of common goals. The BRC runs Belmont Serves, an annual day of community service. Every other year the BRC takes a group of interfaith high school students on a mission trip during February school vacation to help with construction projects in underserved communities (most recently in Birmingham, Alabama).
     The BRC also provides support for Town wide initiatives led by area churches, for example the two Belmont Gun Buybacks in 2016 and 2014 and the recent Resettle Together initiative connecting Belmont congregations with agencies helping welcome and resettle arriving refugees. And it has provided important support for the Belmont “A Path Appears” program. In the past year, it has co-sponsored panels on homelessness and on “Muslims in America: What We Can Do to Counter Bigotry.”
     Priscilla Cobb is a First Church delegate to the BRC. A second delegate is needed. Now, more than ever, interfaith groups that bring people together on issues of common concern should be supported. It meets once every other month. If you have questions or would like to volunteer, please contact Priscilla Cobb: Thank you!

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.

Continuing Volunteer Opportunity — Grow Clinicalt
This Thanksgiving season, the GROW CLINIC COMMITTEE gives thanks for our loyal Grow Clinic shoppers who fill our baskets each week. 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.

Membership Committee Updates

Newcomers Breakfast December 11 at 9:15
If you are a newcomer to First Church or would like to meet and welcome a newcomer, come enjoy a bagel and coffee at the Newcomers Breakfast in the Parish Hall at 9:15 before the Major Music service on December 11. For more information, contact Mark Thurber at

Winter Ushers Needed
Ushers are needed to welcome our church community to the winter Sunday services and to light our way into the holidays. You can sign up online at, on the ushering sign up poster at coffee hour, or by contacting Mark Thurber at

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

Next issue: November 29
The next issue of The Unitarian is Tuesday, November 29. Because the church office will be closed November 24 and 25, the deadline for the November 29 issue of The Unitarian was 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 – Friday, 9 – 3. The church office will be closed November 24 – 25 for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Parish Board, 2016 – 2017 — click here
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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