Shooting Star 3/1/2017

Standing Committee Notes: Have you seen the new bulletin board across from the Alliance parlor? There is a timeline of what's happening with the Accessibility Building Project (ABP), the discussions and decisions that the congregation has made, events that are planned for the future, and the latest project plans. There is also blue tape on the floor marking where the elevator will be. I invite you to stand there and imagine using our future elevator. We are making progress! We have much more to do of course, but it is fun to see how far we have come.

Next up from the ABP are more decisions about our short-term financing options. The ABP Finance Team will be hosting a series of three cottage meetings, where they will present the options to cover the gap between when money will be needed for construction and when the money pledged to the project comes in. We will be considering a bridge loan with the endowment as collateral, a loan directly from the endowment, and a mortgage on the church property. Other topics to consider include a spending cap, options to reduce cost, and contingency plans. All the options have been vetted as financially sound and viable; a large portion of the decision making now comes down to what the congregation feels best fits our values. This is your opportunity to discuss this in depth and shape the warrant items that will eventually be presented for vote at the upcoming congregational meetings. The first cottage meeting in particular, the one on Sunday March 12th, will be two days before the March Standing Committee (SC) meeting where the SC will be discussing the warrant for the Congregational meeting on Sunday April 2nd. The congregational input from this cottage meeting will figure heavily in the SC process. I know there are people in the congregation with questions and opinions, please come share at a cottage meeting, the SC meeting, or with one of the members of the SC or the ABP teams. The amount of money pledged to the project will also figure into the decision making, so please remember to return your pledge form. Communication is key here, in both directions, and the ABP teams need to know about YOUR plan to contribute in order to best understand and calculate our options. A little or a lot, each pledge helps, and we appreciate it all.

Speaking of appreciation, I have so much appreciation for all the hard work from so many people who are lifting us up with this project. It's inspiring. There are volunteers doing everything from creating logos on stickers and bulletin boards, to setting up receptions, asking people for money, and pouring over spreadsheets. There are incredibly generous pledges that have gotten us so far already. Wow! And beyond the intense focus on the ABP, thank you to all the volunteers who have stepped up to fill holes left by people concentrating on other things. It is activities like choir, Faith Formation, and social hour that build the fabric of our congregation and that continue the daily life of the congregation. When people are pulled in so many directions, this stability and source of love is immeasurably valuable.

A lot of what we do is on display in the vestry after the service on Sunday mornings. There are generally tables for child and youth Faith Formation, social action and signups for the next big volunteer event, currently that is the auction. If you haven't checked the tables out in a while, stop by and visit. There are pictures of past events, signups for volunteering, books to take home and read, and other interesting stuff.

Standing Committee meetings are the 2nd Tuesday at 7pm in the Alliance Parlor. The next is March 14th, and as always, everyone is invited and welcome. I dream that someday we will have to find a new room because all the attendees no longer fit into the Alliance Parlor!

Love and Peace to all,
Sarah Manning, Chair of the Standing Committee

Calendar Scheduling Reminder: As you count the pages here … please note just how busy we are! Lately we have been bumping into each other meeting-wise because people are assuming they can always find a room somewhere, and that just isn’t true. This is a good thing (sort of), and it does mean we need to at least follow the basic rules of scheduling space.

  1. Book your space in advance, and recognize the fact that odds are against you finding space, if you don’t .
  2. Only Leila or Cindy write on the downstairs calendar next to the office, unless you have specifically spoken to Leila .
  3. DO NOT schedule your meeting to begin before 11:30 on a Sunday morning, and do not assume you can just start if the room is briefly empty.
  4. Last but certainly not least, the High School room is not available on Sundays. Period. Our young people need to have a room that is THEIR space on Sundays. Again, even if it’s briefly empty – they need somewhere to come back to without worrying about dislodging the adults that have taken over their space.

THANK YOU!

Annual Stewardship Drive begins Sunday, March 19th In a year of many changes, where do we find refuge, understanding, and support? Our theme this year is: “We are family – This is our Spiritual Home.” We will share what First Parish means to us and how we can ensure a future of exploring truths in a cherished meeting place through joyful contributions and full participation.
Our goal this year of $265,000 will build a budget that reflects our values – recognize our excellent staff, support our ministries, maintain our historic building, and address the needs of our communities and the world. Pledges need to increase by 6% to meet our goal.
Pledge forms will be mailed to you, provided in the church pews, and available at the Canvass table during social hour. Please complete the form and join our “family” bringing them forward to the pulpit after the sermon. If you are unable to join us for Kick-Off Sunday, please drop off or mail your completed forms.
Canvass Committee members will be available during service and social hour every week of the drive to address your questions. We will work hard to update you weekly on the progress of the drive and host a table each week during social hour. Then we celebrate with a delicious closing luncheon on April 30th. Let’s do this together! – In faith, the Canvass Committee

SAVE the DATES  Accessibility Building Project (ABP) Meeting Schedule

  1. Cottage Meetings: Sunday March 12th 1130am, Tuesday March 21st 7pm or Sunday March 26th at 1130am. Attend one of more to discuss overall project status, latest capital campaign amount and financing options.
  2. Congregational Meeting #1. Sunday April 2nd at 1130am. Vote #1 on a possible loan from the endowment or using the endowment as collateral for a bank loan. Discuss specific project items, costs vs budget.
  3. Congregational Meeting #2. Sunday May 7th at 1130am. Vote #2 on a possible loan from the endowment or using the endowment as collateral for a bank loan. Discuss specific project items, costs vs budget. Vote on specific project items.

The Evening Service is back! Actually it never went away, we just haven't been telling about it lately. So this is a reminder that we do offer a lovely worship service in the Chapel on Sunday evenings at 5:30 PM. Over the next few months we will have explorations of Soul Matters themes, a series of Lenten Services, a celebration of the Spring Equinox, and a Music Extravaganza - watch for postings with more details. And please join us!

SUNDAY EVENING LENTEN SERVICE SERIES: March 1 is Ash Wednesday, beginning the Lenten Season in the Christian Calendar, leading up to Easter on April 16th. Lent is a season of introspection, reflection, and contemplation. In Pagan spirituality, it is the second half of winter, the slow return of light, and the mystery of what is growing underneath that cannot yet be seen. In Christianity, it is the journey of Jesus: from his time in the desert to his gathering of a community grounded in healing and justice, from his dark night of the soul as he faced the reality of his death, and his charge to his disciples to embody his love in the world. Through music, readings, and ritual, Justine and Rev. Ellen will lead worship on the themes of this season— mystery, doubt, healing, abandonment and betrayal, the renewal of hope and the return of light and life, at the evening services from March 5 through April 9, 5:30 pm in the chapel. Some highlights of what is to come in the first couple of weeks: March 5: “Preparing for the Journey” Lisa Calvo will provide harp music March 12: “For Healing” Steve Zocchi will provide the music for a service focused on healing March 19: Ami Hughes will lead a pagan celebration of Mabon, the Spring Equinox Please join us!

March is May Basket Month! May Day celebrations rejoice in the return of fertility and warmth of the coming growing season. The Roman goddess Flora was celebrated for the return of the flowering of spring. Many towns in various European locations that had been under Roman control had and have a May pole and to celebrate the potential fecundity of the earth. May 1st is a cross-quarter day, midway between an equinox and a solstice. In the United States many communities had maypoles as well. Another process of celebrating spring happened in many communities at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century when people left homemade May baskets filled with spring flowers and sweets on each others’ doorsteps, usually anonymously. I can remember doing this as a child and so can my mother who grew up in rural Maine. Usually made by children and gifted to friends and neighbors by hanging on the door knob, May baskets were a standard tradition in many communities particularly in New England and the Midwest. Our church tradition of making May baskets for the May breakfast is only part of the story. Once you get a May basket, you should gift it to someone -- a neighbor, elderly shut-in; someone who needs some joy in their life and a reminder that the earth is once again starting to bloom. Please join us in making May baskets throughout the month of March on Saturday mornings from 9AM to 12 Noon in the Alliance Parlor. All ages welcome. For more information, contact Rebecca Gore -- This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 978-250-1687.

The Capital Campaign Team Asks: Have you joined us yet? It's time! ...the pledges keep coming in for the our capital campaign. Thank you to all who attended a reception and who have pledged. Of course there is still time to make your pledge and help Lift Us Up! Just complete the form and return it to First Parish or leave it with a member of the Capital Campaign team. February 26 begins commitment week, one final push to get us to our goal. Questions? Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., call/text 617-620-4758. Thank you!

3/7-The next meeting of the Women's Discussion Group will be on Tuesday, March 7th at 7:00 pm at Uta Musgray's house (80 Elene Street, Lowell). The February meeting was cancelled due to bad weather. The topic is: Forgiveness from the viewpoint of the person who is being forgiven rather than the one who is extending the forgiveness. Call Uta at 978 441-2060 to RSVP.

3/11 – Saturday, 6PM in the vestry - Please join the Multicultural Ministries for a Vegetarian Potluck with a focus on traditional American foods. Bring that special comfort food from your youth (Mac and Chees anyone?) or your favorite cake that made your family get-togethers special. We will be hosting Dr. Ahmad Raaid, a Fulbright scholar working on his Masters in Public Health degree from UMass Lowell’s Department of Public Health. Dr Raaid will be giving a presentation on his home country, Afghanistan. The purpose of the Fulbright program is to foster mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Please come and learn more about Afghanistan and help Dr Raaid learn more about the United States. Dr. Raaid is an ethnic Pashtun from Kabul and follows Islamic dietary laws (so we are encouraging vegetarian options with clearly stated ingredients).

3/17 - Songs of Strength & Solace If you’ve got the blues and want to do something about it, join us in waking up your joyful inner warrior with song! Our next “Songs of Strength & Solace” gathering will be on Friday, March 17th. We will be singing folk songs and hymns, spirituals and camp songs, songs of the people in good times and bad. (Even some Irish & sea songs!) We will meet in the vestry, from 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Bring instruments if you’d like, and get ready to let music brighten your heart …! For more information, contact Virginia Adams at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ~Virginia Adams & Diane Johns

Save the date! Auction March 18, The auction is coming soon on March 18th! It’s the annual night of bidding, winning, and FUN! Do you have dreams of slumbering under a beautiful new quilt, taking home a prized plate of baked goods, or having a handy person finish your to-do list at home? Then come to the auction on March 18th! We are still looking for donations to put up for bid. That framed print that just doesn’t match your new living room—donate it! An extra pair of theater tickets for an upcoming production—a perfect donation! Your unbelievable margarita recipe that you’d like to make for others—mix away! Or, if you’d like some other ideas, come see the auction item wish list downstairs in the vestry. While you’re at it, talk to Jeanette Moreau or Theresa Popoloski at the auction table for any other information or questions, or email them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. (Auction form is on the last page here, or attached separately to your email).

3/26 - Join the Multicultural Ministries and GRACE team members in the Alliance Parlor at 11:30 on Sunday March 26. Meck Groot and Cora McCold from the New England Region GRACE (Growing Racial And Cultural Equity) Team will be joining us. They plan to attend the service and visit with people at coffee hour. More details later.

WANT TO CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS? There are so many calls for action these days! If you'd like to be able to contact your legislators, at Federal or State level, CFAM has an updated list of contact information at their table.

HEALING CIRCLE - Do you ever feel that you need some positive energy to help you or a loved one through a difficult time? The Healing Circle is made up of folks from your caring church community who hold you and yours in loving and healing thoughts during health (or any sort of) crises. Some of us pray, some of us meditate, some of us close our eyes and imagine sending peace and health. If you would like to be a part of our circle and/or need some healing energy, please reach out to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call coordinator Kathy Deschenes at 978-317-7697.

Multicultural Monday: Take the test As much as we would like to think we do not discriminate against anyone, and do not harbor racist thoughts, do we have unconscious (implicit) bias? Social scientists say that everyone does, to some extent. All Americans have been exposed to racist ideas and stereotypes, some of which we unconsciously absorb. It is called implicit bias. We can’t help it. Except we can become aware of it, and work consciously to negate our implicit bias. Take this 10 minute test to learn about your own implicit bias. https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html. The link will also be posted on our Facebook page on Monday for easy clicking. Look for our videos posted every Monday on our First Parish Chelmsford Facebook page and twitter feed.

Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in The Story of Race by Debby Irving Multicultural Ministry has several copies of this fascinating, honest, and often cringe-worthy description of the author’s journey from selfdescribed “white oblivion” to white awareness. The author, who grew up in Winchester, MA and now lives in Cambridge describes the disconnect between feeling like a ‘good person’ and her growing awareness of racial injustice. We will be hosting a workshop using excerpts from the book later in the Spring, and reading the entire book is not necessary for that.

From New England Region UUA - "Dear New England Unitarian Universalists, We've planned an extraordinary set of events and presenters for our spring gathering in Woburn, MA on Friday evening, April 21 and Saturday, April 22. Our hope and intention for Regional Assembly is to lift our collective heart, mind and spirit through music, worship, learning, laughing, conversing, and participation in our UUA democratic process. This is an opportunity to step outside your church community into the wider Unitarian Universalist movement in New England." A few of us from First Parish have already committed to attend and we would love to have your company. Registration fee is $125 per person ($115 if registered by February 28th) and there is some scholarship money available to help defray costs. If you choose to attend on Friday evening only, there is no fee, but you must register in advance. Here is a link to a flyer with more information - http://files.constantcontact.com/6a2eaa7b001/23f2c11c-36e3-4074-a174-f919fbd66b87.pdf If you have questions or are interested in attending please talk to Carla Corey at the Social Action table during coffee hour or contact her directly by phone or email - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 978-408- 1498. Thank you!

GA in New Orleans 6/21 - 6/25 2017 - UUA General Assembly, more commonly known as GA, registration is coming up on March 1st. GA is an annual gathering of Unitarian Universalist congregations and groups from around the country (and even around the world). It includes plenary sessions, where the business of the UUA is discussed and voted on by congregational delegates; workshops on everything from social justice to worship to spiritual practices to religious education to administration; amazing worship services including a bridging service for all graduating high school seniors; lectures by prominent speakers; and youth and young adult programs. We will also be electing a new UUA President this year (and Justine will be receiving preliminary fellowship at the Service of the Living Tradition!). First Parish has set aside money to help offset the cost of attending GA, so if you are interested, please don’t let the cost keep you away. For more information, contact Joan Coyne at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Rowe’s Summer Youth Camps The Rowe Center holds one-to-three week summer camp sessions for young people ages eight through 19 from June until mid-August. Rowe Camp is a unique and magical place. Nestled into the side of Mount Adams among maples, oaks, and hemlocks, the summer camp is a place for fun, exploration, and acceptance of oneself and others. Youth at Rowe are honored and empowered through programming that embodies and balances individual freedom and responsibility to the community in a fun, relaxed, creative environment. The goals of Rowe Camp are to create a sense of community and safety, to use the environment as a learning tool, to let campers explore who they are and their relationship with others, to use art for expression, and to develop spiritual awareness and appreciation. We hope you will join us! Camp Fees are figured by sliding scale and camperships applications are available. To learn more about the youth camps, please visit www.rowecenter.org.

Shooting Star 2/01/17

Standing Committee Notes:
Hi All,
It's been a running start into the new year. I see much happening with the Council of Faith in Action Ministries (CFAM) and the Multi-Cultural Ministries, Welcoming Congregation, and overall congregational involvement with promoting love, justice, and inclusivity in our larger community. I was very proud to be part of a significant group of people from our congregation attending the Women's March in Boston on January 21, and to watch another group take off to Boston on the 29th for the Boston Protest Against Muslim Ban and Anti-Immigration Orders. While congregating for the march in which I participated, I was uplifted to experience the kindness of the crowd around me and felt hope that many disparate groups will be able to unify, work together, and amplify the messages of love. In talking to a variety of people in our congregation, I get the impression that the marchers in our congregation go out with the thoughts and support of many who wish to, but are not in a position to march themselves. It is compelling indeed to see this congregation putting so much effort into living our values in the larger world around us.
While we engage in the larger world, we continue to remember our commitments to ourselves and each other. As a church, something we can do now in the service of life's sacredness, is to make our building fully accessible for us and for the wider community we serve. The Accessibility Building Project (ABP) is in full swing. The Capital Campaign Team has been holding receptions in the Alliance Parlor where all are invited to come consider their own commitment to the project. The Finance Planning Team is setting up accounts and investigating bridge loans for the time gap between construction and when pledges come in. The Accessibility Design Team is waiting to get final numbers on what we pledge and refining the building plans with a nominal schedule and phasing plan. In terms of the construction schedule for the ABP, the Standing Committee (SC) talked through some of the factors influencing the timeline. One of those being the importance of timing construction so it minimally impacts worship and faith formation (us!), the Open Door Nursery School, and Table of Plenty. The continuation of these activities requires working restrooms. The SC agreed that maintaining the usability of the church during the church year is a high priority, as is protecting the space for our major users. The Accessibility Design Team was able to work with the architect to create a construction staging plan that guarantees working bathrooms at all times by building the new ones before removing the existing ones. The downside is that that this will involve more parking spaces being turned into construction staging in our already small parking lot. Good thing we are willing to be flexible about temporary disturbances like that!
The time and effort (Thank you all!) that are being put into the ABP, by our core group of volunteers and the changing demographics of volunteering in general, means that it has become harder to succeed at some of the other activities that depend upon volunteers. It is up to the congregation as to whether we pull back from some of the things we have considered opportunities to get involved and have always done with volunteers, (such as hosting social hour, helping out with Table of Plenty or Community Table, working with our children on Sunday mornings or serving on a committee) or find new ways to do things and enlist volunteers from a new cohort of people. The SC has been discussing our fundraisers and wondering how best to move forward with the important aspects of them while adjusting to a changing culture of volunteer support for them within the congregation. We value our history with our four large fundraisers and appreciate how they bring the congregation together in shared purpose, but also recognize that our congregational volunteer energy for organizing large events is limited, and that we can't leave the responsibility for most fundraisers on the shoulders of only a few brave souls. These concerns are part of our general theme of the discussion of money within the church, and this is an ongoing conversation.
The next SC meeting is February 14th in the Alliance Parlor, and all are welcome to join us. This church is a shared endeavor and the SC needs the many ideas and views that come from wide participation.
Sarah Manning, Chair of the Standing Committee

SOUL MATTERS: What Does It Mean to be a Community of Identity? Soul Matters is a monthly UU journal that explores a different spiritual theme. February’s Soul Matters explores the question, . We will have our group discussion after church on February 26th. The latest issue is posted on the Soul Matters Google folder. I will also send it out to the list of people who have subscribed. If you have not yet subscribed but wish to receive the Soul Matters journal, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Rev. Ellen

2/11/17 at 8:30 am - Please plan to attend “Money Matters,” a workshop offered by Ruth Whalen Crockett and Intern Minister, Justine Sullivan, in which we will explore our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs about money. All are invited. Please let Ruth orJustine know if you will need childcare. We will gather for coffee and bagels at 8:30, and the workshop will begin at 9 and end at 11. All are welcome.

SAVE THE DATE: Justine’s ordination Sunday June 11, 3PM at First Parish UU Northborough. Reverend Ellen will be preaching, and it will be a great celebration of shared ministry!

Nominating Committee: Have you ever wondered how your fellow First Parish members come to be the ones on Standing Committee and other elected positions here at church? Nominating is a quiet committee that works behind the scenes to find members to fill these positions. We talk with folks to explain the various positions and determine their interest in serving the larger First Parish community. Our hope is to match the interests of members with the committee work that needs to be done. Casual conversations at coffee hour can be a great way for us to gauge your interest in serving our community. Listen carefully, have you had a similar conversation? would you like to? Although our primary work IS preparing the Slate of Officers to be voted in at the Annual Meeting we are also here to help connect people to many of the other committees and ministries in our congregation.
If you have an interest in serving on any particular committee in future, or if your committee needs help finding new members today, please talk to one of us. We are here to serve!
Your Nominating Committee - Deirdre Heck, Carla Corey, Lisa Calvo, Joan Coyne and Peggy Stephens-North.

Multicultural Mondays – coming soon! Check out First Parish UU Chelmsford’s Facebook page and our twitter feed on Mondays starting in February. Multicultural Ministries will be posting a short video or Ted talk each week about a different aspect of racial justice. Join the conversation!

Split the Plate Our split-the-plate organization for February 19 is GLAD, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders. GLAD is a Boston based organization with several major initiatives in the areas of AIDS law, civil rights for LGBQT people, Transgender rights, and youth initiatives. From the GLAD.org website: “The AIDS Law Project is currently working with the Treat Lipodystrophy Coalition in Massachusetts to pass a bill requiring insurance coverage for treatment of what can be a debilitating and devastating side effect of some HIV medications.  Since 1978, GLAD’s bold and effective advocacy has achieved scores of precedent-setting legal victories to end discrimination based on sexual orientation, HIV status, and gender identity and expression, benefiting individuals, couples, and families across New England and through the United States.”

Waking Up White, and Finding Myself in The Story of Race by Debby Irving Multicultural Ministry has several copies of this fascinating, honest, and often cringe-worthy description of the author’s journey from self-described “white oblivion” to white awareness. The author, who grew up in Winchester, MA and now lives in Cambridge describes the disconnect between feeling like a ‘good person’ and her growing awareness of racial injustice. We will be hosting a workshop using excerpts from the book later in the Spring, and reading the entire book is not necessary for that.

GA in New Orleans 6/21 - 6/25 2017 - UUA General Assembly, more commonly known as GA, registration is coming up on March 1st. GA is an annual gathering of Unitarian Universalist congregations and groups from around the country (and even around the world). It includes plenary sessions, where the business of the UUA is discussed and voted on by congregational delegates; workshops on everything from social justice to worship to spiritual practices to religious education to administration; amazing worship services including a bridging service for all graduating high school seniors; lectures by prominent speakers; and youth and young adult programs. We will also be electing a new UUA President this year (and Justine will be receiving preliminary fellowship at the Service of the Living Tradition!). First Parish has set aside money to help offset the cost of attending GA, so if you are interested, please don’t let the cost keep you away. For more information, contact Joan Coyne at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Contact Info

First Parish Church
2 Westford St
Chelmsford MA 01824

978-256-5133