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The Unitarian — March 2, 2023


Sunday, March 5: “Together Again” Celebration Sunday!

Services at 9 am and 11 am in the Sanctuary. Childcare is available.

Upcoming Services

  • Thursday, March 9: Meditation Vespers in the Sanctuary at 6:30 pm

  • Sunday, March 12: “Seven Generations” featuring Youth Group Service Trip Reflections and kick off of 40 For the Earth. What have we learned from people who have gone before? How are we accountable to the generations who will come after. Worship services at 9 am and 11 am in the Sanctuary.

  • Thursday, March 16: Chanting Vespers with Camila Parias in the Sanctuary at 6:30 pm.

  • Sunday, March 19: Major Music Sunday presents John Rutter's Requiem. One service at 10:30 am in the Sanctuary.

FCB Podcasts, Sermons, and Stories, Online

From Your Minister

It has always been true, and is even more true now.

The power of the church is the people, and this power is magnified and deepened and expanded as you connect with one another.

Here in this unique moment of the long life of the church as we come back together again in so many ways, I am seeing this over and over.

The beautiful and simple power of people connecting, remembering one another, reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones.

I just found these words from Adrienne Maree Brown which I love, and we will be sharing in worship this weekend.

Oak trees don’t set an intention to listen to each other better

or agree to hold tight to each other

when the next storm comes.

Under the earth, always, they reach for each other,

they grow such that their roots are intertwined

and create a system of strength

that is as resilient on a sunny day

as it is in a hurricane.

Nature knows about connection, and so do we.

Somewhere deep down we know that we are better, healthier, clearer, kinder and more joyful when we are connected.

And it can be hard, especially now, to find our way back.

A little over a week ago, I travelled to Austin, TX for some rest and renewal.

I woke early to head out for a day of fishing and exploring and sat for an early morning coffee right next to the sculpture in the picture above.

And I thought of you all and these many connections we create.

I thought of the sculptor who created the piece and if you look closely the knitter who knit the little hats they are all wearing.

One of my favorite things about church are the vast number of collaborations which are always happening.

Every worship service, every committee, even this newsletter that you are reading is a result of a creative collaboration, and there is a powerful connection in the roots of all those collaborations.

Our roots entwine with one another as we work together, helping one another up the steep rock faces, helping one another through the challenges we face.

So many of you have found your ways into fruitful, meaningful and joyful connection.

If you are looking to deepen your connections or to find more, please do reach out.

We are currently recruiting folks for many of our teams. They Lay Pastoral Care team helps support members and friends in the church as they face challenging times. The worship committee help to shape worship on Sundays and Thursdays as well as reflecting on the seasonal worship themes. And finally the stewardship team helps to coordinate our annual stewardship drive and cultivate the culture of generosity at First Church.

If you would like to connect with any of these teams or any of the other committees at the church, you can email me at or call or text me at 603-842-9111.

Digging in and reaching out is how these roots grow connected and strong.

It is over simplistic to say that you get out what you put in, but part of it is true. If you are seeking spiritual depth, show up and help cultivate that depth. If you are seeking connection and community, show up and reach out.

That same morning after being struck by that beautiful coffee shop sculpture, I headed out onto the water for a day of fishing, and was struck by the sunrise in the picture below.

I have always loved the image of trees and sky reflected in water. Both images connected and the same, but different. And the whole, the beautiful whole of it all.

Just like us.

As always, please do reach out if there is any way I can be of help. Especially in this changing time as we are all finding our way back to the church, know that we have been saving a place just for you. Know that you are not alone in finding your way back and everyone is coming back at different paces and in different ways.

There is no right way to do this, just to do it.

So much love to you all,


TOGETHER AGAIN: It's not too late to pledge!

February is a tough month, and it's behind us. For all who haven't pledged: please help us put this year's stewardship drive behind us, too. Hurry! The names of everyone who pledges by the end of the day on March 3rd will be entered into a drawing for a Quebrada gift card, to be held at this week's coffee hours.

To all who have pledged, thank you from the Stewardship Committee,

Bruce Logan and Gina Carloni, co-chairs, with Susan Kobayashi, Susan Galli, and Katharine Canfield

Last Call For The Bylaws!

We are finalizing our First Church Bylaw amendment proposals. Please send us any additional comments or questions by Monday, March 6. For our latest draft (dated 2-24-23), write to us at, or visit the Bylaws webpage at First Church members will be asked to approve the Bylaw amendments as a package at an in-person Special Meeting on Sunday April 2 @ 12:30 pm. Please mark your calendars! The Parish Board will send the final amendment proposals to parishioners in mid-March with the call and notice for the April 2 Special Meeting.

The First Church Bylaws Task Force

Roger Read, chair

Martha Courant

Anne Stuart

Gather Round: Deep Winter Discussions on Self and Community with Rachel Greenberger, Saturday, March 4, 4pm, via Zoom

A Gather Round is a facilitated discussion on a particular topic, anchored by a pre-assigned reading or listening. This is the final session for the year. Email Rachel Greenberger for topic, zoom link and details.

Two spots left! Register by March 5: Little Worlds: Four Novellas with Peter Guthrie

Too long to be a short story, not long enough for a novel, the novella holds a unique place in literature. Some of the greatest writers of the past 200 years have tried their hand at this sub-genre of fiction. In this program we will read and discuss four remarkable novellas: Ivan Turgenev’s First Love, Henry James’s Daisy Miller, Katherine Anne Porter’s Old Mortality, and Claire Keegan’s Small Things Like These. Enrollment is limited to 12 participants. If you are interested, please contact Peter Guthrie at The program will meet on Sundays from 2:00-3:00 in the Library on 3/19, 4/2, 4/16, and 4/30. Registration deadline is March 5.

Under the Sea: Party with a Porpoise: May 6, 6:00 pm in the Parish Hall

Ready to Party for FCB?

First Church’s biannual auction puts the fun in fundraising! “Under the Sea: Party with a Porpoise” is the theme for this year’s gathering, Saturday, May 6, in the Parish Hall. Make sure that date is on your calendar. And as we look forward to this beloved First Church tradition, please contribute your time, talents, and treasure—in the form of donations, such as dinners, brunches, tours, personal services, vacation homes, and anything else you think will inspire your fellow church members to bid high and bid often! For suggestions or answers to questions about donations, or to volunteer, email us at

(Some 2020 auction items were derailed by the pandemic, along with so much else. Donors who can still provide their items to the winning bidders might wish to do so before the upcoming auction.)

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.

Second Friday Concerts presents Ellis Paul — Friday, March 10, 7:30 pm in the Parish Hall

Ellis Paul is one of the finest singer/songwriters of his generation. Smart. Literate. Poetic. Singular. Storyteller. Folksinger. An incredible 30-year career. 15 Boston Music Awards. 20 albums. Newport Folk Festival. Carnegie Hall. Hundreds of venues from Alaska to Miami, Paris, and London. Dozens of compilations, commercials, documentaries, TV shows, and blockbuster movie soundtracks. For many, he is the face of contemporary folk music — and probably no artist on the acoustic music scene is better loved by fans, or more respected by his contemporaries. Don't miss this chance to see him at FCB. Click here for tickets.

Piano Benefit Concert, with Paul-André Bempechat: Saturday, March 11, 7:30 pm

Join the first church music program for an unforgettable evening of amazing piano music. Pianist Paul-André Bempechat has been a member of the FCB community for a number of years, and has generously offered his time and talent to support the wonderful work we do here. He has travelled to our partner church in Romania to present a recital there, as well as joined us for services, concerts, and recitals.

On March 11th he will return from a semester in Uppsala, Sweden, to present a piano recital featuring Beethoven's Sonata op. 90 in e minor, and Chopin's sensational Sonata op. 58 in b minor, as well as Schubert's charming Klavierstucke. Admission is by donation - you choose the ticket price! All proceeds will go towards maintaining the church's wonderful musical instruments. Tickets can be purchased online at, or at the door. Suggested donation is $25 per ticket.

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

Revisiting Our Covenant: Next Steps with John Howe, March 5, 12:45 pm in the Parlor

On March 5 at 12:45pm in the parlor we will have the third in our series of meetings to discuss updating our church's traditional Ames Covenant. We will focus on the core elements that make covenant statements effective and memorable. This meeting is open to all interested members and friends. For background information please contact Lillian Anderson.

FCB Green Climate Action Info Session, March 5, 5:30 p.m. in the Parlor

To kick off FCB's 2023 "40 for the Earth," come hear from three presenters about actions you can take in your home, your yard, and your bank and credit card accounts to address the climate crisis. FCB Green is sponsoring this program as preparation and inspiration for congregants in selecting actions to take during the 40 days between the March 12 services and Earth Day on April 22, and beyond!

State Senator Will Brownsberger will talk about his experience converting from natural gas to electric heat pumps in his own home and some lessons learned. Jean Devine, an environmental educator, will speak about how property owners can add native plants that help restore biodiverse habitats and build climate resilience. Alan Field, a member of the 350 Mass "Stop & Steer the Money" group, will present about banks that fund fossil fuel and about climate-friendly banks and credit cards, plus the nationwide March 21st Day of Action.

"40 for the Earth" resource and action lists are available at a table after services and on the church website. For more information, email

Why Transylvania? March 7, 7:30 pm on Zoom

Did you go to the Partner Church Sunday service? Are you wondering why we are partnered with a church in Transylvania more than 4,000 miles away? Please join Livia Racz and the Partner Church Committee for a brief presentation with Q&A. Contact Livia for more information and the Zoom link.

Belmont Unitarian Alliance presents: "Hidden Away Places in Paris" with Nicole Bernstein, Thursday, March 9, 11 am on Zoom

Nicole Bernstein will be presenting slides of hidden away Paris interesting places tourists never see even unknown to most Parisians. She herself discovered some of these old gems for the first time last summer, although she was born and raised in France where she regularly returns several times a year. Other slides will show new and sometimes temporary sites unknown to visitors. Contact Miriam Baker to get the zoom link:, (857) 228-8456

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

Contact Lillian Anderson for Zoom link

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.

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

Eat! Eat! If you share even a slight bit of Jewish blood and/or interest in Jewish culture, these are words you may have heard! Join us as we remember the foods of our Jewish traditions and the memories they elicit. Are there other vestiges of Jewish heritage that live on, or that we wish to share?

Join us for a facilitated discussion led by Eleanor Sugarman and Judi Berman. All are welcome. And of course, there will be refreshments.

Reimagined Listening Circles: Guided Meditation and Sharing; Refreshments and Socializing, begins March 12

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.

“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.

  • 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)

Films About Black Lives, 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 Diana Dill 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 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.

The book group meets on the fourth Wednesday of the month. Contact to join the meeting.

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.

Coming Up in April

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.

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:

Bingo Night: April 15, 5:30 pm. Details to follow!

Social Action Committee News

Bakhshi Family Seeks Apartment in Belmont

The Bakhshi family arrived in U.S. as refugees in 2021 after the fall of their government in Kabul. They have lived in Belmont for a year and must vacate their apartment by April 1st due to sale of their building. They are a responsible family of four seeking a 2-bedroom/ 1 bath apartment they can afford. Both parents are working, and their children (ages 13 and 17) are doing well at Belmont High School and want to stay in the Belmont community. Please contact me if you have an apartment for rent. Fran Yuan, Support Coordinator, at 617-372-2789.

We are still raising funds to ensure that the Bakhshi family, refugees from Afghanistan, can afford their next apartment, which they must secure in the next months. In order to stay in Belmont so their children can continue their education at Belmont High School, we are looking to supplement their rent payment temporarily. Please consider making a donation:

For more information, contact Fran Yuan, at

Eleventh Hour Bell Ringing and Sign Holding for the Planet: March 11

Please join with FCB Green on the 11th day of each month in front of the church from 10:45 - 11:15 am, to ring bells and hold signs to call attention to the urgency of the climate crisis. Bell ringing for 11 minutes, starting at 11:00. More information about 11th Hour Calling national movement:

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.

Collecting Baby Things for the Grow Clinic

Grow Clinic Aunties ask our wonderful FCB community to bring the following items for the Grow Clinic babies, to the basement area where Gloria the Giraffe will be holding court throughout March:

  • Pediasure Formula: Vanilla, Chocolate, and Strawberry

  • Baby Food stages 3 and 4

  • Flintstone chewable vitamins

  • Polyvisol with Iron Vitamins

  • Diapers sizes 3-6

Partner Church Corner

Partner Church Pilgrimage Recollections

Members of First Church periodically make a pilgrimage to our partner church in Désfalva, Romania. Likewise, members of our partner church occasionally visit our church community.

Below are recollections of Jeanne Mooney (fourth from the left in the photo), a long-time member of FCB, of her pilgrimage:

I was thrilled to finally participate in the 2016 pilgrimage to Désfalva. I had gotten to know our Hungarian friends over the previous 16 years of our partnership that is now entering its 21st year.

Our partner church effort is first and foremost about connection and friendship. My host family included Miklós Molnar, the church organist, his wife Magna, their son Adorjan, their daughter Orsolya, and Miklos’ mother. I so enjoyed village life - waking up to roosters, the clip clop of horse drawn carts, and mooing cows; sharing meals with home smoked bacon, garden fresh vegetables, free range chicken, and toasting with homemade pálinka; being thankful for patient translators between times when only hand gestures bridged the gap of limited English and Hungarian; worshipping, singing, and playing music together; and the fun of listening, laughing, and dancing to incredible live folk music. At the end of each day, we had gotten closer, we knew a bit more about each other's aspirations, dreams, daily challenges, and how to support each other. Seeing our partner friends on the recent online combined simulcast Sunday Worship service brought me right back to being in Désfalva and feeling our bonds across so many miles.

If you would like more information about a future FCB pilgrimage, please contact John Eggert at

At the UU Urban Ministry

Community Conversations: Policing in Schools: How It Affects Young People: March 7, 6:00 pm, online

Presented by Roxbury Youth Program interns - Policing in Schools: How it Affects Young People and contributes to the racial wealth gap. Along with our special guests, be a part of this discussion that will look at the school to prison pipeline, and how police brutality affects young people of color on a social and emotional level, which they then take with them into adulthood. Join the meeting here:

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, March 16

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, March 15.

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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