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The Unitarian — January 19, 2023


Sunday, January 22: Celebrating Our Partner Church, 10 a.m. in the Sanctuary

There will be a single worship service Sunday at 10:00 a.m. to celebrate our partner church in Désfalva, Transylvania.

Upcoming services

  • Thursday January 26: Vespers at 6:30 pm in the Sanctuary

  • Sunday January 29: Services at 9 am and 11 am in the Sanctuary

From Your Minister

There are lots of games my daughter loves to play. And one of my very favorites is making a nest. It’s kind of like making a fort, but with no roof.

Just piling up cozy things, all the blankets, so many blankets, stuffed animals, pillows, so many soft things. We clear space, often on her bed, and then gather items much like actual birds making their own nests. We gather and we build.

Just the other day, two nests, one slightly bigger for me, another right next door for her, an infinity sign of nests.

And then the bets part, we snuggle in. We save some of the coziest blankets for on top and snuggle into the softest, coziest little embrace.

As we did this just recently, my wife Lauren was just arriving home from work and Aliyah squealed, hearing her come up the stairs. I opened up my blankets and she cuddled into my side of the nest. We brought the warmth of blankets back over us and this picture was taken.

And I share this moment with you today in part because it was just so precious, but also and especially because like so many beautiful things, it is utterly fleeting.

Aliyah is seven, now, and our sons are twelve and fifteen.

Just last Sunday Ian announced that he and Claire are expecting their first baby in July (huzzah!) and our newest member Jerome announced that he and his wife welcomed a baby on Christmas Day (huzzah!)

And the news of these two babies launched me into nostalgia and reflection at my own three babies, now so big, and still so small.

And I think of so many of your children of all ages, many of whom we saw at Christmas Eve. The whole parade of growing and stretching and becoming, of so many joys and so much pain.

This path of parenting is no joke.

Just one loss and one change after another. Moments of being stretched to the breaking and beyond. Moments of unspeakable joy and peace.

And whatever comes, however the path of parenting presents, rocky and uphill, glorious views, our best laid plans thwarted or realized, whatever comes, I know this.

There are moments to savor.

Nestled in a nest fort, her still small body all wrapped up in mine, her joy at our play complete, and my unbounded love, present and at ease.

Driving past my eldest walking home with a friend, both of them laughing, smiles stretching their faces.

My middle man in the kitchen, the two of us cooking, all consumed in making our love manifest in food form for those we love.

I know these moments are passing away, as they should. As these children, as all our children grow into themselves, into these people they are becoming.

And so even with the fullness of life, even in the stretched schedule and the full grown to do list, I do my best to make the time and take the time to remain awake in this sweet and stretching chapter of life, knowing that I will miss this one day.

Once the picture above was taken, the spell was broken and dinner had to be made. I left my smallest child and headed to the kitchen, much to her protests. But she resettled into the warmth of the nest to read and continue her play. And I got back to shoveling the coal into the locomotive of our lives.

But with a little bit wider smile on my face, and I have to think that the food was a little more delicious for my time in the nest.

So much love to you all,


Contribution statements will be mailed by January 31

You can also create or log into your account at Fellowship 1 Giving and download your contribution statement now!

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 our Partner Church in Désfalva, Transylvania

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.

Intergenerational Conversation About the Climate Crisis and How We Can Respond - January 29, 5:30 p.m.

The Youth Group and Social Action Committee and FCB Green are co-sponsoring this event. It will be a conversation focused on the following questions and topics, among others: how youth and others in our congregation are already responding to the climate crisis, what SAC and FCB are doing, and ideas for how First Church can further organize and support our congregation to do more.

FCB and the UU Service Committee

Each month we will provide a story of the work of the UU Service Committee and their exceptional human rights outreach. The UUSC began in First Church during WWII and continues to provide care and service around the world. We hope you will consider joining or rejoining to help promote and support their excellent work.

Ineza Umuhoza Grace, Global Coordinator and co-founder of the Loss and Damage Youth Coalition, first experienced the effects of the climate crisis at an early age when her family home in Rwanda was destroyed due to intensive rainfall and wind. “But growing up,” Ineza says, “I didn’t know that was the impact of climate change.” For Ineza, connecting this formative experience to the changing climate came later. “After high school, I was watching the news one evening and then I saw on the television a particular area in my country where the community was being forced to move because of flooding and erosion. On the television you could see that most of the people who were being displaced were women and children. And that reminded me of the powerless feeling that I had back then.”

Called to address the climate crisis and serve in her community, Ineza decided to study environmental engineering at the University of Rwanda. In 2020, Ineza helped found the Loss and Damage Youth Coalition (“LDYC”), a coalition of youth from the global North and the global South who join together to drive action, demand justice, and address loss and damage brought on by climate change. With more than 300 members from 40 countries, the Loss and Damage Youth Coalition is committed to sharing and amplifying the voices of youth impacted by the climate crisis while holding global systems and processes accountable.

Focusing on advocacy, training, communication, and storytelling, all with the purpose of demanding “finance to address loss and damage,” the Loss and Damage Youth Coalition engages in a wide variety of initiatives, including petitioning global leaders at international events such as the UN climate negotiations (Conference of the Parties, or “COP”), sharing the science of climate change with various communities while also centering the importance of Indigenous knowledge, creating cohorts of youth storytellers to share their experiences with loss and damage caused by climate change through art, and campaigning for investment in resilient infrastructure and restitution for communities devastated by the climate crisis.

“Everyone, everywhere is exposed,” says Ineza about the current climate situation. “Everyone is vulnerable, but the level of vulnerability depends on the level of infrastructure already in place, the educational system, the funds and finance, everything that is already in place can reduce the level of vulnerability, but at the end of the day everyone is vulnerable.”

As it is for many grassroots organizations around the world, UUSC is LDYC’s first funder, meaning UUSC is the first organization to provide LDYC with direct financial support. “Having [UUSC support] allowed us to be able to catalyze other funding because, you know how this system works, once you have one funder you are able to get the next one which is really incredible.”

When reflecting on her commitment to the global climate movement, Ineza points to her responsibility to her younger siblings and to future generations. Speaking about the changes she has witnessed in Rwanda just in her lifetime, Ineza says, “We can ask a kid, ‘When was the last time you saw a butterfly?’ Because butterflies are a part of the animals that are being endangered due to climate impacts. And you find kids who say, ‘I saw it on television.’ No one can see them in nature. And for me, I grew up seeing butterflies.” Ineza continues, “I don’t want to leave the future very red. It’s already red. But maybe it could be a little bit less red. And then maybe in the next 15 years, things will be much better for the current youth generation, especially children.”

Go deeper and take action:

Second Friday Concert Thanks

Thanks to everyone who made last week's concert featuring the great Peter Mulvey such a huge success! Join us on Friday, February 10 for our next concert, featuring Jim's Big Ego! Trust us, it will be the greatest night of your life!

Valentine's Day Card Workshop, February 4, 12:30 p.m. in the Parlor

Come join friends and make Valentines. Judi Berman will lead a fun workshop for all ages. There will be all sorts of craft supplies to help your Valentines look gorgeous, dynamic, tender, funny, cute, and filled with love.

Why so early? Get your Valentines done this weekend, so you can mail some of them to those you love beyond Massachusetts. They'll arrive before the 14th!

Kids are warmly encouraged to join in. There will also be childcare in the classroom wing.

Signups are optional, but you'll get a convenient reminder in your inbox three days prior to the event. Email Samuel Foster, or fill out the signup form, if you have any questions.

Save the Date for a Beloved Fundraising Tradition

Major Merrymaking to come in May! Food! Music! Dancing! Live Auction! First Church knows how to party (even after all these bleak years), and we'll be celebrating the glorious days of spring with a grand gala on Saturday, May 6. Stay tuned for details--but mark your calendars now!

SoUUper Lunch every Wednesday

All are welcome to a soup-based lunch at noon on Wednesdays in the Upper Gathering Hall.

Each week a volunteer brings a delicious home-cooked soup to share with everyone. There will be bread, some sort of dessert, and tea and coffee. You are welcome to drop in for some sustenance, friendly conversation, and a chance to connect and deepen over something tasty.

If you would like to volunteer to bring the soup, or something else to share, you can sign up online. Click here for more details on the church website. Questions? Contact Samuel Foster.

Board Games and Crafts on Thursday Evenings

Join us after Vespers for an evening of crafts and games. Bring your knitting project, your favourite games, or just yourself. There will be hot cocoa and snacks.

It's helpful to sign up, but you can also just drop in! We'll be in the Parlor from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Click here for more details on the church website.

Adult Programs

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, 9:30 am in the 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.

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:

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

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. Through this story, he will discuss how far right media, Facebook and the internet created an echo chamber that served to inspire the bomb plotters with paranoid rage and misinformation. The book is titled: WHITE HOT HATE: A True Story of Domestic Terrorism in America’s Heartland.”

First Church member Dick Lehr, is a professor of journalism at Boston University, and the author of seven award-winning works of nonfiction and fiction. For more information

Books will be available for purchase. Refreshments. RSVP

Films About Black Lives, Meets on the third Saturday of the month at 7:30pm on Zoom

January 21 - Harriet (2019). Biopic. The extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman's escape from slavery and transformation into one of America's greatest heroes, whose courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history. Director: Kasi Lemmons. IMDB rating: 6.7. Apple TV, Amazon, HBO Max.

February 18 - Indian Horse (2017). Film. Follows the life of Native Canadian Saul Indian Horse as he survives residential school and life amongst the racism of the 1970s. A talented hockey player, Saul must find his own path as he battles stereotypes and alcoholism. Based on book by Richard Wagamese (Ojibwe). IMDB rating 7.3. Netflix.

March 18 - The Color Purple (1985). Film. Based on Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Color Purple is a richly-textured, powerful film set in America's rural south. Director: Steven Spielberg. IMDB rating 7.7. Apple TV, HBO Max. Complement with NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour Podcast Revisiting “The Color Purple” wars.

April 15 - Uncle Tom (2020). Documentary. An oral history of the American black conservative. Director: Justin Malone. IMDB rating 8.3. Amazon.

May 20 - The Woman King (2022). Film. A historical epic inspired by true events that took place in The Kingdom of Dahomey, one of the most powerful states of Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries. Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood. Still in theaters. Amazon.

June 17 - Till (2022). Film. In 1955, after Emmett Till is murdered in a brutal lynching, his mother vows to expose the racism behind the attack while working to have those involved brought to justice. Director: Chinonye Chukwu. IMDB rating 7.2. Still in theaters. Amazon.

Facilitated discussion led by Diana Dill and Eva Patalas. Contact for the Zoom link.

First Church Book Group, 7:30 pm (online)

January 25: Think Again, by Adam Grant

Think Again is a book about the benefit of doubt, and about how we can get better at embracing the unknown and the joy of being wrong. Evidence has shown that creative geniuses are not attached to one identity, but constantly willing to rethink their stances and that leaders who admit they don't know something and seek critical feedback lead more productive and innovative teams.

New evidence shows us that as a mindset and a skillset, rethinking can be taught and Grant explains how to develop the necessary qualities to do it. Section 1 explores why we struggle to think again and how we can learn to do it as individuals, arguing that 'grit' alone can actually be counterproductive. Section 2 discusses how we can help others think again through learning about 'argument literacy'. And the final section 3 looks at how schools, businesses and governments fall short in building cultures that encourage rethinking.

In the end, learning to rethink may be the secret skill to give you the edge in a world changing faster than ever.

Feb. 22 Station Eleven, E. St. John Mandel

Mar. 29 Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

Our Church Bylaws: More Interesting Than You Think! with Roger Read and Martha Courant, January 29, 12:30 p.m. in the Parlor

Please join Roger Read and Martha Courant to learn and share your thoughts about Bylaw changes you will be asked to approve this spring.

Death as a Part of Life: A program led by Jackie James, January 31, 7:30 p.m. (online)

Death has become hidden, making it harder for us to come to terms with the reality of it. It hasn’t always been this way. The modern death-positive movement creates ways for those who want the chance to talk openly about mortality. We’ll explore how the Date with Death Club provides a chance to grow our comfort and knowledge about this topic.

Date with Death Club is an opportunity to explore talking about death at all stages of life. Most of us do not have much experience with this subject, but how we think about it can make a difference in how we live.

In this Zoom program, Jackie James will be leading a structured discussion. The curriculum, developed by UU minister, Karen Johnston, is based largely on the death positive movement that encourages people of all ages to speak openly about death, dying, and corpses. The program is designed to increase our comfort level with discussions of death and the role that awareness of mortality plays in our quality of life. It will be interactive and engaging. We look forward to using other aspects of this comprehensive curriculum over the next several years.

Registration is required. You will receive the Zoom link in your inbox. There will be an additional session on Wednesday, March 29 at 7:30pm. Registration link:

February Adult Programs

FCB Garden Group: Meets the first Thursday of the month on Zoom

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.

Writing Memoir Workshop with Martha Spaulding begins February 5, 2 p.m. (online) (Note that time was corrected to 2 pm after publication)

Begin weaving the story of your life using specific memories for thread. Before each meeting of the group, you’ll receive prompts designed to tease out pieces of your past. You may write in response to them or simply go your own way. When we’re together, we’ll share what we’ve written (though anyone may pass) and then talk about what other memories may have been evoked by the sharing.

This is not a workshop to teach or critique writing. Feedback on the style or technique of others is very strongly discouraged. We’re gathering to be delighted and provoked by the stories we hear and to strengthen our connections to one another. The workshop is limited to 10 participants on a first-come, first-served basis. Contact Martha to sign up.

“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. The protocol facilitates non-judgmental, collaborative “looking” at an object brought by a participant. We’ll accumulate observations, then share associations, questions, and speculations all before the “bringer” divulges the object’s provenance. The insights that emerge from such conversations can have deep and surprising emotional and spiritual resonance.

“Green Cuisine: Preparing and Sharing Plant Based Meals” with Michael Griffin, February 7, 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.

  • 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)

First Church Belmont UU Alliance Zoom Program - Thursday February 9, 11 a.m. (online)

Presented by John Howe: "A Virtual Tour of the Mount Auburn Cemetery"

This program will take us on a virtual tour of historic Mount Auburn Cemetery. John will show us some of the highlights of the cemetery and we will learn more about its place in the garden cemetery movement. We will then visit a dozen or so gravesites of especially notable members of our church, learn some biographical details and see pictures of several of the key individuals who helped to establish and grow our church during its first half-century.

John Howe, along with his wife Teresa, began attending FCB in 1995, soon after moving to Belmont. He succeeded Jim Landfried as our church’s lead parish historian in 2021. While he has served the church in many positions, his principal attachment to the church is as a chorister. Next month he will mark 25 years as a regular weekly member of FCB’s senior choir; for twenty years he has also sung occasionally with the Linden Singers quartet.

Gather Round: Deep Winter Discussions on Self and Community with Rachel Greenberger, Saturday, February 11; 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.

Saturday Film Discussion with Nate Sellers, 8 pm (online)

Contact Lillian Anderson for Zoom link

Feb. 11 - Vagabond (1987)

Vagabond is a 1985 French drama film directed by Agnès Varda, featuring Sandrine Bonnaire. It tells the story of a young woman, a vagabond, who wanders through the Languedoc-Roussillon wine country one winter. The film was the 36th highest-grossing film of the year with a total of 1,080,143 admissions in France.

Mar. 11 - Daughter of the Dust (1991)

Daughters of the Dust is a 1991 independent film written, directed and produced by Julie Dash and is the first feature film directed by an African-American woman distributed theatrically in the United States Set in 1902, it tells the story of three generations of Gullah women in the Peazant family on Saint Helena Island as they prepare to migrate off the island, out of the Southern United States, and into the North.

The film gained critical praise for its lush visuals, Gullah dialogue and non-linear storytelling. The cast features Cora Lee Day, Alva Rogers, Barbara-O, Trula Hoosier, Vertamae Grosvenor, and Kaycee Moore and was filmed on St. Helena Island in South Carolina. Daughters of the Dust was selected for the Sundance 1991 dramatic competition. Director of photography Arthur Jafa won the top cinematography prize. The film is also known for being the first by an African American woman to gain a general theatrical release.

Confronting our History: Part 1 - The Stories Behind the Tiffany Window with John Howe and the FCB History Group, February 12, 12:30 p.m. in the Parlor

Confronting Our History: Two Programs in February

Two important programs in February will explore the early history of First Church and its ties to the labor of enslaved people in Cuba.

On Sunday, February 12, at 12:30 PM, the First Church History Group will present "The Stories behind the Tiffany Window." This session will explore the group's findings on the topic of the Tiffany window in the sanctuary, its connection to the Atkins family during the nineteenth century, and the family's economic ties to the labor of enslaved people on sugar plantations in Cuba.

On Sunday, February 26, at 12:30 PM, the History Group will lead a follow-up session, "How Do We Respond?" The group will pose some questions about what these historical findings might mean for the church today, for general discussion. All are welcome. Email Samuel Foster with any questions.

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. "Moth" stories are true, unscripted accounts (5 minutes or less) as remembered by the storyteller that remind us how fascinating, brave, complex, and fragile we are. It's been said that God created people because God loves stories.

Come to listen, come to share. Anyone interested in sharing a story contact Richard

Save the Date for March Adult Programs

"Eating a Jewish Life" - a facilitated discussion led by Eleanor Sugarman with Judi Berman and Susan Kobayashi, March 12, 12:30 p.m. in the Parlor

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

Social Action News

FCBGreen meets Sunday, January 22, 7:30 p.m. online

The FCBGreen committee welcomes new members as it commences a new year of actions related to carbon neutrality for the church and its congregants. To join the committee, contact Downing Cless or visit the event page. Event page:

CommUUnity Collaborative Winter 2023 Programs

Are you looking to deepen understanding of UU values and theology? CommuUUnity Collaborative is a Unitarian Universalist platform created/conducted by ministers and staff teams who want to share new programs with their congregations, and beyond. The course catalogue includes a variety of stimulating programs and workshops to help adults deepen their faith, wrestle with big questions, and nurture their souls. For more information and to register for any of the following programs go to our website

The Complete Church Calendar of Events

Next Issue: Thursday, February 2

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, February 1. 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. Office hours are Monday - Thursday, 9 - 2. Feel free to contact the church office for anything you need.


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