The Unitarian – April 12, 2018

The Unitarian – April 12, 2018 (pdf)

Sunday Worship, April 15

A Dream — Rev. David Bryce

A few months ago, I had a very odd dream. As with all dreams, it could have multiple meanings. I will share one possible meaning that I think has universal application.

Prelude: Überraschungsmusik by G.F. Handel (1685-1759); Simon Andrews

9 a.m. Nova Choir Anthem: For The Beauty Of The Earth by John Rutter (b. 1945)

11 a.m. Senior Choir Anthem: Schaffe in mir, Gott by Johannes Brahms

Offertory: Early in the Morning by Ned Rorem (b. 1923); Chuck Claus, baritone and Ian Garvie, piano

Postlude: Toccata by Georgi Mushel (1909 – 89); Simon Andrews

The flowers on the Chancel Table are given by James & Rebecca Hencke to celebrate their 46th anniversary, and Rebecca’s 39th birthday.

Reflections from Rev. David Bryce, Senior Minister


This past Sunday we had a wonderful service. Sana preached about bias and included stories from her own life experience as someone with a Muslim and South East Asian heritage; the Linden Singers sang Gospel music; the choir sang a Spanish-language song; the Alphabet Rockers sang hip-hop and Kaitlin spoke eloquently about their work, about bias here in Belmont as she was growing up, and about the work we all have to do—especially those of us who are white—to build a world of justice.

I thought this was a wonderful display of the best of Unitarian Universalism—our openness to multiple “sources” of truth and art and our willingness to confront the fact that we fall short of fully living our ideals.

Our goal is not to be perfect right now, our goal is to move towards perfection while knowing that we may never reach the end of that striving.

When I was a child I remember the “trick” question, “If you set out you reach a spot six feet away from where you are, and with each step you move half of the remaining distance between you and that spot, when will you reach it? The answer, of course, is never. There will always be something left of the journey—half of what there was one step ago.

On justice issues, perhaps we only move a tenth of the way forward with each generation. [And, let us acknowledge, there are times such as these when we are moving backwards rather than forwards.]

But even if the end is ultimately impossible to reach (which, when it comes to human justice, I do not believe) it is important to take those steps even knowing there will be more to do. We will have done our part for future generations.

And so with honest appraisals of ourselves as individuals and of ourselves as a nation, we can take the next step forward.

Tomorrow! Friday April 13 at 7:30 p.m.! Featuring Jon Svetkey & Heather Quay (Aka The Yellow Room) With Jeff Isen!

Heather and Jon have been singing and strumming together for almost twenty years. Their original songs combine elements of classic pop, folk and country music while showcasing their love of two-part harmony and fun.

Jeff is multi-instrumentalist who has played with a jug band in California, a bluegrass group in Malawi, a rock band in Sri Lanka, and a few different outfits in Boston, including Jon’s band The Loomers. He is also a song writer just waiting to share his music with you!

Admission: $12/$8 students and seniors. Coffee and refreshments for sale. This month’s beneficiary is the UU Urban Ministry.

Stewardship Update – Finish Strong!

Our 2018 Stewardship Drive has raised $592,500 from over 250 pledges so far! This is a strong show of support for our church and programs and is much appreciated. If you haven’t made your commitment yet, please get your pledge in right away. The Parish Board is working on next year’s budget which will be voted on at the upcoming Annual Meeting in May.

Please be part of this positive energy — join your fellow parishioners and pledge today! You can mail or bring in your pledge form. You may also:

Let us all do our part so we can finish strong! Find your Sanctuary. Be a Steward.

~ With appreciation, Anjali Kumar, Stewardship Chair

The Alphabet Rockers

Alphabet Rockers At First Church

Children, moms, dads and grandparents as well as members of the Belmont community joined with co sponsors (Belmont Against Racism, Stand Up Campaign, UU Urban Ministry, Music, Youth, RE, Social Action and Adult Programs Committees) to enjoy an inspirational and fun concert. Thanks to all who helped make this event special.

CRE News, by Nate Sellers

This past Sunday, Grammy nominated performers The Alphabet Rockers (above) visited the Children’s Religious Education program, and conducted a mini social justice workshop for kids during Sunday morning classes, not to mention a live performance! The Alphabet Rockers are a children’s hip-hop group from Oakland, Ca., who aim to progress the conversation of racial biases and social justice. Children in the CRE program thoroughly enjoyed spending time with them, which included dancing, singing, and activities that centered around the beauty of everyone’s skin tone. Later in the day, after the second service, The Alphabet Rockers ran an all-age workshop, as well as performed in the Parish Hall, which was centered around race and diversity–which many of you attended.

Since The Alphabet Rockers’ event, I’ve received emails from parents asking how to further, as well as begin, discussions about race, racism, and racial biases with their children. This can seem like a tricky, and even delicate conversation to have with kids, especially if we feel that our child(ren) have never witnessed discrimination, or haven’t yet developed personal biases. Julius Lester, who wrote Let’s Talk About Race, notes that between the age of two and three, children use personal biases to decide who to play with, as well as who is “safe.” The reason behind this is that most children equate people who look like them to be more like them; it is part of human cognitive development. Lester also mentions that children experience, and/or see a form of racial discrimination by the time they are in primary school.

If this is the case, how or when do we initiate the discussion with our children? How can we prepare to be successful? Well, as a parent who wants to teach their child(ren) about race, racism, and racial biases, the most important step is to begin to inform yourself on these topics. Read! Research! Reflect! The best time to discuss race, racism, and racial biases, is when you have an understanding of the larger conversation that’s presently taking place around these topics. Once you begin taking in information, you’ll be more equipped to have discussions, as well as ready to learn alongside your child.

Here are a few helpful tips:

  • You may have to first introduce children to the idea that some people get treated unfairly based on their skin color, culture, or religion.
  • Take your child’s comments seriously.
  • Accept that prejudiced comments may happen—and that doesn’t mean your child is racist. Gently dispute the stereotype or prejudiced attitudes. “I’ve heard people say (X) about (Y), but my experience is…”
  • Don’t quiet or change the subject if your child makes a statement like, “Her skin looks dirty.” Engage your child. For example, ask them why they think that and then explain that the person’s skin isn’t dirty; it’s just a darker skin tone, etc.
  • Ask age-appropriate questions in the car (ex. do you think everyone is treated fairly?)
  • Be a role model

Check out these sites and programs for useful materials and information:

Music Notes, by Ian Garvie

A huge thank you to all of the guest musicians who joined us for the services last weekend. The Linden Singers, Roger, Paul, Richard and John — their awesome vocal harmonies provided the Prelude, Postlude, and Offertory. And the Alphabet Rockers, who joined us for both worship services, the RE program and an after-church program. The group is dedicated to addressing complex issues surrounding identity and social justice through hip hop music. Their passion is to create positive messages and modern beats to help children love who they are, fight bias, and celebrate difference. The afternoon event was attended by over 130 people!

And looking forward, on Sunday, June 3rd the First Church will have its second annual Community Concert, and we are looking for performers! This is an opportunity for community members both young and young at heart to perform music of all styles. We welcome folk singers and cowboys, pianists and violinists, steel drummers and more. This is a wonderful opportunity for students and other young musicians to perform as well! If you are interested, please contact Ian Garvie ( for more information.

Chalice Lighting — All Are Welcome

We invite ALL members of the church community to light our Chalice on Sundays. There is a sign up list near the elevator in the Upper Gathering Hall, or you can sign up online.

Ushers Needed through June 10

Thanks to everyone who helped make our winter ushering a success. Now please consider volunteering to usher for the spring. You can sign up online or on the Ushering Sign-Up Poster in the Upper Gathering Hall during coffee hour. Thanks for your help.

The Rummage Sale is Back! Saturday, May 5

Many ways to help:

Sign up to volunteer during the week before the sale and/or the day of the sale. Two ways to sign up: during coffee hour or on-line at Volunteering for at least 2 hours qualifies you to shop at the Pre-Sale, Friday, May 4 at 6:30 p.m. Thank you!!

Donate your “saleable” items:

  • gently used clothes, household items, linens, books (but no textbooks or encyclopedias)
  • jewelry
  • furniture (but no items larger than 30”x30”x30”)
  • small working appliances and electronics (but no computers, components, monitor screens, and TVs)
  • toys and games, etc.
  • Please do not bring anything that is stained, ripped, moldy, discolored or threadbare.
  • Click for a complete list of items — both needed and not needed

Donation drop-off starts on Sunday, April 29 at 3 p.m. and goes through Wednesday, May 2 at 9 p.m. Questions? Email

Money, Money, Money

Sunday, April 29 – after 9 a.m. service (Parlor) and 11 a.m. service (Parish Hall)

Please join us for a conversation about the current state of FCB’s finances and what we can do to prepare for a financially sustainable future. The Capital Campaign Task Force and the Finance Committee are hosting a Q&A for the congregation to learn more about our church’s financial makeup. Come hear about how our budget is put together, what the current financial pressures are, and how we can plan for a stable future. Bring your questions!

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 Spring 2018 brochure (pdf)

The Adult Programs Committee Wants To Know….
What is the one group, event, or program you’d like to see in the adult programs’ offerings that is currently not happening? Please email Lillian Anderson — — with a suggestion.

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!

“The Story of the Universe, Ignoring Details” — Andrea Prestwich and Edwin Taylor
Sunday, April 15, 12:30 p.m., Library
We live in a universe with many wonders … a multitude of stars with planets, stars that explode, galaxies that host super-massive black holes. In this talk, Ed and Andrea will ignore details and focus on the big picture. What is our universe made of? How did it begin and how will it end? We’ll show that current evidence points towards a universe that is expanding and started with a hot Big Bang, contains a mysterious substance called Dark Matter and that the expansion is being accelerated by an unknown force called Dark Energy. The end? Death of our Sun and a sky with fewer and fewer stars.

Fiber Arts Fellowship — Eva Patalas
1st and 3rd Thursdays, 8 p.m., Location TBD
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.

Belmont UU Alliance Members and Friends – (postponed from March)
Wednesday, April 18, 12 p.m. Potluck Lunch, 1 p.m. Program, Parish Hall
Program: “Our Democracy is in Trouble”
All men and women are invited to join us on Wednesday, April 18 at noon for the Alliance Pot Luck Lunch and program. Please let us know whether you will bring: salad, main dish or dessert when you RSVP. The program will begin in the Parish Hall at 1pm. Fred Van Deusen from the First Parish in Concord social justice group, Reclaiming Our Democracy, will be presenting on the topic “Our Democracy is in Trouble”. Fred will trace the roots of escalating inequality to the dysfunction we see in our federal government, and we will discuss what we as citizens can do about it.

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

Science and Spirituality – Ken and Nicole Bernstein
Thursday, April 19, 7:30 p.m., Conference Room
Kirk Israel will lead the discussion on “Hidden Motives”
In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Robin Hanson about our hidden motives in everyday life. They discuss selfishness, hypocrisy, norms and meta-norms, cheating, deception, self-deception, education, the evolutionary logic of conversation, social status, signaling and counter-signaling, common knowledge, AI, and many other topics.”

Parenting Kids with Challenges – Melissa Irion
Friday, April 20, 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.

Socially Responsible Investing – John Keller and John Kolterman
Sunday, April 22, 12:30 p.m., Parish Hall
Would you like to better align your personal investments to match your social, moral and ethical beliefs? Society is demanding that companies serve a social purpose and should benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers and the communities in which they operate. If you’d like to learn how you might align your own investments accordingly, join us for this informational session.

First Church Book Group – Karl Klasson and Anne Stuart
Wednesday, April 25, 7:30 p.m., Library

This month’s book is The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje.

For my money, Michael Ondaatje is the greatest living writer in the English language … The wide-eyed love of the world and its wonders, the kindness he offers to his characters and readers, the elegant lyricism of his sentences, the joy of storytelling — all that is great in his other books is fully present in The Cat’s Table … In this dark, terrible world, The Cat’s Table has healing powers. — Aleksandar Hemon, The Wall Street Journal

     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 on a particular evening by the Monday before each session. Please contact Anne Stuart at: or Karl Klasson at to confirm attendance or have any questions.

“Can the Arts Foster Social Change?”: A panel discussion with Downing Cless, Nate Sellers, Jon Svetkey, and Betty Stone
Thursday, April 27, 7:30 p.m., Parish Hall
We live in a time of uncertainty and the arts can both provoke us to action and sharpen our focus about what is important.

Tufts University Associate Professor of Drama Emeritus, longtime collaborator with Underground Railway Theater, and board member of Central Square Theater, Downing Cless, will explore Brecht and activist theatre such as Bread and Puppet Theatre, and many more.

First Church Director of RE Nate Sellers has developed a curriculum to explore existential cinema and has lectured in film and media studies. Using 12 Angry Men, Philadelphia, The Thin Blue Line, Birth of a Nation and other films he will discuss the social changes these films inspired.

Songwriter and musician Jon Svetkey has released 10 albums of original music. He’ll explore how music and social action have walked hand in hand, voices raised for decades – Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, James Brown, The Clash, Bob Marley, Public Enemy and others.

Photographer Betty Stone is a member of the Cambridge Art Association and the Winchester Artists Network. Photographers have “told the stories” of the disenfranchised to “bear witness” and trigger change from the civil rights movement to today.

Women’s Spring Potluck Supper
Friday, April 27, 7 p.m., Parish Hall
All women are invited to share food, friendship and fun as we come together once again to connect and re-connect. Bring an appetizer, main dish, salad or dessert AND a beverage to share. No RSVP necessary. And bring your friends too!

Beyond Ferguson: Bridging Class, Cultural and Racial Separations — Social Action Committee
Sunday, April 29, 7 p.m., Library
Please join Belmont Against Racism, The First Church in Belmont 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.

Caring for Older Adults – Miriam Baker and Deborah Blumberg
Tuesday, May 1, 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 find information and community? 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.

Mindful Yoga – Jess Hicks
Saturday, May 5, 4 – 5:30 p.m., Parlor
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.

Options in Aging Care — Kathy Kemp
Sunday, May 6, 12:15 p.m., Library
Are you contemplating the “next step” as you age? Are you worried about a failing parent or partner? It can be confusing and overwhelming to know what help is needed, and how to get that help. Some of us juggle care-giving for both our children and parents. Challenges multiply when you are a distant caregiver or when the situation involves mental illness or memory issues. Bring your questions. Kathy will offer information and advice for acute situations or planning for the future. She is a member of First Parish Arlington and a Certified Geriatric Care Manager and Social Worker.

Social Action News in Brief

Sign up for the Social Action newsletter at

Annual Mother’s Day Walk for Peace — Sunday, May 13
To support the work of the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute, which aids families impacted by murder
Sign up to walk as an individual or as part of “Team Belmont.” Belmont walkers will meet at the Alewife T station, in front of Bertucci’s, at 7 a.m. to take the T to Fields Corner. Questions — please contact Priscilla Cobb at Details and registration are at

Grow Clinic at Boston Medical Center
Our campaign to help the GROW babies and toddlers GROW by sending them lots of Vitamins is nearing its end. Won’t you please make a note to put Flintstone Chewables or Polysol with Iron Liquid Vitamins on your shopping list this week? Many, many thanks for your generosity!

Pick up a food list or bring an April Special Request: Vitamins. Collection baskets are in the Sanctuary vestibule and Lower Hall. Food: One of the Most Important Medicines

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

Food Pantry
First Church members staff the opening of the Belmont Food Pantry on the second Tuesday of every month, You can sign up at or send questions to

In the Community

Rev. Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir benefit for Sanctuary at the First Parish in Bedford

  • Saturday, April 21 at 7:30 p.m.
  • $10; tickets at
  • First Parish in Bedford, 75 The Great Road , Bedford
  • Billy is part high-energy ecstatic theatre, part politics, part non-sectarian all-inclusive religion. Check out their website:
  • This sanctuary is now supported by volunteers from nine covenanted congregations, including many from First Church in Belmont

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.

UU actions, events & resources

Next issue: Thursday, April 19

Send submissions to by noon on Wednesday, April 18. Items may be edited for space and clarity.

Contact Us

Parish Board minutes are online and posted on the Upper Hall bulletin board.

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