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Services are 10:30 a.m. at 50 School Street
Informal summer services start on June 26
Summer services begin at 9:30 a.m.
First Parish is a Welcoming Congregation and is Fully Accessible

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Animal Ministry Service -- January 8

On Sunday, January 8th, the Unitarian Universalist Animal Ministry and the Massachusetts Animal Rights Coalition will present a service entitled "Farm Animals ~ Amazing Grace".  In conjunction with the service, we encourage you to watch this short (4 1/2 minute) montage film featuring farm animals.  It's very child friendly!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Pro-Marriage Video

Almost a decade ago, members of First Parish voted to participate in our denomination's Welcoming Congregation Program. This is a voluntary program of the UUA for "for Unitarian Universalist congregations that want to take intentional steps to become more welcoming and inclusive of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender (LGBT)."

It is in this spirit that our minister and I are sharing this short video, which is currently making the internet rounds as Iowa legislators debate an amendment that would eliminate same-sex marriage in that state.

Vietnam Witness

At our December 4 service, Dr. Thanh Nguyen and her daughter Titania shared their recent experiences with orphans in Vietnam. Thanh described her experience as a survivor of the war in Vietnam and as one of the Boat People who attained an education in the United States. She is currently a professor of education at BSU. In recent years, she and her family have visited orphanages in Vietnam. During our morning service they described the experience and challenged our congregation to become involved.

The presentation included videos that are available on their Children of Vietnam blog. We expect to see the entire Nguyen family again in future services, both at First Parish Bridgewater and elsewhere in the Cranberry Cluster.

Monday, November 28, 2011

African Meeting House Restoration

Thanks to the Brockton Enterprise for news of the restoration of the African Meeting House on Beacon Hill in Boston. This gathering and organizing place for the abolitionist movement is re-opening on December 7, more than a century after it was last used by an African-American congregation. It had served as a synagogue for many years, and was acquired by the Museum of African American History in 1972.

Tables of Justice

Yesterday's service was led by the Social Justice Committee, Youth Group, and. Ed Hardy. Entitled “Who Gets Invited to Your Table?”, it was a close look at what it means to promote justice, and started a season of giving at First Parish.

For over thirty years “Guest At Your Table” has been organized by Unitarian Universalist Service Committee as a means to assist social justice projects all over the world. Just as we would share a cup of tea to the stranger at our door, during this season of thanksgiving we share our bounty with all.

During the service, we heard excerpts from the Ware Lecture presented by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in Hollywood Florida on May 18, 1966. Drawing on the story of Rip Van Winkle, Rev. King admonished the assembly: Don't Sleep Through the Revolution.

We also listened to the brief testimony of Dalia Ziada, a young Egyptian woman who is very much a living part of the revolutionary changes taking place in her country, in which an historic election was taking place as we met.
“True hospitality is marked by an open response to the dignity of each and every person. Henri Nouwen has described it as receiving the stranger on his own terms, and asserts that it can be offered only by those who 'have found the center of their lives in their own hearts'.” 
    ~~ Kathleen Norris, Dakota: A Spiritual Geography

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Certifiable Gardens

Among First Parish families, the Tunewicz-Gavin and Hayes-Bohanan households are among the 150,000 habitats certified by the National Wildlife Federation to date. The program is open to any household, school, business, or place of worship that meets the simple criteria for fostering biodiversity close to home. (It is not necessary to have a hyphenated name!)

Visit the Garden for Wildlife site to learn how to get certified, or ask those who have already participated. The process includes a lot of ideas for improving the attractiveness of your lawn and garden for birds, pollinating insects, and other wildlife. The amount of space can range from a patio to multiple acres. Our (the Hayes-Bohanans') plot is one-third of an acre and has seen an incredible increase in biodiversity in ten years of modest effort -- most of the increase in the first 2-3 years. While in Texas, we had similar results in just a couple of years with a fenced yard measuring no more than 200 square feet.

For those whose properties already meet the criteria, some additional improvements might result from reading the NWF materials. Even if nothing is changed, the certification -- which does entail a small fee that supports other NWF projects -- is a great conversation-starter for neighborhoods.

Geography Education on WBZ Radio

As most First Parish members know, parishioners Vernon Domingo and James Hayes-Bohanan are geography professors who do a lot of outreach work with K-12 teachers and students.

Recently (for the past decade, actually), they have been working throughout the state to expand and improve the teaching of geography by changing the educational frameworks to match national standards and by once again creating a pathway to become a high-school geography teacher.

Recently, they had the opportunity to take this discussion to a national audience through the WBZ/CBS radio program Nightside with Dan Rea. Those who missed the program can hear the archived version; more information about the current national and state efforts is on the Massachusetts Geographic Alliance blog at

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Nicaragua, Trade & Environment: Monday Oct 24

Julio Sanchez is a researcher at the Humboldt Center in Managua, Nicaragua, who is currently studying the introduction of genetically modified organisms through U.S. food aid into Nicaragua.

Julio is the featured speaker in the Witness for Peace fall speaking tour, and will be appearing at Bridgewater State University on Monday, October 24.

At 1:50-3:05, Julio will be a guest speaker in James Hayes-Bohanan's Geography of Latin America class, which is being held in the lecture hall of the new Science & Mathematics Center for this occasion. Enter the building from the Chapel Lot side (the only available entrance), walk down the long, glass hallway, and the lecture hall will be to your right in the main lobby area.

At 5:00, Julio and members of the Social Justice League -- which is sponsoring his visit -- will be meeting with Julio -- and the Witness for Peace tour team -- in the Bear's Den (formerly known as Commuter Cafeteria) in the basement of the Rondelau Campus Center. This is a chance to meet the team informally -- community members are welcome to bring along their own dinner or buy dinner at the cafe.

The main event will be at 6:00, when Julio will make a presentation at the Moakley Auditorium, regarding his work at the Humboldt Center. His presentation will trace the connections among trade policy (especially CAFTA), the introduction of food aid, and environmental consequences, particularly related to genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Details and background:
Facebook Event page with details of Julio's visit
Fall Tour Page with more information about Julio's work
Witness for Peace New England with information on the organization

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Campus Sustainability -- Wed Oct 19

The Center for Sustainability at BSU is happy to announce campus events on Wednesday, October 19th in celebration of Campus Sustainability Day. All presentations will be held in the Heritage Room in Maxwell Library.

10:00 am to 11:00 am: "Serving Sustainability from Field to Cup" ~ Lecture by Dr. James Hayes-Bohanan  Geographer and Coffee Maven, and Nikki Sauber, BSU Student

(Nikki has been a leader in various capacities in the Social Justice Leauge and has frequently collaborated on events at First Parish. Arrive promptly at 10 to hear her moving poem "Campesino," which is based on her experience on our Geography of Coffee study tour in Nicaragua.)

11:00 am to 11:30 am: "The Successes of the BSU Annual Residence Hall Collection Drive" ~ Presentation by Amy Cavanaugh, Senior Peer Educator, Outreach Education

11:30 am to 12:00 pm: "Next Steps on Collaborative Teaching with Sustainability" ~ Discussion led by Deniz Zeynep Leuenberger, Coordinator for the Center for Sustainability and Associate Professor in Political Science

1:00 pm to 3:00 pm: Film: "Food Inc."
~ Film Presentation and Discussion led by Arthur Lizie, Co-Coordinator for the Center for Sustainability, Associate Professor and Chair of Communication Studies 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Dominican Coffee Farmer in Town

Saturday, October 22
Noon -- 2:00 pm

Rockin K' Cafe 
(across from CVS, next to the Baptist Church)

This is a chance to meet Maria, a coffee farmer from the Dominican Republic, to hear about the benefits of Fair Trade first-hand. 

Of course, you will also be able to enjoy some fair-trade coffee, and snacks will also be served. After the event, Social Justice League students will take Maria around the BSU campus, to show her where fair-trade products are served.

This event is free and open to the public, but donations are welcome.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Privilege and Justice

For the Closing Words in this morning's service, Rev. Ed chose reading #496 from our hymnal, Singing the Living Tradition. This prayer, by the late Rev. Harry Chamberlain Meserve, are among Rev. Ed's favorites, and I concur:
    From arrogance, pompousness, and from thinking ourselves more important than we are, may some saving sense of humor liberate us. For allowing ourselves to ridicule the faith of others, may we be forgiven.
    From making war and calling it peace, special privilege and calling it justice, indifference and calling it tolerance, pollution and calling it progress, may we be cured.
    For telling ourselves and others that evil is inevitable while good is impossible, may we stand corrected.
    God of our mixed up, tragic, aspiring, doubting, and insurgent lives, help us to be as good as in our hearts we have always wanted to be. Amen.

October 9 Homework

On October 9, First Parish member Frank Yeatman will be reprising the summer service he led on June 26 of this year. To prepare for the upcoming service, he asks members to visit, create an account, and complete the Moral Foundations Questionnaire found on the site.

Frank suggests the 2008 article Liberals and Conservatives Rely on Different Sets of Moral Foundations, by Jesse Graham, Jonathan Haidt and Brian A. Nosek of the University of Virginia as additional reading.

For those who missed the June service -- and even those who were there -- this promises to be a thought-provoking discussion.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Geography Education

Most First Parish members know that we have two "official" geographers in the congregation -- Vernon Domingo and I are both professors in the Department of Geography at Bridgewater State University. But geography infuses much of what we do in the church, whether it is learning about the interdependent web of life, valuing the religious traditions of other cultures, or educating our community about social justice at the local, national, and global scales.

It is in this context, then, that we think many in First Parish will be interested in learning more about efforts to ensure that more Massachusetts students learn geography at all grade levels. Currently, U.S. geography is taught in the fourth grade and the rest of the world in the seventh. Some students are lucky enough to have a geographer as a teacher, and to get more than the minimum, but the state does not require it. In fact, Massachusetts does not even ALLOW geographers to become certified at the high school level, though it once did.

We therefore invite our fellow parishioners of all ages to have a look at what we are doing to promote geography education, in partnership with our creative and dedicated colleagues in the Massachusetts Geographic Alliance. Please check out the MASSGEO blog for more information about advocacy and professional development, and have a look at what we do on a face-to-face level with middle school students every Friday on our EarthView blog.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Peace Vigil Photographs from the Bridgewater Independent

The front page of this week's Bridgewater Independent features photos and an article about the Peace Vigil. Click the link for more photos. The article is not yet online.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Donations for Project 50/50

Shay Kelly of Project 50/50 is coming to Bridgewater as part of her journey to 50 states in 50 weeks. She will be in Bridgewater Sept. 20 and 21and will be delivering gifts to two local charities. Join the Bridgewater Celebration for Peace on Wed., Sept. 21 at 7:00 p.m. in St. Basil's Chapel to hear Shay tell about her adventures around the country aiding the homeless and others in need.
Help her project by donating to School on Wheels which provides school supplies for homeless children and to A New Day which provides aid to victims of relationship violence including battered women.
Donations may be dropped off at St. Basil's Chapel, 122 Park Ave., Bridgewater, MA.
Here are the items requested.
School on Wheels
Quality NEW backpacks for grades Pre-K -12
Glossy Pocket Folders
Zipper Pencil Pouches
Educational workbooks (all levels)
Student Dictionaries
Flash Drives
Notebook Binders (for Junior High and Senior High students)
A New Day
Toiletries for women and children of all ages, including toothbrushes, deodorant, diapers, etc.
Non-perishable food
Gift cards in $10.00 and $20.00 increments for pharmacies, grocery stores and box stores (such as Target & Wal-Mart)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Water Communion

First Parish Bridgewater will host its annual Water Communion this Sunday at 10:30. Members and guests are asked to bring some water, from home or from their summer travels, for our in gathering. This is an intergenerational service to mark the start of the new church year. Religious Education programs for children begin on September 25.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

One Book One Community

Bridgewater's One Book One Community Read for fall 2011 is Dragon House by John Shors. The T"UU"rning Leaves book club will discuss this novel on September 30 at 7:00 (place TBD). In conjunction with the Community Read and the Peace Vigil The University is hosting a panel discussion on Street Children at the Heritage Room of the Maxwell Library on September 19 at 7:00. This program is free and open to the public. Author John Shors will be speaking at the University on the evening of November 8. More details will follow. Copies of the book are avaialble at the University library and Bridgewater Public Library. Residents of Bridgewater may obtain a free borrower's card from the University library.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Celebration for Peace

Bridgewater Celebration for Peace
The Seventh Annual Bridgewater Celebration for Peace will be observed with a new expanded program. The traditional 24 hour Peace Vigil will be held from Sat., Sept.17 at 1:00 p.m. through Sun., Sept. 18 at 1:00 p.m. with activities and programs at First Parish and Bridgewater United Methodist churches. All are invited to make banners and doves before the Saturday Procession around Bridgewater Center at 2:00 p.m. This will be followed by Peace Games for children, creating a Sand Mandala and other activities. After a light supper there will be Peace Offerings, a program especially geared for children. The movie "Peace Pilgrim" will be shown at First Parish and Sacred Dances for Peace will be held at the Parish Hall of Bridgewater Methodist Church. At 9:00 p.m. there will be a special Peace Program at First Parish followed by the Fire of Forgiveness. Throughout the night the church will be open for silent meditation.

At 6:00 a.m. on Sunday there will be a Sunrise Meditation. After breakfast will be a service of Sufi poetry. Before the morning worship Peter Jansen will play Gathering Music. Rev. Michael Walker of Messiah Baptist Church in Brockton will be the preacher at the morning service. Rev.Walker and his parishioners will then join us for a Peace Picnic in the lane. At 1:00 p.m. we will gather round the Peace Pole for the closing ceremony of the vigil.

However this year there's more! Mon. evening Sept. 19 a special Round Table will meet at 7:00 p.m. in the Heritage Room at the Maxwell Library at Bridgewater State University (BSU). The topic will be "Work with Street Children" This will tie in with the One Book One Community selection "Dragon House" by John Shors, a novel about street children in Vietnam.

Tues. evening Sept. 20 back at First Parish all are invited to a Pot Luck Dinner at 6:30 p.m. back at First Parish where our guests will be International Students and Staff from BSU.

On Wed., Sept. 21 EarthView, the amazing globe that Vernon Domingo and James Hayes-Bohanan have shared with us the past two years, will be on display at BSU. Watch for more details so that you can take a stroll through. Later in the day we will be presenting the gifts and donations gathered to the two charities "School on Wheels" and "A New Day". Shay Kelley of Project 50/50 will be here to help distribute these donations. At 7:00 p.m. Shay will speak about her inspiring work traveling around 50 states in 50 weeks to gather gifts for those less fortunate. Her program will be at a BSU location TBD. (See

There's a lot to participate in and we certainly need to be thinking of peace in all its aspects - personal, local and global. Come find some peace during this celebration.

1. Donate to help "School on Wheels" and/or "A New Day" See weekly church emails or contact Betty Gilson for information.
2. Attend the programs and activities.
3. Help with the Peace Picnic on Sun., Sept. 19. Contact To St. Thomas, who is our chief host and coordinator, at 508-697-8637.
4. Come to the Tues., Sept. 20 Pot Luck and bring a dish of typically American food. This will be a crash course in American Cuisine for our International guests. RSVP
5. Join us for the finale and hear Shay Kelley's inspiring story.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Raise the Bar Hershey


Did you know that much of the chocolate - candy, cocoa, ice cream - you eat is made with ingredients produced by slave labor? Next time you buy a chocolate product check to see whether it has a label certifying it as being made from cacao beans produced without labor by abducted children. You can find a list of these labels at this site.

Particularly in the West African countries of Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and Ghana large plantations use this type of labor to harvest the crop. Children from neighboring Mali are often the targets of false promises of easy money and are smuggled across the border by motorcycle taxis. Once there they are exposed to long hours, dangerous conditions and no chance to escape.

In spite of signing an International Labour Organization (ILO) protocol in 2001, some major chocolate producers purchase their ingredients from export companies that are ignoring the protocol. The chocolate companies use the excuse that they don’t own the plantations so they have no control.

The major American company guilty of continuing these practices is Hershey. The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), of which some of you are members, is partnering with several other groups to tell Hershey to “Raise the Bar” and change its practices. You can find more information about what is happening and how to help by checking the websites of these groups.

Did you ever make S’mores - perhaps as part of a summer vacation or camping trip. A special part of this campaign is the “We Want More from our S’mores”. This is asking people around the country to hold S’more parties this summer using Fair Trade chocolate. Then send the information about the party to one of the organizing groups such as or . The group will let Hershey know how we feel about their lack of action.

Next time you’re at First Parish you can sign a petition for Hershey. Or sign one online at one of the sites listed above.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Summer Services Notice


The July 24 service will be Susan Holton/First Principle Project: Standing on the Side of Love: How Do We Do That?

August 21 is currently open.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

First Parish celebrates Fourth of July

The First Parish Church did it up big again for the Town of Bridgewater's Fourth of July celebration. Many church members pitched in to put on the annual Snack Bar, Lemonade Stand and Book Sale. After viewing the downtown parade, customers lined up for the fresh and tasty food and drinks... including our popular strawberry shortcake and homemade lemonade. Books, CDs and DVDs sold well at the Book Sale.

The Rev. Ed Hardy and Janet Dye, member of the church's Green Sanctuary Committee, at the information table on the BSU Quad.

This year, we added an information table on the Bridgewater State University Quad along with artisans and other vendors. On display were assorted pamphlets on Unitarian Universalism, the First Parish Church and environmental issues. Free tap water was also available for people and pets. Many folks, young an dold, stopped by for a quick drink and a chat. Our simple environmental message: "You don't need to buy bottled water. Tap water tastes just as good and drinking it is better for the planet, creating less plastic waste." People were also encouraged to recycle their cups. All in all, it was a great day!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Summer Services Notice

The July 24 service will be Susan Holton/First Principle Project: Standing on the Side of Love: How Do We Do That?
The August 21 is currently open.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Liberals & Conservatives

Hurrah! This is the 100th post on the First Parish blog!

In today's summer service, Frank Yeatman introduced a fascinating video from TED Talks, in which Jonathan Haidt explores the developmental and moral dimensions of political identity. The survey that Haidt describes is available at

Find more interesting discussions at

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Juneteenth Gathering: Island Grove Park

June 19, 2011 at 11AM, followed by picnic

Photo by Bunkosquad
Island Grove Pond is a 38 acre artificial pond created in the 1700s by building a dam on the Shumatuscacant River. The impoundment created was used to power a sawmill. The 1.74 miles of shoreline has on the eastern shoreline the 11 acre town owned Island Grove park with picnic tables, a summer camp (Busy Beaver Summer Camp) and a town swimming pool; the rest of the shoreline is developed with road frontage and residences. The bottom is sand along the edges and muck in the deep areas. Aquatic vegetation is abundant.

Abington’s Island Grove Park is often called the “Crown Jewel of Abington” and has long been a historic gathering spot. From 1846-1865, the park drew crowds of Abolitionists, this historic use was honored in 1909 at the spot where speakers once addressed the annual meetings. In 1902, the Civil War Memorial Arch and Bridge were constructed to honor the town’s Civil War veterans for the town’s bicentennial. In 2002, the park was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Shoreline fishing is readily available from Island Grove Park with the main entrance off Park Street and access across the Memorial Bridge from Wilson Place. Small non motorized boats and canoes can be launched from the park. From the town of Abington website.

View Larger Map


From Bridgewater:
North on Route 18
Right on Route 123 (at lights)
Left on Washington St. (at lights) – still Route 123
Right at next lights still Route 123
First Left is LAKE STREET     (see below)
Fourth Left is PARK AVENUE (see below)

LAKE STREET            There are maybe ten to fifteen parking spaces along Lake Street. You will have to cross the footbridge to enter the park (see view above).

PARK AVENUE          Main parking is along Park Avenue. You will be able to drive into Island Grove Park to unload, but will have to return your car to Park Avenue. If you have a handicapped parking sticker you may park within Island Grove Park.

Chairs, picnic lunch, a dessert for sharing, maybe some bug spray, and, if you are adventurous, some swimming trunks. Musical instruments if you are inclined.

Note: The "Juneteenth" in the title of this post refers to the historic significance of this date, rather than any specific aspect of the program.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Summer Services

First Parish -- like most UU churches -- has a "church year" that corresponds to a typical school year, with summers reserved for less formal services. In our case, the services are usually held in the Upper Parish Hall, and they are held at 9:30 a.m., in hopes of benefiting from some morning coolness.

The final "regular" service this year will be in the sanctuary at 10:30 on June 12. Our annual "picnic" service will be held at 10:00 a.m. at Island Grove Park in Abington.

Thereafter, summer services will be in Upper Parish Hall at 9:30. The services are informal and are led by members and friends of First Parish.

June 26 -- Frank Yeatman: The Real Differences Between Liberal & Conservatives
July 3 -- No service
July 10 -- Green Sanctuary Committee: The Life & Legacy of Rachel Carson
July 17 -- Betty Gilson: The Chocolate Dilemma
July 24 -- Susan Holton/First Principles Project: Standing on the Side of Love: How Do We Do That?
July 31 -- James Hayes-Bohanan: Coffee & Land Mines
August 7 -- Lori Tunewicz-Gavin: Topic TBD
August 14 -- Vernon Domingo: Travels through Southeast Asia
August 21 -- Open
August 28 -- Kathy Keenan: Topic TBD

Please check the blog throughout the summer for updates on TBD (to-be-determined) services.

June 19 Service: At Island Grove Park

As is the custom at First Parish, the last service of our church year is combined with a picnic gathering. This year, for the second time, the service will be held at 10:00 a.m. at Island Grove Park in Abington. The service will be in a lovely location and will be jointly led by Rev. Ed Hardy and Rev Bob Thayer of the Channing Church in Rockland.

Bring lawn chairs and lunch to enjoy this service with our neighbors from Rockland.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What I Like About UU

During last Sunday's intergenerational service, children -- and interested adults -- were given paper, crayons, and the opportunity to draw something that represents what we like about coming to First Parish Bridgewater.

I took the paper and crayons without anything particular in mind. I like many things about First Parish, but I have to admit that the first thing that came to mind was coffee hour: both the conviviality and the source of the coffee.

Please see my coffee pages for more about the beverage.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Religion and Sex Quiz

During this morning's service, Rev. Ed mentioned the Religion and Sex Quiz that appears in today's New York Times. Nicholas Kristof uses the quiz to introduce his review of Jennifer Wright Knust's cleverly-titled new book, Unprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions about Sex and Desire. (A purchase made through this link benefits First Parish Bridgewater.)

The arguments made by Kristof and Knust echo those made by a few years ago by Canadian activist Vaughn Roste in an article entitled Biblical marriage: A bad source for debate

Sunday, May 8, 2011

What do UUs have to do with the history of Mother's Day?

Julia Ward Howe
Unitarian Julia Ward Howe founded Mother's Day in 1870 as a way of activating women to work for peace. It did not take long before the holiday became the commercialized event it is today.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Is Liberal Religion a Saving Faith?

Submitted by Korin Zigler for the Unitarian Universalist Animal Ministry:

The sermon preached May 1 at the UU Church in Philadelphia by the Reverend Nate Walker is entitled "Is Liberal Religion a Saving Faith?"  Nineteen minutes long and full of passion and unapologetic vigor, the sermon insists that we as Unitarian Universalists "must be the ethical agenda-setters of our time" by recognizing that killing animals in order to eat them is unethical.  Reverend Walker encourages us to recognize "the inherent worth and dignity of every BEING," in that revolutionary way that our spiritual forefathers insisted on the recognition that slavery and the oppression of women was unethical, even though their views were wildly unpopular.

Click the embedded YouTube version below, or see the clip on the UUCP site.

An Invitation

We had planned on having a special Worship Service on May 22 with members of Messiah Baptist Church of Brockton as our guests. However, they are now expecting a special guest of their own. Gov. Deval Patrick will be visiting them for a signing of his book
"A Reason to Believe".
The date for their visit in Bridgewater will be rescheduled. Watch for the announcement.
The May 22 service will still be special, but with a different focus. Please join us for the 10:30 a.m. worship.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Run to Home Base

As he mentioned during announcements today, First Parish member Matt Foster will be running in the 2011 Run to Home Base event on Sunday, May 22. The purpose of this 9k run is to raise funds for veterans returning from Afghanistan or Iraq (or both!) with insufficient support for combat stress and/or traumatic brain injury (TMI). The event also helps to increase awareness of the often-hidden sacrifices being made by today's soldiers, whether or not they are officially in combat roles.

Matt is a bit over halfway toward his fund-raising goal. Visit Matt's Fundraiser Page to learn more and perhaps to make a contribution.

We can learn more about the stresses of combat and the sacrifices born by veterans from BSU graduate and former combat medic Michael Anthony, who tells of his experience in Mass Casualties, which is both a book and a blog.

Auction Coffee

Kelly Greenlee's amazing desserts have become a much-anticipated attraction at First Parish's annual service auction, and last night's offerings did not disappoint. In an effort to do some justice to the quality of the desserts, I serve some good coffee.  I promised those present that I would share a little information on the coffees that were offered this time.

The regular coffee was Selva Negra dark roast, from the La Hammonia farm on Selva Negra Coffee Estate, which I have visited during each of my five study tours (so far) in Nicaragua. It is always the most popular coffee at the annual coffee tasting event organized by students in my Secret Life of Coffee class. This coffee is not fair-trade, because Selva Negra is one large estate, rather than a cooperative of small farms. It is, however, recognized by the Rainforest Alliance as a socially and environmentally sustainable farm, and I can certainly vouch for that certification. I know the farm well, including both temporary and permanent worker housing and dining areas. Selva Negra is a leader in sustainability, where a thoroughly integrated approach connects the coffee farm, hotel, food cultivation, energy, and waste streams. During the peak harvest and tourism seasons, many hundreds of people are living on the farm, and almost no waste goes off-site. In addition, a large portion of the farm is set aside as a biosphere reserve known for orchids, birds, and even primates. You can order Selva Negra coffee through its web site or through JavaVino in Atlanta.

The decaf coffee is roasted at Dean's Beans in Orange, Massachusetts, a leader in organic and fair-trade coffee. Dean Cycon was a human-rights lawyer who entered the coffee business specifically as a way to empower coffee farmers he met during his work with Nobel Laureate Rigoberta MenchĂș. His book Javatrekker is required reading for my coffee students, a fun read, and the best introduction I know of to the need for more justice in the coffee trade. (MenchĂș's autobiography is also a worthwhile read, focusing on the long civil war in Guatemala.)

Dean's book includes an entire chapter on the deadly human-rights abuses in the state of Chiapas in far southern Mexico. The decaf coffee we served at the auction comes from the Mut Vitz cooperative in Chiapas, and is decaffeinated through a Swiss-water process that introduces no chemicals. I purchase this coffee frequently, because it is a delicious single-origin coffee that is readily available in both regular and decaf form, so that my coffee students and audiences can make a direct comparison.

I prepared both coffees in high-temperature drip brewers, which are an improvement over typical brewers and a big improvement over percolators. If you purchase these coffees for home use, however, I recommend preparing them with a French press or other small-batch method. See my coffee care page for more preparation tips.

Rotary Breakfast Today

Sorry for the late notice, but here is a nice event taking place before church this morning.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Race: Are We So Different?

Race: Are We So Different? is a temporary exhibit at the Museum of Science in Boston. Pam and I attended yesterday. This engaging and fascinating exhibit is available only through May 15. It is an excellent place to continue the congregational discussions we have been having about race through our First Principles Project and our cooperation with Messiah Baptist Church.

Learn more about the subject from the exhibit's permanent web site, which includes many interactive activities.

Updates from Vernon

As many friends at First Parish know, member and geographer Vernon Domingo is currently on sabbatical in Malaysia, where his work is focused on alternatives to the privatization of water. In Malaysia itself and elsewhere in the "neighborhood" of Southeast Asia, Vernon is learning a lot about the cultural landscape. Most recently he shared photographs from an excursion to the Mekong Delta area of Vietnam, which I posted on the BSU geography department blog. Vernon is also posting occasional updates on the blog of the Massachusetts Geographic Alliance.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

EarthView at BSU for Earth Day

Many First Parish members have seen EarthView in our sanctuary as part of our annual Peace Vigil, but in that setting it is on top of the pews, and nobody can enter. For those who would like to see it in its "natural habitat," it will be on display in the Burnell School Gym at BSU for Earth Day. 

Come by between 1 and 3 pm on Friday April 22, when EarthView Wrangler and BSU geography student Natalie Regan will be making it available to the entire community. Ironically, First Parish members Vernon Domingo and James Hayes-Bohanan, who coordinate the EarthView program, will not be available, but we will leave it in Natalie's capable hands. (By the way, the BSU geography graduate and teacher-in-training shown above is Katharine Hill, not Natalie.)

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Over the past few years, First Parish has enjoyed increasing involvement with the Bridgewater State University (erstwhile College). The connections have included several years of hosting a dinner with the GLBTA Pride Center, participation in the World Music Festival, and cooperation between the First Parish Social Justice Committee and the BSU Social Justice League on a number of projects.

For the second year in a row, the SJL has invited First Parish's own Male Bonding Band to share some tunes as part of the annual Arts for Advocacy event. Once again, it was a great pleasure to participate in a multi-media, intergenerational celebration of social activism. On Wednesday evening, March 30, the Bonders contributed some Pete Seeger, Woodie Guthrie, and Carter Family -- and a wonderful original piece by Joe Snyders -- to of an impressive line-up of musicians and poets sharing messages of hope, passion, and introspection.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mama Charlotte at BSU Monday

These are busy times at BSU & First Parish. Here is yet another great opportunity: Mama Charlotte Hill will be returning to BSU Monday evening, March 28. She and her husband Peter Hill left Kansas City at the height of the work of the Black Panthers, and have continued their social activism in exile in Tanzania. Charlotte is a warm, captivating personality whom I had the pleasure of meeting during her visit to BSU last year. Many BSU students have enjoyed meeting Charlotte and Peter at their project/home in Tanzania. Come hear her poetry and experience the magic!

Monday, March 28
7:00 PM
Maxwell Library Heritage Room (near the main entrance)

Guest Speaker from Egypt

From the First Parish Social Justice Committee:

All are invited to meet with Professor Naglaa Hassan of Bridgewater State University, a visiting professor from Egypt, on Mon., April 4th.

At 7:00 p.m. at First Parish Church, 50 School St., Bridgewater. She will be discussing her views of Egyptian culture and life in Egypt in light of the current situation there. Also, she will share information about Islam which is often misunderstood by others. Please join us to hear her views and to make her welcome as she lives and works in our neighborhood.

You can read a bit about one of Dr. Hassan's recent appearances at BSU on the BSU newslog.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

To Kill a Mockingbird at Messiah Baptist -- April 2

At the invitation of a friend, Pam and I attended the staged reading of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird at the Lakeville Public Library this afternoon. We were delighted to see several friends there, and to learn that some of our new friends at Messiah Baptist Church were part of this very moving production.

Local director Matthew Bruffee worked with an amazing cast from Lakeville, Middleborough, and Brockton to perform Christopher Sergel's adaptation of the tale, using very spare staging and moving integration of music in the performance. The dramatic reading was followed by dialog between the cast members and audience. The co-producers of the work are Louise Dery-Wells of “Arts From The Heart” and Jean Hamler of the Theatrical Ministry of  Messiah Baptist.

The third and final performance of this work will be on Saturday, April 2 at 2:00 p.m. at the Messiah Baptist Church in Brockton. (See the announcement of our February joint service for maps and directions.)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sacco and Venzetti Film in Raynham

Both Bridgewater and Raynham are currently reading the book Dark Tide as community-read events (known in Bridgewater as One Book One Community). As part of the festivities, the Raynham Public Library is showing a documentary film on the Sacco and Venzetti case. The film will be shown next Tuesday evening, March 29, at 6:00 p.m. at the Raynham Public Library.

In the course of reading Dark Tide, Pam and I discovered the  Bridgewater connection to the famous case, which we discussed last year on our Bridgewaters Project blog. Contact me -- James Hayes-Bohanan -- if you would like to carpool to next Tuesday's viewing of the film. Parking at the Raynham Public Library is quite limited.

Archbishop Romero Anniversary

I began my path in Unitarian Universalism when I was hired as the Director of Religious Education at the UU Church of Silver Spring, Maryland, where I worked for just one year: 1984 to 1985. The church is located in the suburbs of Washington, DC, which at that time was the center of Salvadoran migration to the United States. At that point in the middle of the civil war, tens of thousands of Salvadorans were in the DC area seeking asylum under international human-rights conventions. (They were usually denied, though Eastern Europeans were routinely winning asylum cases during the same period.)

At the start of that war, government-hired assassins killed the Archbishop of the country while he was saying mass. This was a truly incredible crime, committed by an ally of the United States, yet the U.S. government stood by the government of El Salvador for a decade more of war.

Today is the anniversary of that priest's killing, which took place on March 24, 1980. I lit a candle in his memory during a brief service with my church school students in 1985, and have done so on this anniversary ever since, as I will do this evening.

President Obama was in El Salvador just yesterday and visited Archbishop Romero's grave, but did not really bear witness to the events. More thoughts on this missed opportunity are on my personal blog.

Coincidentally, today is also the anniversary of the March 24, 1989 Exxon Valdez spill.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Justice Sunday Follow-up

Yesterday's service, led by the Social Justice Committee, was part of a continent-wide recognition of the work of UUSC. The Justice Sunday page on the UUSC web site provides more information about the day's meaning.

As mentioned during the service, the original emphasis on Haiti -- which remains in great need of support -- has been broadened to include the overwhelming need for assistance in Japan. The UUA have quickly come together to mobilize the resources of both organizations in support of the people of Japan. Those "resources" of course, include members of First Parish. Read about the joint commitment or go to the UUA online donation page.

The service included the hymn "Our World Is One World," which is number 134 in our Singing the Living Tradition. I noticed that the song's tune is named CHERNOBYL and that it was published by Cecily Taylor just two years after the disaster there. I have been looking for more information about the origins of this hymn, and will post it here if I find it. Meanwhile, if anybody knows the story of this hymn, please let me know directly or share it through the "comment" link below.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

March 19: Rights in Humanitarian Crises

On March 19, the Social Justice Committee will lead our morning worship, with a discussion of human rights in the midst of humanitarian crises. The presentation draws on the experience of the service arm of our denomination, the UUSC. Members of First Parish are strong supporters of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), which is a nonsectarian organization that advances human rights and social justice in the United States and around the world. Through a combination of advocacy, education, and partnerships with grassroots organizations, UUSC promotes economic rights, advances environmental justice, defends civil liberties, and preserves the rights of people in times of humanitarian crisis.

The UUSC introduces the problem of human rights in humanitarian crises as follows:
International humanitarian law establishes that all people affected by humanitarian crises have an equal right to aid and assistance with dignity. Our experience at the grassroots with the tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and the earthquake in Pakistan have taught us that this right is one of the first casualties of a crisis.
International humanitarian law establishes that all people affected by humanitarian crises have an equal right to aid and assistance with dignity. Our experience at the grassroots with the tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and the earthquake in Pakistan have taught us that this right is one of the first casualties of a crisis.

We invite you to join us at 10:30 for a service centered on this theme, and afterward for fellowship and conversation in our Upper Parish Hall, where snacks and fair-trade coffee will be served.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Messiah/First Parish Partnership on BTV

Bridgewater Television (BTV) produced a nice, one-minute video about the recent project in which Messiah Baptist and First Parish worked together to reduce hunger in our community. Learn more about the project from the web site created by the youth who led this effort: We Can Help Food Drive.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Messiah Baptist Visit

Members of First Parish were warmly welcomed at Messiah Baptist Church in Brockton yesterday, where our Rev. Ed Hardy was invited to deliver the sermon, and many other members of both congregations -- including children and youth -- participated in a rousing service before enjoying a delicious lunch together. More details and photos will follow, but for now it seems appropriate to post the Mission/Vision Statement of Messiah Baptist Church, which illustrates some of the common ground shared by our two congregations.

"Our mission is to be a loving and supportive community for understanding our oneness with God. We practice the universal spiritual principles of love, abundance, wholeness, and happiness as taught by Jesus Christ. Our vision is to be an intentional welcoming, affirming, and progressive Christian community. Embracing the 1st and 2nd Testaments and Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, offering prophetic preaching, teaching, and healing ministries to strategically fulfill our role as the major servant-leader institution in Southeastern Massachusetts to synergize the total salvation -- economic, social, political, and spiritual -- of the community."

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Golden Stage Tidings

I am sharing the following on behalf of Lisa Rue. The Hayes-Bohanan family looks forward to  making the same journey very soon!

Church member Lisa Rue, and her children, Clara and Graham, ventured north to enjoy the good food, gracious hospitality, beautiful sites and activities of southern Vermont at the B&B of former parishioners, Julie-Lynn, Michael, Samantha and Sadie Wood.

We were met at the door by Julie-Lynn and daughter, Samanatha, who was bedecked in a vibrant personalized apron made by Louella Mann. The Woods had finally realized a long-time dream of owning and operating a B&B when they moved in to a 'full house' at the Golden Stage Inn in Proctorsville (a village of Cavendesh), on December 30th.

The house is great - a rambling old homestead - filled with books, artifacts, puzzles, games, and a piano and fireplace in the central Common Room. A tour of the 10 guest rooms reveals some of the history and much of the charm. The one current two-room suite offers a fireplace as well. A second suite is being considered.

Right now the sun is shining in brightly off of the snow covered landscape.  Sadie and Graham are sprawled in front of the fireplace playing a game of Mancala. Clara and Samantha are still getting their beauty sleep. And Michael and Julie are continuing to serve a delicious breakfast of Mexican Frittata and baked ham, with homemade coffeecake Julie was whipping up last night. Homemade granola, fresh yogurt, melon and honey from Julie's own Massachusetts bees were also availalble with the coffees and teas. When we arrived yesterday afternoon there was hot cider and soup waiting.

Today we're off to skate with the kids at Okemo, and check out cheese making at Grafton Cheese.  Tomorrow, the ride home home will include more farms and cheese in Brattleboro, which is hosting a Winter Carnival for the vacation week. Plan to snow shoe and take a sleigh ride there. This is a beautiful place to do lots or nothing....

--Lisa Rue

Naom Chomsky Event Coverage

Friday's Brockton Enterprise included front-page coverage of Naom Chomsky's talk at First Parish last Thursday evening. Speaking to a capacity audience, Professor Chomsky drew comparisons between current democracy movements in Egypt and Wisconsin.

The event was the most significant so far in a series of cooperative events between the church's Social Justice Committee and the Social Justice League at Bridgewater State University.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Adult Choir Information

Lisa Rue recently met with those interested in the adult choir, which always welcomes new members. She asked that the following information about the choir schedule be shared on the blog. Choir members with email will have already received this information.

Rehearsals will take place weekly before church. Warm ups will begin at 9:15. Please be on time. I look forward to joining you for rehearsal two times each month, and rehearsing with the Ringers two times each month.  The fourth rehearsal each month will combine both music groups. The monthly music plans are as follows:
  • First Sundays:  Choir rehearses hymns and an anthem with Marika, and leads hymns in the Service. 
  • Second Sundays: Choir rehearses anthems with Lisa and Marika, and sings an anthem in the service
  • Third Sundays:   Choir rehearses hymns and an anthem with Marika, and leads hymns in the service.  Lisa rehearses separately with the Ringers.
  • Fourth Sundays: Choir and Ringers rehearse together with Lisa and Marika, and sing/play together in the service.

Scheduled Music:
          March 6: 
          March 13: “Over My Head”
          March 20:
          March 27: “Wake Now My Senses”

          April 3:
          April 10: “Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee”
          April 17:
          April 24: (Easter) “Hallelujah” (Cohen)

          May 1:
          May 8: (Mothers Day) “Just As Long As I Have Breath”
          May 15:
          May 22: “Spring Has Now Unwrapped Her Flowers”
          (May 29: Memorial Day Weekend/Separate music planned)

          June 5: “Today”
          June 12: (RE Sunday/Separate music planned)
          June 19: (Fathers day)

***Hymns will be TBA, depending on the service leaders for each Sunday,
and what is requested....***

In consideration of choral practice, it is expected that those who are present for an anthem rehearsal, or who have rehearsed hymn music independently, will be the members that are singing in the service that day. 
Thank you for respecting this expectation.

BSU Event: Women in Slavery, March 2

It is estimated that there are at least 27 million people living in slavery around the world today.

The Social Justice League at BSU has organized an informative presentation combining guest and student speakers, theatrical performances, slide shows, brief film clips, and discussion to raise awareness about the issue of modern day slavery.

AMIRAH Boston, an organization that provides shelters for females refugees in the Boston area, will join us to present about their work and how they have been helping thousands of women who have been displaced from their homes due to human trafficking, slavery, and other related causes.

Wednesday, March 2
7:00 PM

Moakley Center Auditorium
Bridgewater State University

This event is sponsored by the Social Justice League and the Christian Fellowship at BSU. Learn more at the event page on Facebook.