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The Unitarian - May 18, 2023


Sunday, June 11, 2023, 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., in the Parish Hall

Pursuant to a call by Laurie Graham, President of the Parish Board, you are hereby notified that the Annual Meeting of The First Church in Belmont, Unitarian Universalist will be held on Sunday, June 11, 2023 at 11:30 am for the election of officers, status of next year’s budget, and the transaction of such other businesses as may lawfully come before the meeting.

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

James Hencke

Parish Board Clerk

Only Members and Youth Members who were listed on the Membership Roll and Youth Membership Roll as of at least seven days before the Meeting may vote.

Child care will be available.


Sunday, May 21: “We Are All Sojourners” with Intern Minister John O'Connor

As Unitarian Universalists how are we called to address the plight of asylum seekers and refugees? In a world plagued by political turmoil and on the brink of climate catastrophe unprecedented numbers are knocking at the door. How do we answer?

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

Sunday, May 28: Worship service led by Sanctuary Boston

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

Upcoming Vespers Services

Thursday, May 18: Music Vespers, 6:30 pm in the Sanctuary

Thursday, May 25: Chanting Vespers with Camila Parias, 6:30 pm in the Sanctuary (this is the final Vespers service of the church year)

FCB Podcasts, Sermons, and Stories, Online

From Your Minister

Every once in a while, it just comes in waves. Blessings after blessings, so much beauty and goodness, so many wonderful moments.

The Auction! Such a wonderful night! Such a fun time, so many of you there. So much money raised, yes, but almost more so, just so good to be back together, having fun, eating delicious food, connecting in community.

Such deep gratitude to Marion and Ariane and their cast of dozens of volunteers who made the evening what it was. Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.

And then the next day, the installation.

I am so grateful for all the speakers, for all the musicians, for everyone who came. The image above is of a beautiful gift our Transylvanian visitors brought, and it has painted on it the quote which the minister from our partner church included in his words. I cherish this gift.

It says, “Guard this precious thing placed in your custody” and this idea, along with the beautiful charge from my wife Lauren have been ringing in my mind and heart.

We all have been given this gift. This ministry we are creating together. Me and you and all the staff and all our kids and all our elders, each and every one of us.

And we now get to decide what we do with it. We now get to build on this beautiful beginning, this momentum again building as we return together.

We now get to ask who we want to be and become together, what gift do we have to share with the world.

I have always loved springtime in the church year because while we are closing out one year we are deep into planning the next. We are planning my fifth year with you as your minister, which amazes me.

So many of you mentioned that it ended up being sweet having the installation four years in because we know each other better now.

And this is true.

I know that you are a wildly capable, deeply generous, searchingly creative and boisterously fun group. You are committed to building a better world. You cherish our children and youth. You show up for one another and for this precious institution.

This is why I really mean it when I say that it is my deep joy and my great honor to serve you as your minister. First Church is a special place, and I am so happy here with you all.

And as if this all wasn’t enough, we surpassed our historic pledge record, and then right at the end of the installation, two wonderful new members signed the book.

It is a beautiful moment we are sharing.

And there is just one bittersweet cherry on the sundae. Our beloved intern John is now just three weeks away from the end of his time with us.

It has been a singular joy to have him on the team this year. He has poured his whole self in and has served admirably by my side, and I will miss him.

If all goes according to plan he will be ordained soon and we will all be invited, so he isn’t all the way disappearing, but he will step away and have some distance from us all to make space for our new intern, Sophia Doescher, who will start in September. She is wonderful as well (John even brought her to us and highly recommends her) and she will serve a similar timeframe from September to June.

John will be around this Sunday May 21st, June 4th and June 11th to say goodbye and to lead worship.

So yes, quite a few weeks we have had.

And so as the springtime blooms and leads us with pollen covered hands into the awaiting refulgence of summer, I wish for you all moments of peace and ease.

I will leave you with Wendell Berry’s words of wisdom shared with me and all of us from my beloved during her charge to me in the installation.

“The love and the work of friends and lovers belong to the task,

and are its health. Rest and rejoicing belong to the task, and are its grace. Let tomorrow come tomorrow.

Not by your will is the house carried through the night.”

So much love to you all,




Look for a new date in the fall!

FCB Financial Town Hall – Sunday, May 21, 12:30 pm

In advance of the Annual Meeting on June 11, the Finance Committee is holding a Financial Town Hall on Sunday, May 21 from 12:30-1:30 pm in the Parish Hall.

The committee will provide the congregation with FY 2022-2023 end-of-year results, the FY 2023-2024 proposed budget and answer questions from church members.

The Town Hall meetings held in recent years have proven to be a successful way to share the financial information that will be discussed at the Annual Meeting, ensuring that members understand the church business practices and decisions that support our staff, programs and activities.

Please join us on May 21 and save the date for the Annual Meeting on June 11.

A Smashing Success

"Under the Sea," First Church's fundraising silent and live auction, ended Sunday night, with over $60,000 (!) raised to support the church.

We are deeply grateful to the many, many people who worked together to make this event a success, and to all those who joined in the fun with their bids, their costumes, and their enthusiasm. A small selection of photos from the event can be found here:

If you are a winning bidder, you will have received instructions via email on when/how to pick it up or an email connecting you directly with the donor. If you still have questions, please email or come and see us after the service during coffee hour.

Q&A - Opportunity to See Plans for the Henry Frost Children's Program/Playground Design at Johnson House - Sunday, June 4, 11:30 am in the ParishHall

With great excitement we would like to share with you that The Henry Frost Children’s Program (HFCP) has entered a long-term lease with The First Church in Belmont (FCB) to revitalize the Johnson House and the Edward R. Hennessey, Jr. Memorial Playground at 396 Concord Ave, Belmont, MA into a preschool location. We are thrilled that the UU Congregation will have access to the playground outside of the preschool hours, and on Sundays as part of church activities.

Please join us on Sunday, June 4 at 11:30 AM in the Parish Hall at the UU Church to meet the preschool director, Dr. Iris Chin Ponte. She is more than happy to answer questions and share the playground design. The school and playground construction should be completed this fall. To learn more about the Henry Frost Children’s Program, curriculum, and design please visit:

May Programs and Events

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

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.

FC Book Group - Wednesday, May 24, 7:30pm Online

Our book is Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson. This novel is set in Puget Sound during the 1950s and involves Japanese Americans and Anglo Americans in two crimes and the aftermath of World War II. It won the PEN Faulkner award and was made into a movie. It is around 350 pages and runs 15 hours in audio format. Contact:

Science and Spirituality - May 25, 7:30 pm, online

We will discuss Michael Graziano's "God Soul Mind Brain: A Neuroscientist's Reflections on the Spirit World". Please contact Kirk Israel to be placed on the mailing list to receive the Zoom link and additional information.

Coming Up in June

Second Friday Concert featuring Kemp Harris Band - Friday, June 9, 7:30 pm in the Parish Hall

Kemp Harris defies categorization. He is an award-winning singer-songwriter, actor, activist, author and storyteller who has shared stages with artists such as Koko Taylor, Livingston Taylor, Gil Scott-Heron, Kandace Springs and Taj Mahal. He has composed original music for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Complexions Contemporary Ballet, established a songwriting residency at Boston’s Wang Theater, and recently delivered a series of master classes at Berklee College of Music. Don't miss this amazing artist. Get your tickets here!

CommUUnity Collaborative Informational Meeting - Monday, June 12, 7pm, Online

Pilgrimage to the End of the World: Walking the Camino de Santiago to Finesterre and Beyond, May 26 to June 3, 2024

Join local Unitarian Universalists for a pilgrimage along a special stretch of the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Finesterre is a headland on the northwest Spanish coast that the ancients believed was the end of the known world. The name derives from the Latin finis terrae, or “end of the earth.” Finisterre predates nearby Santiago de Compostela as a Celtic sacred site and pilgrimage destination. Throughout history people have walked to Finesterre to give thanks for the Earth and to contemplate the mysteries that lie beyond the shores of our knowledge.

Walking pilgrimage is a spiritual practice that connects us to our Spirit, to one another, and to the Earth. As we walk across beautiful terrain, we will also explore the inner landscape of our hearts and souls with the help of daily readings, questions, spiritual practices, and group reflection every evening before dinner.

Revs. Lauren Smith and Rob Hardies will be our spiritual guides on this eight-day, seventy-three-mile journey from Santiago de Compostela to Finesterre and then up the Spanish coast to Muxia.

If you think you might be interested in joining us on this pilgrimage (no commitment yet!), please let us know by sending a quick note to our registrar Lillian Anderson at, and then plan on joining Revs. Smith and Hardies for a Zoom information session on Monday June 12 at 7 pm. We do anticipate that we will need commitments and an initial deposit by early July. We hope you’ll join us!

Important Details

Dates: May 26 - June 3, 2024

Cost: Approximately $2100 per person, based on double occupancy.


Day 1 - Arrive and gather in Santiago de Compostela, overnight in Santiago

Day 2 - Santiago to Negreira 20.6 km/12.8 miles, overnight in Negreira

Day 3 - Negreira to Cornado 14.6 km/9.07 miles, overnight in Negreira

Day 4 - Cornado to Olveiroa 18km/11 miles, overnight in Olveiroa

Day 5 - Olveiroa to Cee 20 km/12 miles, overnight in Cee

Day 6 - Cee to Finesterre (Fisterra) 15km/ 9.3 miles, overnight in Finesterre

Day 7 - Finesterre to A Lires 14 km/8.7 miles, overnight in Finesterre

Day 8 - A Lires to Muxia 17 km/ 10.5 miles, overnight in Muxia

Day 9 - Transfer back to Santiago, Pilgrims Mass and overnight in Santiago

Our Guides

Rev. Lauren Smith is Director of Stewardship and Development for the Unitarian Universalist Association, and a member of the First Church in Belmont community.

Rev. Rob Hardies is Lead Minister of First Parish in Cambridge and an experienced leader of pilgrimages along the Camino de Santiago and to other destinations.

Coming June 22! Save the Date!

Greece. Politics. Love. Danger.

First Church Member Kathy Crawley is publishing her debut novel in June and inviting her beloved community to help celebrate on Thursday, June 22. Mark your calendars for an evening of words and dancing. This event is co-sponsored by the Adult Programs Committee. More details soon.

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, through June 7

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.

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.

Social Action News

Team Belmont - Mother's Day Walk 4 Peace, May 14

Team Belmont, including members of FCB's Social Action Committee, walked in the Mother's Day Walk 4 Peace on Sunday 5/14, to raise money for the Peace Institute. We have so far raised $860 toward our goal of $2,000. Donations can be made at the following link through Father's Day, 6/18. Thank you for donating! Here's the link:

Grow Clinic Summer Drive - June 4 Outdoor Service

Summer is a time of food insecurity for many families. Our Grow Clinic clients could really use your help filling their pantries. Please help by bringing:

Family food: Goya canned beans, instant white and yellow rice, quick Mexican meals, mac & cheese, canned beef stew, tuna, canned vegetables, soups, vegetable oil, peanut butter, and dried fruit.

Baby supplies: Baby food, Pedicure (vanilla, strawberry, chocolate) with fiber if possible, children’s vitamins, and diapers.

We’ll be collecting at the 10:00 a.m. June 4 outdoor service. Feel free to drop supplies off with Gloria the giraffe in the basement of the church between now and June 4.


Sponsored by Belmont LGBTQ+ Alliance, Human Rights Commission and Belmont Against Racism

WHEN: Saturday, June 17, 12:45 PM. Step off at 1 PM.

WHERE: Belmont Town Green, adjacent to 404 Concord Ave.

After parade, gather at Trinktisch (87 Leonard Street) to celebrate Fran Yuan, founder, Belmont LGBTQ+ Alliance, who is stepping down after more than 20 years of service.

Volunteers are needed! Please contact Leslie Talmadge:

This year the march route is shorter, flatter, and more accommodating for everyone.

For more, see Belmont LGBTQ+ Alliance website:

Thank you to the Friday Folders!

Please thank the dedicated group of Friday Folders for assembling your Sunday orders of service this church year:

Deborah Blumberg

Eleanor Sugarman

Heli Tomford

Ilse Kaprelian

Lanier Smythe

Louise Bray

Martha Read

Pat Hawkins

Pat Paul

In The Community

Magic Show this Saturday! This private event is still happening in the Parish Hall even though Town Day has been postponed because of inclement weather.

This Saturday, the Boston chapter of the International Brotherhood of Magicians will be performing their annual spring magic show in Parish Hall! There will be strolling magicians beginning at 1:30pm and the show starts at 2pm.

While this is a private rental event, the show is open to the public and First Church members are welcome. Tickets are adults $10; students $5; families (up to 5) $25. Tickets may be reserved online and will be available at the door. This family-friendly show is best enjoyed by children ages 7 and up.

The Complete Calendar of Building Use

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. Click here to donate flowers.

This month (except Sunday, May 7), we Share the Plate with the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute

You can make a worship offering here, 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, June 1

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, May 31. Submissions may be edited for space and clarity.

The Unitarian is published the first and third Thursdays of the month, September - June, and on July 20 and August 24 over the summer.

Forms for church members

We Are Here For You

Staff are working from home. Work from home office hours are Monday - Thursday, 9 - 2. Feel free to contact us for anything you need. The church office will be closed Monday, May 29, for Memorial Day.

  • Call/text 781-400-4587

  • Email the church office

  • Mail to: 404 Concord Ave., Belmont, Mass. 02478


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