The Unitarian – May 26, 2017

The Unitarian – May 26, 2017 (PDF)

Sunday, May 28 — Memorial Day; one service at 10:30 a.m. 

  • Bring photos, framed or not, of loved ones who have passed away to display on our Memorial Table.

Sermon: Life’s Ebb-tides; Andrea Spencer-Linzie

Prelude: Alla Siciliana by Alexandre Guilmant (1837 – 1911); Simon Andrews, organ

Solo: from Eight Epitaphs by Theodore Chanler (1902 – 61); Chuck Claus, baritone and Simon Andrews, piano

Offertory: Farewell to the Stromness by Peter Maxwell Davis (1934 – 2016); Simon Andrews, piano
This week’s offering will benefit the UU Urban Ministry.

Postlude: Ceremonial Rondeau from Abdelazar by Henry Purcell (1659-95); Simon Andrews, organ

The flowers in the Chancel are given by Heather Quay and Jon, Ian and Claire Svetkey in the memory of their dear friend, Farish Jenkins, Jr.

Upcoming Services

  • June 4: Sana Saeed, Director of Youth Programs
  • June 11: Flower Communion — Each person is asked to bring a flower to leave behind, and each will leave with a different flower. If you can, please bring an extra flower or twelve for those who will forget! Followed by the Annual Picnic …

All-Church Picnic: Sunday, June 11
Mark your calendar and plan to attend the annual All-Church Picnic immediately following the 11:00 service on Sunday, June 11. There will be delicious food, including burgers, chicken, hot dogs and vegetarian options, lots of yummy salads and, of course, dessert. The cost is $5.00 for adults, $5.00 for children 4-12 years, and $20 for families.

Salad Contest
Don’t miss the annual First Church Salad Contest! Bring your favorite salad to share at the picnic – green salads, pasta salads, fruit salads, all types are welcome. Please bring your salad to the kitchen the day of the picnic and enter your name on the list to be part of the contest. Then at the picnic everyone will vote for their favorite. We serve almost 200 people at the picnic, so the more salads, the better!

We will have a sign-up sheet at coffee hour listing different opportunities for people to help with this fun annual event — volunteers needed to run games for kids, grill, sell tickets, set-up, clean-up, shop, etc. If you have any questions, or would like to help out, please e-mail or call Melissa Irion at or 617-571-9391.

From Andrea Spencer-Linzie, Ministerial Intern

Andrea Spencer-Linzie, Ministerial Intern

Many of you may know already that our previous president of the UUA, Peter Morales, resigned March 30 amid deep dissatisfaction in hiring policies throughout the UUA that reflected racism, sexism, and white supremacy.
     The UUA Board of Trustees put a plan together to create an interim presidency that will be carried out by the appointment of the Rev. Sofía Betancourt, the Rev. William G. Sinkford, and Leon Spencer to lead the Association until the next President is elected on June 24 at the General Assembly in New Orleans.
     While the resignation of President Peter Morales may seem like a crisis, I think it is an opportunity to decide to not continue on the same old path.
     The reality is that racism is as deep as any other roots of US American history Racism shapes all of our lives. Even within the liberal progressive Unitarian Universalist Association, leaders, processes, and structures are still impacted by racism and white privilege.
     This is an opportune time for us as Unitarian Universalists to look deeper into our traditions and our present practices. To be able to create a new future, we need to understand our past and our present, including how race continues to create privilege for some and discrimination and oppression for others.
     The theme of Escalating Inequality that we will be studying and acting upon over the next year or two can help us understand our history, to look deeper into our own families and community history, and to understand ourselves better so that we can see clearly how some of us benefit from racism and how we can work to eliminate it.
     We are not yet a unified “we the people” when so many continue to be discriminated in being hired, how much they are paid, where they get to live, whether the housing is safe, the quality of the schools, and whether there is access to fresh and nutritious food.
     We are not yet a unified “we the people” when African Americans are 13% of the US population but comprise 40% of the incarcerated population.
     The spotlight that is now shining on the UUA is an opportunity. The ever-present reality that racism is still rampant in our communities, our congregations, our denomination, reminds us that we still have a lot of work to do.
     We as a community, as Unitarian Universalists, and as a nation have an opportunity to stay awake, to “not sleep through the revolution” as Martin Luther King urged so many decades ago.
     May we continue to stand in love with one another, and may we have the courage to dig deep and uproot racism in our time.

Lead A Summer Worship Service
Summer Lay-Led Services have become an important aspect of our shared ministry. These are important touchstones during the summer months, when travel and vacation separate us as a community. They provide opportunities to gather in less formal ways and smaller numbers to engage in worship led by members and friends of First Church.
     Have you ever thought to yourself “This would make a great worship service” or “This aspect of spirituality is rich and intriguing for a lay led theme”? Do you have a personal or professional interest that would enrich us?
     The Worship Committee welcomes inquiries about leading a service this summer from June 18- September 3. Committee members will be available for support, resources, and brainstorming themes/ideas for services. Recent themes included Ethical Eating, Buddhist Meditation and Mindfulness in Everyday Live, Tolerating Intolerance, Lughnasadh Ritual Celebrating First Fruits and many others.
     If you would like to consider leading a service this summer or partnering with someone else to develop a meaningful experience for fellow parishioners, please contact Ariane Frank at 617-484-2149 or

A quick recap on all things Annual Meeting,by Ana Hammock, Parish Board President
The Stewardship Committee had a fantastic year: We achieved 95% of our goal with confirmed pledges for FY2018 totaling $579,660. We have seen an increase in pledge amounts per household (YAY) but a decrease in number of households pledging (L). Important questions/concerns raised at the meeting:

  • Why are there fewer pledges?
  • Is membership declining?
  • It is the collective responsibility of the community to bring in new members, maintain members, and work to understand why some might be leaving the church.

     The Finance Committee and the Investment Subcommittee gave a comprehensive report on where we are today and the outlook for our finances in the future. We believe we will end our calendar year with a $4K deficit. Costs continue to go up year after year (mainly personnel). Pledge totals (despite the hard work done by the Stewardship Committee) are essentially flat. Recommendations to improve our finances include growing membership and launching a capital campaign. A relatively balanced budget for the upcoming fiscal year was approved (in no small degree owing to an increased contribution from our endowment fund). Important questions/concerns raised at the meeting:

  • We need to understand why new members are not joining the church and staying at the church (especially families and young individuals)
  • How can we attract young members into various leadership roles at the church?

     The Nominating Committee announced the proposed candidates for the Parish Board, the Finance & Investment Committees, and the Nominating Committee. All slates were approved.
     Special Mention: A HUGE THANK YOU to Scott Johnson—chair of the Finance Committee—who completed his very extended term as chair and was a huge support to the PB president throughout the year. Also a thank you to outgoing Board members Catherine Claypoole, Sara Oaklander, Peter Guthrie, and Downing Cless for all their hard work. A Thank You to Roger Read and Eva Patalas—chairs of the Stewardship Committee and Nominating Committee-who are stepping down after working tirelessly to help us meet budget and fill open slates.
     We have a task force working hard to unite our committees for the coming year under one theme: Escalating Inequality. Much more to come, and stay tuned!
     The Resolution to Divest was approved, with 69 members voting yes and 30 no. I am not able to capture from memory all the heartfelt comments that were made in this portion of the meeting. I was moved by the level of thoughtful discussion generated. Thank you to all those who participated and shared their opinions. THANK YOU.
     Given that the resolution was approved, there will be a follow-up vote in the fall to consider fossil-fuel divestment.
     Finally—these are not minutes—just an attempt to keep everyone in the loop. I am hopeful that you will read this and say, “Ana, I can help generate more buzz about our community and drive up new membership—and here is how.” By the way, many people did just that during or before the Annual Meeting. You can see that our church is considering many interesting/challenging issues right now. If you want to get more involved, just let me know:

Annual SPARK Benefit Concert — June 4
As the year rapidly ends and we all set our sights on the summer, the music program has one last concert for you!
     On Sunday, June 4th we welcome musicians from all parts of the community for a concert at 7:00 p.m. in the Parish Hall. There will be violinists, singers, guitarists, harpsichordists, pianists, students, teachers, and more.
     Children are welcome to come to this fun, family-oriented concert.
     Admission will be by suggested donation, and for the first time, cash, check, and credit cards will be accepted. All proceeds will benefit the SPARK Center — the Pediatric division of Boston Medical Center. I look forward to seeing you all there!
~ Ian Garvie

In Memoriam – Meg O’Brien

Meg O’Brien

Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of longtime First Church member Meg O’Brien, who passed away peacefully on May 19 in Jacksonville, Florida.
     She is survived by her sons, Thomas Peter O’Brien and Robert H.N. O’Brien, and her grandsons Timothy O’Brien, Benjamin O’Brien, Jonathan O’Brien, and Matthew Recalde.
     Her burial will be private at Highland Meadow Cemetery, Belmont on June 9. Meg’s memorial service will be held here at the First Church in Belmont on June 10th at 11:00 a.m.
     Meg’s full obituary is online at

First Church Theme for 2017/2018 – “Escalating Inequality”
“Escalating Inequality” is the theme that has been chosen by the Program Council for the next church year. “Escalating Inequality” was selected by the 2014 General Assembly as the 2014-2018 Congregational Study/Action Issue. The Study Guide at provides UU congregations with materials and guidance for beginning or deepening their exploration of economic justice, helping to navigate this complex and inspiring subject with many ways to engage at personal, congregational, local, state, national, and global levels. Hard copies of the study guide are available in Lillian’s box in the conference room.
     A Task Group has been formed to shepherd the coordination of programming and currently Ariane Frank, worship, Jackie Neel, SAC, Sana Saaed, youth director, Nate Sellers, RE and Lillian Anderson, Adult Programs have volunteered but we’d love to have your input. We have had one meeting and we have plans for the use of a logo, developing bulletin boards and a banner which will be in place for the fall. The Adult Programs Committee is reviewing books for a common read and hope to announce the title soon so that it might be available for summer reading.
     If you’d like to be involved or would like more information contact

Housing Wanted!
Our family of three is looking to buy a home in Belmont, but we realize we may need to rent while we search. If you know of an apt/condo/home in Belmont for rent, starting in July, Aug. or Sept, we’d be grateful for any suggestions.
     We’re looking for two (or three) bedrooms; ideally, within walking distance of the middle school and Belmont center. Thank you!
~ Leslie Talmadge and Brian and Lauren Kopperl;; 617 686 3166

A huge UU “Thank You!” from the Coming of Age group from Bloomfield, Michigan, who camped out in our Parlor during their recent UU Heritage Trip to Boston.

Fiscal Year Ends June 30
The end of the church’s fiscal year is Friday, June 30. All requests for reimbursement must be submitted to the church office by Friday, June 23, in order to be booked to this fiscal year. Please contact Janice at if you have any questions, and thank you!

Adult Programs News

Hootenanny/Jam Session — Jon Svetkey
Wednesday, May 31, 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!
Save the dates – last Wednesdays of each month.

Caring for Older Adults — Miriam Baker and Deborah Blumberg
Thursday, June 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. This will be the last session until October 5th.

Fiber Arts Fellowship — Eva Patalas
Meets every 1st and 3rd Thursday, 8 p.m., Location TBD
Enjoy the fun and fellowship of crafting with a genial group. 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 any questions.

Facing Illness Together — Kathy Lind
Thursday, June 15, 7 p.m., Kathy Lind’s house – 68 Fairmont St., Belmont
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.

Parenting Kids with Challenges — Melissa Irion
Friday, June 16, 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. Snacks provided.

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

The Sanctuary Movement
Sunday, June 4, 12:30 p.m., Parish Hall
The Sanctuary Movement is a growing movement of immigrant and faith communities, protecting and standing with immigrants facing deportation. Come and learn about Sanctuary and about how we can get involved as individuals and as a congregation.

Belmont Food Pantry
First Church members staff the opening of the Belmont Food Pantry on the second Tuesday of every month. Volunteers work for about 90 minutes, from 5 – 6:30 p.m.; sign up online: Questions to

Grow Clinic!alt Last Chance for Good Deeds!
Please remember to add something for the GROW CLINIC in your cart this week. You’ll be glad you did.
     May and June Special Request: Your favorite items from the shopping list
Food: One of the Most Important Medicines

UUSC Team Note for May/June
Visit (UU College of Social Justice within UUSC) for information on cross cultural, Immigration, and environmental justice trainings, trips, and resources. Find downloadable courses for individual or group use as related to any of these topics. For example, the environmental justice course begins with an examination of Naomi Klein’s book, This Changes Everything.
     The author of the lesson asks that we reflect on US capitalism and its foundational link to fossil fuels. In the meantime, Klein asserts that such a foundation cannot be changed without “heavy duty interventions.” During this first lesson, students consider how UU values can shape a better response to climate change. First Church will have an opportunity to vote on a small step in this direction at the annual meeting.

Connect with UU actions, events & resources

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.

Next issue: Friday, June 9
The next issue of The Unitarian is Friday, June 9. Please e-mail items to by noon on Wednesday, June 7. This is the last “regular” issue of the church year. Please see the special deadlines below:

Unitarian Issue



Friday, June 16

Wednesday, June 14

Lay-led summer services and summer programs issue

Friday, July 28

Wednesday, July 26

Midsummer issue

Friday, September 1

Wednesday, August 30

First issue of the church year

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 Monday, May 29, for Memorial Day.

Parish Board, 2017 – 2018
Parish Board minutes are available online and are posted on the Upper Gathering Hall bulletin board.

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

Easy ways to support & stay in touch with FCB

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