Snapshots from the Summer

From The Shooting Star. Copyright 2010, Ellen Rowse Spero.  All rights reserved

Snapshots from the summer: a rough start with a virus that kept me from attending the UUA’s General Assembly; attendance at an eye-opening conference on the spiritual needs of veterans suffering from PTSD; co-leading an adult RE class on “The Spirit of Life” and hearing wonderful stories and amazing insights from those attending; watching Sam and Josh leave for Europe and return; watching Henry take in with delight a boat ride and fireworks display; and a relaxing if somewhat damp vacation in New Hampshire this past week.  All that said, I am very, very glad to be seeing all of you again on a more regular basis, as we return to our regular church schedule.
A couple of things to start. We will have our traditional water communion at our September 12th worship service. The purpose of the water communion is to celebrate the life and connections of our religious community. Water is a symbol of life, of purity, of the sacred. I invite you to bring some water (or use some that we will provide) to pour into a common bowl, symbol of our religious community. As you do, I invite you to share a word or a phrase that describes the spiritual or sacred meaning of the waters. It might be the place from which it comes (ie, Half-Moon Lake, NH). It might be symbolic of something significant that happened (to celebrate the birth of…, to remember…). It might be symbolic of what is sacred to you (family, peace, community, nature). And so, we will fill our common bowl with our joys and sorrows, our hopes and sacred moments, as we come back together for a new church year.     
We will have the evening services again this year, beginning September 19th. These services will be in the chapel and will begin at 5:30 p.m.  This is an hour earlier than last year, with the hope that this will be a more convenient time for those who might want to attend, and as I will be co-leading the Coming of Age program on Sunday evenings.
I look forward to seeing you all and hearing of your “snapshots” from the summer.

In faith,
Rev. Ellen

Our Understanding of Ourselves

From The Shooting Star. Copyright 2010, Ellen Rowse Spero. All rights reserved.

A couple of Sundays ago, a group of us met at the request of the Standing Committee to start a conversation about our understanding of ourselves, and our vision for our future as a congregation. This is in part to help us continue the discussion about how to live out our covenant in more depth and also to gather ideas and thoughts to help guide the upcoming conversations with the architect about our needs and wishes with regard to our building.

Tom Wight, Carole Russell and I led the meeting. We asked the group three questions. Below are the questions and their responses. We asked these three because they address the issue that underlies our whole reason for being: for the sake of what are we here? We need to discern our answers to this question so that we can then figure out how best to use our finite resources of time, energy, money, and talent in the areas of our congregational life that will move us forward.

I invite you to add to these lists. I will post flip chart paper in the vestry for the next couple of social hours for you to write your answers to these questions, or to dot the ones that speak to you.

Our hope is that this can help us discern 1) where we are and 2) where we would like to be in the next five years or so. Then we can look at the bridges that will get us from here to there: our programs and ministries within the congregation; our outreach ministries beyond the congregation; and our building. We can then prioritize how we want to strengthen them.

--- Rev. Ellen

Who are we?


well –being

good in crisis


people striving to live their covenant



Historical / have deep roots

open minded





a searching people



try to be welcoming

willing to learn from people we reach out to

inclusive rather exclusive



Who are we called to be/do in the world?

Encourage people to better themselves and the world

to be respectful of each other and the world

live out our covenant & principles

example setters & leaders

open ourselves out to the greater community

showing who we are

Be a light to draw in and cast out rays

provide worship space

practice gratitude

live in harmony with the environment

no further damage

nature and community

use talents for greater good

teach and be taught

nurture creativity – think for yourself, be aware of lines, but also transcend them

nurture self responsibility

lift up and out of the status quo

nurture discomfort

go an extra mile with hospitality

good people

have fun

eat good food

offer a relevant, powerful, meaningful and effective practice/model of religious liberal community

being there for one another

flexible, especially for folks not yet here


Who are our neighbors?

of different religions

people we like and don’t like and vice versa


physically – town center/HDC

a grave yard, sacred ground that

tourists that visit the graveyard and our church

what we do now effects future

regional, community


cc diverse

neighbors to the world

as a people

as a planet


neighbors to other UU congregations

people who use our church/space

each other

Contact Info

First Parish Church
2 Westford St
Chelmsford MA 01824