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The Unitarian — December 1, 2022


Rev. Chris takes you through holiday events and programs at FCB. Find all the upcoming holiday events and programs here.


Sunday December 4, one service at 10 a.m. on the Town Green

“The Log In Our Eye” with Rev. Chris

Upcoming services

  • Thursday December 8: Meditation Vespers with Rev. Chris

  • Sunday December 11: Major Music Service One Service at 10:30 a.m. in the Sanctuary

  • Thursday December 15: Musical Vespers with John O’Connor

  • Sunday December 18: “Light In The Darkness” with Rev. Chris and Children’s Choirs; services at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. in the Sanctuary

Major Music Sunday presents Camille Saint-Saëns’ Christmas Oratorio: Sunday, December 11, one service at 10:30 a.m. in the Sanctuary

Major Music Sunday features the First Church's Senior Choir, soloists, and a full orchestra performing a classic holiday oratorio.

From Your Minister

Many of you don’t know, but a beautiful thing has been happening.

For a long while now, for two years, a group of fifteen people have been showing up in love for one of our own.

As many of you know, a few years ago, Ed Bing, longtime member and leader here at the church moved into Neville Place. At the same time as his wife, Linda Atkinson was facing health challenges.

And so, a group of people, including Lynn Anderson, Louise Bray, Downing Cless, Sarah Cliffe, Mike Collins, Mark Davis, Mike Flamang, Susan Galli, Jim and ML Landfried, Roger Miller, Jeanne Mooney, Craig Sherman, Ed Siegfried, Lanier Smythe started to visit Ed to take him for walks. And they never stopped. And they have been showing up in love and support for Ed, for two years now.

My wife Lauren says that you can pretend to care, but you can’t pretend to show up. I love that.

And I love that these people have been showing up and taking Ed on walks, and out for ice cream, often bringing him to church and so much more.

And the remarkable thing is that this was not coordinated by the church, this wasn’t even asked for, but it emerged, organically out of the deep connections, the solid commitment and the powerful love which grows over many years together.

Linda gave a generous gift to the Minister’s Discretionary Fund in honor of these fifteen people and their showing up for Ed.

Especially now, in this moment in which it is so easy to feel isolated and alone, this is the great gift of community, first that we are held in love, that in our times of need there are people there to support us and show up for us. And second and perhaps even more beautifully, that we get to show up for one another, that we get to answer the call and help out when someone is in need.

Both because one day we will also be in need of support, but also because this connection, this community, this love is one of the most beautiful parts of being alive.

So thank you to everyone who has shown up for Ed these last two years. And thank you to everyone in this precious community for the many ways you hold one another and allow yourselves to be held.

This is a precious gift we are sharing.

So much love to you all,


Beautify the Sanctuary with Flowers

Thank you for donating flowers to beautify the Sanctuary. Our longtime partner, Paradise Flowers, will create the arrangements, which are $90. You can use the form below for either an online payment or if you wish to mail a check to the church.

This month, we Share the Plate with the Grow Clinic at Boston Medical Center

The Grow Clinic at Boston Medical Center provides comprehensive specialty medical, nutritional, developmental and social services and dietary assistance to children from the Greater Boston area referred with Failure To Thrive (FTT). The First Church in Belmont has a long relationship supporting The Grow Clinic.

You can make a worship offering below, text the word “offering” to 617-819-8168, or mail a check to the church. Please make checks payable to The First Church in Belmont and write “offering” in the memo line.

Candles of Joy and Concern

Each week, Samuel Foster lights candles of concern and celebration in his weekly video. Samuel looks forward to receiving your news, your reflections, your prayers, indeed anything you feel moved to share with your congregation. Click here to email Samuel. Emails received by Tuesday night will be included in the video for that week; otherwise, the week after.

The Watcher screening and Q&A with Nate Sellers: Saturday, December 3, 7:30 p.m., in the Parish Hall

The Watcher is an avant-garde film that examines the day-to-day life of the last remaining member of a small religious cult (The Children of Enoch) -- who is awaiting the resurrection of her recently departed "sisters" and their leader, Father Enoch.

The Watcher was filmed over a single weekend (36 hours) in northern Vermont. The production was made up of mostly female talent/crew and features the work of up-and-coming filmmakers (Nathan Sellers, Lucia Tarro, and Sandrine Morin).

Nathan ("Nate") Sellers is a director, producer, and visual artist, known for his directorial debut You Can Call Me Light (2018), and co-creating the comedy web series Lily of the Valley (2019). He completed his latest film The Watcher (2022) in July of 2022 and recently produced Logan J. Freeman's film, Come Back Haunted. Nate grew up in Westford, Massachusetts. He later moved to Pennsylvania where he established himself as a visual artist in the Philadelphia alternative art scene. In 2013, Nate began editing social documentaries and eventually moved on to making experimental films. In early 2018, he teamed up with close friend Bekah Jordan, and began developing projects back home in New England (You Can Call Me Light, Lily of the Valley). Since then, Nate has received two screenwriting awards for his original scripts (Devotion, My Own Shadow) and completed his latest project The Watcher, which has won eleven film awards, including "Best Short Film" at Flatland Film Festival 2022. Nate is set to shoot his feature film debut Devotion in 2023.

Reservations are not necessary. Just come and enjoy! This film is not suitable for children. Refreshments served. For more information contact Lillian Anderson at

This Sunday, after the outdoor service: Social Action Holiday Gift Fair, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. in the Parish Hall

This Sunday, talented artisans will be selling their work to support the church’s Social Action Committee or a charitable cause of their choice that is aligned with our UU values. Do your holiday shopping…and help others at the same time! Choose from an array of products featuring the work of both local and international artisans and benefit many different causes!

Jonny Kringle & The Wondaland Band Holiday Concert! December 9, 7:30 p.m. in the Parish Hall

Come hear Jonny Kringle and The Wondaland Band play all your favorite classic rock holiday songs and make some kids happy at the same time. The band includes Tom Maher (drums), Everett Pendleton (guitar), Heather Quay & Lyn O'Conor-Ferguson (vocals), Richard Curzi (keyboards), Jason Redi (bass), Jeff Isen (percussion, trombone, harmonica, kitchen sink, etc.), and Jon Svetkey (vocals, guitar). Plus, don’t miss the super special holiday music bonus before the show!

All donations from the concert will go directly to The Maher Family Toy Fund to help children and families spending their holidays at Children's Hospital. You can donate online when you reserve your seat or in- person at the show.

We hope you'll join us for this very special Second Friday holiday concert. Get your tickets here.

FCB Holiday Gift Drive, through December 16

Every year First Church provides an opportunity for our members and friends to experience the true meaning of the holiday season by supporting organizations in need. We have supported these 3 charities in the past. By using you will find info on wish lists, donations, and gift cards as requested by the charities listed. Thank you for your generosity. Questions: contact Kathryn Bonfiglio at

  • The Grow Clinic at Boston Medical Center treats infants and toddlers diagnosed with Failure to Thrive and provides support to their families.

  • Mary’s House, operating under the umbrella of MHSA, provides shelter and transitional assistance for families experiencing homelessness.

  • Bristol Lodge (Waltham), also operating under the umbrella of MSHA, is a shelter for people experiencing homelessness.

New Programs Coming in January - Sign up Now

Revisiting the First Church Traditional Covenant with John Howe: Sunday, January 8, 12:30 p.m., Parlor

What does it mean to come together as a UU congregation? What is the overarching spirit and purpose of our church community?

Since 1900, the First Church bylaws have included the historic "Ames Covenant" or bond of fellowship. This covenant reads: "In the love of the truth and the spirit of Jesus we unite for the worship of God and the service of man."

Is this a faithful reflection of who we are as a congregation today? Or does our covenant need to be updated?

The FCB Parish Board is currently taking steps to draft a revised set of bylaws for consideration by the membership in spring 2023. Here are two of the key questions the church faces: (1) Whether to retain, modify, or replace the Ames Covenant; and (2) whether our covenant should be integral to, or separate from, our bylaws.

Please plan to join an important discussion session on these topics led by FCB parish historian John Howe. The session will begin with a brief recap of John's October 30 presentation, followed by an introduction to other forms of covenant used throughout our denomination.

After addressing these two pressing questions, we will engage in a more general discussion on how we might arrive at a covenantal statement fitting for this era of the church's life.

Please bring a sandwich; light refreshments and drinks will also be available.

OWL for Adults with Ran Courant-Morgan, beginning January 8, 4:30 p.m. in the Parlor; register below

Join us this winter for a series of four workshops from Our Whole Lives: Sexuality Education for Older Adults, a curriculum that takes a values-based, social justice approach to the sexuality of adults in midlife and beyond.

Sexuality is one of the most basic components of being human; we are sexual beings from birth to death. As we age, however, it is commonly assumed that we either know everything we need to know about sexuality or have lost interest in it. Our Whole Lives: Sexuality Education for Older Adults offers a rare opportunity for adults in middle and older age to talk to each other in a facilitated context about a topic they may find fascinating, confusing, frustrating, and rewarding. Too often, communication about older adult sexuality focuses on sexual dysfunction rather than on the benefits of healthy sexuality. In this program, participants learn new information, examine their values, and build communication and sexual health skills.

These 2-hour workshops will be facilitated by trained sexuality educator Ran Courant-Morgan. Participants should plan to attend all four sessions, which will take place in person. The curriculum is designed especially for participants ages 50 and up; interested adults over age 35 are welcome to enroll. All genders are invited. Registration required.

Spiritual Renewal through Poetry with Peter Guthrie, weekly from January 8 - January 29, 2 p.m., in the 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. This is a drop in program. No rsvp necessary. Contact:

“Green Cuisine: Preparing and Sharing Plant Based Meals” with Michael Griffin, begins January 10, 5 - 7:30 p.m. in the church kitchen; register below

Have you been thinking about going plant based or curious to see how to make simple plant based meals? Join us for one or more plant based dining experiences. Michael Griffin will be sharing ideas and recipes for plant based meals that are simple to prepare. You can sign up to help prepare the meal and feast or just come for the Feast. Each session will feature a soup/appetizer, salad, entree with sides, dessert and a few surprises. You will leave with the recipes and a full belly. To help cover the costs, we ask for a $10 per person donation (to be submitted at each dinner). To sign up please go to: Eating for our Planet Sign Up.

  • January 10: International Foods from the Southern Hemisphere

  • February 7: Comfort classics for a winter night or super bowl party

  • March 14: Italian Inspired dishes

  • April 11: Spring Classics

  • Food prep will be from 5:00 - 6:30 PM (limit 8 assistants)

  • Feast: 6:30 - 7:30 PM (In the Upper Gathering Hall)

Updating our First Church By-laws with Roger Read and Martha Courant, January 29, 12:30 p.m. in the Parlor

Presentation and discussion of proposed changes to church bylaws.

Adult Programs in December

FCB Sangha: Mondays at 7:30 pm (online)

Contact: James Hencke Meditation practice allows us to dwell in the present moment.

Gentle Yoga and Meditation with Teresa Howe: Wednesdays through December 21, 9:30 - 10:30 am, Parish Hall

Bring a yoga mat, strap or fabric belt and blanket. Drop in. No registration required. This class will be held for 7 weeks. Teresa Howe is a certified yoga teacher with over 12 years of experience teaching.

First Church Garden Group: Thursday, December 1, 4 p.m. (online)

Share your gardening tips and learn from others. During the winter months we meet online but once the weather is conducive we meet outdoors to enjoy being together in a garden. Contact Jess Hausman for more information.

FCB History Group: Thursday, December 1, 7:30 p.m. (online)

Join FC historian, John Howe, to delve into interesting aspects of First Church history. Content changes each month. For more information contact Samuel Foster.

UU Belmont Alliance: Thursday, December 8, 11 a.m. (online)

“Two New Databases for Genealogy Research” presented by Miriam Alexander Baker

Miriam Baker, a longtime member of First Church, is an avid amateur genealogist. She will be sharing with us information on two databases of interest to genealogists that have come on line this year.

Where you or someone in your family alive in 1950? Come and learn how to find them in the U.S. Census for that year. While the summary data has been available for decades, the detailed information for each household was only released earlier this year.

Did you have family living in New York City prior to 1945? Birth, marriage and death certificates are now being posted on line with more to come over the next few months. Learn how to locate these documents on the website of the New York City Municipal Archives. The index to marriages after 1950 will also be discussed.

For the Zoom link, contact Miriam Baker. Ahead of the meeting, please let Miriam know if you are looking for a record that would be of general interest to the group.

Saturday Film Discussion with Nate Sellers: December 10, 8 p.m. (online)

This year we will be watching and discussing the work of 10 female filmmakers — spanning 80+ years of cinema. Each film is visually distinct and captures a unique, compelling narrative through the feminine lens. We hope to see you there!

December's film is A New Leaf, written and directed by Elaine May. Available to rent on Amazon Prime or through the Minuteman Library System.

The film was a critical success upon its initial release. However, despite several accolades, award nominations, and a Radio City Music Hall run, A New Leaf fared poorly at the box office and remains little known by the general public. It is now considered a cult classic. In 2019, the film was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Films about Black Lives: Saturday, December 17, 7:30 pm (online)

Facilitated discussion led by Diana Dill and Eva Patalas. Films change monthly.

Straight Outta Compton (2016) - F. Gary Gray - In 1988, a groundbreaking new group revolutionizes music and pop culture, changing and influencing hip-hop forever. N.W.A's first studio album, "Straight Outta Compton," stirs controversy with its brutally honest depiction of life in Southern Los Angeles. With guidance from veteran manager Jerry Heller, band members Ice Cube (O'Shea Jackson Jr.), Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins), Eazy-E, DJ Yella and MC Ren navigate their way through the industry, acquiring fame, fortune and a place in history. (Amazon, Apple TV)

Sneak a Peek at 2023’s Adult Programs

Gather Round: Deep Winter Discussions on Self and Community with Rachel Greenberger, 4 Sundays beginning January 7; 4 p.m. (online)

A Gather Round is a facilitated discussion on a particular topic, anchored by a pre-assigned reading or listening. Contact Rachel for topics and details. Each session stands alone.

"White Hot Hate" with Dick Lehr, January 20, 7:30 p.m. in the Parish Hall

Church member and BU professor Dick Lehr will discuss his new book, set in Kansas in 2016, where a small group of far-right nationalists plotted to bomb Somali refugees in Garden City, Kansas. RSVP

The First Church Organ with Simon Andrews, January 22, 12:30 p.m. in the Sanctuary Organ Loft

Join our organist, Simon Andrews for a demonstration and explanation or our organ, and learn something of the history of the organ and its place in worship.

Date With Death Club program with Jackie James, January 31, 7:30 p.m. (online)

Writing Memoir Workshop with Martha Spaulding begins February 5, 4 p.m. (online)

Begin weaving the story of your life using specific memories for thread.

“Slow Looking” with Nelina Backman, February 5, 12:30 p.m. in the Parlor

Join Nelina Backman in a powerful conversational ritual/protocol she has practiced with a group of educators for the past 20 years.

First Church Annual "Moth" Hour with Ian Garvie and Richard Waring, February 17, 7:30 p.m. in the Parish Hall

Join us for stories from our beloved community that help root us, define us, give us a sense of our past and future.

"Eating a Jewish Life" - a facilitated discussion led by Eleanor Sugarman with Judi Berman and Susan Kobayashi, February 26, 2 p.m. in the Parlor

Join us as we remember the foods of our Jewish traditions and the memories they elicit.

Social Action News

Eleventh Hour Bellringing at noon on Sunday 12/11, 11:45 a.m.

Please join us in front of the church after the major music service on December 11 for the ringing of the church bells to bring attention to the urgency of the climate crisis. (This month only, bells will ring at noon instead of 11 to accommodate the Music Sunday service.) Hope to see you there!

Partner Church Corner

Dear First Church Congregation,

My name is Enikő Molnár, my husband is Albert, and I have two sons, Csaba and Bálint, on whom we both dote. I run the single general store in the village of Désfalva. Our whole family is made of up practicing Unitarians, and we are referred to as pillars of our congregation, which is something I’m very proud of.

I have been to Belmont, which was an amazing experience for me. I still love to tell stories about that time. One of my favorite memories is of singing together in your beautiful church. I am very grateful to have been able to travel there and do that.

Now that I hope we are past the worst of the pandemic, I live in hope that we will see each other in person again soon. Meanwhile, here is a picture of my family. From left to right are Nóra, my son Csaba’s girlfriend, my husband Albert, my older son Csaba, me, and my younger son Bálint. May God bless you all!

In Our Community

Kids in Boston Need Coats

Please consider donating a winter coat for a child or young adult in Boston. Pegeen Wright is hosting a winter coat drive for the Bundle Up New England initiative. (NBC and Cradles to Crayons are teaming up to make sure every child has a coat to stay warm this winter.)

  • Needed: Warm winter coats and jackets (youth sizes 0–20 and adult sizes small & medium); new or very gently used.

  • Timeframe: through December 11.

Please bring donations on Sundays only. There is a red bin in the lower hall near the church office. Donations will be delivered to Cradles to Crayons in Newton the week of December 12. If you have questions, please contact Thank you in advance for your support. Don't have a coat to bring? Check out their wishlist here.

Community Effort to Fund Clock Repairs

In June, town meeting appropriated $26,100 from community preservation act (CPA) funds to repair our tower clock. We are close to closing on the grant agreement. As part of the CPA approval, $2,900, 10 percent of the project cost must be raised privately. The friends of the clock have reached out to the community by electronic news and other outlets. The church has created a special account to receive community donations. The fund has received $1,050 to date. Please consider making a special contribution to this restoration effort. Contributions can be made using this link.

The Complete Church Calendar of Events

Next Issue: Thursday, December 15

Please use this form to submit your news or event (you can upload photos and graphics and paste links to further information) by noon on Wednesday, December 14.

Submissions may be edited for space and clarity. The Unitarian is published the first and third Thursdays of the month, September - June, and monthly in July and August.

Forms for church members

We Are Here For You

Staff are working from home. Church office hours are Monday - Thursday, 9 - 2. Feel free to contact the church office for anything you need.


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