First Parish in Needham Logo

23 Dedham Avenue
Needham, MA 02492

Sunday Services

Sunday Service at First Parish

Sunday service is at 10:30 a.m. unless otherwise noted. Looking at a typical Order of Service should give you a sense of what our Sunday Services are like. On the surface, it looks much like a typical church service, but if you are new to Unitarian Universalism, you will find it to be a very different experience. You may watch a service on our YouTube channel.

In keeping with our seven principles, readings and sermons may draw heavily on multiple religious sources, be they Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Christian or Native American. Many sermons will touch on distinctly humanistic themes and the idea that religious authority lies not in a book or person or institution, but in ourselves. What you won’t hear is a creed or statement of beliefs to which we all adhere.

Service Overview

Our services always begin with the ringing of the Paul Revere Bell and the lighting of the chalice, and we often recite our covenant

Music is always part of the service, whether it comes from our Adult and Children’s Choirs, the First Parish Singers, the First Parish Players or frequent guest performers.

There is usual time for people to share their joys and concerns.

Typically, one or two readings set the stage for a sermon by Rev. Catie Scudera, our ministerial intern, a guest minister, or a lay member of the congregation. 

After the service, just about everyone goes to Parish Hall for Social Hour.

Candles of Joy & Concern

On many Sundays, the minister invites us to come forward, light a candle, introduce ourselves, and speak briefly about any joys or concerns that we wish to share with the congregation.

Special UU Services

  • In-Gathering / Water Communion Sunday
    • We gather to begin a new church year on the first Sunday after Labor Day.
    • The In-Gathering includes a UU ritual known as the water communion, where we bring water collected from places of note, spiritual or otherwise, and mix it with the waters brought by others.
  • Flower Communion
    • The last Sunday before summer season, where we celebrate a uniquely Unitarian Universalist form of communion.
    • We bring flowers from our yard or some other favorite spot, and we go home with someone else’s flowers.
  • Festival of Lights
    • A Unitarian Universalist celebration of the seasonal holidays of winter, including Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, and others.
  • Coming of Age
    • The culmination of the traditional Unitarian Universalist rite of passage of eighth-graders into adulthood.
  • Youth Sunday
    • A service developed and put on by our Youth Group.
  • Youth Alum Sunday
    • A service developed and put on by alumni of our Youth Group.
  • Religious and Cultural Holidays
    • On Sundays around the time of the Jewish high holy days, Advent and Earth Day, our services frequently incorporate elements of the traditional observance or themes related to the holiday.