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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 fa├žade 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.