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The Unitarian — November 17, 2022


Sunday, November 20 at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. in the Sanctuary

“Starting Over” With Rev. Chris and the Sulaimani and Bakhshi families

Upcoming services

  • Thursday November 17: No Vespers due to Sound of Music

  • Thursday November 24: No Vespers due to Thanksgiving

  • Sunday November 27, 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. in the Sanctuary:“The Holidaze” with Intern Minister John O’Connor

  • Thursday December 1, 6:30 p.m. in the Sanctuary: Chanting Vespers with Ian and Camilla

  • Sunday December 4, 10 a.m. on the Town Green: “The Log In Our Eye” Outdoor Service with Rev. Chris

From Your Minister

Out of the blue one morning, my daughter Aliyah says to me, “Daddy, what can we do about climate change?”

It was early in the morning and so it was just on her mind.

She is seven and rattling around in her ambient thinking was the state of our planet and what she can do to help combat the effects of climate change.

It was in the midst of some of these warm November days we have been having. And we had just recently watched a few episodes of Izzy’s Koala World on Netflix (oh my, so therapeutic, a reality series of this family that rescues koalas in Australia, wonderful people, baby koalas, so relaxing, highly recommend) and in the episode, there is a drought, in which a number of baby koalas get separated from their mothers.

And so she rose with the first thing on her mind to see what we can do to help climate change.

And somewhat perfectly, in just a few days we had the next of our monthly gatherings outside the church for the 11th Hour act of witness. This is every 11th day of the month at 11:00, folks have gathered outside the church and for 11 minutes we ring the bell and hold signs reminding all who pass by and reminding ourselves of the state of the planet and the world.

The need in the world and the hunger in her heart were met by the church.

It was so simple and so good.

Dorothy Day said that the purpose of the church is to make it easier for people do good in the world, and I agree. So much of what we do is organize and mobilize, helping build the world we long to live in.

And so I got to tell her of the 11th Hour opportunity and she set to making her own sign to hold, which is in the image above. You can’t see the gold letters above, but it reads, “Winter is my favorite season…So fight climate change.”

And as we got ready, as her brothers prepared to ring the bell for 11 minutes straight (a bit of a feat as it turns out) Aliyah started signing an original song she was working on.

And the time came and we were there, Aliyah and her sign and her song, joined by members of FCB Green, stalwart and committed to this work, joined by a seven year old, also committed to this work.

And this is it.

This is how the world is changed.

Generations together, joined in common vision, celebrating and resisting, seeing clearly the challenges before us and casting a compelling vision for the world we are building.

Right before the bells started to ring, I shared these words by Rev. Gretchen Haley.

In a world that feeds on moral outrage

We are here to cultivate moral courage

In a time that prizes picking sides

We gather to draw a wider circle

And in a culture that teaches us to get for what we give

And to ask "what's in it for me?"

We come to practice generosity and to remember,

We are all in this together.

In the midst of life's bitterness,

we choose to sing, to give thanks,

to laugh together, and to be keepers of beauty

to offer a place of belonging for all who come

in gladness and in pain

to resist the push to the next moment, and the next

to slow down, to breathe more deeply, to feel a part of something greater

for this hour, and in this space

let us be the change we wish to see

And the bells rang. And Aliyah sang her song. And we held signs.

And some passers by honked. Many waved.

And when my little girl asked me, “Daddy, what can we do to about climate change?” I had an answer.

We can go to church.

And we can join with wonderful people doing wonderful work.

Building hope together. Resisting the entropic pull towards inaction.

Being the change we wish to see.

So much love to you all,


Beautify the Sanctuary with Flowers

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

This month, we Share the Plate with the Belmont Food Pantry

Located at Belmont Town Hall, the Belmont Food Pantry has made its services available to all Belmont residents since 1992. You can make a worship offering below, text the word “offering” to 617-819-8168, or mail a check to the church. Please make checks payable to The First Church in Belmont and write “offering” in the memo line.

Candles of Joy and Concern

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

Belmont Transgender Day of Remembrance Vigil: Sunday, November 20, 6 p.m. on the Town Green

Join the Belmont LGBTQ+ Alliance, friends, and community members for Belmont's second annual Transgender Day of Remembrance on Sunday, Nov. 20th. A vigil memorializing those transgender individuals who have been murdered this year as a result of transphobia will be held on the green space (Town Green) in front of the bank at 2 Leonard Street, beginning at 6 p.m.

Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service: Sunday, November 20, 7 p.m. at Beth El Temple Center

Our focus is on "the Refugee Experience" with three featured speakers including a Refugee Family, a Person Working locally to aid a Refugee, and attorney Susan J. Cohen. The service is at Beth El Temple Center, 2 Concord Ave, Belmont.

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

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

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

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

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

Second Friday Concerts Rock & Roll Holiday!!! December 9, 7:30 p.m. in the Parish Hall

Come hear Jonny Kringle and The Wondaland Band play all your favorite classic rock holiday songs -- and make some kids happy at the same time! All donations from the concert will go directly to The Maher Family Toy Fund and help families spending their holidays at Children's. Donate online when you reserve your seat or in-person at the show. We hope you'll join us for this very special Second Friday holiday concert. Get your tickets here.

FCB Holiday Gift Drive, through December 16

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

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

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

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

Return of First Church Cooks!

Calling all Chefs for “First Church Cooks” upcoming winter/spring season! The program takes place the third Sundays of the month January-May at 5:30pm.

We are continuing our online program and would love to have you share and present a favorite dinner recipe. The only requirement is that the dish should be able to be demonstrated and cooked in about one hour. Best to choose recipes that are straightforward and don’t require a lot of fussing or many hard to find ingredients. International cuisine and one pot meals are particularly welcome!

We are eager for new (and returning!) chefs to participate. Please email Jane Minasian to let her know if you have questions or are interested in signing up for a date.

Upcoming 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: Wednesdays through December 21, 9:30 - 10:30 am, Parish Hall

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

Science and Spirituality: Thursday, November 17, 7:30 pm (online)

Continuing that theme of AI and humanity's path next month we will discuss the short story "Manna – Two Views of Humanity’s Future", a speculation on how a post-work future powered by AI and automation could lead to a utopia or to a dystopia depending on how as a society we decide to channel those energies.

You can read the (~80 page) short story online at - it also has links to a $1 Kindle version. Please contact Kirk to be added to the mailing list for excerpts link and meeting info.

Films about Black Lives: Saturday, November 19, 7:30 pm (online)

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

November 19: Selma (2014) - Ava DuVernay - Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 legally desegregated the South, discrimination was still rampant in certain areas, making it very difficult for Blacks to register to vote. In 1965, an Alabama city became the battleground in the fight for suffrage. Despite violent opposition, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) and his followers pressed forward on an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, and their efforts culminated with President Lyndon Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. (Amazon, Apple TV)

December 17 - Straight Outta Compton (2016) - F. Gary Gray - In 1988, a groundbreaking new group revolutionizes music and pop culture, changing and influencing hip-hop forever. N.W.A's first studio album, "Straight Outta Compton," stirs controversy with its brutally honest depiction of life in Southern Los Angeles. With guidance from veteran manager Jerry Heller, band members Ice Cube (O'Shea Jackson Jr.), Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins), Eazy-E, DJ Yella and MC Ren navigate their way through the industry, acquiring fame, fortune and a place in history. (Amazon, Apple TV)

Beyond Ferguson: Bridging Class, Cultural, and Racial Separations: Sunday, November 27, 7 p.m. (online)

Please join members of the Social Action Committee, the Belmont Religious Council, Belmont Against Racism, the Belmont police department and graduates of YouthBuild as we continue our discussion about how to end racism in Belmont and in the wider world.

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

The Magnanimous Heart: Compassion and Love, Loss and Grief, Joy and Liberation, by Narayan Helen Liebenson. In her long-awaited debut, a beloved master teacher shows us how to move from the “constant squeeze” of suffering to a direct experience of enoughness. The magnanimous heart is a heart of balance and buoyancy, of generosity and inclusivity. It allows us to approach each moment exactly as it is, in a fresh and alive way free from agendas and “shoulds,” receiving all that arises. It has the capacity to hold anything and everything, transforming even vulnerability and grief into workable assets.

*November 30 is the Wednesday after Thanksgiving and the 5th Wed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Community Effort to Fund Clock Repairs

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

Social Action News

Social Action Holiday Gift Fair: Sunday, December 4, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. in the Parish Hall

This December 4th, shop talented artisans selling their work to support the church’s Social Action Committee or a charitable cause of their choice that is aligned with our UU values. Do your holiday shopping…and help others at the same time! Choose from an array of products featuring the work of both local and international artisans and benefit many different causes!

The Complete Church Calendar of Events

Next Issue: Thursday, December 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, November 30.

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

Forms for church members

We Are Here For You

Staff are working from home. Church office hours are Monday - Thursday, 9 - 2. Feel free to contact the church office for anything you need. The church office will be closed until Monday, November 28, for Thanksgiving break.


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