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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

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

News from the San Jose Unitarian church

The Mission Peak UU church took a stand against censorship when it hired an AP English teacher to lead a book discussion class of works that have been banned by the Freemont (CA) school board.

First Parish well represented at A Taste of Lemon

The Bridgewater Independent's coverage of the One Book One Community event "A Taste of Lemon" includes several pictures featuring First Parish members and friends.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Celebrate Peace

For the eighth year in a row, First Parish will join with others in the Bridgewater community in a weekend-long Celebration of Peace. This positive program involves people from all walks of life in our area who come together to promote and celebrate peace through word, art, music, meditation, and simply being together.

NOTE: Unlike previous years, this will not be a round-the-clock event.

Rather, a rich schedule of activities is posted on our church web site, and includes something for everyone, between Friday evening, September 21 and Sunday afternoon, September 23.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Migration and Faith

During the summer, services at First Parish are less formal and begin at 9:30 in the Upper Parish Hall. I began the season with a service entitled Migration and Faith. Prior to moving to Bridgewater in 1997, we had spent seven years along the U.S.-Mexico border, first in Tucson, Arizona and then in Pharr, Texas. That experience living, working, studying and teaching deep in the Borderlands has shaped how I view the topic of immigration, legal or otherwise.

No More Deaths is a Ministry of UUCT
and other religious congregations in Tucson
Much of this morning's discussion was inspired by the work of our previous congregation, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson, of which we were very active members from 1990 to 1994. Prior to that time, it had been a leader in the Sanctuary Movement to protect political refugees from Central America. About a decade after we left, the church once again rose to challenge of justice, this time getting very directly involved in saving the lives of migrants crossing into the deadly conditions of the Sonoran Desert. In both cases, UUs in Tucson have worked closely with members of other faith communities in the region, applying their faith in ways that eventually garnered national attention -- both positive and negative.

UUCT's ministry in this area is the starkly-named No More Deaths, which is a humanitarian response to the 5,000 deaths that have occurred in the desert near Tucson since 2004. The most emblematic part of this effort are the "arks" that simply leave water and basic supplies along the routes followed by migrants who are avoiding the border defenses. As I mentioned on my own blog when this movement started gaining attention from law enforcement, those placing the water bottles and other aid were charged with littering. Readers interested in my other writings on the subject can peruse migration on Environmental Geography and especially a new post on asylum for drug-war refugees.

In large part because of the leadership of the Tucson church, the UUA held its most recent General Assembly -- called Justice General Assembly -- in Phoenix. This was a bold choice for a number of reasons, not least of which is the fact that many organizations routinely boycott Arizona as a way of applying pressure on a variety of issues. When we lived there, such efforts were responsible, for example, for bringing a Martin Luther King holiday to the state. When UUA came to Arizona, therefore, it did so overtly as a witness for justice, and included a vigil and visit to the infamous Tent City in Maricopa County. Visit to see very informative coverage of the human-rights situation in Arizona, and the response of our denomination to it. Even more encouraging, in my view, is the cooperation with Church of Christ and National Baptist congregants and ministers.

During the discussion, I mentioned the relationship between coffee and migration several times (my work on this includes avian migration, which is also importantly related). I have covered the subject on my coffee web pages, which include a link to a tragic story of migrants who died as a direct result of the poor treatment of workers in the production of commodity coffee. I mentioned that the coffee I brought to the presentation actually helps to sustain people in their communities in Honduras. Agua de Vida coffee from Dean's Beans is organic, so it helps to keep communities healthy; it is genuine fair-trade, so it helps to keep workers employed with dignity; and it is part of a special promotion to support clean water projects in the communities in which it is grown.

For those who were wondering how I prepared it, I ground it fresh the evening before, and brewed it at slightly stronger than usual strength in a drip grinder (see my coffee care page for more details on both of these factors). I then let it cool to room temperature before closing in and putting in the refrigerator overnight. In this way, it was not diluted very much by the addition of ice when serving.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Coffee Tasting and Just-Trade Fair

What: Coffee Tasting and Just-Trade Fair
Where: BSU Campus Center Ball Room
When: Thursday, April 5
Fair 11-4; Tasting 1-3
Who: Social Justice League and the coffee students of James Hayes-Bohanan

Why: Support justice-oriented local business, taste coffee from around the world, talk to student who have been learning A LOT about coffee!


Thursday, March 29, 2012

On This Day in UU History - Louisa May Alcott Votes

Concord Women Cast First Votes

On this date in 1880 women in Concord, Massachusetts were allowed to vote for school committee for the first time. Among the 19 women who voted was Louisa May Alcott - author of the classic work Little Women, and the daughter of Unitarian minister, Bronson Alcott.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Paloma goes to China

Parishioner Paloma Bohanan is continuing to raise funds for a Me-to-We service trip to China in August 2012. Information about the trip, her plans, and the sponsoring organization is on her Paloma Helps blog.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Kony 2012 Blog

On April 12, the Social Justice Committee will be co-hosting -- with the BSU Social Justice League -- a viewing of the 30-minute documentary Kony 2012. The viewing will be at 7:00 pm in the sanctuary, and we expect quite a crowd.

Directly-traded coffee from Uganda will be served.

Because of the immense controversy surrounding the film, I initiated a blog about the film, various points of view about it, and more general information about human rights in Uganda. Please have a look, and let me know if there are things I should add.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Circle Dinners

Circle Dinners are a tradition at First Parish, of getting together at each other's home for food and fellowship. Hosts sign up with member Jan Thompson, indicating when they are available, how many people can be accommodated, and whether children are included. Other members and friends then sign up and bring the food. Host provide beverages. See Jan in church Sunday, or look her up in the directory to make arrangements.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Rev. Ed speaks for Equality

Some members of First Parish marched during the Rally for Equality at Bridgewater State University on Tuesday. Rev. Ed Hardy was invited to speak.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Rally Against Hate Crime -- BSU Tuesday, Feb. 21

The BSU community will be coming together at 11 a.m. Tuesday for a rally against the recent hate crime that took place on the campus. Details of the rally are at:

An AP article from describes the attack and the initial university response:

BRIDGEWATER, Mass.-Authorities are trying to identify two people who attacked a writer for the student-run newspaper at the largest state university in Massachusetts because of an opinion piece she wrote in support of same-sex marriage.
Bridgewater State University spokesman Bryan Baldwin said on Saturday that the assailants approached Destinie Mogg-Barkalow on campus. The man questioned her about the article titled "Prop 8 generates more hate" before the woman accompanying him punched the victim, leaving her with a bruised eye Thursday evening.
No one has been arrested and authorities are investigating the attack as a possible hate crime.
University President Dana Mohler-Faria sent an email to the whole school condemning the attack and reminding everyone authorities will not tolerate any actions that impede or curtail the rights of members of the campus community to express themselves freely.

The article that precipitated the attack appeared in The Comment on February 15, and is entitled Prop 8 Generates More Hate

Members of First Parish have signed letters of support to the university president and to the victim of the attack. First Parish members will also be participating in Tuesday's march and rally on the campus.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Special Music on Sunday

The Capriol Consort, an eight-member recorder ensemble will be providing the music for this Sunday's service. Members of the Consort include our own Music Director Denise Haskins, and church member Pam Hayes-Bohanan. The ensemble is lead by Dr. Marcia Anderson.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Chocolate, Flowers, and Slavery -- Movie Night

The following announcement is from the Social Justice League at Bridgewater State University. The films are being shown in the Moakley Auditorium this Wednesday, February 8, starting at 7:00 p.m. See the event announcement for more information.

What are you getting your sweetheart for Valentine's Day? The usual chocolate and flowers?

This Valentine's Day, take a deeper look at your consumer choices. The Social Justice League will be hosting a double-feature movie night roughly a week before Valentine's Day to raise awareness about the labor conditions in the chocolate and flower industries.

Film 1: "The Dark Side of Chocolate: Child Trafficking and Illegal Child Labor in the Cocoa Industry" - A recent film investigating how chocolate manufacturers like Hershey and Cadbury have turned a blind eye to child trafficking and slavery on African cocoa farms.

Film 2: "Colombia: Flowers for the Gringo" - A film that reveals the tenuous nature of the flower industry by taking a look inside the world of Colombia’s flower growers, in particular those who work the hardest for the lowest pay.

Please attend this informational movie night to learn the truth behind that Hershey's bar and bouquet of roses, as well as learn more about WHAT YOU CAN DO to stop the injustice!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Interfaith Power & Light

Our service today was led by Vincent Maraventano, Executive Director of Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light, a non-profit whose mission is to provide a religious response to climate change. He congratulated us on steps we have already taken as a Certified Green Sanctuary and member of MIP&L. He also challenged us to think about the moral dimensions of climate change.

Those who are interested in geographic dimensions of climate change are invited to visit the web page I created for my seminar on climate change.

All are invited to continue the discussion of what we can do as individuals and as a congregation.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Philosophy Circle

The newly formed Philosophy Circle, formerly the Religion and Science Discussion Group, meets at the Brockton UU Church every third Wednesday of the month.
As an introduction we have chosen Will Durant's book The Story of Philosophy to start. This book has been around for a long time and a copy should be easy to find. If you have any difficulty finding a copy contact Dave Bassett (, 508 550 0241).

Our next meeting is February 15th.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Jane Goodall Connections

During yesterday's service, the primatologist Jane Goodall was mentioned several times, particularly her Roots and Shoots program.

Dr. Goodall is also an honorary geographer, having received the first Atlas Award from the Association of American Geographers in 2010. Vernon Domingo and I were lucky enough to be present for that award ceremony, which is viewable with her lecture on the AAG web site.

Those who wish to support her work in Gombe Reserve in a small way can purchase delicious Tanzania Gombe Reserve coffee from the shade-grown coffee farms that serve as buffer habitat to the reserve. Roasted in Vermont, this is truly exceptional coffee, both for the customer and for the planet.