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:

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