From Janice Zazinski
A belated Happy New Year to all of you and thanks for all the work you do.
I’ve been working closely with the Membership Database Committee,
Martha Read, and Mark Thurber to get accurate contribution statements in
the mail by January 31. I also ensure staff and contractors get their tax forms
on time as well.
I’m also doing some support for our hardworking Stewardship and Auction
Committees though they are all mostly self-sufficient.
Something that’s come up on my radar recently is building security, and
Laurie Graham and I have met to go over the Belmont Police Department’s
recommendations to see what we can do to ensure the building is accessible
when it needs to be and secure at other times.
With Brian Caputo’s help, we should have a summer lease for the BASEC
program over to them by early February. At their request and with Brian’s
agreement, they will have a three-year lease with us to ensure continuity for
their program staff and families. They are wonderful tenants to have.
The UUA’s retirement plan will have a new plan administrator called
Empower, a switch away from TIAA CREF. This switch will happen
to start in February and be finalized by March. While that switch is
happening, there will be some training I need to do to ensure we are able to
make pension contributions correctly. The UUA will be providing those
I feel like there is so much more I could get into, but I’ll stop here.
From Ian Garvie
Director of Music
As I write this, I am just back from a much-needed vacation, where I spent
four days in the Colorado Rockies, skiing with some family members. The
sun is streaming through the windows, and I’m feeling rested and
The winter is always a time of rest and planning for the music program. So
much has just happened, with the musical, the Christmas services, and the
first Major Music service. The next few major events are in March and
beyond, and while it feels quiet, there is still much to do behind the scenes to
prepare for what’s coming next.
A group of parents will be meeting soon to begin talking about next year’s
musical, and starting to organize all of the tasks that need to be done to make
it even more of a success than this year. One of the challenges this year was
the number of tasks that fell to me, personally, because of a lack of
organization. Our goal is to have systems in place so that the parent body
can organize most of the tasks such as set building, food, supervision,
programs, setup, etc.
Planning is also underway for the Children’s Choir Festival, a day-long
music festival and activity in May for all of our kids’ choir members. We’ll
have games, activities, concerts, and more. Some of Boston’s best musicians
and teachers will be involved, as well as some guest choirs.
The spring Major Music service is right around the corner on March 19th, so
Camila and I have already started hiring an orchestra for that. We’ll be
performing John Rutter’s wonderful Requiem. This year the music service
will also serve as a community-wide memorial event, where we’ll be
inviting remembrances from the congregation of people they’ve lost in their
lives. It promises to be a profound and moving service.
There are also a number of concerts coming up in the near future. The
The Second Friday Concert series has expanded to encompass some concerts on
other days of the week, and we have at least 7 performances coming up in
the winter and spring. Musical styles will include Celtic, classical piano,
vocal, jazz, folk rock, and more.
Finally, a note about the music staff at the church. Our alto soloist and
section leader Irina has decided to step away from her position after eleven
wonderful years. She is a wonderful person and musician, and we will miss
having her in the community! Our new soprano soloist Camila is settling
into her role as both soloist and music assistant and will be taking on more
work with the children’s choirs in the near future. If you have not yet heard
her at the Thursday evening Vespers services, you’re missing some
As always, I’m grateful for the support that the community gives to the music
the program, and to the wonderful staff I get to work with.
From Nate Sellers
Director of Children’s Religious Education
This January, our 1st to 5th graders enjoyed the switch to the KUU (Kids
UUnited) curriculum with learning about reliance and collaboration through
building MASSIVE domino structures!
Here’s a sample of the lesson,
IT ALL FALLS DOWN:
DOMINOES 1.1 (7 - 10 minutes) - Ages 5 to 12
Purpose: Independent Thinking, Resilience
Give each child 15-20 dominoes and spread them around the room.
Encourage them to build their own domino creation and topple. If the group
is unfamiliar with the activity, feel free to show them an example.
It’s important to mention that when the dominoes topple, we can always start
over with some effort and positivity. Dominoes will fall, even when we
don’t want them to!
**Create some follow-up questions based on what you observed and how
they functioned together as a group.
DOMINOES 1.2 (15 - 20 minutes) - Ages 5 to 12
Now encourage the kids to form groups of 3-4 friends. Inform them that the
second activity is going to challenge them to work as a team, which means
listening and being patient with one another. DOMINOES WILL FALL.
IT’S OKAY! WE CAN PUT THEM BACK UP!
Then instruct them to recreate their most successful independent domino
topple from the last activity, but this time, attach it to the builds of those in their group! Point out that the team topple is not only larger, but it’s
bringing together different ideas to form a singular creation!
Teams may work together to create various builds after their big
In other news, The Children's Religious Education Program and the Youth
Program are planning to combine forces and create a single committee that
works together to ensure the compatibility of content and activities across
the different age spans: Pk/K, Elementary, Middle School, & High School.
Additionally, we will be exploring new ways to engage children/youth,
developing themes for the curriculum, and looking at ideas to connect
children/youth with older members of the church community. We are
currently looking for parents to join the committee to advise and guide us in
those goals and also to be ambassadors of the CRE & Youth Programs.
Lastly, our middle school Building Bridges class has expanded into a junior
high youth group on Sunday mornings. The youth are continuing to learn
about different religions and have the opportunity to visit various houses of
worship, but we’re now integrating fun, engaging lessons around self-
identity and community. We’ve found that the youth enjoy having a new
structure to socialize and engage in discussion, so much so, that they often
want to stay in class once the sessions are over!
The most important thing to note is that the program is experiencing new life
through our most recent changes-- and more than excited about it!
From Lillian Anderson
Director of Adult Programs
Our winter programs are now in full swing and I’m happy to report that
attendance for both in-person and online programs is excellent. In addition
to our First Church offerings, we have begun the online CommUUnity
Collaborative (CC) programs and people are registering from all across the
Our ministerial intern John O’Connor is leading an online CC two-part program called “The Revelation of John: Notes from the Edge of the Abyss”
on February 14 and 28 which explores the ways we “engage with the
Apocalypse, one of the most troubling texts from our Christian tradition”.
He is also participating in a panel discussion along with Revs. Kim
Crawford Harvie and Chris, which will respond to Peg O’Connor’s lecture
“Higher and Friendly Powers: Transforming Addiction and Suffering” on
February 8th. Registration for all the CC programs is on the website
Our first program using the Date With Death Club curriculum is on January
31 and we are grateful that Jackie James will be helping us to explore getting
comfortable with death talk and living a fulfilling life. She has agreed to
continue developing programs using this extraordinary curriculum and the
next topic is “Good Life & Good Death including a discussion of Medical Aid
in Dying” which will be online on March 29.
Richard Waring and Ian Garvie will be hosting our annual “Moth” hour
event on February 17 and Richard is actively recruiting our storytellers.
These stories are vital to connecting us to each other so if you want to
participate please contact Richard email@example.com. And plan to attend
and have fun listening.
During the month of February, the FCB History Group will be leading two
programs on Confronting Our History: The Stories behind the Tiffany
Window and in the second part How Do We Respond? Our FC historian,
John Howe will moderate these programs on February 12 and 26 at 12:30 pm
in the Sanctuary and parlor.
Our adult programs committee continues to monitor our current programs
and is always thinking of new opportunities for creative programs. We have
just added Ann Dexter to our stellar group of committed members (Bill
Blumberg, Mark Davis, Karl Klasson, Susan Kobayashi, Ed Siegfried) ably
chaired by Debbie Dobbins and Nicole Griffin.
From Sam Foster
This month the Membership Committee hosted a potluck dinner for
newcomers to the church. Two of our new folks, Jerome and Leah, have recently become members, and their newborn has the distinction of being the reigning tiniest baby in the congregation.
A significant project in January was to build on the event announcement system designed by Raeann, in order to bring our website calendar up to date
and to simplify the staff's process for tracking events and announcements.
With help from Raeann, Janice, and Lillian, I have put in place what should
be a reliable online dashboard for staff use, enabling Janice to update the
Unitarian, the Order of Service, and the building calendar, Raeann to update
social media and myself to update the website, with minimal technological
disruption and without announcements falling through the cracks. Our
weekend worship emails have been updated with new features, as well. One
of my projects in February will be to publicize the website calendar, in order
to familiarize the congregation with this new source of information.
There is a lot of energy at the moment around developing new fellowship
events. A new member, Judi Berman, and I will be hosting a Fellowship
Brainstorming session on February 19, to which everyone with ideas for
fellowship events is invited. We hope this event will spark new ideas and
encourage new folks to take the initiative. Judi herself will be running a
Valentine's Day Card workshop on the 4th, and we are planning a contra
dance lesson for the spring. Another recent member, Margaret Eagle, is
reaching out to neighbor congregations in the hope of founding a Boston
area UU singles group. I will update the Board on these initiatives next
From Raeann Mason
Director of Youth Ministry
Youth Group kicked off the new year with a super fun night of Trivia. They
presented some tricky categories and we learned a lot about how to make the
event even more fun in the future. The youth raised nearly $500 toward their
Panama Service Learning Trip. The trip is around the corner and some
adventurous FCB youth will be learning about sustainable and regenerative
agricultural practices to deepen our relationship with Sustainable Harvest
International and of course, our planet.
In a similar vein, FCB youth has been working directly with UU Mass
Action to establish a UUMA Youth Corps, and January saw their First kick-off meeting.
Along with youth from Bedford and Concord congregations,
the youth corps had the opportunity to brainstorm some amazing justice
work with some local justice workers: Black activist Ronel Remey with
City Life Vida Urbana, who spoke on community organizing in the face of
housing injustice, trans activist Jon Wishnie who works with 350 MA and
spoke on intersectional climate action, and our very own Rev. Annie
Gonzolez from First Parish Bedford who works with the Boston
Immigration Justice Network shared about what the world might look like
without cages, borders and police. Now that the youth corps is up and
running, you can find updates on our website, fcbyouth.org, and the lower
hall bulletin board about their work.
The Coming of Age crew has moved into a new season: Becoming. These
next few weeks, they will focus on topics like authenticity, stereotypes, body
image, ethics, passion, joy and more. I, along with the COA Advisors (shout
out to Richard Waring and Eva Patalas!), are looking at ways to engage with
the COA curriculum more intentionally and are already dreaming about next
year’s programming iteration.
Similarly, CRE director Nate Sellers and our favorite, most helpful OWL
director and RE admin, Wendy Conroy, and I are forming a fantastic PreK-
12 Religious Education Committee. We’re excited to join creative forces to
look ahead in the coming year. We’ve got exciting plans coming down the
We rounded out the month with an inspired Intergenerational Climate Panel.
The Social Action Committee, FCB Green and FCByouth joined forces to
open a candid discussion on the church's role in climate justice work. We
learned more about what the church and youth are already doing, and we had
a lively brainstorming session about ways to move forward intergenerationally about something so many of us are passionate about. We hope to prepare more ways for the congregation to connect over the subject in the coming months.
Common Ground is a project I am working on to provide UUs in the area
with opportunities to attend service-learning trips. We have a thriving
community, but not all congregations have the critical mass needed to
provide their youth, adults and families with a chance to engage in service
learning—this is where we hope Common Ground will come into play.
I have 15 years of experience leading service-learning trips around the world.
I am a full-time travel writer beyond my role with FCB and am a partner for
a travel and social action online magazine; international mutual aid is a huge
passion of mine. I look forward to sharing that passion with UUs in and
around Massachusetts through this program. Keep an eye out for more
about Common Ground as the details unfold.
The FCB website is an ever-growing work in progress. We’re hearing back
from some community members about what they wish to see, what’s hard to
find and what’s working well for them—this is the best type of feedback I
can get, and I am working hard to make updates that serve the FCB
community. The staff continues refining our communications system,
working out glitches. In this arena, collaboration has been the name of the
game. We’re grateful for a patient community as we refine a very intricate
and often complicated process.
From John O’Connor
December and January were very busy at First Church! On the
administrative front, with the help of Ian and Samuel, we have worked out a
booklet form for the Order of Service which is reasonable enough to produce
and print. We are still working on a flow of information to coordinate which
announcements appear each week in the Order of Service. Samuel and
Lillian have been most helpful in this on-going effort.
The Ministerial Fellowship Committee (MFC) has approved the Learning
Agreement I prepared in conjunction with Chris and the Intern Minister
Committee. I am happy to report that I will meet with the MFC in
September 2023. In preparation for that interview, I participated in a mock
MFC interview that Chris put together for another candidate, Ken.
In February, I will be participating in two programs through the Community
Collaborative: a two-part presentation on the Book of Revelation; and an
author talk on the book Higher and Friendly Power. Currently, we are
working on publicity to insure we have good attendance at each.
I had a blast at all four Christmas Eve services, which were beautifully done.
What a day that was! I also preached on 1/15 (MLK weekend). The title of
the sermon was The Yin and Yang of Resistance and Acceptance. In the
sermon, I explored the tension between resistance and acceptance. To
illustrate this tension I explored the history of our Tiffany window and our
connection to slavery. This theme will tie in nicely with John Howe’s 2 part
discussion on Confronting Our History, which will occur in February.
Youth programming and children’s RE will be a focal point of my internship
this winter. I will be attending a section on 1/29 on Eastern Religions, an
introduction to OWL on 2/5, and a section on Taoism on 3/12. I will also
attend some meetings on proposed curriculum changes in the coming month.
Wishing you all the best!