The Unitarian – January 26, 2018

 The Unitarian – January 26, 2018 (pdf)

Sunday Worship, January 28: Is Religion Just a Hobby? — Rev. David Bryce

I recently read an article which claimed that for many people today religion is a hobby; it is something they turn to when—and if—they have both time and interest. As a minister I am uncomfortable with that claim. But is it true, and do I do the same?

Prelude: Improvisation on Kingsfold; Simon Andrews, piano

11 a.m. Senior Choir Anthem: Non Nobis, Domine by William Byrd (1543-1623)

Offertory: A Birthday by Ned Rorem (b. 1923), text by Christina Rossetti; Melanie Salisbury, soprano and Simon Andrews, piano

Postlude: Fugue in C minor from Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I by J.S. Bach (1685-1750); Simon Andrews, piano

The flowers on the Chancel Table are given by Jack Dennis in memory of his parents, Nereide and Wolcott Dennis.

  • Services at 9 and 11 a.m.; childcare is provided
  • Directions and parking information at
  • Sunday, February 4: Strangers In Their Own Land — Reverend Doris Hunter

Reflections from Rev. David Bryce, Senior Minister


In reading a history of Taoism (or Daoism)—or more properly, in reading a history of the western views of Taoism—it is clear that the author (one James Robson) believes that the view of Taoism that one has is greatly determined by one’s beginning belief’s. So, for example, he claims that nineteenth century scholar James Legge was a Protestant who disdained the Catholic Church rituals and practices, and that this negatively influenced his view of Taoism.

I have heard this kind of claim before, and know it to have much truth in it. But I assume that the degree of that truth probably varies.

Still, it raises interesting questions. Is there anything I can “look at” (investigate, explore, study) without seeing it through so many filters that what I see is not the object itself, not the sacred text of another tradition, but is instead a complete fabrication within my own mind? Yes, yes; I know—very sophomoric level philosophy. And yet…

Can a person look at the sacred texts of any religious tradition—including their own—and actually see that set of texts? Or is it inevitable that they will see only what already lives within themselves?

Many mystics proclaim that the prophets lived certain experiences and tried to convey with words what cannot be truly conveyed with words; that such words are only pointers that show us the way to where me may have our own experiences.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, in his Divinity School Address, said “Jesus Christ belonged to the true race of prophets. He saw with open eye the mystery of the soul…He saw that God incarnates himself in man…He said, ‘I am divine. Through me, God acts; through me, speaks. Would you see God, see me; or, see thee, when thou also thinkest as I now think…”

This does not seem to mean that what is within me is already “God incarnate”; it seems to mean that I must go beyond myself to have the full experience of God incarnate.

I like reading sacred texts. I find much truth in them for my own life. But am I only finding what is already within me rather than that which does not yet see as Jesus does—or Buddha, or Muhammad, or Lao Tse?

I hope that my explorations, my readings, can take me to that undefined someplace that I seek. May I find ways to grasp at least some vision of the messages which were intended by the authors of the world’s sacred texts. In any event, let me recognize that it behooves me to have the quality of humility about whatever I believe I have found.

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.

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.

Toy Drive for Cradles to Crayons

Organized by Youth Group alum Maddy Keavaney
We are collecting toys, clothes, and winter jackets for children up to age 12, who are served by the organization Cradles to Crayons. Anybody who would like to donate can do so by donating new toys and clothes. There will be a box downstairs by Janice Zazinski’s office. The box will remain there until February 5th at which point it will be taken to the Cradles to Crayons location. Thanks for your help! More at

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.

Coffee and Conversation with Newcomers – February 4th after each service

Have a question about First Church, UUs, or just want to meet the minister and discuss the Sunday sermon? On Sunday, February 4th, 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

Partner Church Scholarship Contributions Needed

The Partner Church Committee is seeking contributions in any amount to help the high school students in our partner congregation to attend high school outside the village. Although the associated expenses are modest by U.S. standards, they are beyond the means of some of our partner families. First Church provides $300 scholarships to about 12 students each year.

Please consider giving any amount to help this important effort. We will have a table after services this Sunday, or leave a check in the church office with Janice, or with Sherry Jones, made out to First Church with “Partner Scholarship” in the Memo Line, or contact Sherry Jones at or 617-484-2276. Many thanks!

Music Events Coming Up

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

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!

On Saturday, February 24th, there will be a piano recital in the Parish Hall by the internationally renowned pianist Paul-André Bempéchat. The program will be music of Frederick Chopin, featuring all four Ballades, and all 24 Preludes. The concert will start at 7:30 p.m., and admission is by suggested donation. More about the pianist at

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 or download the Winter 2018 brochure

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!

Spiritual Renewal through Poetry — Peter Guthrie
Sunday, January 28, at 2:45 p.m., Parlor
Robert Frost once defined a poem as a “momentary stay against confusion.” We will read and discuss poems that deal with spiritual issues in the broadest sense of the term.

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

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?

Patricia Fillingham and Warthog Press — David Fillingham
Sunday, February 18, 12:30 p.m., Library
Former First Church member Patricia Fillingham’s son, David, will discuss, through poetry, writings and objects from his mother’s extraordinary life, how she founded the local publishing house, Warthog Press.

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.

“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.”

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

Many, many thanks for the wonderful contributions to this year’s Great January Jar Race. Your generosity was grand, and the Grow Clinic families are supremely grateful to you for taking part in the race. Jars and jars and jars of gratitude…..Your Grow Clinic Committee

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 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 (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 UUUM 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

“Soup For Syria” at Park Ave. Congregational Church, Arlington, Feb. 3

Admission is free, and all donations will go to the Syrian American Medical Society.

“Soup for Syria” Benefit Supper

  • Saturday, February 3, at 6:00 p.m.
  • Park Avenue Congregational Church, 50 Paul Revere Road, Arlington
  • 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, February 2

Please send submissions to by noon on Wednesday, January 31. Items may be edited for space and clarity.

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