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Summer services begin at 9:30 a.m.
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Monday, December 27, 2010

Coffee Fellowship Invention of Note

Thanks to my friend Henry Lukas at the Spellman Museum for pointing out that yesterday -- Boxing Day -- was the anniversary of a patent for an invention that is -- though secular -- of significance to every UU congregation I have known. I refer, of course, to the coffee percolator.

On December 26, 1865, James Nason of Franklin, Massachusetts (deep in UU heartland, but this may be a coincidence) filed the first patent for an electric coffee percolator (though earlier claims exist for its actual invention). It probably did not look much like the one shown here, but it made possible the ritual of "coffee hour," which typically follows Sunday services at UU churches. These are opportunities to catch up with friends while enjoying a cuppa and perhaps a tasty treat. Just as no creed is required for membership, tea and juice are usually available, so that all may feel welcome, even if the name "coffee" is not easily let go!

Percolators are a convenient way of serving coffee to a crowd, and they can fill a room with the aroma of coffee -- I wish I could find coffee that tastes like the aroma I remember from my grandmother's percolator -- but they are probably the worst way to prepare coffee, as they tend to overextract it, bringing out the bitterest oils.

It is somewhat ironic that churches -- famous for poor brewing techniques -- have been in the vanguard of the movement to improve conditions for coffee farmers. Without churches -- especially Congregational, Lutheran, and UU -- the Fair Trade movement in the United States might never have taken root. Building connections between farmers and consumers, the movement has also educated both groups about improving coffee quality from the field to the cup.

Our own congregation has been purchasing fair-trade coffee from nearby Equal Exchange for several years, both for Coffee Hour and for individual sales. (Members also support the local public library through the purchase of fair-trade Bridgewater Brew from Deans Beans.) And even though Equal Exchange does its best to promote the tender treatment of coffee beans, its coffee experts have decided to accommodate church and synagogue customers by creating a "Fellowship Blends" that are roasted and ground in such a way that percolators will do minimum damage. The blends -- with ordering links -- are provided below.

Organic Fellowship Blend

Roast: pre-roast blend, Full City
Aroma: praline, vanilla, Nutella/hazelnut, floral
Flavor: balanced, sweet, chocolate, spicy
Mouthfeel: solid, expansive
Acidity: lively, cherry-like
Aftertaste: sweet, smoky, caramelized sugar
(Available in 1lb)
Order online at Interfaith Store

Fellowship Blend

Roast: pre-roast blend, Full City
Aroma: vanilla, pralines, malty
Flavor: balanced, sweet, caramel, brown sugar, medjool date
Mouthfeel: syrupy, dense
Acidity: bright, sparkling
Aftertaste: sweet, baker's chocolate

However you choose to buy and prepare your coffee, please remember:
"Thank the farmers!"

Monday, December 20, 2010

Transylvania Visitors at Unitarian Church of Sharon

The Unitarian Church of Sharon recently sent this message to other churches in the district:

The Unitarian Church of Sharon, MA will be hosting its partner minister,  Rev. Erika Demeter, and her husband, Balacz scholar Levente Lazar, over the Christmas holidays. We invite other UU's in the area to join us for any of the following activities:
Thurs. Dec. 23, 12 PM Women's luncheon at the home of Beth McGregor in Sharon
Sun. Dec. 26, 10:15 AM Worship service led by Erika Demeter, followed by potluck lunch at the church
Sun. Dec. 26, 7:00 PM Informal worship and conversation with Erika
More details of the visit are available on the Sharon church web site, as are a map and directions to the church. When our Partner Church relationship (in Haranglab, Transylvania) was at its strongest, it was because of the opportunities we had to visit with other churches in our own area that had strong partnerships. For that reason, it would be helpful for members of our church with an interest in the Haranglab partnership to take the Sharon church up on its generous offer. Please let James Hayes-Bohanan know if you plan to attend any of these events.

On This Day in Universalist History

Once a follower of Hosea Ballou, Kneeland's more liberal religious views eventually led him to be "disfellowed" by the New England Universalistic General Convention.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Congregational Meeting January 9

(Copied from the weekly e-mail Dec. 16)
The Parish Committee has unanimously approved the recommendation from the Facilities Committee to ask the Congregation to approve the acceptance of a $22,000 grant from the Bridgewater Community Preservation Act (BCPA). The money would be used to restore the entire front façade of the sanctuary.

Acceptance of the BCPA grant carries with it a preservation restriction (PR) that will be administered by the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC). Briefly, the terms of the PR require that we seek approval from the MHC for any major alterations to the exterior appearance of the sanctuary. The definitions of “major’ and “minor” alterations are governed by the Commission’s Restriction Guidelines. Ordinary maintenance and repair may be made without written permission from the MHC. The preservation restriction DOES NOT limit future changes in USE of the building, but only to its exterior appearance. The restriction DOES carry over to any future owners of the building.

The congregational meeting will be held following the Sunday service, and will include time for discussion and a vote.

Bridgewater Community Preservation Committee Grant (BCPC) Carries a Preservation Restriction

The purpose of the Sunday, January 9, 2011 congregational meeting is to discuss and approve the $22,000 grant we've been awarded from the Bridgewater Community Preservation Committee. Acceptance of the grant carries with it a Preservation Restriction (PR). The PR will be drawn up by the Town Attorney, and approved by the congregation, the BCPC, and the Massachusetts Historical Commission. This link will take you to a sample PR, but note that ours may vary in detail:

Ethical Eating

The Green Sanctuary Committee has requested that First Parish Vote to
place the Draft Statement of Conscience (SOC) Ethical Eating: Food & Environmental Justice on the Final Agenda for General Assembly (GA) 2011.  If you have questions or input please contact Eileen Hiney ( by the end of January.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

In the Time of the Butterflies - Dec 1 at BSU

In conjunction with One Book One Community Bridgewater, the Social Justice League is hosting Movie Night on Wednesday, December 1st at 7:00 pm in the Library Lecture Hall featuring the movie In the Time of Butterflies starring Salma Hayek. 

The movie depicts the story of the Mirabal sisters who were murdered on November 25, 1960 for their involvement to overthrow the Dominican Dictator Trujillo.  It is a compelling story about courage, love and the human cost of political oppression.

Visit for more information about the book and for information about One Book One Community.

First Parish and BSU faculty members Pam & James Hayes-Bohanan will be facilitating the discussion.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Holly Day Artisan Fair

Saturday, December 4 · 9:00am - 3:00pm

Homemade cheesecakes! 
Handcrafted Items! 
Cookie Walk! 
White Elephant Sale! 
Book Sale! 
5-minute Massages! 
Soup Luncheon! 

Also, Paloma Bohanan will be selling ornaments, hair bows, and other gift items in support of her service trip to India.

Visit from Santa 11am - 1pm 

10% of all proceeds donated to local charities!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Green Sanctuary Accreditation

At the November 14 service, which was organized by the Green Sanctuary Committee, committee chair Eileen Hiney shared some wonderful news: The UUA's Office of Congregational Stewardship Services has formally recognized First Parish Bridgewater as an Accredited Green Sanctuary. The October 18 letter from Robin Nelson is posted in the Upper Parish Hall (in a hallowed location over the coffee urn).

An excerpt from the letter describes part of our success and encourages us to keep building upon it:

"Your application offers strong evidence of the positive environmental consciousness that has developed in your congregation, resulting in new behaviors and new lifestyle choices by members individually and by the congregation as a whole. We were especially inspired by the way you brought children and families together through your programming as well as working with other churches. Your Kids to Camp project seems to have been successful in both getting children to camp and creating a partnership with the Easton Nature Camp. You now have a great foundation for continuing action in the future."

A certificate will soon be placed prominently in our building, and we will be among the new Green Sanctuaries recognized at the 2011 General Assembly in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Immigration Conference December 4, Needham

Immigration Matters: From Phoenix to 495
A UU Mass Action conference
Saturday, December 4th from 9:30 to 2:00
First Parish in Needham, 23 Dedham St.

9:30 - Coffee and Networking
10:00 - Worship with Rev. Wendy von Zirpolo
10:45 - Who are we?
11:00 - Hot Topics in MA - MA Immigration and Refugee Association Coalition (MIRA)
11:45 - LUNCH
12:30 - Workshops
1:30 - Tools to Take Home
Workshops include “Bringing Immigration into your Faith Development program”; and “Tools for Engaging your Congregation”. Cost is $15.00 and includes coffee and lunch. RSVP to Nancy Banks at or 617.835.5426.

Details and poster are on the UU Mass Action web site. Carpooling from First Parish Bridgewater may occur; stay tuned!

Geography Fair

Member Vernon Domingo, working with the Massachusetts Geographic Alliance, is one of the lead organizers of the 24th Annual Geography Fair (as he has been with most or all the previous ones). This year's fair was mentioned during today's special service, organized by the Green Sanctuary Committee, because the theme of the fair this year is water.

The fair will run Saturday, November 20, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 in the old Burnell School on the campus of Bridgewater State University. A special program on the project to build a well in Liberia will be part of the festivities, as will the work of scores of students from throughout this region. See the MGA site for more information.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

PowWow Nov 14

This message is from Dr. Joyce Rain-Anderson, a BSU professor of Engish who has organized a Native American PowWow on campus.

National Native American Heritage Month Powwow to be held in the Kelly Gym Sunday, November 14, 11am – 6pm.  Enjoy inter-tribal dancing, dance demonstrations, pottery demonstrations, social dances and storytelling. Arts, crafts and supplies for sale in addition to traditional Native foods. Please join us in welcoming local Native peoples to our campus for the second powwow as we continue in strengthening our relationships with one another. Bring positive energy to the circle.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

November 14: ... And Not a Drop to Drink

Service Organized by the Green Sanctuary Committee

Dr. Kevin Curry is a biology professor and winner of a BSU presidential fellowship, which allowed him to spend last year in Cambodia installing water filtration systems in impoverished Cambodian villages. He will speak about his experiences making a difference in the lives of people who do not have clean drinking water, and in the lives of Cambodian and U.S. students who worked with him.

November 7: ANGER!

On November 7, Rev. Ed Hardy's sermon will address anger, acrimony, animosity, antagonism, ... umbrage, vexation, violence, and a whole thesaurus-worth of things in between. From when NOT to write an e-mail to much more, this will be the "deadly sin" of the day. Please join us at 50 School Street at 10:30 Sunday morning to hear more.

And to avoid anger at yourself, please remember to set your clock back Saturday night, lest you arrive to an empty sanctuary!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Coffee House Nov 6: Thompson Twins

Since 1969, First Parish Church has hosted Off the Common, a monthly coffee house that continues to bring some of the best musical talent in the region -- and the country -- into a cozy venue in Bridgewater Center. The first Saturday evening of every month (except summer months) features an amazing musical artist, with open mike available to aspiring artists. (Sometimes even the open mike attracts established musicians.)

This Saturday, November 6, Chris and Meredith Thompson -- the Thompson Twins -- will be returning to Off the Common. Known for their harmonies, flute, and guitar, the Thompson Twins have been highly acclaimed in many national venues, from Lilith Fair to the U.S. Songwriting Festival. We are indeed fortunate for the Thompson Twins to be returning to the Off the Common stage.

Performing with the Thompson Twins will be Sarah Borrello, who performed earlier this year at Bridgewater State University. Borrello is an award-winning, independent local artist known for her youth, her maturity, and her "blistering intensity."

The show begins -- as always -- at 8:00 p.m. in the Upper Parish Hall (rear of building) at 50 School Street in Bridgewater (nestled among several buildings of the BSU campus).

Admission is $13; refreshments are for sale, as are performer CDs.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Friday Night, November 5
6:00 -- until we run out of lasagna or diners
$8/adult $6/senior $4/child
$22 family maximum

It is that time of year -- the Male Bonding Band is hosting an evening of fun and food. After work and school, don't worry about dinner: just come to First Parish for a nice meal with fellow parishioners and friends of the church. The Male Bonding Band is cooking a variety of meatful and meatless lasagnas, including at least one gluten-free lasagna. In other words, there will be something for everyone -- along with salad, garlic bread, and a bit of ice cream. 

Warning: Corny sing-alongs of Italian songs could ensue! 

MainSpring Lunches -- Monday morning

Every month for as long as we can remember, members of First Parish have helped to support the work of MainSpring House in Brockton by packing lunches. On the first Tuesday of every month, the 100 lunches prepared at First Parish are used by shelter occupants who go out on work projects that are a core part of the program by which MainSpring (and now Father Bill's) helps to connect people to permanent housing. In order to get the lunches there on time, we meet at 9:00 a.m. on the Monday before that first Tuesday (a bit like the way election dates are set, but backwards).

This month, we will gather in the church kitchen at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, November 1. As Betty always says, "Many hands make light work."

Nicaragua Film -- Ben Linder

Thursday, November 4
7:00 PM
Library Lecture Hall, Bridgewater State University

Geographer and First Parish member James Hayes-Bohanan will be showing the film American/Sandinista as part of a program on U.S. volunteers who worked in Nicaragua in the years following the Sandinista Revolution. The focus will be on Benjamin Linder, an engineer whose assassination by the contras helped to bring about an end to U.S. funding for that insurgency.
The university recently decided not to name a new cafe in Linder's honor; discussion following this film will include other possibilities for honoring the Linder legacy.
Fair-trade coffee and refreshments will be served.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Kiado Cruz & Sustainable Farming in Mexico

Sustainable Agriculture and Social Justice: Cultivating Peace, One Garden at a Time

Thursday, October 21  7:00 PM
Moakley Center Auditorium
Señor Cruz will speak on sustainable agriculture as well as the community organizing that has been instrumental in the current autonomous movements in Oaxaca and Chiapas, southern Mexico. He will also address questions about the effects of U.S. trade policies and increasing privatization that have been damaging to Mexico, and about related migration issues.

With this presentation, Witness for Peace New England and the partners at Bridgewater State aim to enrich the cross-borders dialogue between those who are creating and supporting local food systems and local economies; engaging in education reform; advocating for immigration reform; and/or promoting fair and just international trade, both in Latin America and in the U.S.

Co-Sponsored by: The Anthropology Department, The Sociology Department, The Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program, and The Center for Sustainability

Raina Terry Story

Photo: Emily J. Reynolds
The Brockton Enterprise reporter Maria Papadopoulos recently wrote about Raina Terry's October 10 presentation during our morning worship service. The service -- entitled "Raina's Dream" -- was dedicated to promoting racial equality, acceptance, and justice. Raina is a Bridgewater teen who spoke of the isolation and taunting she experienced as the only African American student in her middle-school class in Bridgewater. Her hope is to promote a better future for other children growing up in this community, and vision shared by First Parish and its First Principle Project.

Rebecca Hyman of the Bridgewater Independent also covered this story, in an article entitled Raina's Dream, and had written about Raina's case in a 2009 article entitled Through Raina's Eyes.

Note: Because the Enterprise permits anonymous comments on its online news stories, the reader comments below this story include affirmations and reasonable questions, but also some offensive remarks.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Guatemala atrocity

The Joys and Concerns portion of our service this morning included mention of atrocities committed by the United States in Guatemala. I had already begun to write something about this on my Environmental Geography blog, since that blog also covers the geography of Latin America. The reference was to unethical medical experiments conducted by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in Guatemala the 1940s. My article is entitled Beyond Tuskegee, because of the connections to that better-known atrocity closer to home.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Nicaragua discussion

Following the fall of the Samoza dictatorship, many U.S. volunteers went to Nicaragua to work alongside the people of that country. Sally Lockwood -- now a librarian at Cornell -- was one of those volunteers. On Thursday, September 23, she will be speaking about her experiences and about her brief acquaintance with fellow volunteer Ben Linder,  who was working on a small hydroelectric plant in the North when he was killed by U.S.-backed contras.

Sally will be a guest speaker in my Geography of Latin America class at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. The class meets in room 332 of the Science Building at Bridgewater State University. Please let me (James Hayes-Bohanan) know if you have any questions about this event.

World Peace Prayer Society

First Parish has hosted its sixth annual Celebration of Peace with a 24-hour observation on the weekend closest to the International Day of Peace. The event has brought together many members of the church and the wider community, including students, faculty, and staff of Bridgewater State University.

The conclusion of the 24-hour event is the sharing of a simple prayer for peace around the peace pole which we have erected on the School Street side of the church property. That pole, bearing the message "May Peace Prevail on Earth" in more than a dozen languages, is one of many thousands of its kind that have been erected throughout the world.

According to the World Peace Prayer Society, the poles:

Symbolize the oneness of humanity and our common wish for a world at peace

Remind us to think, speak and act in the spirit of peace and harmony

Stand as a silent visual for peace to prevail on earth

The Peace Pole at First Parish is one of more than 200,000 found throughout the world.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Atacama and the camanchaca

First Parish began its church year with the traditional Water Communion, in which members and friends pour water representing summer travels into a common vessel. The collected water is used in rituals throughout the coming year. Nothing is universal to all UU congregations, but the Water Communion comes close; it is anticipated throughout the summer by UUs of all ages.
In keeping with the water theme, Rev. Ed Hardy delivered a sermon about the preciousness of water, and began with a geographic explanation of how something so essential could be both abundant and scarce at the same time. Though 70 percent of the Earth's surface is covered with water, most of it is not available for direct human use. As Rev. Ed noted, 97 percent of the planet's water is salty (as the oceans gradually accumulate salt from the continents, and never give any back) and a further 2 percent is in the form of ice.

This is not to say that the water in oceans and ice caps is not useful; in both forms, water helps to regulate the climate through a complex set of processes of energy and material circulation. Climate change and the melting of ice will not help with the supply of fresh water, by the way, as melting glaciers and ice sheets become ocean water.

Rev. Ed also correctly pointed out that the 1 percent of the Earth's water that is both fresh and liquid is poorly distributed with respect to human needs. As an example, he mentioned the Atacama Desert of northern Chile, the driest place on Earth. The average rainfall is just a millimeter per year (we get 1200 times more rain on average), and in some parts rainfall is measured in years between events, rather than annual totals. In some places, rain has never been recorded by humans.

The Atacama serves as a reminder of the importance of geography and of the extreme variability of conditions on the planet. It also provides a number of intriguing examples of how things are not always as we would expect them to be. In the case of the Atacama, what is most fascinating is the adaptability of both humans -- one million of whom live there -- and its plants and animals. In the Atacama, the best examples of human ingenuity are really just humans having the wisdom to mimic natural adaptations. National Geographic's  The Driest Place on Earth describes how both humans and plants capture the moisture of the region's abundant fog, known as the camanchaca. After all, this place may be the driest on the planet, but it is adjacent to the largest ocean!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Dead Man Walking Author to Speak in Duxbury

Sister Helen Prejean, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Dead Man Walking will speak at First Parish Church Unitarian Universalist Duxbury on Saturday September 18.  Sr. Helen’s talk is free and open to the public.

Sr. Helen’s talk will begin at 4:00.  The church is located at 842 Tremont St. (Route 3A) Duxbury (781-934-6532). Copies of Sr. Helens’ books will be available for purchase at a reception following her talk and Sr. Helen will be available to autograph copies for those who are interested. 
Having dedicated her life to the poor of New Orleans, Sister Helen began her prison ministry in 1981 when she became pen pals with Patrick Sonnier, the convicted killer of two teenagers, sentenced to die in the electric chair of Louisiana's Angola State Prison. At Sonnier’s invitation, she visited him as his spiritual advisor. 
Sr. Helen achieved national prominence with the 1993 publication of Dead Man 
Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States. The 
book was number one on the New York Times Best Seller List for 31 weeks. It also 
was an international best seller and has been translated into ten different 
languages.  In 1996, the book was developed into a motion picture starring Susan 
Sarandon as Sister Helen and Sean Penn as a death row inmate.

First Parish Church Duxbury is planning other events focused on raising public 
awareness of the death penalty.  On Friday, September 10, the movie Dead Man 
Walking will be shown in the Church’s Harvey Assembly Hall and on Friday and in 
October there will be a potluck supper followed by a discussion of the movie, 
Sr. Helen’s talk and the death penalty.  Both are open to the public.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Peace Vigil -- September 18-19

As we have since 2005, First Parish Church will join with other community members to recognize U.N. International Peace Day, with a 24-hour vigil on the weekend closest to the U.N. commemoration.

This year's vigil will begin at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 18 with activities and a procession around the Town Common. It will conclude with a many-languages Peace Pole ceremony from 12:45 to 1:00 on Sunday the 19th. The complete schedule includes many opportunities for dialog, music, poetry, crafts, food, and sharing of a common commitment to peace.

Learn more about the Peace Pole movement from the World Peace Prayer Society and find out about other commemorations on the Day of Peace site. For questions about the Bridgewater vigil, contact the church office or Betty Gilson.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Partner Church Discussion

For our informal Sunday service on August 14, I will be leading a discussion of the Partner Church Program. It has been six years since our pilgrimage to Haranglab, and many who have joined the church since then might not be aware of what our weekly candle for the partner church is all about. This program is a reminder of what we have done, and an opportunity to discuss benefits and difficulties of the partnership, and how it might be continued.

More information is available from the Partner Church Council and on the web page I created for the 2004 trip. The slide show presented Sunday morning will be available on my web page.

A search of Google Maps suggests that although the world has many Bridgewaters, there is only one Haranglab, in Mures County, Romania. Use the link below to explore Haranglab's surroundings.
View Larger Map

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Abby Recommends UUs

Pam and I make a daily habit of reading the column "Dear Abby." As we read yesterday's letter from "New Mom in Arkansas," we knew where Abby might be headed with her answer, and we are pleased to report that we were correct. As Abby would say, read on:

DEAR ABBY: I recently had a child and would like to join a church for the community, moral messages and the music. I grew up going to one and got a lot out of it. 
However, exploration throughout my 20s made me realize that I didn't believe what was being taught. I tried hard to accept the doctrines, but truthfully, I doubt I ever will. Would it be dishonest to start attending again? -- NEW MOM IN ARKANSAS

DEAR NEW MOM: Many people consider themselves to be more "spiritual" than "religious." And I'm willing to bet that in many congregations there is a range in the intensity of belief among the attendees. I encourage you to select a denomination with which you feel most comfortable. Some -- like the Unitarian Universalist faith ( -- have no dogma or creed and support their members in following their own spiritual paths.

Incidentally, some of my own advice regarding plastics was recently featured in the column.

Community Gardens

Friday, June 25, 2010

Father's Day article

First Parish member -- and Boston Globe editor -- Steve Greenlee recently shared his Father's Day reflections  in a compelling essay entitled "My Father, The Zero."

Cultural Survival Bazaars


The bazaars organized by Cultural Survival each year great places to meet people interested in social justice, to learn about the problems of indigenous communities worldwide, to sample some great food and coffee, and do some serious sustainable shopping. They will be held on successive weekends in July, in Boston, Falmouth, Stockbridge, and Tiverton. See the Bazaar page for more information, and visit the CS main site to for news about current CS projects and crisis responses worldwide.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Ben Linder film viewing -- Wednesday June 23, United Methodist Church

First Parish member James Hayes-Bohanan will be showing the film American/Sandinista on Wednesday, June 23rd, at Bridgewater United Methodist Church (35 School Street, in the side building behind Boyden Hall). The documentary chronicles the life and death of Ben Linder, a young civil engineer who was the only U.S. citizen killed in the Contra War. His death is widely credited with bringing about an end to that war, and his life has inspired a number of humanitarian and development projects in Nicaragua and elsewhere. James and his students have proposed, in fact, that a fair-trade cafe be operated in the new science building at Bridgewater State College, and that it be named in his honor.

The film will run from 7:30 to 8:10, with a discussion of Ben Linder and the proposed Ben Linder Cafe to follow. Members of the United Methodist church will also be discussing their on-going work in Nicaragua, including a recent visit to various church-related projects (and one coffee farm).

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Modest Proposal (from by way of Rev. Ed)

Dear friends,

As a minister for years I have read and studied about church growth. For a long time I thought there are no definitive answers until today…see below.

Maybe we could get the Facilities committee to clear out the first four or five rows and everyone could bring in their own color coordinated, fashion statement chaise lounge.
See you in church,
Rev. Ed

Friday, June 4, 2010

Prayer for the Earth -- June 21 7pm First Parish

The Peace Vigil Committee recently received the following message from Chief Avrol Looking Horse, and decided to act on his request. A brief service of meditation, poetry and music in pursuit of healing the earth will be held at First Parish Church -- 50 School Street in Bridgewater -- on Monday evening, June 21 at 7 pm. 
A letter from Chief Arvol Looking  Horse - A great Urgency To All World Religious and Spiritual Leaders

My Relatives,

 Time has come to speak to the hearts of our Nations and their Leaders. I ask you this from the bottom of my heart, to come together from the Spirit of your Nations in prayer.

We, from the heart of Turtle Island, have a great message for the World; we are guided to speak from all the White Animals showing their sacred color, which have been signs for us to pray for the sacred life of all things. As I am sending this message to you, many Animal Nations are being threatened, those that swim, those that crawl, those that fly, and the plant Nations, eventually all will be affect from the oil disaster in the Gulf.

The dangers we are faced with at this time are not of spirit. The catastrophe that has happened with the oil spill which looks like the bleeding of Grandmother Earth, is made by human mistakes, mistakes that we cannot afford to continue to make.

I asked, as Spiritual Leaders, that we join together, united in prayer with the whole of our Global Communities. My concern is these serious issues will continue to worsen, as a domino effect that our Ancestors have warned us of in their Prophecies.

I know in my heart there are millions of people that feel our united prayers for the sake of our Grandmother Earth are long overdue. I believe we as Spiritual people must gather ourselves and focus our thoughts and prayers to allow the healing of the many wounds that have been inflicted on the Earth.

As we honor the Cycle of Life, let us call for Prayer circles globally to assist in healing Grandmother Earth (our Unc'I Maka). We ask for prayers that the oil spill, this bleeding, will stop. That the winds stay calm to assist in the work. Pray for the people to be guided in repairing this mistake, and that we may also seek to live in harmony, as we make the choice to change the destructive path we are on.

As we pray, we will fully understand that we are all connected. And that what we create can have lasting effects on all life.

So let us unite spiritually, All Nations, All Faiths, One Prayer. Along with this immediate effort, I also ask to please remember June 21st, World Peace and Prayer Day/Honoring Sacred Sites day. Whether it is a natural site, a temple, a church, a synagogue or just your own sacred space, let us make a prayer for all life, for good decision making by our Nations, for our children's future and well-being, and the generations to come.

Onipikte (that we shall live),
 Chief Arvol Looking Horse
19th generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe

Peace One Day -- September 18-19 and September 21

In this video, Jeremy Gilley explains how he got every country in the world to adopt his idea of World Peace Day, which First Parish has been celebrating with 24-hour Peace Vigils since 2004. The official World Peace Day is always September 21, but we celebrate the weekend before, to enable more people to participate.

This year our vigil is scheduled from 1 pm Saturday September 18 to 1 pm Sunday September 19. A tentative schedule will be posted on the blog soon, and will include music, food, poetry, dance, meditation, and religious services -- all celebrating peace.

Consistent with Gilley's vision, the First Parish vigil celebrates and advocates peace, rather than protesting or dwelling on war. The Peace Vigil Committee meets periodically to update the schedule, and encourages participation in the vigil itself, extending the vigil to other parts of the community, and supporting related activities, particularly service projects that might be organized on September 21 itself. Contact Betty Gilson or James Hayes-Bohanan ( with any questions or suggestions, and watch this blog for further developments.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Powwow in Marshfield this weekend

Lisa Rue shared with me that there's a Native American Powwow in Marshfield, MA this weekend. It sounds like a family-friendly event, if you're looking for something special to do this weekend.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Religious Education Field Trip to Wampanoag Village

A group of 38 adults and children visited the Wampanoag Village at Plimoth Plantation this morning, as part of this spring's Honoring Our Mother Earth program.
We saw our friend Bob Charlebois who explained the highlights of the site.
It was a beautiful day to experience some of our New England heritage.

Monday, May 3, 2010


The Male Bonding Band will be playing the Blues -- Clapton, Cash, Armstrong -- and some comic ditties. Special guests Hearts with Ukes will open the show at 7:00.
Saturday, May 8 at First Parish Church Parish Hall -- 50 School Street in Bridgewater.
All seats only $5.00!
Invite your friends on Facebook.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Male Bonding Band at World Music Festival -- BSC

On Tuesday, April 27, First Parish's own Male Bonding Band will be performing early 20th-Century North American music ("Old Timey" music) as part of Bridgewater State College's annual World Music Festival. The festival had been scheduled in an outdoor location, but because of expected rain, it will be in the dining room of Crimson Hall (a relatively new dorm on the East Campus, near the clock tower and book store. Contact Jim Quinn or James Hayes-Bohanan  or the BSC Music Department for details.

The performances will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., ending with MBB around 4:15. The full line-up includes:

The Lindsays (Traditional Irish Duo)
Hot Tamale Brass Band (New Orleans Jazz)
Annalivia (Traditional Irish Band)
Veronica Robles and her Mariachi Band (Mexican Music)
BSC Chamber Choir (Western Classical)
Jason Roseman (Trinidadian and Caribbean Music)
The Bohemian Street Chanters (A Capella Ensemble)
The Male Bonding Band (Old Timey American Folk Music)

Later that day, the festivities will continue in Horace Mann Auditorium (in Boyden Hall, across from  the church). Starting at 7:30 p.m., performers will include:

Khakatay (BSC West African Drumming Ensemble)
Alley Cats (American Barbershop Quartet)
Marcus Santos & his Brazilian Ensemble

All performances are free of charge, and refreshments are provided.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Coffee Tasting & Just Trade Fair -- April 20

First Parish member James Hayes-Bohanan is also a professor of geography at Bridgewater State College, where he teaches two courses on the coffee trade. His students will be putting on the annual coffee tasting on Tuesday afternoon, April 20. At the same time, a Just Trade Fair, featuring ethically-traded products of many kinds, will be held.

Both events are in the Rondileau Campus Center's Grand Ballroom and are open to the public. The Just Trade Fair will run 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The coffee tasting will be 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. More information is on the geography department blog.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Public Lecture on Henry David Thoreau

 Jeffrey S. Cramer, Curator of Collections at the Thoreau Institute and editor of several editions of Thoreau’s works, will speak on “Living Deliberately: Thinking like Thoreau Today” on Tuesday, April 13th, from 3:00-4:30 in the Heritage Room in Maxwell Library at Bridgewater State College. Please feel free to bring classes and encourage students to attend.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Spencer West at BSC

Monday, April 5 -- 7:00
BSC Horace Mann Auditorium (Boyden Hall)

Inspirational and charismatic, Spencer West speaks candidly about the struggles he overcame after losing his legs at the age of five, and how he never lost the hope or courage he needed to overcome personal obstacles. Filled with both humour and humility, his thought-provoking message inspires people to find opportunity in every challenge. With every speech, Spencer leaves an indelible mark on his audiences, instilling hope and strong leadership so that they can inspire others to create positive change. 

Details on Facebook

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Theodore Parker - abolitionist

On this day in UU history in 1855, Unitarian minister Theodore Parker was tried in Boston for inciting a riot when he protected escaped slaves Ellen and William Craft when agents came to return them to their master in Georgia.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dorothea Dix anniversary

On this day in 1841, Unitarian Dorothea Dix visited an East Cambridge jail and was appalled to see mentally ill women confined alongside hardened criminals. The 40 year-old teacher and writer had been exposed to the work of English reformers, and now she embarked on a campaign to ensure humane treatment for the mentally ill in America. She began by documenting conditions in Massachusetts.

Read the rest of the story at Mass Moments and consider signing up for daily emails on Massachusetts history.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Haiti Shelterbox project at Sharon UU: Sunday afternoon April 11

The rainy season in Haiti is about to begin.  The Unitarian Church of Sharon plans to raise money to buy two ShelterBoxes for survisors of the earthquake in Haiti.

From 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 11, children, youth, and adults will erect a "tent city" on the front lawn of the church, at 4 North Main Street in Sharon center.  Each tent on the church lawn will represent $200 in pledges gathered by participants from Sharon, Foxboro, Mansfield, and Norwood.  The group hopes to reach out to all people in Sharon and surrounding towns to raise at least $2000 for ShelterBox.  The event will happen rain or shine.

All are encouraged to visit, donate toward the raising of a waterproof tent in the tent city, and contribute to the ShelterBox cause.  Cash or checks made out to "ShelterBox USA" can also be dropped off at the "drive-thru" donation area in the traffic circle at the front of the church.   All contributions are tax deductible.

ShelterBox responds to natural and manmade disasters by delivering boxes of aid to those who are most in need. Each box supplies an extended family of up to 10 people with a tent and essential equipment to use while they are displaced or homeless people.

For more information visit

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

One Book One Community - Three Cups of Tea Tea-vent

One Book One Community is hosting a discussion with Dr. Jabbar Al-Obaidi titled, "Women in the Middle East: Factual and Stereotypical Views about Women in the Region." Learn more about the women's issues that you have read about in "Three Cups of Tea," Greg Mortenson's mission to promote peace one school at a time - by building schools for girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Come even if you haven't read the book!

Thursday, March 25th, from 3:00pm-5:00pm, at the Bridgewater Senior Center. Tea and goodies will be served!

This event is free and open to the public.

"A community that opens the same book together closes it in greater harmony."

Male Bonding Band at BSC -- Wednesday March 31

The Social Justice League at Bridgewater State College is holding its second-annual Arts for Advocacy event on Wednesday evening, March 31, from 6 to 9 pm. Come to the ball room on the top floor of the Rondileau Campus Center for visual and performing arts related to social justice.

As part of the festivities, Hearts with Ukes will be performing at 7:00, followed by members of the Male Bonding Band at 7:30. Hearts with Ukes -- led by First Parish member and BSC theater professor Jim Quinn, is a group of youth performers that raises money for children's charities through its performances in the community. The Male Bonding Band will be performing songs from Woodie Guthrie's Dustbowl Collection, to raise awareness of the ongoing problems of desertification and environmental refugees.

More information is available on the event's Facebook page, or by contacting James Hayes-Bohanan.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Empty Bowls Dinner a Success!

Despite the continuous rain and wind on Saturday, we had a successful fundraiser for the Bridgewater Food Pantry and the church's MainSpring House lunch fund! We raised $1,044, selling most of our bowls and lots of raffle tickets. Thanks to all who helped out!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Row for Water -- Arrival expected March 14

Many of our church school students were inspired by the story, told by James Hayes-Bohanan in early February, of Katie Spotz and her "Row for Water" project.

Katie is a young woman from Cleveland who learned about the lack of safe drinking water for many people in the world, and decided to do something rather unusual to help. In early January, she set out on a voyage from Dakar, Senegal, rowing a boat across the Atlantic Ocean, to raise awareness and money. Her goal is to provide  a lifetime of safe water for 2,000 people.

On her blog -- -- Katie provides daily updates, maps, information about fresh water, and instructions for donating to the cause. As of this writing -- Saturday night, March 13 -- it appears that Katie will make landfall on Sunday, March 14. Let's wish her well as she overcomes some final challenges, and returns to dry land!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Male Bonding Band Irish Concert

The first Saturday after St. Patrick's Day, join the Male Bonding Band for some Irish music, with special guest Hearts with Ukes. (A children's ukulele ensemble that raises money for children's charities. Saturday, March 20, 7pm. Admission $5. For details, click the poster below!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Former child soldier speaking at BSC: Thursday March 4, 7pm

The BSC students invite community members to a special evening with Michel Chikwanine.  Michel is a former child soldier from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and currently a much sought after speaker with Free the Children and Me to We.  For more information and a short video clip of Michel, see:

WHAT: Michel Chikwanine "Journey to Hope"
WHEN: Thursday, March 4, 7:00PM
WHERE: RCC Auditorium
WHAT ELSE: This event is sponsored by the Free the Children Chapter at BSC, the Social Justice League, and the Student Government Association.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Martha Giraldo

I mentioned Martha Giraldo -- my friend from Colombia -- during Joys & Concerns this morning. Here is her story, with links to details and ways to help.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Food Fight the Movie -- February 17

Message from the Social Justice Committee:

Bridgewater Stage College's Students for Ethical Eating group will present a talk with producer/director Chris Taylor and a screening of his award-winning film Food Fight. The event takes place at 5:30 on Wednesday, February 17 in the Heritage Room of the Maxwell Library on the BSC campus.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Other Male Bonding Band

The Male Bonding Band has been the "house band" and de facto men's group at First Parish for more than a decade. We recently learned that our own MBB was mentioned -- repeatedly -- during an interview with the much smaller, younger, and hipper Male Bonding Band in London.

The article in The Fader magazine mentions the band's logo -- created by member John Dye -- but does not show it.