First Parish News, November 2019

11/5 - CHURCH COUNCIL: Our next meeting is Tuesday, November 5th, at 7pm in the Parlor. It is important that committees send a representative to share their news and plans as well as review how we all can help each other. Please contact Joan Keane with questions or more information.


11/5 - Women’s Discussion Group: The next meeting of the Women’s Discussion Group will be held on Tuesday, November 5, at 7 pm at the home of Judy Perez de Heredia. The topic will be “Women’s clothing throughout the ages”. If you wish, pick a decade or an epoch i.e. Middle Ages, Renaissance, Paleolithic and tell us about women’s clothing during that period. Please rsvp to Judy.


11/9 - Nov 9th (Sat) 1PM - Bedsheets to bandages for Ghana - Do you have old bedsheets that you’d like to put to a good use? Sheila Morehouse, a member of the Meetinghouse Ringers and a pediatrician in Chelmsford, volunteers each year at the Baptist Medical Centre in Nalerigu, Ghana (https://baptistmedicalcenter.org/). One of the items her group brings with them is bandage wrappings made from old bedsheets. CFAM will be hosting an event on Saturday November 9th at 1pm where we will cut up old bedsheets and roll them for use at the hospital in Ghana. If you have any questions, please contact Joan Coyne.


11/16 - WELCOMING CONGREGATION COMMITTEE CALLING FOR HELP WITH ANNUAL TDOR VIGIL  -  This year, on Saturday, November 16, will be our tenth annual vigil in observance of Transgender Day of Remembrance, during which we honor the memory of all those reported killed as a result of anti-transgender violence. It really takes a village to make this event happen. There are many ways that each of our "villagers" could help with the vigil:
From now through November 10, there will be a table during Social Hour where you may paint luminaria bags.

Assistance is needed with set-up (both inside and outside), during the vigil (inside), and breakdown (both inside and outside), as follows:

Set-up (4-6pm on day of vigil)
3 people to set up luminarias outside & 3-4 people to set up chapel
During indoor vigil (5:45-6:45pm)
2 greeters & 1 Usher
Breakdown & Clean-up (9-9:30 or 10pm)
3 people outside & 4 people inside

Tasks are fairly segmented, so that no one need feel they must commit to be present for the entire event. For more details on what the tasks involve and to sign up to help with any of them, please stop by the Welcoming Congregation Committee table, or speak with one of the Committee members (Dee Halzack, Frances Killam, Warren Flewellen, Theresa Popoloski, Abbie Ransdell, Kedar Thomas), during Social Hour. You may also email or call Dee Halzack.


11/24 - INGATHERING is the name we give to the Thanksgiving Service. This year it is on Sunday November 24. During the service we bring food, checks and cash to the front of the church. NO ITEM OR AMOUNT IS TOO SMALL. It is delivered to The Open Pantry of Greater Lowell in Lowell. They have been serving hungry people since 1981and First Parish was one of the original initial supporters. Hunger is always present.

Nutritious, non-perishable, unexpired, packaged food items are welcome. Examples include - but are not limited to - canned fruits, vegetable, beef, turkey and chicken, as well as tuna, pasta, soups, stews, cereals, powdered milk, mac n cheese, rice, peanut butter and beans. In addition, they distribute toiletries including: soap, toilet paper, tissues, paper towels, toothpaste, and shampoo. They may also provide diapers, wipes, baby formula, baby food, and cat/dog food when available.

Open Pantry has a very informative website: www.theopenpantry.org

The Ingathering collection is becoming part of CFAM, the Council on Faith in Action Ministry. If you have questions about the collection this year, please contact Caroline McMullin. I want to thank everyone who has contributed and who has helped in any of many ways. Your generosity has continually amazed me.-- Gail Pickering


11/28 - In keeping with the season’s theme of Gratitude some folks at First Parish are once again offering a Walk in the Woods on Thanksgiving morning. If you would like to begin your day of Thanksgiving with a connection to friends and an appreciation of the natural world join us at 9:00 AM at Greenough Conservation land in Carlisle. This is a tradition among several First Parishioners and their dogs that has evolved over the years. The walk is through a lovely – but fairly uneven – terrain and is a little less than three miles long. We share coffee and muffins in the parking lot at the end. If you are interested contact Carla Corey, or just show up if you know the routine. Carpooling would be a good idea as we filled the little parking lot one year. New to First Parish? This is a great opportunity to get to know a few more people in a less crowded venue. Or, if you have been coming for years but are having a hard time meeting some of our newer friends, this is also a good place to connect. Please join us! (It is not necessary to have a dog to come along! )


12/1 - Holiday Prelude one month away! Thanksgiving weekend!! We'll be just finishing with our turkeys and pumpkin pies and moving on to donuts and Christmas music!!!

On Sunday, December 1st, First Parish will hold our 3rd annual Holiday Prelude Event. It will take place during the Town's Celebration and Tree Lighting from 4 to 6 PM. We will set up tables outside to sell donuts, baked goods, hot cider and cocoa. And new this year - our very own Maestro will be making music in the Chapel. Steve will play Christmas Carols on the piano and we will open our doors to the public to drop in and sing along.

WE WILL NEED VOLUNTEERS - singers, servers, bakers, set-up and break-down folks!  If you would like to help we'd love to have you. Volunteers are needed for many tasks. Visit our sign-up table in the vestry during Social Hour any Sunday in November to see where you might like to serve.

You can also pre-order your wreaths and roping. We will only be selling those within the congregation. More info to come in next week's Announcements.
For questions and suggestions in the meanwhile you can contact Carla.


Calling all prayer shawls!! We are desperately short on prayer shawls and our need for them is great as always. If you have some ready to go, please give them to either Rev. Ellen or Kathy Deschenes.  Thank you!!


HEALING CONVERSATIONS: In keeping with the commitment in our First Parish covenant to care and be present to one another in our joys and sorrows, Rev. Ellen and the Pastoral Care Team offer this grief and loss group twice a month to nurture and hold a sacred space to share stories, experiences, and emotions around love, loss and grief in a spirit of mutual care and deep listening. Loss can take many different forms and people have participated in Healing Conversations for deaths recent and those years ago as well as for other losses like divorce, estrangement from family, and living with illness. We use readings, ritual, meditation/prayer, video clips, journaling and small group discussions to reflect for ourselves and accompany each other across grief’s difficult terrains. Healing Conversations is an ongoing group that folks in our First Parish community can join during the year, while maintaining it as a confidential and supportive space. We meet on the second and fourth Mondays of the month, from 7 pm to 8:30 pm, upstairs in the High School room. 

Our next couple meetings will be on November 11 and 25. If you have any questions or wish to attend, please contact Rev. Ellen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Supporting the Little Acorn Nursery School – Standing Committee (SC) Play Area Task Force

SC has been discussing how best we can support Gina Cook, the owner of Little Acorn, to grow her business so it will be a secure, long-term, tenant for First Parish. The school was severely impacted by the delay in our completing the ABP project and needs to increase its enrollment.

The early education market is shifting from half-day to full-day programs because it is now normal for both parents to be working outside the home. Massachusetts regulations for early education facilities require that full-day programs have a fenced-in outdoor play area. So, for Little Acorn to achieve its full potential, it will need a play area.

SC has established a task force to research the requirements and propose a location. Ideally, the area would be 750 square feet and there are limited locations into which this would fit. We are considering four, will select one, and then consult with the committees and individuals who would be impacted before developing a budget.

If you have questions, concerns or suggestions, please contact Chris Sweetnam.


Help First Parish feed the hungry! Did you know that First Parish works with 3 groups in the Greater Lowell area to provide food for those who need it? We work with Community Table (CT) of Lowell, Table of Plenty (TOP) in Chelmsford and Open Pantry of Greater Lowell. First Parish's CT team serves a meal every third Saturday at the Salvation Army in Lowell. Our TOP team serves the first Tuesday of every other month (the even months). For open Pantry, we collect non-perishable items and monetary donations every year at our Thanksgiving Ingathering service. CT and Top are always looking for volunteers. CT needs volunteers for shopping (on the day before), food prep, serving and cleanup. TOP needs volunteers for serving, dishwashing and cleanup. For those of you looking for a simple, meaningful way to participate in a worthwhile cause, please consider volunteering to help out at Community Table or Table of Plenty. For all those individuals overwhelmed with busy scheduled lifestyles, CT or TOP may be just what you are looking for. No meetings to attend, no long term commitment just a willingness to commit to a couple of hours on a serving date, with a willing smile.

Community Table's next serving data is Nov 16th. Please contact Michelle Hillman if you can help out, Table of Plenty's next serving data is December 3rd. Please contact Frans Janssen if you can help out on that day.

If you have any questions, visit the CFAM table at social hour and talk to us about how you can get involved.


Have You Ever Wondered About:

The Board of Investment? One of the recommendations from this past FY audit was to better publicize our meetings. The BOI meets on the fourth Monday of January, April, July and October. Our next meeting will be held on Oct 28 at 7pm in the Parlor. Our October meeting agenda items are (1) 3rd quarter portfolio review (2) Review Policies and Objectives statement for BOI and (3) Review terms for BOI members. We also plan to discuss investment in socially responsible funds and whether/how to discuss with our investment advisor in preparation for our January meeting. Please join us if you are interested. If you are interested but can't attend the meeting, please reach out to Susan Woodmansee, Bill Newhard, Ami Hughes or Doug Snow prior to 10/28.

The Nominating Committee? We try our best to match member’s time and talent to elected positions throughout the church. Elected positions include Standing Committee, Clerk, Treasurer, Assistant Treasurer, Collector, and Board of Investments. If you have ever had an interest in any of these positions, feel free to come and talk to any of us! We also occasionally facilitate matching for non-elected committees, so feel free to ask us about those as well. This year’s committee is Erin Clifford, Jim Curley, Leslie Yauckoes, Sandy Johnston, and Theresa Popoloski.

HR ? The Human Resource (HRSC) Sub-Committee is a sub-committee of the Standing Committee.
Why do we have an HRSC? The HRSC was created in 1995 to do the time-consuming, in-depth church staff work in order to inform and make recommendations to the full Standing Committee. The HRSC strives to ensure that the church is a fair, legal and equitable employer.
Who is on the HRSC? The committee is comprised of one or more members of the Standing Committee as well as the minister and three or more lay members who have human resources knowledge, skills or experience. Currently the Standing Committee members are Tom Coffey and Michelle Hillman liaisons; the lay members are Carlene Merrill, Ruth Whalen, Debra Grad and Dave Kaffine along with the Reverend Ellen Spero who is an ex officio non-voting member.

What work does the HRSC do? The HRSC works with the minister who is the day-to-day staff supervisor to write and update job descriptions; assist in employee relations; recruit and interview for open staff positions; ensure corrective action policy is followed when needed; solicit input from other committees to develop the annual staff compensation recommendations for the budget; write policy for the Human Resources Manual; ensure the Human Resources Manual is updated; conduct a year-end performance evaluation process; and generally oversee equitable employment practice for First Parish.
What is it the HRSC not do? The HRSC does not set policy and does not hire or fire staff members. The HRSC makes recommendations to the Standing Committee for a vote. The HRSC is not a search committee, which is required by the by-laws to call a minister and is formed by the SC to hire staff when needed.


TIME TO UPDATE OUR CHURCH DIRECTORY – Have you moved? Changed your preferred email? Phone Number? Let me know. If you are a newcomer – please know that you do NOT have to be a member to be included here, just involved enough to want to be able to be contacted, or to contact other people. Send information by email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or write it down and put it through the door slot to the church office on your way out, ANYTIME ( but I only print twice a year or when requested by individuals). I update the e-version as I receive information, and you can email and ask for a soft copy at anytime. I hope to print a new version by the end of November.

Please send me any combination of the following information (as long as there is some way to identify you and contact you!) : names/address/phone/email/kids names & birth year.  - Cindy

First Parish News October 2019

CHURCH COUNCIL: The first meeting of Church Council for the ’19-‘20 church year will be Tuesday, October 1 in the Parlor at 7pm.  All committee Chairs are encouraged to attend to share committee and church news as well as review Faith-in-Action grants.  Please contact Joan Keane with questions or more information. I look forward to sharing a productive year with you. 

HEALING CONVERSATIONS: Once again, Rev. Ellen and the Pastoral Care Team will be offering our grief support group: “Healing Conversations."   The purpose of the group is to create a sacred space to share stories, experiences and emotions around love, loss and grief in a spirit of mutual care and deep listening. Loss can take many different forms and people have participated in “Healing Conversations” for deaths recent and long ago and for other types of losses including divorce, estrangement, and illness. We use readings, ritual, meditation/prayer, video clips, journaling and small group discussion to reflect for ourselves and accompany each other across grief's difficult and unpredictable emotional and spiritual terrain. Based on feedback we received, we are offering “Healing Conversations” as an ongoing group that people can join as needed during the year while maintaining it as a confidential and supportive space.  The group will meet on the second and fourth Mondays of the month, beginning September 23rd, from 7 pm to 8:30 pm upstairs in the High School Room. If you have questions or wish to attend, please contact Rev. Ellen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 978 256-5555.

Bedsheets to bandages for Ghana! Saturday 11/09/19 at 1pm  Do you have old bedsheets that you’d like to put to a good use?  Sheila Morehouse, a member of the Meetinghouse Ringers and a pediatrician in Chelmsford, volunteers each year at the Baptist Medical Centre in Nalerigu, Ghana (https://baptistmedicalcenter.org/).  One of the items her group brings with them is bandage wrappings made from old bedsheets.  CFAM will be hosting a Saturday afternoon event on November 9th at 1pm where we will cut up old bedsheets and roll them for use at the hospital in Ghana.  We don’t have the date pinned down quite yet, but we will post it in the weekly announcements soon. If you have any questions, please contact Joan Coyne (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Website Updates and help needed - The website update is going slower than I had hoped.  But since we have some extra time, we would like to get some input from congregation about how they use the website, and what they would like to see added to the website.  We have created a survey to get your feedback, and would really appreciate it if you have a chance to fill this out for us.  You can either fill the survey out online (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/L7TDLQN) or we will have paper surveys available at social hour during October.  Stop by and talk to us about what you’d like to see.  
Currently, Eliot Mayer and I are the ones trying to keep the website up to date, but we’d love to have some more help.  We need help with things like posting events, updating committee information, and posting meeting notices and other church updates.  No web experience necessary, we are happy to train you. If you are interested, please come talk to us at the table at social hour, or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR SOCIAL HOUR:  Please sign up to do social hour on the bulletin board in the vestry.  You can choose to be responsible for set up, clean up, or both.  Directions are on the bulletin board.  Money is available to buy supplies if the expense is prohibitive.  There is often coffee and juice in the kitchen.  If you need training, help finding a buddy or two to do it with you, reimbursement for supplies, or have any questions, please contact Edith Murphy.

First Parish Website Privacy Policy

Each year, we reprint our website privacy policy in the Shooting Star as a reminder to the congregation.  Currently, we post information to our website (www.uuchelmsford.org), church Facebook Page(https://www.facebook.com/firstparishuuchurch), and Twitter (https://twitter.com/uuchelmsford).

Using the Internet to publish information about our church, our programs, and our faith is an important part of our outreach into the community. At the same time, we want to make protect the privacy of our members and the safety of our children. If  you have any questions at all about our website policy, (posted online on the website at http://www.uuchelmsford.org/privacy-policy.html)  please contact the  Joan Coyne (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). 

Photos and Videos on the church  Facebook Page:

While we don’t have a separate policy for our Facebook page, we ask that members of  the community follow the website policy on Facebook, particularly when it involves children. Please don’t post photos or videos on the First Parish Facebook page containing children other than just your own. 

First Parish Chelmsford's Website Policy:

Names appearing in the church newsletters may be published online without permission. For children, only first names may be published without parental permission.

No telephone number, home address, or email addresses will be published without permission. For children, parental permission is also required.

Personal news such as "Among Ourselves" or "Joys and Concerns" will not be published.

Editorial material will not be published.

Photos of adults at church events may be published in newsletters or on the church website or other church-administered online page, including, but not limited to, the church Facebook page and Twitter account without permission, unless individuals indicate otherwise. Adults who wish to opt out of having their photo used in church materials, may contact the Publicity/Website Committee at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to ask to be added to the opt-out list.

Permission of parents/guardians is required to publish photographs of minors, and additional permission is required to publish identification of minors. Parents may specify their wishes each fall on the Religious Education registration forms. Parents of children who are not registered for RE who wish to opt out of having their children's photo used in church materials, please contact the Publicity/Website Committee at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to ask to be added to the opt-out list.

These permission policies will be periodically published in the church's printed newsletters, and will be posted on the church website.

Approved on Jan 14, 2003 by the Standing Committee

Revised on May 14, 2013 by the Standing Committee

Contact Info

First Parish Church
2 Westford St
Chelmsford MA 01824

978-256-5133