The Unitarian – Summer 2017

The Unitarian, Summer 2017 (PDF)

Summer Services: Updates

July 30 — Jon Svetkey + Heather Quay
A Hymnal Hootenanny

August 6 — “Field Trip” to Friends Meeting at Cambridge, a Quaker fellowship
(service begins at 10:30 in Cambridge)

August 13 — Devon Beckett
The Camino Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela

August 20 — Jody Renouf and Mark Rosenstein
Blessing of the Animals

August 27 — Milo & Martin Plass
Dealing with generational and political conflicts at home

September 3 (Labor Day weekend) — no service

  • Details at
  • Services at 9:30 a.m. in the Parish Hall (enter through the Lower Level doors near the bike rack) unless noted otherwise
  • Childcare is available

Sunday, September 10: Multigenerational Service
Our services on September 10, at 9 and 11 a.m. in the Sanctuary, will be multigenerational water Ingatherings. We will celebrate the opening of the church year with a ceremony in which we each pour a small amount of water into a common vessel. The water we bring represents a part of our summer that we are bringing into the new church year.
     Whether you go on an exotic journey or vacation in your backyard, bring a small amount of water to represent your summer’s spiritual journeys.

All-Things-Summer at the First Church
Click for your handy fridge guide to FCB in the summer.

Welcome Back Reception & Open House, Thursday, September 7
The Fellowship Committee and the Parish Board invite you to reconnect with your friends after a long summer break, meet & greet staff, officers, and new church members, and socialize at this informal gathering!

  • Thursday, September 7
  • 7 – 8:30 p.m. in the Parish Hall
  • Appetizers and light refreshments
  • Bring a bottle of wine to share
  • Childcare and entertainment for young kids

Sandy Island Registration is Open, September 15 – 17

The Fellowship Committee invites you to join us for the popular First Church Sandy Island Retreat. This is a wonderful opportunity to kick back, relax, and meet new and old friends after a long summer. Sandy Island offers recreational opportunities for people of all interests and ages.
     Information and the registration link are online:
     Questions? Contact Ariane Frank and Martin Plass at

The Pilgrim Is Back!

At long last, the Pilgrim Window has been liberated from its plywood cover and its full beauty shines forth! After many months of careful consideration by an engineer and consultants and a few snafus, a specially-designed exterior (storm) window now protects the Tiffany window from potential harsh environmental conditions.
     Gerri Strickler, member of the Committee and Art Conservator, MFA Boston, was responsible for this exterior glazing installation, from start to finish, using her expertise and consuming an inordinate amount of her time. We extend our deep gratitude for her hard work.

Why was an exterior window necessary?

  • Although the glass itself remains chemically stable and in relatively good condition, the window structure was not originally designed to withstand higher wind loads and requires additional protection.
  • New changes in condition to the window within 7 years of a full restoration led the Committee to explore the most appropriate option available and ensure the long-term preservation of the window.

The goals for the exterior glazing design were to:

  • Protect from high wind speeds (as would occur with wind shear) with the least amount of deflection toward the Tiffany window.
  • Prevent excessive heat build-up between the exterior window and the Pilgrim, which could cause softening of the leads and glazing putty, as well as promote degradation of other materials.
  • Protect from projectiles.
  • Reduce ultraviolet radiation, another major factor of degradation, and especially true for a repaired window.

Why did it take so long?

Without an architect managing this project, one Window Committee member had to coordinate all facets with all agents, from identifying a supplier and installer familiar enough with our needs to help design, ably work with our team of consultants, complete the assembly, and to install.

Additional challenges:

  • Identifying the type and thickness of glass which would provide adequate protection within a frame design allowing for minimal disruption of the Tiffany composition.
  • Locating a supplier for a metal frame which could accommodate the thickness of glass we required.
  • Working with an engineer and the installation team to ensure a well-designed, sturdy, and properly ventilated frame for our atypical Window size and building design.
  • Waiting for custom materials.
  • Waiting for custom materials to be re-supplied when suppliers made errors.
  • Working with building professionals and making minor church window frame modifications to ensure proper attachment.

     Special thanks also to Roger Gallagher for his steadfast, essential help with consulting on design and installation.
    Also thanks to many in The First Church who have helped during the three years of this entire project: Committee member: Nanny Almquist. Parish Board presidents: Jeanne Widmer, Carolyn Howard, Todd Schatzki, and Ana Hammock. Legal advice: Grant Monahon. Building consulting: Roger Gallagher and Bob Corning. Administrative assistance: Janice Zazinski. Interior assistance: Luis Carrion.

~ For the Committee, Nancy H. Davis

Among Us
Our deepest condolences to Pat Paul, whose mother passed away the first week of July. Pat’s address is 56 Gorham Road, Belmont, Mass. 02478.

Registration for the Children’s Music Program for the 2017-2018 season is now open!
The Children’s Music Program starts every year with a fully staged musical.
     You may register to start either September 11th with the musical, or November 20th, after the musical finishes. All children in the musical must participate in the choir for the entire school year. The musical this year will be The Gondoliers, by Gilbert and Sullivan.
     To register, please click here

Supporting Undocumented Immigrants, Refugees and Asylum Seekers at FCB
First Church in Belmont has become quite active in working with asylum seekers, refugees and undocumented immigrants. Increasingly we hear questions about how we serve these communities and also what exactly do these terms mean. We hope this piece will help address these questions.
     What all three groups have in common is that they are people who have survived challenging circumstances and made sacrifices to move to another country in hopes of a better life for themselves and their families. Though all immigrants, their circumstances differ significantly and so do the ways that we can support them.

According to the UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), refugees are people who have been forced to flee their country and have a well-founded fear of persecution. Most likely, they cannot return home without risk of harm. War and ethnic, tribal and religious violence are leading reasons that refugees flee their countries.
     Once refugees are registered with the UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) and referred to the US Department of State (DOS), they undergo 2-4 years of interviews by several US government agencies. Once accepted as a refugee, DOS refers the refugee to a resettlement agency, which oversees a 90-day resettlement. They are granted the status of legal residents in the US. Many remain indefinitely, while some stay until conditions in their country improve. After a year they can apply for a green card and then after five years for US citizenship.
     FCB works with the resettlement agency, International Institute of New England (IINE) in Lowell. They provide numerous services for newly arrived refugees including initial housing, case management, referrals to services, English instruction and job placement. As part of a pilot project under Sam James’ leadership, our church has formed three welcome teams working with families from Congo, Somalia and Syria. These teams, consisting of 8 members, meet regularly with the family for 6 months to help with cultural orientation, English instruction and navigation of services around town. Working with these families may be frustrating but is quite rewarding as bonds between the family members and team members are likely to form through the numerous social interactions.
     How To Help: For more information on supporting this initiative or getting involved in the next round of welcome teams, contact Sam James at

Asylum Seekers
First Church in Belmont has been working to support Central American asylum-seeking women and their children through Irish International Immigrant Center (IIIC). These asylum-seeking families have crossed the US border to flee violence in their home country and were initially incarcerated in Texas. Once released, many have migrated to all parts of the US to join a friend or family member, and find work and re-settle. 134 families are being served now in the Boston area by IIIC. First Church has supported this effort through providing move-in bins and volunteer help spearheaded by Bev Freeman. FCB has also played a pivotal role in raising funds for the case manager, Sofia Vergara, who was hired in January and supports the refugees. FCB hosted a fundraiser and also helped through grant-writing.
     The process of finding and maintaining a job is difficult for these women until their asylum application is approved, a process which can take 2 – 3 years. Although they have filed asylum applications and are thus documented, unlike refugees, they are not eligible for public benefits. Therefore, cash assistance is needed for partial rent support and legal assistance.
     How To Help: If you can contribute to or help with a fundraising campaign in the near future, contact Bev Freeman at If you can supply household goods for the families, please reach Liz Keating, She will provide a list of what is needed.

Undocumented Immigrants
An undocumented immigrant is a foreign-born person who doesn’t have a legal right to be or remain in the United States. Routes to becoming undocumented include crossing the border into the US without inspection, entering legally on a tourist visa which expires, or submitting an immigration application or petition which is denied and continuing to remain in the US. Many undocumented immigrants have been in the United States for many years, leading productive lives and trying to provide for their family members here in the US and those they left behind. In the current political climate, these immigrants are at risk of being deported and separated from their families.
     The newly formed Sanctuary Committee will work to coordinate First Church’s efforts to support immigrants at risk of deportation who have been accepted into sanctuary in Boston area churches. The committee’s initial organizing meeting will be Wednesday, September 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the Conference Room. To start, the committee will work on developing partnerships with churches offering sanctuary, participate in trainings, and organize our congregation’s efforts. The committee’s regular activities will range from providing services, collecting and delivering supplies, advocacy and education.
     How To Help: If you are interested in joining the committee, please come to the first meeting or contact Eva Patalas at or Liz Keating at

First Church Belmont at General Assembly 2017
Lillian Anderson, Ian Garvie, Sana Saeed, Cam Anderson and Andrea Spencer-Linzie, attended the UUA General Assembly in New Orleans in June, representing the youth program, music, adult programs and ministry.
     We learned a great deal about the current situation as well as the past and heard about our hopes for the future of the denomination. There will be opportunities this fall, beginning on Sunday, Sept. 24 at 12:30 p.m. in the Library when we share our impressions with the congregation.
     Here is a link to an article about the denomination from NPR that will give you an idea of the scope of some of the changes.
     For full coverage of the General Assembly go to: I especially recommend the Ware Lecture by Bryan Stevenson and the Sunday morning worship in which our own Sana Saeed participated.

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

The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler
The Social Action Committee, V-Day Belmont and Haley House Bakery Café are working together to produce our first ever presentation of The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler.

  • August 16 & 17 at 7:30 p.m.
  • Haley House Bakery Café, 12 Dade Street, Roxbury, MA

We guarantee you will find the evening to be entertaining and that you will leave feeling you have contributed to a larger, more important and worthwhile issue of concern. Not only are we bringing together communities of differing cultures, backgrounds and socio economic experiences, ages and colors, but we are jointly supporting the overall message of


In addition…
     As with all of the Vday events, the proceeds from the event will be donated to a local non-profit. We are continuing our efforts to support the launch of New Beginnings Re-entry Services. These service are targeted for women transitioning back into the community as they leave incarceration. New Beginnings and Haley House have much in common. Haley House Bakery Café has been very successful working with both men and women who have previously been incarcerated. They provide job training and housing as well as other support services for the past 20 or more years.
     Members of First Church who will be participating in this small cast are Kristin Phillips and Jackie Neel. Please come and support this effort. The Bakery Cafe food is delish (dinner available at 6) and you will be sure to LAUGH as well as be stirred by the performances.
     TICKETS AVAILABLE NOW- $10 Per Person, at or at Haley House Bakery Café in advance or at the door.
     Hope to see many of you there. For more information, contact Jackie Neel at

Belmont UU Alliance Wednesday Lunch and Program Calendar for Fall 2017

  • September 20 — Concord River Cruise & Lunch
  • October 18 — Armenian Museum of America in Watertown
  • November 15 — Belmont Animal Control Officer, John Maguranis
  • December 20 — Rev. Doris Hunter, “UU’s and Interfaith Initiatives”

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, September 1
Please send your announcements, news, events, and other submissions to by noon on Wednesday, August 30. Items may be edited for space and clarity.

Church Staff — click here for directory
404 Concord Ave., Belmont | 617-484-1054 |

Summer office hours, through August 28: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, 9 – 2
The church office will be closed August 7 – 18.

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

Easy ways to support & stay in touch with FCB

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