First Parish News, May 2018

Almost time for Summer Services!  Our 2018 Summer Services begin on Sunday, June 24th. Stay tuned as we will be moving around a bit this summer due to the building project. Below is a list of dates available to lead a summer service as of April 28th. The list will be posted in the vestry beginning this Sunday, April 29th. Dates fill up fast so sign up on soon!! There are as many unique topics as we are unique members and friends of First Parish, and we'd love to hear yours! The Worship Committee is happy to help you with planning a summer service, and can provide you with the welcome and announcements "script" and an order of service to use as a guide. You can use your own music, or we can help point you in the direction of musicians who may be willing to participate in your summer service.

If you have been considering doing a summer service, this is the year to do it! Please feel free to contact Jayne Boissonneault and/or the Worship Committee at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with any questions you may have about what is involved in leading a summer service. To our musicians; if you are available to provide music for a Summer Service (or two!), please let us know.

June 24th
July 1st
July 8th – Brenda Rogers
July 15th - Jim Curley
July 22rd
July 29th
August 5th
August 12th
August 19th
August 26th
Sept 2rd

We are looking forward to hearing from you!  - The Worship Committee: Jayne Boissonneault-Chair, Ellen Ford, Ami Hughes, Colleen Leary, Donna Mitchelson, Bonnie Rankin, and Edith Murphy-Usher Liaison.


This year the Mother's Day Walk for Peace https://www.mothersdaywalk4peace.org/ is on May 13th - less than two weeks away. As we have done for the past 7 years First Parish has registered a team to participate in the walk and to raise funds for the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute. We love what Tina Chery, founder of the Institute, wrote in an email to supporters earlier this year in the wake of the Parkland Shootings and subsequent March for Our Lives actions and partially excerpted here.

"The Peace Institute is filled with hope after a weekend of action across the county with the goal of creating and sustaining communities that are free from gun violence. The Peace Institute has been working toward that vision since the murder of Louis David Brown in 1993. Louis was a young champion of peace who, like so many young people in the streets this weekend, was tired of seeing his friends end up dead. He believed and we believe teenagers have the power to make monumental change as we've seen again and again throughout history. Young people: we're grateful for your courage.

We're moved by the principle of unity as we see youth from different races and class backgrounds come together to address the violence that happens in our respective communities. We're amplifying the leadership of survivors of color, because Black and Brown people are most impacted by both homicide and by the criminalization of gun ownership. Without recognizing that racism is a root cause of violence in this country, we cannot heal from these wounds."  This is vital work and our support helps to make it happen. Please join with us in being part of this movement that is so aligned with our UU principles and our First Parish Covenant. Here are some of the options for supporting the walk this year:

1 - Join the First Parish Team for the first leg, or for the whole walk, from Dorchester at 8 AM. Carpooling to Alewife will be at 7 from the church parking lot. YOU MUST SIGN UP AT THE SOCIAL ACTION TABLE, OR EMAIL US IN ADVANCE, IF YOU WANT TO BE PART OF THE CAR POOL! Or you can meet us at Fields Corner in Dorchester if you are heading in on your own.

OR

2 -Meet up with us at the halfway point - Madison Park High School in Roxbury (Orange Line on the T)

OR

3 - Meet up with us at City Hall Plaza in Boston for the Peace Rally - 10 AM to noon

Whether or not you are walking you also have the option of making a donation on our Team page or collecting pledges from family and friends:  https://lbdpeace.z2systems.com/FirstParishChelmsford

Please stop by the Info Table during Social Hour on Sunday May 6th with any questions or contact Carla or Jayne


Grounds Committee - We need your help!  Spring Cleanup and Construction Preparation
Come One. Come All. Sidewalk Supervisors are allowed!
Rain Date / Extra Time Needed Cinco De Mayo – May 5, 2018 – 1 PM – 4 PM
& *After May Breakfast* May 6, 2018 – 12:30 PM – 3:30 PM

Help spruce up our existing garden beds and prepare them to receive our perennials that have graced our walkway to the Chapel and Office.  Our most crucial time to finish is May 13 – May 31, 2018. If anyone can work on a weekday or the weekends during this time please do not hesitate to contact me at church or home.  *We Need More People to Mow the Lawn*  - Martha Orr Sherburne


Split the Plate – May Split the Plate: Massachusetts Bail Fund CFAM's choice for the May Split the Plate is an organization that is active in our state in an area that UU's have already committed to make a difference.  The Massachusetts Bail Fund pays up to $500 bail so that low-income people can stay free while they work towards resolving their case, allowing individuals, families, and communities to stay productive, together, and stable. The Massachusetts Bail Fund is committed to freeing individuals serving pre-trial sentences, and to abolishing pre-trial detention in the long-term. Donations go directly to helping to free people.

In a 2005 Statement of Conscience, the UUA said the following: "Appalled by the gross injustices in our current criminal justice system, we the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association commit ourselves to working in our communities to reform the criminal justice and correctional systems and effect justice for both victims and violators. "

Here in Massachusetts, people have been working on that issue. Fellow UU and State Senator William Brownsberger and the Mass Incarceration Working Group of First Parish UU Church in Arlington may be among the best known. And there has been progress in some areas.  Yet one area of injustice still remains to be addressed and that is that Massachusetts jails are filled with people awaiting trial simply because they cannot afford bail, sometimes as little as $50. Bail leads to longer incarceration times, lost jobs, lost housing, and devastated families. The Massachusetts Bail Fund provides up to $500 bail for low-income individuals. For more information please see: https://www.massbailfund.org/about.html


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 (we need you!) 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.


Standing Committee Remarks

Welcome to Spring Everybody,

This is shaping up to be a season of change. The best part is seeing how our community is pulling together, with everybody bringing their best selves to simultaneous efforts of supporting those grieving the loss of significant members of our community and those dealing with the technical and adaptive challenges of a major building renovation. It is incredible to me that we have the capacity to hold both.

Our building is being renovated; it is really happening. We have signed contracts with the contractor, North Hill, and for the elevator from Stanley Elevator Company. North Hill has started working with the Town of Chelmsford on permits. Permitting will be an ongoing process as we need permits to start work, to connect sprinklers to the town water supply, to occupy the building after work is done, and even to use the elevator after it is installed and tested. Wow. Who knew. This is why we hire professionals.

Now we really get into the period of chaos that comes between committing to change and appreciating the results. We've committed to a major renovation, but before we get to ride the new elevator, we live through dismantling the old one. You've probably been seeing some changes around the church as stuff gets cleaned out and stored away, as even plants get dug up and relocated. This is a substantial church-wide effort, and I really appreciate everyone who is involved. We are trying to get much done by May 13. May 13 is the deadline for individuals, groups, and committees clearing out items for which there will be no room after the project's completion, or that are otherwise not going to be part of what the movers will be dealing with. The week after that is for clearing out things that no one claimed or handled, and the Dept of Interior has agreed to make decisions about the items the rest of us have forgotten. If something is still on the property on May 14th and does not have a place in the updated building, it will be donated, recycled, or tossed. After that, we will have movers coming in at the end of May, and then demolition in the first floor of the RE wing starting June 1. The contractor has agreed to leave the current elevator in place and usable through our last service in the sanctuary this spring, June 17th, but after that we will be without an elevator until mid-November. That will make services extra challenging until then as we work around construction and navigate location changes and streaming services to the vestry. There will also be additional room closures as sprinklers get installed, probably throughout the last half of July. We will try to provide as much advance notice as possible as changes occur over the summer and fall, but we don't know details yet, and recognize that there are many things that will need to be decided on the fly, and expect many surprises. There are so many leaders in this community, so many people whose instincts are to step forward and help, that I am confident that this community can identify effective workarounds for the roving room closures and the displacement of things that have "always been" somewhere and thus handle this period of disruption with grace and good humor.

Along with this this intense, but transitory project, the regular life of the church continues. Our annual canvass is still working towards raising about $70,000 from the initial target fundraising goal of $275,000. The annual canvass is the most significant source of income for the operating budget of the church. It is how we pay salaries for our wonderful staff, fund meaningful Faith Formation and engaging music programs for all ages, support social justice initiatives, and at the most basic level, keep the heat and lights on. Participating in the canvass process, pledging, attending budget hearings, and voting on the budget at the annual meeting are all ways that we communicate our personal values and negotiate how we combine our individual voices and efforts and magnify them into a community that accomplishes more and helps us support each other more than we could as individuals. It is our time, treasure and talent that make this community the wonderful sustaining place that it is. If you have not yet pledged, I encourage you to do so. Imagine what we could do if we surprised ourselves and exceeded the target amount. What would we choose to do? More outreach? Only the most cost effective fundraisers? Become the kind of good employers that offer healthcare to our staff? I dream.

Our fundraisers are an important part of the church too, providing income, community building, and outreach. The auction was both great fun and a big financial success this year, bringing in just over $10,000. That's incredible, thank you all! I look forward to the same sort of support for the May breakfast which is this weekend, Saturday May 5th.

Sarah


From the Church Office – (Cindy)

Apropos of Sarah’s remarks above: In the constant flux that will be happening starting June 1, please remember that other than my 2 week vacation in the beginning of August – the church office will be open as usual. It just won’t be “here”.   That said – I STRONGLY RECOMMEND that, if you are not on our church email lists, please sign up now. This is text taken from our church website about how to do this: Events: http://lists.uuchelmsford.org/listinfo.cgi/events-uuchelmsford.org.

Enter your email address on the form and submit your request to be added. You will receive a confirmation email. Reply to the email and you will be subscribed. If you are having problems confirming your subscription, please contact the office. If your email address has changed, just sign up for the list with the new email address. The old one will be removed automatically after it bounces a few times.  This will be your best way to keep up with any news about church folk, meeting rearrangements, building schedule info, Summer Worship (or not) services, etc.

We are keeping the Treasurers/Bookkeepers/Collectors computer here on church premises (moving into Steve’s old office which is in the chapel area that isn’t being touched for anything but sprinklers) and I will be in the building for at least an hour or so Mon-Friday through the month of June and then less often when I switch to the summer hour schedule starting July 1. I unquestionably will try to have our bills paid and dealt with BEFORE the construction crews start and then will head home to my “remote” office to continue working. I’m only a mile or so from church so if you need to actually see me, it’s not far, and you can contact me using the usual email address – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. – or by calling my cell phone - until noontime, Mon-Fri.  I will do my best to respond as immediately as I would normally do if I were sitting here in the office.

The June Shooting Star (our last printed and snail-mailed newsletter of the church year) deadline is May 27. The July E- newsletter information deadline will be July 1. July has always been email only (that’s another list you can sign up for … ). There is no newsletter in August. Thank you! --Cindy

First Parish News, April 2018

Thursday, March 29th 7 pm: Tennebrae Service in the sanctuary. “Tennebrae” means darkness and describes the period from Maundy Thursday through Good Friday, before the dawning joy of Easter, when the disciples of Jesus walked with their beloved teacher through his last supper with them to the Garden of Gethsemane and finally to his death by crucifixion. This is a contemplative service with traditional and modern readings and music by the choir and reflects on the very human and sacred truth that we sometimes must walk in darkness and with broken hearts. It is good to have a religious community to do this with. Rev. Ellen


Update on Open Office Hours:  Due to snow and other schedule craziness, I need to reschedule my open office hours at the Java Room over the next couple of weeks to: THURSDAYS from 10:30 to noon on March 29 and April 5th. So, if you can, please join me and anyone else who comes for coffee or tea and conversation. - Rev. Ellen


Church Council will meet Tuesday April 3rd, 7pm in the Alliance Parlor. There will be an update on the ABP. Our hot topic will be pre-construction clear-out, access during project & moving back in when construction is complete. We urge every committee to have at least one person attend. Also, Deirdre Heck will present a mini lesson on Nominating committee & elected positions/what they entail.


Dear First Parishers, We will hold a memorial service to mourn Tom’s loss and to honor and celebrate his life at First Parish on Saturday, April 7 at 1 pm, followed by a reception at the vestry. Meanwhile, I have been asked by many people what they can do to support Edith and her family. The Caring Connection has set up a process for providing food. You can reach out to Suzanne Wilson for more information. Another way we can support Edith and honor Tom is to step in to the places where they have given so much of their time and energy. As I said on Sunday, Tom, Edith and their kids are intricately and intimately involved in the day to day workings of our First Parish community. So, if you can, I ask you to consider preparing or cleaning up social hour, or reaching out to Dolores and the RE Council to see if they need help there. Tom’s presence among us was quiet but strong and we will need to come together to help mend some of the holes. Thank you for your continued care for Tom, for Edith, for Rick, for Marion, and for Dan. -- Rev. Ellen

Reception after Tom's service: We have had countless offers of help for this and will be sitting down and figuring details this week. Thank you to everyone. I’ll send another email out by the end of this week to all those who have offered to help with hopefully correct information about that! Be sure to let me know if we misunderstood anything! –Cindy/Jill/Jess

P.S. One more suggestion for the day, Edith has set up an ‘in lieu of flowers’ request, but would still love to have some for the sanctuary service. 2 large arrangements will be there, but feel free to add to that if you wish.


Committee Fair sponsored by Church Council will be held Sunday April 29th after church during social hour. Make new connections, meet the fun and proactive people who help things run smoothly, sign up for a committee and be a part of the positive changes. It's your church, get involved.


2018 CANVASS - Do you know what the CANVASS is? Do you know "how" to pledge or why we pledge or how to decide how much to pledge? Whether you have been here for 10 or 20 years or are brand new, come to one of our informal classes on CANVASS and PLEDGING on April 8.

We will meet in the Alliance Parlor after the Church Service, have some light refreshments, chat for 15 or 20 minutes about canvass and pledging, and ask those questions we thought we were already supposed to know the answers to. ---The Canvass Team.


Split the Plate – April 15 - Our Split the Plate organization for April is THRIVE, a Lowell based charity. THRIVE Communities is a community-based response to the challenges faced by adults returning from prison to Lowell or Lawrence. Designed to empower returning citizens and engage local community members, THRIVE cultivates genuine experiences of community that are inclusive of all men and women - defining people not by their experiential differences, but by the best parts of their character. Learn more at their website: http://www.thrivema.org


The next Women's Discussion Group meeting will be on Tuesday, April 3 at 7pm at the home of Marie Claire Galera, 138 Newton Road, Plaistow, NH. Marie Claire will have her usual pizza and beer! The topic will be about our dependence on modern technology; i.e. what happens when we forget or lose our cell phone.
Call to RSVP or email Marie Claire
As always, all are welcome to join us.


April is Caring Connection month. Our role is to reach out to parishioners in times of need with calls, visits, meals, and rides. Additionally, we monthly send cards noting our many and varied special life events. We are a small committee but need lots of helpers. Please drop by our table during the 4/29 Committee Fair and add your name to our list to assist with brief, one-time services. These are immensely appreciated and invaluable gifts of support binding our beloved community.

If you have a need, please contact a Caring Committee member or share with another parishioner, Ellen, or Cindy Gist. We welcome donations of birthday, sympathy, get well, and blank cards. Please place them in the Caring Connection mail slot next to the copier machine across from the office.
Caring Connection Committee: Suzanne Wilson/chair, Sandy Johnstonm, Joan Keane, Mickey O’Connor, and Maura Snow.


NEW (or not so new) UU CLASS! This spring, the membership committee on Saturday, April 28th from 9 to 4pm will be offering the New (or not so new) UU class! We will discuss this church and Unitarian Universalism in general. The class will be based on a UU Tapestry of Faith curriculum but will also discuss the traditions of this parish. It will be highly interactive and include lunch with guest speakers.
-Who would be interested in this class/discussion? People new to First Parish (who may or may not be new to UUism), people (members or non-members) who have been here a while but still have questions.
-What is the time commitment? Approximately 7 hours. Babysitting will be provided as needed; And lunch and refreshments throughout the event 😊

If you are interested, please speak to Chris Sweetnam, Rose Lerer, Joan Keane, Lisa Calvo, Theresa Popoloski or Peter Mellish or email your preferences to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

MEMORIES WANTED: We are preparing for our New UU class on April 28. We would like to let our newcomers know why we think that First Parish is so special. Please send us your memories (a few words to a page) about First Parish so we can share them with the class.
If possible, email them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by April 14.


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 (we need you!) 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.

Contact Info

First Parish Church
2 Westford St
Chelmsford MA 01824

978-256-5133