The Unitarian – January 19, 2018

The Unitarian – January 19, 2018  (pdf)

Sunday Worship, January 21: Partner Church Sunday — Rev. David Bryce and the Partner Church Committee

January 13, 2018 was the four hundred and fiftieth 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.

Prelude: Dallam elosztva (Divided melody) by Bela Bartok (1881 – 1945); Simon Andrews, piano

9 a.m. Nova Choir Offertory: Székely Áldás

11 a.m. Senior Choir Offertory: Fellegekbe nyuló; trad. Transylvanian Unitarian hymn, arr. Ian Garvie & Simon Andrews

Postlude: Szent örömérzésre gyúl (The light of joyous love); from Transylvanian Unitarian songbook (1957); Livia Racz, soprano and Simon Andrews, piano

The flowers on the Chancel Table are given by Mark Thurber and Susan Galli in memory of Mark’s father, L. Newton Thurber, and Susan’s parents, Mary and Gene Galli.

  • Services at 9 and 11 a.m.; childcare is provided
  • Directions and parking information at
  • Sunday, January 28: Is Religion Just a Hobby? — Rev. David Bryce

Reflections from Rev. David Bryce, Senior Minister


Merry Christmas!

Does that seem a bit late?

In the Armenian Orthodox Church in Jerusalem Christmas is on January 18 (sometimes listed as January 18 and 19).

Within the Christian tradition, no one knows the actual date of the birth of Jesus. We do not even know the year of his birth. And different traditions celebrate on different dates.

The point here for me is that the birth of light in the darkness, the birth of promise in the midst of despair, the birth of love in the midst of either hate or indifference, the birth of a new world, is something that can happen at any time on any day.

The second lesson I take is that the worse the conditions in the world seem, and the worse things in our own lives seem, the closer we are to the birth of new life or new love or new ways of being.

Of course, it is not only Christianity that provides this message. Every religion promises new “life” in some form or other, whether this is new ways of being or new ways of non-being.

The best advice I have ever received—regardless of how rarely I follow it—is to treat each day—each and every day—as a new beginning.

On the days when I remember to do that, the days that I celebrate as if they were Christmas, Diwali, Rosh Hashanah or any other celebratory event, I find that life is more joyful.

May every day be a celebration of the rebirth of promise, the rebirth of the world, the rebirth of our own spirits.

Save The Date: Sunday, March 4

Save The Date for joyful and festive worship services on Celebration Sunday, March 4th, 2018. Details to follow on these as well as the Annual March Stewardship Drive. ~ Anjali Kumar, Stewardship Chair

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.

End Of Year Contribution Statements Coming Soon      

The church will be mailing out contribution statements for calendar year 2017 by the last week of January.

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.

Few More Ushers Needed for Winter Term

We have had a really great response to ushering for the Winter Term. However, we still have some ushering spots left to fill. If you might consider helping out with ushering, you can sign up online at or sign up on the Ushering Sign-Up Poster in the Upper Gathering Hall during coffee hour. Any questions, contact Mark Thurber at Thanks for your help.

Music Notes

The music program is thrilled to announce that a special piano recital that will be given at the First Church at the end of February.

Franco-Canadian pianist Paul-André Bempéchat is Artist-in-Residence at Harvard University’s Leverett House. Renowned for his interpretations of the First Viennese School, Brahms, Schumann and Chopin, he is a self-styled, rebellious product of the Manhattan School of Music and The Juilliard School, where he worked with the legendary performer-teachers Artur Balsam, Nadia Reisenberg in piano and chamber music, and Martin Isepp in vocal accompanying.

Bempéchat will be presenting an all-Chopin program in honor of the composer’s 208th birthday. This monumental program will feature all four Ballades, as well as the 24 Preludes. More details about the time and date will be available soon.

~ 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…

Rummage Sale!!!

It’s never too early to start thinking about how you’ll participate in the grand recycling marketplace that is First Church’s 75th Rummage Sale. The sale will be on Saturday May 5.


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!

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.

Spiritual Renewal through Poetry — Peter Guthrie — Please note time change due to Patriot’s Game: 2 p.m.
Sundays, January 21, 28, at 2 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.

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.

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.

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.”

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

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.

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 join us. Everyone is welcome and no commitment is necessary. Contact with questions.

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.

Our Spiritual Paths — Susan Kobayashi and Ed Siegfried
Sunday, February 11, 12:30 p.m., Library
As UU’s we come from diverse spiritual backgrounds and beliefs. Please join Ed and Susan to share your stories and to hear those of others in our community. What are your current religious beliefs? What aspects of your past religious life do you now embrace or reject?

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

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+

Grow Clinic at Boston Medical Center

The GREAT JANUARY JAR RACE is coming to an end. Keep loading jars and jars and packages and packages and boxes and boxes into to your shopping cart. 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. There will be a sign-up table on Sunday to recruit volunteers for the months of February through May. Volunteers work for about 90 minutes, from 5 – 6:30 PM. You can also sign up at or send questions to

Collecting Items For UU Urban Ministry Programs

  • The Believe in Success group at the U.U. Urban Ministry (providing workforce training for those who have suffered domestic violence) seeks stationery supplies for its new session in February. Accordion folders, pens, pencils, colored pencils, markers, notebooks, and art supplies are welcome!
  • The UU UM is also collecting $50 or $100 Visa or TJMaxx gift cards for the shopping trip to purchase interview attire for the next session in February.
  • Roxbury Youth Program at the UU Urban Ministry seeks new board games (Jenga, Catch Phrase, Apples to Apples, Bananagrams, Ping Pong paddles and balls)
  • The Program also requests donations of new iPhone headphones (2+ pairs) or other small appreciation gifts, including Visa or Amazon gift cards, for Peer Leaders and other students going above and beyond.
  • Please leave stationery supplies and new games in the marked box in the lower gathering hall. Gift cards or headphones can be left with Janice during office hours (M – F, 9 – 3).

In the Community

Winchester Unitarian Society presents “Jazz in the Sanctuary” Friday, Jan. 26
Join a sextet of some of Boston’s finest jazz musicians for “Jazz in the Sanctuary,” This year’s performance features a menu of food-titled jazz classics, including Dizzy Gillespie’s “Salt Peanuts” and Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man.”

  • Friday, January 26, 8 p.m.
  • Winchester Unitarian Society, 478 Main Street
  • Suggested donations at the door: $20 for adults, $15 for seniors, and $5 for students.
  • Reception to follow
  • For more information and concert details, call 781-729-0949 or visit org/news/concert-series.

“Soup For Syria” at Park Ave. Congregational Church, Arlington, Feb. 3
Come in from the Winter Cold for an evening of warmth, community and support for the Syrian American Medical Society. Admission is free, and all donations will go to the Syrian American Medical Society. “Soup for Syria”, a beautifully photographed cookbook with recipes from world-renowned chefs, will be offered in a raffle.

  • Soup for Syria Benefit Supper
  • Saturday, February 3, at 6:00 p.m.
  • Park Avenue Congregational Church, 50 Paul Revere Road, Arlington
  • Admission is Free. Plenty of free parking is available. This Event is handicap accessible.
  • For event information, visit
  • For information about the Syrian American Medical Society, go to:

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 26

Please send submissions to by noon on Wednesday, January 24. Items may be edited for space and clarity.

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