The Unitarian – October 20, 2017

The Unitarian – October 20, 2017 (pdf)

Sunday Worship — October 22

Sabbatical Musings — Rev. David Bryce

As I look back on my sabbatical time, I am reminded of the old Bob Dylan song that has the lyrics, “Where have you been, my blue-eyed son?”  This morning I will attempt to give a partial answer to that question and to the questions, “What have you learned?” and, “What will you do now?”

Prelude: O wie selig seid ihr doch, ihr Frommen by Johannes Brahms (1833 – 97); Simon Andrews, organ

11 a.m. Senior Choir Anthem: Celtic Journey Blessing by Andrew Wright

Offertory Solo: The Monk and His Cat by Samuel Barber (1910 – 81); Chuck Claus, baritone and Ian Garvie, piano

Postlude: Allegro from Sonata in C K 545 by W.A. Mozart (1756 – 91); Simon Andrews, piano

The flowers on the Chancel Table are given by Sarah Cliffe and Peter Guthrie.

Reflections from Rev. David Bryce, Senior MinisterDavid

Of late I have been thinking about all of the “isms” that beset our society and that do such terrible harm to so many, wearing at the spirits of those who are belittled, abused, even killed because of who they are.

Those who are not white, not male, not “anglo” or not Christian find themselves the targets of harassment. This may not be a daily occurrence (though it may) but it is a steady, regular occurrence.

The particulars of abuse vary depending upon the targets.

As someone who fits all of the characteristics of the dominant groups in our culture, I not only am free from these abuses, I am largely oblivious to them. Generally, I see or hear about only the extreme forms.

Mystics of many traditions speak of “waking up” to spiritual realities. It is long past time for an awakening in our nation. Yes, this is an old truth, even an ancient truth. There is nothing new in someone saying this. And that only adds to the sorrow I feel when saying it.

We have all known that abuses take place, that suffering takes place. The awakening we need is not to an awareness of the fact that these things exist, but to the depth of saturation of these things, to how we ourselves are complicit, and to the need for change.

In the past few years we have witnessed a surfacing of hate and abuse, from Ferguson to Charlottesville, from vandalism at Mosques and Synagogues to reports about assaults on women. None of this is new, these acts have always been there; but it is as if the thin veil that only partially covers them has been ripped open and all of the known but ignored truths are now beyond our capacity for denial.

This is not a change in facts, only in awareness. Videos of the shootings of unarmed black men, audio-tapes of people saying things that previously would have been hidden, women posting “Me too” on social media. This is tearing through our ability to repress truth.

Waking others up to truth, and awakening ourselves, is a good thing however painful the process may be. And it is can be a spiritual act if we choose to use it spiritually. May we do so.

Summary of the results of our October 15th Special Meeting

Thank you so much for coming out to vote in this year’s special meeting. We counted 114 ballots. The participation was truly remarkable and the comments and questions raised at the meeting were fantastic.

After an hour of deliberation, votes were cast. Ninety-nine of those who voted, voted in favor of divesting in fossil fuels. The initiative has passed! The Finance and Investment Committees will work together to put the results of this vote into action.

Thank you to all of those who engaged in this important conversation. Thank you FCB Green for driving the initiative forward. A special thank you to the finance and investment committees for collaborating with FCB Green to compose the resolution.

— Ana Hammock, Parish Board President

Chalice Lighting Sign Up

We invite all members of the church community to light the chalice, both in groups and as individuals.

Chalice lighting practice tips and practice sessions are available upon request. Please contact for information. Sign up online at

Call for Spiritual Journey Presenters

Our Spiritual Journeys and the paths we have followed to come together as a congregation are infinitely varied and infinitely interesting. You have probably been moved by others as they have shared their journeys in these short (4 minutes +/-) monthly presentations.

Now we would like to hear from you. It’s a meaningful way to think through this aspect of your own life, it acquaints us with one another, and it binds us together as a congregation.

Please let someone on the Worship Committee know when you are ready to share your journey. Coaching, editing, and encouragement are available, if, and only if, desired.

~ Thanks from the Worship Committee: Ariane Frank,, Bruce Kozuma, Lanier Smythe

Interfaith Thanksgiving Service: Immigrant Stories

On Sunday, November 19 at 7 p.m. at Beth El Temple Center, the Belmont Clergy Association will be hosting its annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service. This year, instead of a sermon, we will be having several short testimonies from immigrants on the blessings and challenges of making a home here in America.

We will also have readings and songs, with representation from Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and Bahai’i voices. There will be an Interfaith Choir singing, led by Cantor Louise Treitman of Beth El Temple Center.

If you are interested in singing in this choir, please arrive at 6 p.m. (one hour before worship); if you would like the music in advance, contact Cantor Treitman at

Light refreshments will be served after worship, and we will be taking a collection to benefit the Belmont Food Pantry.

Tomorrow! Don’t miss the annual RE Halloween Party organized by the FCB Youth Group! 

All children of CRE (including 7th & 8th graders) and adults are invited to dress up in their Halloween costumes to attend the party! Prizes will be given for best costumes!! Join us for cookie decorating, a spooky walk through a haunted house, a cider donut eating contest, face painting and lots of pizza! Join us on Saturday, October, 21st from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. at First Church.

Suggested donation: $8 per person or $20 per family. Contact Sana Saeed, Director of Youth Programs for more information at or RSVP here:

Starting November 4: Circle around, y’all!

Circle Dinners are potlucks held in church members’ homes. Enjoy an evening out and build more connections with our church community. Get to know people from “the other service” and enjoy fellowship across the generational gap. Please sign up at coffee hour or at to attend or host a dinner. Hosts coordinate with their guests about food and time.

If you have questions, contact Nancy Greiner at or 857-222-1170.

CRE News, by Nate Sellers

On Sunday, October 8th, the children in the CRE program made festive goody-bags for refugee children who are currently living in Lowell, MA with their families at the International Institute of New England. We were able to compile over fifty goody-bags, filled with toys, sweets, and a toothbrush!

During our time together, questions were raised about the refugee and migrant crisis happening across the globe, and its effect on the lives of children. Knowing that this topic/issue is fresh on our children’s minds at First Church in Belmont, I felt it would be useful to share some resources and steps on how to begin, and/or facilitate family discussions about the refugee crisis [source: American Humanist Association (2016) / World Vision International (2015)].

Step #1: Do the research!

  • Make sure you’re informed on the issue. You don’t need to have all the answers. However, the better you understand the crisis, the better you’ll be able to explain it to your child.

Step #2: Find out what they know, and then explain.

  • Start with a baseline by asking your kids an open-ended question. Something like: “What do you know about refugees?” Then, follow up with something like: “Why do you think so many families had to leave their homes?” Your kids might know more than you think, or they might have heard something inaccurate.
  • Use language your child understands. For younger children, try something like: “Different groups of people are fighting to be in charge. The fighting has ruined homes, schools, roads, and it’s not safe for families to stay.”

Step #3: Help your kids feel safe

  • It is important that children know they’re safe. For example, if they are concerned that they might have to leave their home and become refugees, explain how we currently don’t have the same political problems that are causing the violence in places like Syria, or Sudan.

Step #4: Get involved

  • Reach out to local non-profits that are involved with the refugee crisis, and find out how your family can best help. Allow your family to learn more about the crisis by taking action.

Websites/articles to check out:

Adult Programs News

Call the church office with questions about adult programs: 617-484-1054, ext. 10. The fall brochure is online.

Please note the change in the program on Sunday, October 22 — “Gravitational Waves” will replace “Boston Theatre Scene”.

Parenting Kids with Challenges — Melissa Irion
Friday, October 20, 7:30 p.m., Library
Does your child have special challenges? Has he/she been diagnosed with Aspergers, ADHD, or sensory problems? We offer support and share experiences in a non-judgmental space. Snacks provided. Meets monthly on the 3rd Friday.

Escalating Inequality (EI) Theme Discussion: EI Task Group (Lillian Anderson, Ariane Frank, Jackie Neel, Sana Saeed, Nate Sellers)
Sunday, October 22, 10:15 a.m., Library

What is “Escalating Inequality?”

Challenging extreme inequality is a moral imperative. The escalation of inequality undergirds so many injustices which our faith movement is committed to addressing: from economic injustice to mass incarceration; from migrant injustice to climate change; from sexual and gender injustice to attacks on voting rights. It includes the following:

  • Economic Inequality: Roots and Realities
  • Class and Classism
  • Inequality, Class, and Our Congregation
  • Interrupting Cycles of Inequality

Join the Task Group to discuss the genesis of the theme, what we hope to accomplish and the implications for programming at First Church.

Boston Theatre Scene — Nancy E. Carroll: This program has been canceled due to a death in the family.


Gravitational Waves — Andrea Prestwich and Edwin Taylor
Sunday, October 22, 12:30 p.m., Library
Two years ago the first gravitational waves from a pair of coalescing black holes was detected by the LIGO Observatory. This monumental discovery opened up the era of gravitational wave astronomy, provided impressive confirmation of Einstein’s theory of general relativity and was awarded the 2017 Nobel Physics Prize.

On October 16 the LIGO and VIRGO teams announced the detection of gravitational waves from the coalescence of two neutron stars. This event triggered observations from 70 telescopes on planet earth and several more in space (including the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope).

Andrea will give a brief overview of neutron stars, supernovae and gamma ray bursts and tie these phenomena together to explain the significance of this new result. Edwin will add some personal and professional accounts of his friendships with two of the three Nobel Prize winners.

First Church Book Group — Karl Klasson and Anne Stuart
Wednesday, October 25, 7:30 p.m., Library
What Love Tells Me by Richard Waring

On October 25, the Book Group will be exploring the poetry of First Church’s own Richard Waring from his newest book, What Love Tells Me. Richard will join us for this special evening as we share poems from What Love Tells Me * and learn about the process and power of writing poetry. Richard has described his book this way:

The varied terrain of love, family, solitude, the natural world, the condition of loss, the spirit of place — all align themselves in poetry. As a letter from the front lines, where the latest changes are taking place, a poem is the frankest and most immediate communiqué that struggles to reenact the original feeling in all its complexity and singularity, lifting the personal into a transcendent music. As a spiritual discipline, poetry foregoes the familiar public domain in search of the unsayable, gesturing beyond words. The questions asked can be dangerous: How do you love? When do you forgive? Do you forgive?

We welcome all who want to join us. There is no ongoing commitment required. For more information about the Book Group, please contact Anne Stuart at or Karl Klasson at

*What Love Tells Me is available in the Minuteman Library network. If you would like to purchase your own copy, you can purchase it from Richard directly by contacting him at, or order it from most local or national booksellers.

“Starshot” Program And Potluck Supper — Steve Saar
Friday, Oct. 27, 7 p.m. potluck, 8 p.m. program, Parish Hall
Exploring a New Earth in 40 Years: Project Starshot, Happening Now!

An Earth-like world has been discovered around the nearest star, Proxima Centauri. A daring plan to visit it robotically in about 40 years is underway… with a fleet of micro-craft sailing on beams of light. Will it succeed? How will it work? What will we find? A real Star Trek adventure is underway; find out all about it!

Adult Programs Committee Potluck
Friday, October 27, 7 p.m. (before the Starshot program above)
The Adult Programs Committee invites you to join us for a potluck supper at 7 p.m. followed by the above program at 8 p.m. Plan to bring a dish and a beverage to share. RSVP to Lillian Anderson at

Fiber Arts Fellowship — Eva Patalas
1st and 3rd Thursdays, 8 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 for location.

Mindful Yoga  — Jess Hicks
November 4, First Saturdays, 4 – 5:30 p.m., Library
Mindful yoga for adults of all ages, abilities, and experience levels. Jess is a registered yoga instructor with a lifetime of practice to share. Just bring a mat, and a twin-sized blanket, and a curious mind.

“Sabbatical Learnings: People and Circumstances” — Rev. David Bryce
Sunday, November 5, 12:45 p.m., Library
While respecting confidentiality, David will reflect on the people he met, the circumstances they found themselves in and some thoughts about what could, or should be, done by us. Refreshments served.

Theatre Discussion Series — Downing Cless, Jane Minasian
Sunday, November 19, 2 p.m., Library
KISS by Guillermo Calderón playing October 26 – November 19 at ArtsEmerson in Boston. To order tickets:

When a young, aspirational theatre troupe discovers and performs what they believe is a Syrian soap opera, they come to realize just how much they got wrong. Kiss is a brilliant play-within-a-play that shows how misunderstanding cultural cues can reveal blind spots you never knew you had. Chilean playwright and director Guillermo Calderón brings his masterful sensibility to this intense, tightly wound new production where naiveté can turn out to be the kiss of death. “The true meaning of the title will shock you.”

See the play and join us for a lively discussion. Refreshments.

Belmont Unitarian Universalist Alliance Members & Friends present “Living With Coyotes”
Wednesday, November 15; Lunch at 12 noon; program at 1:00 p.m.
All men and women are invited to join us for the November Alliance lunch and program. Please bring your own sandwich. We will provide soup, fruit, dessert and beverages. The suggested lunch donation is $2.00 per person. Lunch is in the Upper Gathering Hall.

Belmont Animal Control Officer (ACO), John Maguranis, will speak about “Living With Coyotes”. The program will be at 1 p.m. in the Parish Hall.

John Maguranis has been Belmont’s Animal Control Officer for 15 years . As ACO John: rescues injured animals, reunites lost pets with owners, provides some adoption services and provides public education. John is a wildlife expert and the Massachusetts representative for Project Coyote, a nation coalition of scientists and educator working to promote coexistence between people and coyotes:

R.S.V.P. to Janice Zazinski at or 617-484-1054 (ext. 10). Please email or call Pat Hawkins, Alliance Program, with any questions:, 617-489-2058.

Social Action News

Making Affordable Housing a Reality: Cosponsored by the Social Action Committee

The FCB community is invited to the Tri-Community Coalition to End Homelessness’ Round Table Discussion on affordable housing in the Belmont, Waltham, and Watertown area.

  • Sunday, October 29, 2017 at 1:30 – 4 p.m.
  • St. Luke Lower Church Hall, 132 Lexington Street, Belmont

There will be three break-out groups:

  • Promote the Housing Production Plan in Belmont — Jen Van Campen, Metro West Collaborative Development
  • Plan for the re-use of the Fernald — Diana Young, Fernald working group
  • Support legislation for statewide zoning changes, affordable housing and the homeless — Senator Will Brownsberger and Frank Austin, Advocacy Network to End Family Homelessness

Beyond Ferguson: Bridging Class, Cultural and Racial Separations
Sunday, October 29, 7 p.m.,  Library
Please join members of the Social Action Committee, the Belmont Religious Council, Belmont Against Racism, the Belmont police department and graduates of YouthBuild as we continue our discussion about how to end racism in Belmont and in the wider world.

Discussions on how to close the gap on race, social, and class differences seem to be more needed now. The impact of our actions goes far. Join us and learn what we are planning to do, and please share what you would like for us to do together. This group meets monthly.

Exploring White Awareness — Day of Mindfulness
Saturday, November 18, 2017 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., in the First Church Parish Hall
Join us for a Day of Mindfulness with practitioners who experience being white as part of our identity journey. To help create Beloved Community, we will use deep reflection and deep listening to explore habit energies we hold as white people. We will look into both what we see in ourselves and also what we may not be able to see.

Thich Nhat Hanh teaches that our main task is to wake up from the delusion of feeling separate. In our country, racism has played such a huge role in separating us from one another. Racism has brought untold damage to people of color, and has compromised the humanity of white people. Recovering from the effects of racism is key to our individual and collective freedom. Such work takes us to the heart of Dharma practice.

Our practice will weave together meditation, movement, and dharma sharing in the Plum Village tradition with prompts from current films and authors. Together we will build a respectful space to explore this challenging subject with our bodies, hearts, and minds. This day will conclude with options for longer-term work.

To honor the seriousness of the work, we ask you to commit to coming for the entire day.

All are welcome, understanding focus is on white awareness. No fee. Please bring lunch. With:

  • John Bell, Dharma Teacher, former VP of YouthBuild USA, author and trainer
  • Lillian Fuchs, Order of Interbeing Member, massage therapist, movement teacher

2017 Raise Up Massachusetts Signature Drive
Aims to have this question on the ballot:

  • raise the minimum wage to $15.00/hour
  • increase paid medical leave to 16 weeks for family members/caregivers of those with serious health problems and for families with newborns
  • increase paid medical leave to 24 weeks for a seriously ill individual and for service members

Each Sunday at coffee hour, from now through November, the Social Action Committee will be collecting signatures from Massachusetts registered voters who support these policies.

More information on this initiative can be found on the bulletin boards in the building and also at the website,

Artisans Wanted for Social Action Gift Fair — deadline extended to November 10
First Church’s Social Action Committee is seeking artisans from the First Church community who would like to offer their work for sale at this year’s social action gift fair on December 3.

Participation will allow you to market your work at the fair while at the same time supporting the work of the Social Action Committee’s projects by sharing the proceeds in a 50/50 split.

If you’d like to be considered, please submit a letter of application by November 10 with photos of your work to the Social Action Holiday Gift Fair Committee, c/o Sara Oaklander ( and we will be happy to consider your participation as we seek to put together a good mix of offerings for sale at the fair. Thank you!

Grow Clinic!

Time to start a really good HABIT: Pick up a couple of extra items when you shop—leave them in your car—bring them to church next time you come.

Pick up a food list for shopping or bring a Special Request. September and October: Protein Power!!! (peanut butter, canned tuna or chicken, canned stews, infant strained chicken/beef/turkey). Collection baskets are in the Lower Hall and Sanctuary vestibule.

Food: One of the Most Important Medicines

Volunteer at Rise Against Hunger, October 28

This meal packaging program is a fun, hands-on international mission project where volunteers work in an assembly line to package high protein, vitamin rich meals.

  • Location Belmont Watertown United Methodist Church, 421 Common St., Belmont
  • October 28, 10 a.m. – 12 noon
  • 100 people needed — children 4 years and older are welcome
  • Number meals to be packaged: 10,152
  • Total amount due: $2944.08 (this is what we need to pay to have Rise Against Hunger bring the program to us. – $.29/meal)

You may make a donation to help pay for the meals but you don’t need to. You do not need to be a member of the church or even attend. Everyone is welcome! Sign up at

Becoming Part of Welcome Teams in Refugee Resettlement

First Church members are wrapping up their work with refugee families from Syria, Somalia, and the Republic of the Congo and we are making plans for two additional teams beginning in January 2018.

The teams completing their work have been a pilot and we have learned a great deal about the best way to sponsor teams and work with the International Institute of New England (IINE).

All members will be trained by IINE so that you know what to expect and how to work with newly arrived refugees. The training will be in two parts with generic training November 11th from 10-12 at Temple Isaiah in Lexington (First Church is not available) and the specific team training, once the members are selected, will be December 2nd from 10-12 at Temple Isaiah.

The second training will focus on: how the teams will organize; obtain an in-depth understanding about the resettlement systems, eligibility for services, case planning, etc.; and discuss information about their family, if they are in Lowell.

If you are interested in being part of a Welcome Team, please attend the training November 11 at Temple Isaiah. No one can be a part of a team without participating in the training. Please let me know of your interest:

~ Sam James

The Bayavuga Family, by Mary Beekman
Family from the Democratic Republic of Congo
Our welcome team supported the Bayavuga family consisting of the couple Vanisi and Sendegaya and 5 of their 6 children, aged 6 to 20. All of the children who came to the US with their parents had been born in the refugee camp in Uganda, where the parents had spent the past 20 years; their oldest daughter remains there with her husband and child. Prior to arriving in the camp, the parents had existed as subsistence farmers in a rural part of their country. As a result, no part of their past lives prepared them for the aspects associated with an urban life in the NE of the United States. Matters were further complicated by their having been converted by the Jehovah’s Witnesses during their time in the camp, such that their time as new immigrants was taken up with many commitments of worship, meetings and proselytizing.

With these formidable challenges we found our work with the family to be exhilarating, exciting, frustrating, and rewarding. The presence of a large Swahili community and the fact that the Witnesses spoke Swahili made the need to learn English less urgent to the family members. Despite this, our team worked diligently with the mother and 2 oldest children to improve their English. IINE helped the father get a landscaping job and the oldest daughter a position on an assembly line; these jobs covered rent and food for the family. Besides our focus on English, some of the accomplishments of our team included:

  • Enrolling the 2 youngest children in day camp during the summer months with full scholarship and busing to the camp
  • Aiding the 16 year old daughter in finding a summer job
  • Introducing the family to the library
  • Taking the mother to the supermarket
  • Helping members navigate their first experiences with health resources
  • Communicating with the schools about frequent absences on the part of the 16 year old daughter such that she would not become truant
  • Taking the younger children to the park
  • Working on math skills

As we had anticipated, interacting with a refugee family opened our eyes to the many challenges facing refugees newly come to the US. What we had not expected, however, was how much our respective lives were enriched by getting to know the family members both as individuals and in groups in the course of doing this work.

~ Mary Beekman, John and Connie DiCocco, Eva Patalas, Sandy Nayak, Margaret Marks, and Gerri Strickler

Please note that Joan Stoddard also worked with last week’s family, the Ahmeds. We regret the omission.

Stay tuned for another family’s journey next week.

From the UU Urban Ministry

Two Upcoming Forums for Youth

  • Coming of Age Forum: Facing Race and Class
    • Saturday, October 21, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
    • $30, includes lunch and swag bag
  • Calling All High School Students: Let’s talk about Faith, Racism and Equality
    • For more information about both programs, go to

In the Community

Peter “Blue Boat Home” Mayer Concert at First Parish in Concord, October 28
The Reclaim Our Democracy group at First Parish in Concord invites you to a performance by well known UU singer/songwriter Peter Mayer, author of the very popular hymn “Blue Boat Home.” Tickets are $20 and are available at

Speaking by Heart: The Art of Speaking Without a Manuscript
November 5 at The Rowe Center
Are you a pastor, an activist, or someone yearning to communicate with greater effectiveness? Whether you’re a seasoned speaker or you’re about to face your first audience, or even if you’re preparing to speak at a family gathering, do you have a feeling that you could be a better speaker — if only you knew how? Information and registration at

An Evening of Chamber Music by Johannes Brahms at the Winchester Unitarian Society

Music will include the “Clarinet Sonata in Eb Major, Op. 120, No. 2”; the “Cello Sonata in F Major, Op. 99”; and the “Clarinet Trio in A minor, Op. 114.”

Coffee and Conversation with Clergy
All are welcome to join in monthly coffee and conversation with Belmont clergy at the Black Bear Café (inside Belmont Books).

  • Second Wednesdays of the month, through June
  • 9:30 – 10:30 a.m.
  • 79 Leonard Street
  • Sponsored by the Belmont Clergy Association

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. 10.

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.

Ways to connect with the First Church in Belmont.

UU actions, events & resources

Next issue: Friday, October 27

Please send your submissions to by noon on Wednesday, October 25. Items may be edited for space and clarity.

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UUA Disaster Relief Fund
Our UU friends and neighbors in Florida and the Caribbean—including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands—have experienced devastation. The UUA Disaster Relief Fund (formerly the Hurricane Irma Recovery Fund) provides financial assistance to UU congregations impacted by these and other natural disasters.