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The Unitarian — March 16, 2023


Sunday, April 2, 2023, 12:30 to 1:30, at the First Church in Belmont

Pursuant to a call by the Parish Board, you are hereby notified that a Special Meeting of the First Church in Belmont, Unitarian Universalist will be held in person on Sunday, April 2, 2023 at 12:30 pm for the purpose of approving the Bylaw amendments set forth in the Meeting materials below.

Hereof, fail not, and make due attendance at said meeting and time.

James Hencke Parish Board Clerk Child care and light refreshments will be available.

Dear Members and Friends of First Church,

Please mark your calendars to attend the Special Meeting on Sunday, April 2, 2023, to be held in person in the Parish Hall from 12:30 to 1:30 pm. At this meeting, Members will be asked to approve important amendments to the First Church Bylaws, which were last updated in 2010. The package of amendments includes a new provision for the Committee on Ministry, and numerous technical corrections, updates, and wording improvements.

There will also be a separate vote on whether to replace the Ames Covenant in the Bylaws with a placeholder for a new covenant.

To see the Meeting materials, please click here to visit the Bylaws webpage , where you will find all the proposed Bylaw amendments and accompanying materials. You can also click on the links below to go directly to individual documents:

The Special Meeting is open to all; however, only those who are First Church Members of record as of March 26, 2023 may vote. If you are not yet a Member but would like to become one and vote at this meeting, please contact Samuel Foster, Membership and Outreach Manager, at

The Bylaws Task Force (Roger Read, Martha Courant, and Anne Stuart) will hold a Q&A session on Sunday March 26 at 12:30 pm in the Parlor. You can also contact them any time at

Thank you for your attention to this important business in the life of First Church. Roger, Martha, and Anne are very grateful for the many parishioners who have attended feedback sessions, read previous drafts, and provided helpful comments and questions along the way. We look forward to seeing you on April 2.

In community –

Laurie Graham Parish Board President

Child care and light refreshments will be available.


Sunday, March 19: Major Music Sunday presents John Rutter's Requiem

One service at 10:30 am in the Sanctuary. Childcare is available.

Sunday, March 26: “The Richness of Imagination Found Amongst the Ruins” with Rev. Jo Murphy from UU Mass Action

In a time where hope is in and out of people's hearts, we search for ways to make it stay. We search to find that sustaining hope, to make it a permanent part of our lives. In this search, imagination can play a rich role allowing us to not only access hope, but to imagine fully what it could be and look like. Services at 9 am and 11 am in the Sanctuary. Childcare is available.

Upcoming Vespers Services

Thursday, March 23: Music Vespers in the Sanctuary at 6:30 pm.

Thursday, March 30: Traditional Vespers with Camila Parias in the Sanctuary at 6:30 pm.

FCB Podcasts, Sermons, and Stories, Online

TOGETHER AGAIN: Help us reach our goal!

Thank you to the many who have helped us raise $536,000 toward our stewardship goal of $675,000. If you haven’t done so yet, please pledge as soon as possible. Our financial commitment supports 76% of the church’s annual operating budget: primarily the salaries of the talented, dedicated staff who inspire and uplift us in countless ways. PLEASE DON’T DELAY!

You can pledge through the church website (see the green bar on the home page) or by emailing

With appreciation from the Stewardship Committee, Bruce Logan and Gina Carloni, co-chairs, with Susan Galli, Susan Kobayashi, and Katharine Canfield

From Your Minister

When you are squeezed, what you have filled yourself with comes out, and so it matters with what we choose to fill our selves.

I am very excited and inspired for our springtime theme of Creativity.

And as we settle into this theme, I have been loving reading the book, The Creative Act by Rick Rubin. As many of you know, he is a music producer and collaborator, famous for helping to create some of the most memorable music from the last few decades from Johnny Cash to the Beastie Boys, from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Neil Diamond.

I highly recommend the book. It is all about creativity and the creative process and what helps to cultivate and set free creativity.

One of my favorite admonitions, early on in the book, and this is my paraphrasing, is to nourish ourselves on a steady diet of masterworks.

To take the time to sink into wonderful pieces of music and visual art, classic movies and theater, to take these masterworks in like the freshest and purest water on a hot day.

And so it was that I finally made my way back to the MFA along with Aliyah a week or so ago, and found myself in a special exhibition of the work of Frank Bowling, an artist I had never heard of, but whose work just blew me away.

The piece above which Aliyah is standing next to, was particularly beautiful.

Going to art museums with kids is fascinating, a treat which I haven’t enjoyed for a while. What she didn’t love, she flew past, and what she loved, she exclaimed, “Wow!” Her exclamations were particularly delicious in a relatively quiet room of art appreciators.

So many people smiled, reminded of the joy they were feeling, chuckling that so many of us were feeling the same joy but keeping it in.

Once we headed home I felt full, and thought of Rubin’s admonition to feed ourselves masterworks, and I thought of our worship.

Our beautiful music, inspiring poetry, ancient wisdom from world religions, so many of our sources, all woven into worship feed me like this.

Stay tuned for this year’s last Universalist coming soon, and many worship services and more touching on this theme this spring. We also have a special podcast lifting up stories from writers, artists and musicians in the church.

Earlier in the book, actually some of the very first words of the book are from the American painter Robert Henri, who says,

The object isn’t to make art,
It’s to be in that wonderful state
That makes art inevitable.

I love this, and have been returning to it in my mind and heart over and over.

If we focus on the pieces we need to create, the results, the reports, the articles, the curricula, the papers, it can all seem too much.

But rather, if we are mindful of cultivating the conditions which make that creativity and inspiration possible and inevitable, the expression flows.

Wendell Berry in his beautiful essay what are people for says that to be creative is to be healthy in the creation.

Which is to say that we are inherently creative as we are part of creation.

We are connected and contiguous with creation and so our creativity is part of the universe constantly creating itself over and over.

And so the act of creativity, expressed and manifest in so many ways in so many parts of our lives, is just the universe expressing itself in harmony.

Leaving the museum that day, all filled up by the exhibit, I returned home with Aliyah and started to make dinner for everyone. I started chopping up onions and peppers, leeks and garlic, on my way towards a chili, and I thought of Frank Bowling and Rick Rubin.

I thought of all that we are building together in this moment in the long life of the church, all that we are creating.

We are cultivating that wonderful state in which so much creativity is inevitable.

And I am so grateful for each and every one of you. For the crucial ingredients you all bring, and for this vast and multifaceted work of art we are building.

So much love to you all,


Under the Sea: Party with a Porpoise: May 6, 5:30 pm in the Parish Hall

Food, Fun & Fundraising in May!

First Church’s highly popular Auction, suspended since 2020, is back! This is one of the church’s major fundraisers, on which our programs and administration depend. Those who have attended in the past know how much fun and excitement is involved, whether in online bidding (which begins April 22 and lasts until May 7) or at the live event, beginning at 5:30 on Saturday, May 6. This year’s theme is “Under the Sea: Party with a Porpoise.” Costumes have been a key part of the fun in the past, and we are a highly imaginative community. (Attendees in 2020 may remember Martha Gallagher’s appearance as Cousin It…) Marion Westgate and Ariane Frank are the Auction cochairs. For suggestions or answers to any questions about donations, or to volunteer, email us at

Music Notes, by Ian Garvie

Don't miss this weekend's Major Music service! On Sunday the 19th, at 10:30, the Senior Choir and Orchestra will be performing John Rutter's amazingly beautiful Requiem. This unmistakably optimistic version of the traditional funeral mass will also serve as a community-wide memorial service. If you would like, you can fill out a “Today I’m Thinking About” card, available in the Upper Hall. Write down the name of someone who has passed away who you would like to remember, and a few sentences about how they gifted your life. Then post it on the wall with the others. Everyone is welcome to the service, and please bring some friends!

A huge thank you to everyone who came to the Second Friday Concert this past week to hear Ellis Paul, as well as the Saturday concert with pianist Paul-Andre Bempechat. Both concerts were absolutely wonderful, and we are so grateful to them for their music! Next month, the Second Friday Concerts welcomes Danielle Miraglia and Lisa Bastoni. More information at And on April 29th, we welcome New England’s premiere art song group, Calliope's Call, who will present a thought-provoking program on the terrors of war and its effects beyond the battlefield. Tickets at

Finally, a call to all singers! The FCB choirs would love to have you join us! We have two adult choirs, and we are welcoming singers of all ages and all skill levels. The Nova Choir is an un-auditioned group that rehearses on Thursday evenings, and performs in services about twice a month. No experience necessary, just enthusiasm for singing! The Senior Choir rehearses and performs every Sunday morning, and is open to all singers. Some experience needed, but we welcome everyone to try it out! Please contact Ian ( for more information.

Vespers Services, Thursdays at 6:30

If you have not yet been to one of the Thursday evening Vespers services, we strongly encourage you to try one out! These are half-hour, quiet, meditative services that feature a variety of music. They will be centered on either a meditation practice, chanting, some longer pieces of music, or a homily or reflection. March 16th will feature Camila Parias and Ian Garvie chanting some 12th Century Latin chants, and some reflections on refugees, and what it means to be a stranger. March 23rd will be centered on three longer pieces of music, with Simon Andrews and Ian Garvie playing four-hand piano. March 30th will feature Camila Parias again, and the wonderful song Bist Du Bei Mir, from the notebook of Anna Magdalena Bach, as well as some reflections on what it means to be at peace. Finally, the April 6th Vespers service will be a Passover Seder, in the Parish Hall. We look forward to seeing you!

Still time to register: What is A Good Death? with Jackie James: March 29, 7:30 pm, on Zoom

We will continue to increase our comfort with discussions of death and dying and how doing so affects how we live. What are our deepest fears? What helps to reduce them? What is the meaning of a good death? Are there barriers to a good death? What is your own idea of what makes for a good death? Using the Date With Death Club curriculum, this discussion will lead us to the topic for our third session—Medical Aid in Dying, which is scheduled for April 11 at 7:30 on Zoom. Senator Will Brownsberger will be our guest to provide an update on the status of the Death with Dignity Act in Massachusetts. Register here.

Recurring Weekly and Monthly Programs

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

Contact: James Hencke

Meditation practice allows us to dwell in the present moment.

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 homecooked 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 favorite games, or just yourself. There will be hot cocoa and snacks.

We'll be in the Parlor from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Click here for more details on the church events calendar. Questions? Contact Samuel Foster.

FCB Garden Group, first Thursday of each month, 4 pm

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. The group meets monthly on the first Thursday of the month at 4:00 PM. Contact Jess Hausman for more information.

Upcoming Programs and Events

Reimagined Listening Circles: Guided Meditation and Sharing; Refreshments and Socializing, March 19 in the Parlor

The Committee on Ministry is a standing committee charged with providing a feedback loop to the minister, the Parish Board, and the community. We’re inviting you to join us on Sunday, March 12th, 19th, or 26th from 4:00 to 5:30 in the Sanctuary and Parlor for Guided Reflection and Sharing, Refreshments and Socializing. Childcare provided. Zoom opportunity will be on Tuesday, March 28th 7:30 to 9:00. Please respond to your email invitation (arriving next week). Thank you! Sign up here.

Films with BIPOC Focus, Meets on the third Saturday of the month at 7:30pm on Zoom

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 Richard Waring and Eva Patalas. Contact for the Zoom link.

FCB Cooks with Fariba Houman: Cooking with Barberries: A Spring Vegetarian Fritter — March 19, 5:30 pm on Zoom

Barberries can be bought from any middle-eastern shops in Watertown or the

Vanak store (on Belmont street, near School Street). The pre-prep is to wash, dry, and cut all the fresh herbs! It takes a long time! Click below for details.

Kuku Sabzi for FCC March 19
Download DOCX • 4.94MB

FCB Cooks meets monthly until May on the third Sunday of the month at 5:30 pm. Contact Lillian Anderson for the Zoom link.

FCB Book Group - March 22, 7:30 pm on Zoom

The book group is open to all. There is no long term commitment. Feel free to join us for a single evening's discussion or to become a regular participant.

The selection for the March discussion is Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. The story of Janie Crawford is set in a small Florida town during the Depression. It's now considered a classic but it was actually out of print for about 30 years due to the (perceived?) lack of interest in a strong, Black woman protagonist. This is how the writer Zadie Smith describes it: "A deeply soulful novel that comprehends love and cruelty, and the separates the big people from the small of heart, without ever losing sympathy for those unfortunates who don't know how to live properly."

To join the group, email

Science and Spirituality - March 23, 7:30 pm online

At our upcoming meeting on March 23, we have a great session lined up: Bob Doyle is a Harvard astronomer, inventor, and philosopher and has accepted an invitation to lead our discussion that month.

Bob has written a comprehensive website and book on Free Will ... how is it, in a universe that seems inescapably governed by cause and effect, we feel we have the ability to make decisions of our own accord? (After surveying vast amounts of literature Bob posits his own two stage "Cogito" Model, a refinement of a two-stage model previously put forth by other thinkers). It's a fascinating problem with implications for how we view ourselves and our sense of justice. We will be meeting online via Google Meet at 7:30PM, Thursday March 23, at the following link: Beforehand, please read through these pages on his website : (they are the links under "free will" ) and possibly (you are of course encouraged to read further down the navigation or to acquire his book "Free Will: The Scandal in Philosophy" )

Bylaws Q&A: Sunday, March 26, 12:30 pm in the Parlor

The Bylaws Task Force (Roger Read, Martha Courant, and Anne Stuart) will hold a Q&A session on Sunday March 26 at 12:30 pm in the Parlor. You can also contact the Task Force with questions any time at

Coming Up in April

Trailmix & Foodbaby Live in Concert to benefit BMC's SPARK Center: April 1, 7:30 pm in the Parish Hall

The Music Program is sponsoring a community concert. Two bands will perform (Trailmix, a Folk/Americana band which includes FCB's Bayard Klimasmith and Jane Minasian and FoodBaby, a Rock band led by FCB's Roger Gallagher). Admission is by Donation (suggested Donation is $20pp) and the beneficiary of the concert will be Boston Medical Center's SPARK center (a charity long supported by FCB's music program). For more info on the center see:

Refreshments will be available for purchase. Buy your tickets here!

Passover Seder, April 6, 5:30 pm, Parish Hall

The Passover Seder is a ritual feast at the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover.

To join in the eating, singing, and storytelling, click the signup link or email Eleanor Sugarman.

Easter Sunrise Service, April 9, at 6:00 a.m.

Come celebrate the cycle of rebirth at our Easter Sunrise Service. Our service will take place at dawn, surrounded by the interdependent web of all existence in the Highland Farms meadow of the Habitat grounds, in Belmont. Meet us in the Habitat parking lot at 10 Juniper Rd., Belmont, at 6:00 a.m. Please contact Richard Waring, 617-962-1630,, or Kathy Crawley, 617-957-5842,, for more information or if you have questions.

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

  • 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)

You Are What You Eat: How Painting of Food Reveal a Culture: April 13, 11 am on Zoom

The Belmont UU Alliance welcomes back Nancy Baker for another presentation on art.

Every region of the world and all cultures have a food history and paintings reveal that to you through still life painting. This program is a look at the way still life painting developed, particularly with fruit, vegetables, cheeses, breads and other foods and drinks. We’ll look at not just the foods themselves, but the art techniques used to present them on canvas.

Nancy Baker, a member of the UU Church in Milford NH, has served as Chairman of the Board and volunteered at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, NH. She has given a series of lectures on art at libraries, senior education programs and living centers, community groups and churches.

Contact Miriam Baker to get the zoom link:

Second Friday Concerts present Danielle Miraglia & Lisa Bastoni - Friday, April 14, 7:30 pm in the Parish Hall

Danielle Miraglia -- 2021 New England Music Awards "Blues Act of the Year" winner -- and Lisa Bastoni -- 2019 New Folk Winner at the esteemed Kerrville Folk Festival -- will share the stage for an unforgettable night of music. Don't miss it! Click here for tickets.

Bingo and Pizza Night: April 15, 5:30 pm, in the Parish Hall

All ages are welcome for a night of pizza, games, music, and BINGO in the Parish Hall.

First Church Women’s Retreat, April 28–30

Women of First Church have traditionally gathered in community for a weekend each spring to strengthen relationships and form new ones while exploring serious issues affecting our lives, singing, doing crafts, and playing games. The pandemic put our retreat on hold for three years, but now it’s back. Although we are currently fully subscribed, life has a way of interfering with plans, and we anticipate a few openings over the next 6 weeks or so. If you'd like to be put on the waiting list, please be in touch with Lillian Anderson ( or Martha Spaulding (

Social Action News

An Evening of Jazz - Hope For The Future (Fundraiser For Communities Without Borders ), March 18, 7:30 pm, Parish Hall

The nonprofit group “Communities Without Borders “will benefit from income and exposure from this Jazz Concert by the five person band led by Pianist and Composer BERT SEAGER. Cosponsored by the Social Action Committee. Purchase tickets online at WWW.CWBUSA.ORG/JAZZ-2023.

Climate Change - Day of Action "Art Build" join us to make signs for the Boston Action by Third Act: Sunday, March 19, 1 pm in the Parish Hall

On Sunday, March 19th between 1-3 pm, we are inviting ALL (adults and children) to join us in making posters to be used at the Third Act Climate Change Day of Action on March 21 @ Downtown Crossing, Boston. We will have supplies available for you. Come for part or all, for a fun community activity (even if you can't join the march.). Please email with any questions.

This event is a great way to participate in the lead-up to Earth Day. We will build signs to hold high during our Climate Change protest on 3.21.23. We will ask the 4 "dirtiest" banks (Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo and Bank of America) to stop funding fossil fuels and causing climate chaos. This is a national action with 80 protests taking place on the same day 3.21.23 across the country. Join us whether or not you can attend the protest.


Leaves for declaring a 40-for-the-Earth action will be available at the FCB Green table during coffee hour after the services on March 19 and 26. At the table you also can find information and resources about many possible actions you can take. The intent of 40 for the Earth is to commit to an action during the time leading up to Earth Day (April 22), and ideally beyond--so no worry if you're late signing on!

Grow Clinic March collection of baby things

Grow Clinic Aunties say bring the following during March to the church's Lower Hall entrance.

  • PediaSure Formula with Fiber: Vanilla, Chocolate, and Strawberry

  • Baby Food, Stages 3 and 4

  • Flintstone Chewable Vitamins

  • Polyvisol with Iron Vitamins

  • Diapers (sizes 3-6)

  • Unscented Baby Wipes

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

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 Sustainable Harvest International

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.

Next Issue: Thursday, April 6

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, April 5. 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 us for anything you need.


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