The Unitarian – January 5, 2018

 The Unitarian – January 5, 2018 (pdf)

Sunday, January 7: both services have been canceled.

Please note: Because of the severe weather forecast for this Sunday, the minister and Parish Board President have decided to cancel the services at 9 and 11 a.m.

First Church programs which are held at times other than during Worship services may be canceled by the leader(s) of those programs. Please contact the program leader to find out if the program will still take place. Most contact information is listed below.

Next Sunday, January 14: Fifty years, and what has changed? — Rev. David Bryce

It has been nearly fifty years since the death of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Fifty years ago I had so many expectations of change in American society. Some of these have taken place, but I also have so many disappointments. We have a long way to go. Where is hope?

Reflections from Rev. David Bryce, Senior Minister


I am sitting in my office on January 2. According to the weather app on my phone, it is currently 11 degrees in Belmont; but we will be heading up to a balmy 17 later today.

There is no heat in my office, so Luis set up a small portable electric heater for me. This warms the air within six inches of the heating element, so it does very little for the room. I have taken off my gloves to type this column. They will go back on shortly.

Isn’t it amazing how much we rely on technology in our daily lives, and how much we rely on things like coal, oil and natural gas to provide us with warmth? (Yes, we tell ourselves this every time there is a “breakdown” in the system and we lose heat or water or electricity.)

We do need to move away from carbon based fuels if we are going to stop heating the entire earth; but days like today are reminders about how much we have benefitted from cheap carbon energy sources. They have allowed us to create a lifestyle that is envied in many places around the globe.

Like many other practices, the fact that we are used to doing things in a certain way does not mean those things ought to continue as they are. I am someone who tends to stick to the old tried and true for far too long.

As we move into this new year of 2018, what are the things that we have always done—or are used to doing—that really ought to be left behind, that ought to be dropped or radically altered? I can think of a few in my life.

This question applies to our personal lives, our family and business lives, our congregational life, our national life.

How do we, whether individually or collectively, find renewal in this new year?

Among Us

We have the sad news to report that FCB member Lowell Hawkinson passed away suddenly, late last week. Our deepest condolences go out to his wife, Lilian, to his children Arthur and Lizandra, and family.

Friends have set up a Meal Train site where people can sign up to deliver meals. More at

Game and Pizza Night!

Saturday, January 13, 5:30, in the Parish Hall.

It’s cold. Like, crazy cold. But the church is warm, the pizza is hot (well, probably), and games are awesome! So join us for Game and Pizza Night! Bring your favorite board game or see what others love.

This is a great event for all ages, so if you’re looking for a multigenerational activity, come on over! Please RSVP to so we know how much pizza to order. (Feel free to bring a pot-luck side or salad to share, but no obligation!)

Coffee and Conversation with Newcomers – January 14th after each service

Have a question about First Church, UUs, or just want to meet the minister and discuss the Sunday sermon? Starting Sunday, January 14th, newcomers (and any others) are welcome to join a new monthly gathering in the minister’s study after each service. We hope the discussion will be wide-ranging and open-ended. Any questions, contact Mark Thurber at

Annual Coming of Age Winter Clothing Drive, January 1 – 17, 2018

Donation boxes will be in the Lower Hall starting December 18th. Click for details.

Second Friday Coffeehouse Presents Youth Group Open Mic Night — Friday, January 5 @ 7:30 p.m. — TONIGHT!

The night will feature performances from members of our First Church Youth Group (along with alumni and friends).

The second part of the night will feature The Saplings! — FCB Youth Group Alumni Rowan Wolf’s band! Click for details!

Adult Programs News

Call the church office about adult programs: 617-484-1054, ext. 10.

Sign up for the weekly Adult Programs newsletter at

Meditation — James Hencke
Mondays, 8:00 p.m., Library
In meditation practice, we allow ourselves to dwell in the present moment. We find that by developing our awareness and compassion we can open ourselves, relax into situations, and enjoy our life!

Small Group Ministry Groups!
Give yourself a gift for the new year and join a Small Group Ministry (SGM) group!   Joining a small group ministry (SGM) is a powerful way to explore important topics with a small group of people over time. (SGM) is a program that gives First Church members the opportunity to build relationships with one another while exploring topics related to spiritual and life issues.

Facilitators Robert Donaghey and Joan Loewenburg meet monthly on the fourth Thursday at 7:30pm in the parlor and they are eager to add a few new members. Their next meeting is on Monday, January 22, 2018.

If you are interested in joining please contact Joan at

If Monday night is not possible for you we also have groups that meet on 1st & 3rd Tuesdays evenings; 1st & 3rd Thursdays evenings; 1st & 3rd Friday late afternoons.

If you are interested in finding out more about SGM’s please contact Lillian Anderson, Adult Programs Advisor at

Mindful Yoga — Jess Hicks — canceled 1/6
Saturday, January 6, 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, or a twin-sized blanket, and a curious mind. Drop-in. Meets monthly.

Spiritual Renewal through Poetry — Peter Guthrie
Sundays, January 7, 14, 21, 28, at 3 p.m., Parlor
Robert Frost once defined a poem as a “momentary stay against confusion.” Good poems can help us see ourselves and our lives more clearly. We will read and discuss poems that deal with spiritual issues in the broadest sense of the term.

Belmont UU Alliance Lunch and Program
Wednesday, January 17, 12 noon Lunch; 1 p.m. Program, Upper Hall
Sana Saeed: Islam and Unitarian Universalism

All men and women are invited to join us for the 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 will be in the Upper Gathering Hall.

Sana Saeed is the Youth Director at First Church and Student Minister, and she is pursuing a Master of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School. Born in Manchester, UK into a Pakistani home, she moved to the US when she was sixteen. Sana has seven years of experience working on youth leadership development, religious discrimination, interfaith dialogue and conflict resolution with organizations including the Interfaith Alliance, the UUA, the Interfaith Youth Action Group, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and more.

R.S.V.P. to, or 617-484-1054 (ext. 10). Please contact Alice Trexler with questions:; 781-643-8032

Science and Spirituality — Ken and Nicole Bernstein
Thursday, January 18, 7:30 p.m., Conference Room
Kirk Israel will be leading a discussion on Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. The history of the intense division between “left” and “right” in the United States has a long history. Haidt uses research backing a “moral foundations” theory, exploring the fundamental priorities that drive well-meaning people to very different outlooks and assumptions of how the righteous life should be lived.

A pdf of the selected portions will be e-mailed to those on the e-mailing list of the group.

Those not on that list can contact Kenneth Bernstein 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 with questions.

Parenting Kids with Challenges — Melissa Irion
Friday, January 19, 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. Meets monthly on the 3rd Friday.

First Church Book Group — Karl Klasson and Anne Stuart
Wednesday, January 24, 7:30 p.m., Library
Slouching Toward Bethlehem: Essays
by Joan Didion

Requiem for the American Dream documentary with Noam Chomsky; discussion moderated by State Senator Will Brownsberger
Thursday, January 25, 7:00 p.m., Parish Hall
How did we become a nation that is so far removed from our core beliefs? In this extraordinary 2016 documentary, Requiem for the American Dream, Noam Chomsky discusses how the concentration of wealth and power among a small elite has polarized American society and brought about the decline of the middle class. Through interviews filmed over four years, Chomsky unpacks the principles that have brought us to the crossroads of historically unprecedented inequality.

Join members of the Adult Programs and Social Action Committees to view this 75-minute film which will be followed by a discussion moderated by State Senator Will Brownsberger.

Theatre Discussion Series — Downing Cless and Jane Minasian
Monday, January 29, 7 p.m. at Central Square Theatre
We have reserved a block of 15 tickets. The event is free but sign-ups are necessary; e-mail We will carpool from First Church. First come, first served for tickets.

      Every Tongue Confess by Marcus Gardley is the fifth play in The God’s Closet Reading Series presented by The Front Porch Arts Collective, in residence at Central Square Theater.

In the backwater town of Boligee, Alabama, the summer heat is rising higher, driving the townsfolk to distraction and conjuring the spirits of the past to walk the earth. Wrapped in the combustible music of a Deep South juke joint and the sweat-soaked gospel of a revivalist church tent, intergenerational stories of loss and redemption collide. Based upon biblical stories and events in the town’s history, Every Tongue Confess awakes a fiery theatrical furnace in which some will be saved, some will be purged, and the truth cannot escape.”

First Church Women’s Retreat
March 9 – 11, 2018 at Rolling Ridge Conference Center
Places are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so please register promptly if you’re interested. Registration begins January 2, and we will be able to accommodate 30 women only.

If you’ve never taken part in this event before, you will find that it creates new friendships and connections and strengthens existing ones. We share our thoughts, explore our spirituality, laugh together, and enjoy community meals prepared by the staff. You’ll have the opportunity to join in group activities and to spend some quiet time in reflection and self-restoration. The response from last year’s attendees was overwhelmingly positive. The theme we’ve chosen for 2018 is Creativity.

Cost: The cost for the weekend is $262 per person, which covers two nights’ stay and 6 meals together with craft supplies and incidentals. Some scholarships are available, on a confidential basis, by contacting Lillian Anderson at

If you wish to attend the retreat, we must have your Retreat registration form and a nonrefundable payment of $262 by January 29.

Social Action News in Brief

Sign up for the Social Action newsletter at

Sanctuary: “Accompaniment Training” on Jan. 7 — please note, because services have been canceled, contact Liz or Eva about this program.
On Sunday January 7th, Laura Wagner of UU Mass Action will be preaching at First Church. She will also do an accompaniment training session at 12:30 in the Library. Everyone is invited to learn how we can stand in solidarity with our immigrant brothers and sisters. Light refreshments will be served. Questions to or

SAVE THE DATES- February 2 & 3 – The Vagina Monologues at First Church
This is a totally different performance then we have ever had at First Church!!

Grow Clinic at Boston Medical Center

WHY a baby food drive? 45% of new referrals to the GROW CLINIC are less than 12 months old. 33% of new referrals are between 12 and 24 months. Thanks for remembering BABY FOOD when you shop. Collection baskets are in the Lower Hall and the Sanctuary vestibule.

Food: One of the Most Important Medicines

Belmont Food Pantry
First Church members staff the opening of the Belmont Food Pantry on the second Tuesday of every month, from 5 – 6:30 p.m. Sign up at or send questions to

In the Community

Belmont’s Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Breakfast — all are welcome

Belmont’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Breakfast will be held on Monday, January 15, 2018 at 8:45-11:00 a.m. in the cafeteria of Belmont High School.  Join us for music and community.

Keynote Speaker: State Representative Byron Rushing. Representative Rushing was first elected to the Massachusetts in 1982. He represents Boston’s South End and serves as the Majority Whip of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. He has a long career of support for social justice issues, including criminal justice reform, gay rights, health care equity and more. In the 1960’s civil rights era, he was a member of the Congress of Racial Equality. He is a past President of the Museum of African American History in Boston.

  • Music provided by the Belmont High School Chamber Singers. There will be activities in the gym for children ages 5-10 years. Daycare provided for preschoolers.
  • Free parking. Wheelchair accessible.
  • Proceeds of the event go to the METCO Fund which is used for late transportation for METCO high school students who participate in after school activities at Belmont High School, and is used across all the Belmont schools for programs that bring our Boston and Belmont students together.
  • Tickets: $5/person, $10/family at the door or on line at:

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. 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. 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

In Case of Severe Weather

If a service is to be canceled a message will be placed on the church’s website, voicemail and Facebook page. However, in any weather condition which concerns you or your family, it should be clear that no one should ever feel pressure to come to the church if their travel conditions seem unsafe.

Next issue: Friday, January 12

Please send submissions to by noon on Wednesday, January 10. Items may be edited for space and clarity.

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