The Unitarian – January 12, 2018

The Unitarian – January 12, 2018  (pdf)

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?

Prelude: My Lord, what a mornin’ by Hall Johnson (1888 – 1970), arr. Kurt Kaiser; Simon Andrews, piano
11 a.m. Senior Choir Anthem: Arise, for Thy Light is A-comin’, a traditional spiritual, arr. Maurice Gardner

Offertory: All Night, All Day, arr. Damien Sneed; Davron Monroe, tenor and Simon Andrews, piano

Postlude: Ride on, King Jesus, arr. Kurt Kaiser; Simon Andrews, piano

The flowers on the Chancel Table are given by Leslie Talmadge and Brian and Lauren Kopperl in honor of the memory of their spirited, adventurous, and loving Capricorn mother/grandmother Carolyn Davis Talmadge.

  • Services at 9 and 11 a.m.; childcare is provided
  • Directions and parking information at
Sunday, January 21: Partner Church Sunday

January 13, 2018 is the 450th anniversary of the Edict of Torda, one of the first declarations of religious tolerance. John Sigismund, the Unitarian King of Hungary, issued the Edict. We will celebrate our Partner Church connection, the Edict, and also engage in our annual Wheel Of Life ritual.

Reflections from Rev. David Bryce, Senior Minister


If you have one, when do you take down your Christmas tree?

Some people remove it the week between Christmas and New Year’s, some immediately following New Year’s Day. We always wait until after January 7, which is Orthodox Christmas. This year it will probably be out of our house by January 11.

I know this seems a small matter, and yet, the question of when we remove things from our lives can be quite momentous—and quite personal.

Ten or twelve years ago our then seventeen year old cat had developed mouth and throat cancer, and we chose to have the veterinarian end her life painlessly. Genie cleared away the cat’s bowls even before we took her to the vet for that final trip. In the moment, this seemed terribly cold to me. However, when we returned home later that day and did not then have the task of picking up the bowls and tossing out the leftover food, I was quite grateful. It would have added a degree of extra pain to the deep sadness I felt.

When do we remove things from our lives; when do we let go of emotional baggage; when do we leave circumstances or relationships behind?

When people divorce, when are the goods “divided”, and how?

When someone dies, when are their belongings removed from the home?

For some of us the answer to each of these questions is easy: Immediately!

For others, the process of letting go is a much more difficult one.

Even a painful relationship can seem to provide more security than having no relationship; and removing the belongings of a loved one who has passed away can feel like a betrayal, or like losing them again.

No one can decide for us when to take these steps. But we can seek support and comfort from other people, from our faith, and from good memories of the past.

May each of us do what is right when it is right.

Game and Pizza Night!

Saturday, January 13, 5 p.m., 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? This 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

Multigenerational Event: Sunday, January 28

12:30 p.m. in the Parish Hall

On January 28th the Youth Group will be presenting an event with Transgender Rights as the theme.

There will be speakers from SpeakOut to share their experiences and give an overview of issues that transgender people are experiencing today.

The Youth will moderate a Q&A panel. Please join us! Click for more information about SpeakOut.

Chalice Lighting — All Are Welcome

In order to see more and varied faces of the congregation participate in some part of the service we invite ALL members of the church community to light our Chalice on Sundays, children and adults, both in groups and as individuals. There is a sign up list near the elevator in the Upper Gathering Hall, or you can sign up here.

Music Notes

Dear Community:

Unfortunately, the Piano Benefit Concert that was scheduled for January 20th has been postponed. I will let everyone know once we have decided on a new date. The organ is in need of repair, and until that is taken care of we will not be able to use the instrument. This also means that until further notice, all of the music in the service will be played on the piano.

Thank you all for understanding! I will send out updates as the situation progresses.

~ Ian Garvie

Year Of The Hootenanny!!
Yes, we are proclaiming 2018 to be the Year of the Hootenanny. So shovel out your guitar/mandolin/ fiddle/lute/lyre/harmonica/jawharp/spoons and come make some glorious noise with Jon Svetkey, Heather Quay and Jeff Isen. We try our best to focus on easy to learn/play folk, pop, rock, country, sea shanties, etc. All levels welcome!
Wednesday, January 31, 7:30 – 9:00 p.m.-ish, in the Parlor Room.

OPEN MIC NIGHT, Friday February 9 at The Second Friday Coffeehouse!!
Bring your instrument, your song, your poem, your story and come perform for an appreciative, supportive audience. At the halfway point, we will be treated to a set of great, socially-aware music by Dean Stevens! See Jon Svetkey to sign up!

Save The Date! Saturday March 3 — FCB Winter Dance Party!!
Get ready for a night of fellowship, dancing and hanging out. Bring your friends, your booze, your sparkly shoes and dance the night away to the sounds of The Loomers! Details to come…

Last Few Days: Annual Coming of Age Winter Clothing Drive, January 1 – 17

Donation boxes are in the Lower Hall. 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!
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 Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the Conference Room and are eager to add new members. Their next meeting is on Monday, January 22.

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

Spiritual Renewal through Poetry — Peter Guthrie
Sundays, January14, 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, 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. 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

Celebrated, iconic, and indispensable, Joan Didion’s first work of nonfiction, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, is considered a watershed moment in American writing. First published in 1968, the collection was critically praised as one of the “best prose written in this country.”

More than perhaps any other book, this collection by one of the most distinctive prose stylists of our era captures the unique time and place of Joan Didion’s focus, exploring subjects such as John Wayne and Howard Hughes, growing up in California and the nature of good and evil in a Death Valley motel room, and, especially, the essence of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury, the heart of the counterculture. As Joyce Carol Oates remarked: “[Didion] has been an articulate witness to the most stubborn and intractable truths of our time, a memorable voice, partly eulogistic, partly despairing; always in control.”

The Book Group is always open to new members. There is no long term commitment. Feel free to join us for a single evening’s discussion or to become a regular participant. We ask only that you confirm your intention to attend by the Monday before each session. Please contact Anne Stuart at: or Karl Klasson at to confirm attendance or ask questions.

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.”

Beyond Ferguson: Bridging Class, Cultural and Racial Separations – Social Action Committee
Sunday, January 28, 7 p.m., Library
Please join Belmont Against Racism, the FCB Social Action Committee, the Belmont Religious Council, the Belmont police department and graduates of Youth Build as we continue our discussion about how to end racism in Belmont and in the wider world.

Mindful Yoga —Jess Hicks
Saturday, February 3, 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.

Sermon Talk-Back — Doris Hunter and Edwin Taylor
Sunday, Feb. 4, 12:30 p.m., Library
Edwin and Doris will continue the conversation about the theme of being a stranger in one’s own land and wish to hear about your experience with this abyss of misunderstanding and dislike. Refreshments served.

Caring for Older Adults — Deborah Blumberg and Miriam Baker
Tuesday, February 6, 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 balance in our own lives? 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.

First Church Women’s Retreat
March 9 – 11 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

Children’s Clothing Drive
The Belmont Police Department, along with Cradles to Crayons,will be collecting new or like-new warm winter essentials for children up to aged 12. There is a collection bin in the Belmont Police Department Lobby; items can be dropped off through January 15 at 1 p.m. Cradles to Crayons provides children living in homeless or low-income situations with essential items to thrive at home, at school, and at play.

Our sister First Parish Bedford is providing Sanctuary to a person who is facing imminent deportation and who has legal action pending that might allow her to stay in this country. Bedford needs our help staffing the sanctuary with 10 people every 24 hour time period. If you are interested in volunteering or would like more information, please contact Eva Patalas ( or Liz Keating (

From Jackie Neel: “You may think you know all about what the upcoming V-Day performances will be like. They are nothing like anything we have done here at First Church before. In fact, I may need to go into hiding for a while afterwards. This is all to say that you will not want to miss this performance of The Vagina Monologues. In fact the subject matter could not be more timely, given the recent focus of sexual harassment of women. It is the 20th Anniversary of The Vagina Monologues, from which The V-Day organization was born. That and then sooooooo much more!”

Performers include church members Margaret Elkind, Kristin Phillips and Jackie Neel, with a special appearance by Karl Klasson.

  • Tickets: $15 at the door
  • Light refreshments available for purchase
  • Proceeds to benefit New Beginnings Reentry Services, Inc., to support formerly incarcerated women to successfully navigate the complex challenges of reentering their communities.
  • Recommended age 14+

The Cambridge Center for Adult Education presents “Conversations on the Edge — Immigration”
Grassroots organizers and legal experts will explore the issues that affect immigrants in the U.S. today, the policy that affects immigration reform, border regulation, and paths to citizenship, and how local organizations can empower immigrants to participate in their local communities and civic life.

Grow Clinic at Boston Medical Center

Your contributions of baby food will go directly from our baskets to the high chairs of malnourished babies whose families cannot always afford food for their children. 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

Bristol Lodge
We continue to collect travel toiletries for the clients at Bristol Lodge; baskets in Upper Gathering Hall.

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

Start off 2018 with some Social Action on your calendar and in your life!
The Social Action Committee welcomes your participation. We are a fun and energetic group. The next Social Action Committee Meeting is Monday, January 15 at 7 p.m. in Classroom 5. Meetings are open to anyone interested with no requirements for attendance or becoming a member. For information contact

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, 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 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.

Music provided by the Belmont High School Chamber Singers. There will be activities in the gym for children ages 5-10 years and daycare for preschoolers.

Free parking. Wheelchair accessible.

Proceeds support the METCO Fund which is used for transportation for METCO high school students who participate in after school activities. Tickets: 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 19

Please send submissions to by noon on Wednesday, January 17. Items may be edited for space and clarity.

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