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The Making Room Initiative: What’s Next?

By , February 18, 2017
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The Making Room Task Force wants to thank all the attendees at the Congregation Meeting on Sunday, February 12.  There was a lively discussion about possible options to increase the seating capacity of the sanctuary.  In the end, the Task Force recommended: 1) refurbishing the balcony, and 2) simulcast the video of the Sunday service to a “Worship Cafe” in Parish Hall.  The Worship Cafe would be a pilot program to create an alternative, more informal worship space, serving coffee and allowing parishioners to stretch or move around more freely during the service.   Both of these recommendations will require investments in technology, furniture, or personnel.  These recommendations have now been passed to the Parish Committee, which will seek to incorporate these ideas within our operating budget.  With the Annual Budget Drive about to kick into high gear, please consider upping your pledge for these items to create more room and build a more welcoming space to our neighbors in these stressful times.  

RESCHEDULED: Screening of A Time to Choose

Sunday, March 12, at 3pm in the Sanctuary

In these dark days for environmental protection, can we make progress on our Commit2Respond pledge to reduce carbon emissions and work for eco justice? Yes, we can — and at this time it is more crucial than ever to do so.  The 90-minute film by Oscar-winning documentary director Charles Ferguson is a hard-hitting yet hopeful film. With footage from five continents, Time to Choose explores the scope of the climate change crisis and the power of solutions already available.  It will be followed by a discussion of concrete steps to address climate change as well as informational tables from local groups. Attendees can also enjoy refreshments in Parish Hall and a chance to browse informational tables from local groups.  This free event is sponsored by the Green Congregation Committee, Green Needham Collaborative, as well as 9 Metro West environmental groups, local League of Women Voters groups, and houses of worship. Please join us!


Anti-Racism Workshop

Ken Wagner will lead an 8-session workshop at First Parish called “Being White in a Racist Society” on Thursday evenings from Feb 16 to April 13 (note date change due to Feb. 9 storm), 7:00 to 9:00pm, with no session on Feb 23 during school vacation week. This is an exciting opportunity for us at First Parish.  Ken’s workshop is highly recommended by other UUs, and is free! The only requirement is that participants commit to attending all eight sessions, as each session builds on the work done the previous week.

The workshop is primarily focused on helping white people understand the racial component of their identity, and learn how to live with authenticity and integrity as a white person in a society grounded in white supremacy.  It involves understanding the structural foundation of racism quite apart from the bigotry and discrimination that flows from individuals and how it exists almost independently of individual racist people.  Racism itself is the source of great confusion among white folks because there are so many different definitions and conceptions of what it is and what it is not.  Thus, one encounters claims of “reverse racism” from individuals who have an entirely distorted concept of what racism is or is not.  We work through what the role of white people can or should be in racial justice movements, what our role in Black Lives Matter might be, what it means to be in solidarity with people of color and what it looks like to exhibit ally behavior.  We discuss situations and responses, i.e., things we commonly hear but are sometimes frustrated in responding to in an effective fashion.  Each week, Ken will send out reading material for use in the following session.

The session dates are Feb. 9 and 16; March 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30; and April 6. You can come to the first session on Feb. 9 to see if you would like to sign on with no obligation.  Also, during the fourth session, on March 9, a film will be shown followed by a discussion.  It is possible to attend that session without going to the others.

Ken Wagner preached at First Parish on Jan. 22 and is an active UU with a long history in lay leadership. He is the former president of the Clara Barton District, the District Presidents Association and First Parish Church of Stow & Acton. He is married to Laura Wagner, Executive Director of UU Mass Action. Laura and Ken are both members of the UUA’s Allies for Racial Equity and are committed to anti-racism/anti-oppression/multicultural work. He has led anti-racism workshops for UU congregations, including Lexington and Groton.

If you want to participate, please sign-up with Marianne McGowan.


Memorial Ceremony celebrating the life of Joseph Powers

Saturday, February 4, 2017
10 am service in the Sanctuary, followed by open sharing and a luncheon reception in the Parish Hall

Rev. Catie will officiate the memorial ceremony of Joseph Powers, long-time friend of the church, husband of Kathleen O’Brien Powers, and father of Devin and Cullan Powers. Please be in touch with Buffy Duhig if you are able and willing to assist with the reception. 

Memorial Service celebrating the life of Mary Bradley

Saturday, February 11, 2017
11am service in the Meetinghouse, followed by a luncheon reception in the Parish Hall

Rev. Catie will officiate the memorial ceremony of Mary Bradley, long-time member of church, widow of Bill Bradley, and mother of Terry, Barbara, Bill Jr., and Julie. Please be in touch with Buffy Duhig if you are able and willing to assist with the reception.


Witness to Justice Vigil and Fair

By , January 13, 2017
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Witness to Justice Vigil
3:00 – 4:00pm January 20, 2017
Needham Common
The Needham Witness to Justice Coalition invites the community to come together in witness to the need for social justice and human rights during the critical times going forward in our local and national experiences. Inspiration from Martin Luther King’s writings will be read. Individuals are invited to bring his or her own messages.

All are invited to a sign making gathering at the Congregational Church Office (next to the Church) , 1800 Great Plain Ave from 12:00 – 1:00 pm, January 20, 2017.

Empowerment Fair
1:00 – 3:00 pm January 29, 2017
First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church
The community is invited to an Empowerment Fair, sponsored by the Needham Witness to Justice Coalition, which will offer information about efforts to promote social justice and human rights in our community and more broadly and ways to become involved in efforts in the coming year. The Empowerment Fair will include presentations and time to network, share concerns, and learn about various ways that individuals can engage in defending and promoting social justice and human rights.

Coming of Age News

Call to Action – COA Mentors Needed ASAP – Due to unexpected circumstances we find ourselves in need of 2 Coming of Age teachers.  The ideal candidate will have a loving heart, a patient spirit and some history with the congregation. No other experience necessary. Contact Mark or Jen for further info. Bonus: earn huge Karma points and snacks 🙂

Parents – We are currently working to find replacement teachers for the COA class, scheduled to begin January 29th. You’ll be getting an e-mail in the coming week from the DLRE about the upcoming COA Orientation, mentors, and schedule.  Thanks for your patience.


Positively Aging Tackles Trump

Positively Aging will meet Tuesday January 10 at 4:00 in the parlor.  Our topic will be:  TRUMP:  How did he get here and what’s gonna happen?  John Miller, an economist and professor at Wheaton College, will lead the discussion with plenty of opportunity for lots of varying views to be expressed and discussed.

In addition to his role at Wheaton, John writes a column regularly for Dollars & Sense Magazine.  Titles of some of his recent articles are:  Criminal Inequality:  Progressives are not Guilty; “Equal Pay” is not so Equal; Walled Off from Reality:  Trump’s claims about immigration economics are without merit.

We’re experimenting with a change to the Positively Aging meetings.  Instead of having a soup supper after the discussion, we’ll have light refreshments and a chance for more conversation with John.  Don’t miss this opportunity to learn about the economic implications of the Trump presidency.

FP Conversations About Race

The Racial Justice Task Force invites you to conversations from January to June to deepen our understanding and our commitment to help ‘bend the arc of the moral universe toward justice’ in our own time.  Whether what works for you is a movie night, a Lyceum, an in-depth workshop series, or holing up with a book, please join in!  Now more than ever, it’s clear that we are all in this together – how can we live into our UU values in an unjust world?  Here’s the line-up for January and early February — look for more detailed info on each event elsewhere in the Bell Notes and  The Bellman:

Please Note:  The Icons art exhibition scheduled for March 4-5 has been postponed, but will be rescheduled.


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