The Unitarian – December 13, 2016

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Sunday Worship — December 18

Multigenerational Service: Why We Celebrate — Rev. David Bryce

Prelude: D’une vierge il vient de naitre; Ancient Noel from Touraine; Simon Andrews, organ

9 a.m. Music

  • Junior Choir: Midwinter Celebration, by Bernadette Burns
  • Junior Choir: Hanukkah, a traditional song
  • Nova Choir: Sing Lullaby, arr. David Wilcocks
  • Nova Choir: Torches, by John Joubert

11 a.m. Music

  • Chancel Choir: Alleluia, Praise! by Luigi Cherubini, arr. Douglas Wagner
  • Chancel Choir: Solstice, by Randall Thompson
  • Youth Choir: Gloucestershire Wassail, traditional
  • Youth Choir: As It Fell Upon a Night, by Katherine K. Davis

Postlude: Two traditional French Noëls

  • A la venue de Noël
  • Allez enfants, le jour a fui

The Christmas greens & poinsettias that decorate our Church are given by the Farnham Memorial Fund.

Saturday, December 24 — Christmas Eve Candlelight Services

  • 2 p.m.: Junior Choir; Lessons and Carols, Pageant
  • 4 p.m.: Chancel Choir; Lessons and Carols, Pageant
  • 6 p.m.: Youth Choir; Lessons and Carols, Pageant
  • 11 p.m.: Alumni Choir; Lessons and Carols

Reflections from Rev. David Bryce, Senior Minister

Rev. David Bryce

Rev. David Bryce

I am writing this column on the Eve of Saint Nicholas Day. This is just one of many days when, throughout Europe as the days grow shorter, good beings come forth to bring presents to good people. Whether Saint Nicholas, Befana or many, many others, good beings proliferate.
     In the midst of growing darkness, in the midst of cold, a sense that something good comes to us from places unknown rises in the human heart.
     This indicates a human belief in—or a human longing for—goodness arising from and showing up in unexpected places.
     Setting aside the particulars of each good spirit, and viewing these beings in that general sense of goodness, we see the ever present affirmation of hope that lives in the human spirit.
     Each of us individually goes through a period of darkness at times; as does each family, each group and each nation.
     Whatever difficulties each of us may feel at this time of year or this time of national life, let us keep holding on to a faith that goodness does exist, that it is on the way, that it will enter our lives when least expected and least looked for. And let us believe that gifts of the best kind—the gifts of love, justice, kindness—all are on the way.
     In this season in particular, let us live with hope.

Save the Date for the Alfa Radford Celebratory Concert and Commemorative Plaque Unveiling!

On Saturday January 21 at 7:30 p.m., the First Church will be installing a commemorative plaque to honor Minister of Music Emerita Alfa Radford’s 55 wonderful years of service to this community. Marking the occasion will be a concert in the Sanctuary, followed by a reception in the Parish Hall. Bring friends and family to this joyful celebration!

From Andrea Spencer-Linzie, Ministerial Intern

I’ve been thinking a lot about the current state of our nation and its communities. I’ve been thinking about how it has impacted me personally, and how it is impacting relationships.

Andrea Spencer-Linzie, Ministerial Intern

Andrea Spencer-Linzie, Ministerial Intern

     I am sometimes sad, sometimes angry, and sometimes just plain tired. I often feel a deep sense of loss. The loss I have is for the future. It feels to me like we are a scattered and disparate people. That there are fissures too wide to cross, wounds too deep to heal. That we are no longer “a people”. That E pluribus Unum has been shattered.
     Perhaps my state of being has been influenced by the books that I’ve been reading lately, Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich about living and surviving on minimum wage which is not financially feasible for most people, and also brings with it disdain from others, depression, bad health, and a public support system that is unreliable and insufficient.
     Another book is The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett. It is a study of the effects of inequality on society. It is not so much one’s income level that impacts one’s condition of health and wellbeing, but rather the relative inequality within the society. The more unequal the society is, the more likely that the people on the bottom suffer ill-health. In most of the charts and graphs used to in the book, the United States is the country with the widest inequality. The United States is the wealthiest country financially in the world, but the poorest country in terms of health and well-being because of the wide inequality through the U.S.
     In a review of The Great Divergence by Timothy Noah, Benjamin M. Friedman states “The gap between rich and poor has been growing for the past 30 years in most of the world’s advanced economies, and especially in the United States.”
     What does this mean for us as a country? As a community? As a congregation? How do we live our first principal of the “inherent worth and dignity of each person,” when we have created such an unequal society?
     The reality is that most of the time I can live without thinking about the serious hardships that others live through every day… lack of the very basics of life – a safe place to live and nutritious food, transportation, a decent job, respect from others.
     In some ways it is an existential crisis, for me as a person and what I prioritize, as well as a crisis for our country. Who are we as a people? How can we sift through the slogans and anger of our current political and social conversations to zero in on what it means to be worthwhile, and to live with dignity?
     It feels to me that this is a moment in history when we cannot be timid. It’s not all about politics. It is about what we decide to do, about who we decide we want to be, and what is the vision for our future. The UUA is calling us to study and learn about the escalating inequality in our country and communities.
     I believe this is some of the most important work we need to do in this time of history, in this country. We must educate ourselves, and do all the good that we can do, wherever and whenever we can. It may not always turn out the way we expected, but we must try anyway. We’ve got to recognize the huge inequality, divisions and gaps in our country and our communities. This is not just economic or political work. This is spiritual work. Who are we and how do we create community? How do we create meaning in our lives? This is our spiritual work as much as it is about anything else.

First Church’s Biennial Auction — “Back for the Future:
An ‘80s Extravaganza”

Remember Miami Vice? Dallas? The Wonder Years? Did you wear Jordache jeans, velour, or Spandex? Then you’re ready to party at the First Church Auction on February 4 (snow date February 5). Your $50 ticket includes hors d’oeuvres at the cocktail reception (cash bar), a delicious dinner with wine and musical entertainment, and most important, the excitement of the Live Auction!
     Mark your calendar now and go to to register, buy your tickets, and donate items.
     We need volunteers and ideas as well as donations: contact Ariane Frank, the Auction chair, or to Bev Gillette and Sara Oaklander, the Silent & Live Auction chairs, at

Among Us

Our thoughts and best wishes are with Charlie Hamann, who is convalescing from spinal surgery at Neville Center. His son, Ted, says that Charlie would appreciate hearing from the FCB community and suggests that Charlie would enjoy cards sent to his home: 6 Meadows Lane, Belmont, MA 02478-1153.

Music Notes, by Ian Garvie

My heartfelt thanks go out to all the musicians who made the Major Music service this past weekend such a success. The joyful strains of Bach were uplifting for everyone present! Special thanks go out to our many soloists – our singers, Chuck Claus, Davron Monroe, Irina Kareva, Melanie Bacaling, Livia Racz, and Melanie Salisbury; and from the orchestra, Ken Stalberg on violin, Veronica Kenney on oboe, and Amy Dinsmore on English Horn.
     Next week, we welcome our children’s choirs into the service for a multi-generational service. The 9 a.m. service will feature the Junior Choir singing alongside the Nova Choir, and the 11 a.m. service will feature both the Chancel and the Youth Choirs.
     In other news, the Music Committee is proud to announce the completion of the first stage of a technology upgrade to the Parish Hall. The upgrade, funded by the Alfa Radford Legacy Fund, features brand new wireless microphones and a DVD player, as well as streamlined connections for laptops, audio devices, and online media. This means that any committee or renter has easy access to the sound system and projector, making movies, parties, receptions, and other events easier for all. Special thanks to Stefan and Valentin Frank for the installation.

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

Youth Group Babysitting Fundraiser

Saturday, Dec. 17 — Have a date night or tackle some of that holiday shopping!
Attention parents! The Youth Group is organizing a babysitting fundraiser. If you sign-up, two members of the YG will come to your house at a pre-arranged time on Saturday, December 17th to care for your children for 2-6 hours; you choose! Cost is $15/hr. Proceeds benefit the Youth Group’s Service Trip to West Virginia this February.  To sign-up contact Sana Saeed, Director of Youth Programs, at

Adult Programs News

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).

Facing Illness Together — Kathy Lind
Thursday, Dec. 15, 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. By nurturing our connections, we comfort and support each other. Through compassionate listening, we help one another understand his or her own challenges.

Science and Spirituality — Ken and Nicole Bernstein
Thursday, Dec. 15, 7:30 p.m., Conference Room
Bill Zinn will lead the discussion based on excerpts from Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story by Jim Holt. The author interviewed scientists, philosophers, and theologians to answer the question posed by the title. We will focus on the views of one scholar who seeks to use his deep faith in the existence of God to explain the scientific evidence of the origins of the universe. The excerpts can be downloaded from the Sci & Spi drop site at:

Fiber Arts Fellowship — Eva Patalas
Meets every 1st and 3rd Thursday — December 15, 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, Dec. 16, 9:15 – 10:30 a.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. Snacks provided.

Social Action News

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

Stand-Up for Safety and Civility — Hands Around the Pond at Belmont’s Clay Pit Pond
1000 people needed for this first-ever event on December 17
In the spirit of continuing to be a welcoming community, and acknowledging the recent increase in hate crimes across the Commonwealth and nationwide, residents of Belmont and surrounding communities are invited to Stand-Up for Safety – Hands Around the Pond on Saturday, December 17th from 1-2 p.m. on the Concord Avenue side of Clay Pit Pond in Belmont.
     “Our goal is to bring the community together to reaffirm our commitment to safety and civility,” said event co-chair Donna Ruvolo. “It is also our hope that residents who are feeling threatened or fearful know that we, as a community, will stand up to discrimination, harassment and bullying.”
     The highlight of the event will be a “hands around the pond”, a powerful visual statement of residents standing shoulder to shoulder and linking hands around the pond.
     “We calculate that we’ll need about 1000 people joining hands to reach around Clay Pit Pond,” Ruvolo added. “It’s ambitious, but we have already heard from families, teachers, students, religious institutions and civic and youth organizations who are eager to be involved in this unprecedented event.”
     In addition, residents will be able to review plans for the proposed Veterans’ Memorial at this location, and to acknowledge the service of local veterans who are currently championing the Memorial project.
     Due to the non-political and on-partisan nature of this event, participants are requested to refrain from carrying a sign or wearing clothing that is affiliated with an individual political candidate’s name or slogan. Participants are also encouraged to dress for the elements. Parking is available in the Belmont High School Parking Lot, and walking, biking and car-pooling are encouraged. This is a family friendly event suitable for all ages, but it is requested that all dogs except service dogs are kept at home.
     This event is being coordinated by members of the Stand-Up Campaign, a non-political and non-partisan organization committed to kindness, decency and civil discourse. The Stand-Up Campaign is a branch of Belmont Against Racism. Co-sponsors to date include the Belmont Human Rights Commission, The Belmont Veterans Memorial Committee and the Belmont Religious Council.

Collecting travel-sized items for Bristol Lodge
First Church is collecting unused/unopened travel-size or hotel-type toiletries for Bristol Lodge Homeless Shelters, where they are greatly appreciated by Bristol Lodge clients. A collection basket is on our Social Action table. Thanks!!!

VDAY 2017: Performance Dates are February 17 and 18, 2017.
If you are interested in assisting in the organization and the development the production, as well as promoting the awareness of violence against women, we would love to have you participate on the planning committee. The meetings are fun, productive and informative. Planning Committee Members may also be interested in becoming readers. If you are interested in being part of the Committee please contact Jackie Neel at Both Men and Women WELCOME.
     We are thrilled to have Caitlin Inglis and Carmen Cohen on board as co-directors. Carmen performed in our last production and in several directed by Caitlin who has directed several Eve Ensler plays in the past. In addition, several of the people who did readings in our last performance have indicated their interest in being part of this year’s production as well.

Boston Women’s March on Washington – January 21, 2017
Join us on Boston Common from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. as we show our support for the Women’s March on Washington DC. We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, our dignity and our families, recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.
     Register at the following site. Be sure to click on the First Church Belmont group page:
     We will meet at First Church Belmont that morning, then carpool to Alewife. Details to follow. Contact Frederica Frost at with questions.
     We know that some of you may feel disappointed that we are not hiring a bus to go to Washington but after much effort and research there just wasn’t any clear path for how to make it work. Alternatively we are lucky to have a State where we can voice our support so close to home.

2016 Social Action Holiday Gift Fair recap
This year’s Social Action Holiday Gift Fair was bigger and better than ever! Over a dozen nonprofit organizations and artisans participated this year – raising funds for a variety of causes. Participating organizations included The Grow Clinic at Boston Medical Center, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), the National Education for Assistance Dog Services (NEADS), the Elizabeth Seton Foundation (for children in the Dominican Republic), the Coral Reef Alliance, Tilonia: Artisans of India, the Sharing Foundation (children in Cambodia), Zienzele Foundation (children in Zimbabwe), and villagers of El Salvador.
     In addition, the FCB Youth Group raised money for their service trip to Appalachia, and kids from CRE raised money for YouthBuild. Also participating in support of the organizations mentioned above, as well as the Social Action Committee, were artisans Naomi Ellenberg-Dukas, Sheri Kennedy, Mark Rosenstein, and Ed Wintner, as well as our very own FCB poet and author Richard Waring.

The First (Gingerbread) Church in Belmont, crafted by Ariane Frank

The First (Gingerbread) Church in Belmont, crafted by Ariane Frank

    A highlight of this year’s fair was the raffle for the entrancing “Gingerbread Church” that was crafted by Ariane Frank. Tony Fitzpatrick was the lucky winner who got to take the Gingerbread Church home to his family!
     This year’s Social Action Holiday Gift Fair was the result of the hard work of a number of First Church volunteers who shopped, cooked, did publicity, set up tables, sold items, and cleaned up. While the final tally of the amount raised for the various charitable causes is pending, it appears that more was raised than in recent years, thanks to the many members and friends of First Church and visitors from surrounding towns who came to do their shopping.
     Many thanks to all who attended and supported these efforts and we look forward to reporting next week on the specifics of our results.

Looking for an Unusual Christmas Gift for that Special Woman in Your Life?
How about sending her to the First Church Women’s Retreat, March 31-April 2, where she’ll find fun, fellowship, and freedom from daily responsibilities? It’s a fitting indulgence for someone you love. For details, contact Lillian Anderson at

The Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry — Volunteer opportunities in Roxbury now
We need volunteers for:

  • Jericho Road Roxbury
  • Fair Foods on Saturdays from 10:30 AM to 1:30 PM. This is a great opportunity for congregation teams and families!
  • We need congregations to prepare and serve a meal for a Christmas season dinner for elders in December; for our Spirit and Action series in January, February or March.
  • Clean up our grounds on Saturday mornings!
  • Assist our Chef to prepare meals for our young people.
  • Mentor a young person at Timilty Middle School for one hour per week.
  • Donate supplies to support Renewal House and Bethany House.
  • Contact – Marvin L. Venay, Director of Congregational and Volunteer Engagement, 10 Putnam St., Roxbury; 617-318-6010 x 214.

Resettle Together and First Church Update
By Sam James
First Church has been given a $5000 grant and $7500 matching grant from the UU Social Action Fund to help with our Resettle Together program. On November 6, 2016 we had a Sunday focused on refugees and corresponding programs with our partners the International Institute of New England (IINE). At that time we kicked off our challenge grant and asked members of the church to join us. The response has been overwhelming. In three weeks members of the church generously gave $10, 300 toward the challenge grant and helped us meet all conditions for claiming the funds. We are very grateful and personally I am very proud to be part of this community.
     If you have not contributed and would like to, please let us know. Refugee resettlement is very expensive and we have become a trusted partner with IINE and we want to support them in their mission to help provide a new home for those who have fled their own.

Continuing Volunteer Opportunity — Grow Clinicalt
At the Multigenerational Holiday Service on December 18 there will be a chance to share your holiday spirit with the children and families of the Grow Clinic. During the service we will place gifts of food under our community Christmas tree.
     Pick up a list of preferred foods at one of our displays. Baby foods of all stages, Enfamil with iron, and Flintstone vitamins are always appreciated.
     Read this recent Boston Globe article about the impact that Grow Clinic has: “The War on Childhood Hunger.”
    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

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

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: December 20

The next issue of The Unitarian is Tuesday, December 20. Please email items to by noon on Wednesday, December 14.
     This is the final issue of the calendar year. Please also include information for the week of December 26 – January 6; the church office is closed that week.

  • First issue of 2017: Friday, January 6
    • Deadline at noon on Wednesday, January 4

In Case of Severe Weather

If a Sunday service is to be cancelled due to inclement weather, a message will be put on the church voicemail system.

Church Staff — click here for directory

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

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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