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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 29, 2014


Are you recycling? Of course, but there are many myths about what can be recycled. The ADCouncil has some mythbusters for some of the most commonly recycled materials. Go to the site to find more mythbusting tips:

Myth: The tab is the only part of the can that is recycled.
Fact: The entire can is recyclable! In fact, it is better to keep the tabs on the can to ensure it makes it through the recycling process.

Myth You need to remove all labels before recycling glass containers.
Fact: You do not need to remove the labels on glass bottles before recycling them. The heat generated in the manufacturing process removes the labels.

Myth: You must remove your beverage container cap before recycling.
Fact: Remember: Recyclers want your caps and lids, too. Tip: Because caps can slip off conveyer belts during the recycling process, so when you empty a bottle crush it, cap it, and toss it in the recycling bin.

Myth: You are required to remove staples, labels and stickers from direct mail before recycling.
Fact: You don’t need to remove staples, labels or stickers from paper products. This material is removed during the recycling process.

Myth: Compost piles are smelly, attract pests and rodents and take a long time to be ready for reuse.
Fact: A properly managed compost pile will not attract pests and rodents and can take as short as six to eight weeks to create usable compost.

Myth: It is important to bag your grass clippings and dispose of them in a compost pile when mowing your lawn.
Fact: An alternative to bagging your grass clippings is to mow your lawn so that the grass clippings are never more than two or three inches tall so you can leave the grass clippings where they fall to decompose.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Adult Religions Education at First Parish Bridgewater: "Love and Death" by Forrest Church starts Tues, Oct 21 at 7:30

We’re going to start our Adult Religious Education program this fall by doing a close reading of Love and Death by Forrest Church, long-time minister at All Souls Unitarian Universalist in New York City.  The book is a series of meditations on dying and what remains behind written from the time Rev. Church was diagnosed with an incurable throat cancer in 2006 until his death in 2009 at the age of 60. 

We will be meeting Tuesdays at 7:30, starting on October 21st when we’ll meet to make introductions to each other and the book. Then we’ll meet on Oct. 28, Nov 11, 18 & 25.  We’ll be reading about 40 pages per week so there will be plenty of time to share personal stories and reactions as we read together.

I’d be happy to get copies of the book for anyone who wishes for $13.00; you can also buy it to read on any eBook reader, and there are used copies for less if you wish to order your own.  If you want me to buy a book for you, you can pay me at the first class when I’ll distribute the ones I’ve bought.

Please sign up during coffee hour, OR you can just send me an email at  Be sure to let me know if you want me to order a copy of the book for you. 
                                                                                                                - Rev. Paul

Here's my column from Bridging this Month:

From the Minister:
Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life has a scene in the posh boy’s school in which the chaplain leads a prayer in morning chapel:

Chaplain: Let us praise God. O Lord....  Ooh, You are so big.... So absolutely huge.
Gosh, we're all really impressed down here, I can tell You.
Forgive us, O Lord, for this, our dreadful toadying, and.... And barefaced flattery.
But You are so strong and, well, just so super.... Fantastic.

Needless to say, you won’t hear any prayers like this in Unitarian Universalist worship services – nor, to be clear, in any Anglican chapel services, either.  The whole worship scene in the movie is a brilliant parody of the form of a certain kind of praying that seems – well, toadying, as the piece points out.  As in so many other things, we Unitarian Universalists are quite clear what we do not do in our worship services, but we’re often less clear about what it is that we do – and why.
 One way of understanding “worship” is to look at its origins and etymology; there we will find an older understanding – “worth-ship” – the valuing and holding up of things of worth, the things, values, principles that mean the most to us.  It’s interesting to remember that “your worship” was in an earlier age a way of greeting certain revered human beings – nobles or, more likely, high officials in one of the church hierarchies.  Obviously none of our ministers will ever be addressed as “Your Worship.”
My understanding of our Unitarian Universalist religion (or faith tradition, or shared path) is that we are joined together in a journey of life which we share with faithful people around the world in many different religious and non-religious traditions; that we are all working on how to live our lives in ways that are meaningful and productive; that we need company on this journey as we are born, as we grow, as we love and as we lose.  All of these different paths have different ways of expressing what they believe and why, what matters and what doesn’t matter, and above all how we should then live.  So we gather to worship and we say (as one of my favorite Calls to Worship puts it):
May we be reminded here of our highest aspirations,
And inspired to bring our gifts of love and service to the altar of humanity.
For me, “worship” is an expression of how we remind ourselves of what is most important when we gather each week.  Ken Patton, one of our great humanist ministers expresses this idea of worship in these words from our hymnal:
Let us worship not in bowing down, not with closed eyes and stopped ears.
Let us worship with the opening of all the windows of our beings,
with the full outstretching of our spirits.
Let us worship and let us learn to love.  (#437)
So that’s how I understand what we do in our “worship” services.  Our theme for our services during October is “Worship” and we’ll be hearing other perspectives at each services – including a music/hymn sing service on October 26thfor which we need you to sign up with your favorite hymns during coffee hour for the next few weeks.  

In Faith,

Rev. Paul

Monday, September 22, 2014

10th Annual Celebration for Peace

Read the nice article in the Enterprise.

Watch "This mini-documentary explores how Bridgewater, MA residents and Bridgewater State University staff, faculty and students think we can create a world characterized by peace, safety, and respect. This short movie was developed and produced as a class project in Bridgewater State University's Communication Studies 228 (Introduction to Communication and Culture), to be shown at a campus event commemorating the United Nation's International Day of Peace."

Read Rev. Paul Sprecher's sermon, "Covenant of Nations".

Sunday, August 31, 2014


The next time you reach for your stapler, try this instead! Use (then re-use and re-use…) a paperclip. If all of the country’s 75 million white-collar workers used just one fewer staple each day, there would be a daily saving of 5500 lbs. of steel—that’s about 900 tons a year. Teachers and students, take note!!
(from 1,001 Ways to Save the Earth, by Joanna Yarrow)

Friday, August 1, 2014

On the Water

Our music director Denise Haskins and I led the July 27 summer service based on our own experiences "On the Water." Denise is an experienced sailor who often takes parishioners out on her boat C Major and also enjoys leading fresh-water outings in kayaks. Although I have always enjoyed canoes and kayaks, I have only recently begun spending a lot of time on the water, as an active member of Whaling City Rowing. The club's replica whaleboats are moored in the same harbor as C Major, so we are often in the same harbor.

For the service, we invited everyone to share the places where they most enjoy being on or near water, and we explored what water experiences mean to us. The visual focus for this service included a number of books about water -- both fresh and salt -- from James' office. All of the titles are in the "On the Water" section of our online store.

Following the service, the Hayes-Bohanan family took visiting Wisconsin relatives to Salem for some family history. We also visited the Peabody Essex Museum, which is hosting a particularly nautical exhibit through September 1. Turner and the Sea is a deep exploration of the work of England's greatest maritime artist, who was also a teacher of the craft of marine painting. His work is varied, but is especially noteworthy for his depiction of shipwrecks -- both natural and military. The most riveting part of the exhibit is "Trafalgar Squared," which  puts the viewer between two different paintings of the Battle of Trafalgar, at which England lost Admiral Nelson and many other men. On loan from the navy hospital in which they are normally displayed, these paintings compel the viewer to contemplate the grim realities of naval warfare.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Today in UU History - Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson publishes "The Dial"

On this date in 1840 the Transcendentalists, lead by Ralph Waldo Emerson, published the first issue of "The Dial" in Boston. Read more here.

Monday, June 16, 2014

UUnited Youth Ministry

Our youth group is joining together with 7 other local UU communities to make the UUnited Youth Ministry. Let's give them our support for this fabulous opportunity! Stay on the lookout for information on how you'll be able to donate to this cause.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

GREEN SANCTUARY TIP of the MONTH - Recycle Clothing and Textiles

Did you know that your old worn-out holey not even good enough for a rag socks can be recycled? Wherever you donate your used outgrown worn-out clothing include all textiles and clothing. For example, they will welcome clothing, towels, rugs, backpacks, belts, shower curtains, shoes, pocketbooks, bras/
underwear, sheets, blankets, etc. As long as it is DRY and ODORLESS anything even ripped or stained, with buttons missing, damaged zipper, etc. is acceptable.

The US Generates 25 BILLION POUNDS of textiles per year, only 15% gets recycled, leaving a total of 22 billion lbs going to landfills. This is a growing number, up from 18.2 billion lbs to 25.7 billion lbs to landfills from 1999 to 2009. Do your part.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

We're Hiring!

First Parish Bridgewater is looking for a Director of Religious Education. Please take a look here ( for more details!
First Parish Bridgewater, is seeking a part-time (approx. 15 hours/week) Director of Religious Education (DRE). The qualifying candidate will be a well-organized, enthusiastic, caring, and innovative person, excited to work collaboratively with our new minister and the RE Committee to continue and develop our dynamic Religious Education program and to think creatively about its future.
Our program provides 30+ children and youth with opportunities to...
  • develop a sense of wonder about the world
  • explore a wide variety of religious and cultural traditions
  • express their thoughts and feelings
  • make and display their own creative work
  • learn to make responsible, healthy choices
  • form lasting friendships with one another
  • achieve a sense of group identity and pride in being a UU
  • stay involved with our church community through high school and beyond
DRE Skills and Competencies
  • Knowledge of, and enthusiasm for, liberal religion and Unitarian Universalism
  • Good oral and written communication skills
  • Proficiency with technology including social media
  • Highly organized and self-directive
  • Effective time management
  • Energetic, flexible and approachable
  • Creative and innovative thinker
First Parish Bridgewater is an active, multi-generational congregation.  We believe that “Love is the spirit of this church, and service is its gift. This is our great covenant: to dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love, and to help one another.” We have just settled a minister, Rev. Paul Sprecher, and are very excited about our vibrant future.
Please email to request a full job description or view it on the FP Bridgewater website. Interested applicants should send a Statement of Interest and a resume to by July 17th. We hope to welcome our next DRE in August 2014.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Jobs Not Jails

Some members of First Parish joined with the Brockton Interfaith Coalition today to go to Boston Common to rally against building new prisons in MA. It was a great turnout and we got to spend time with a good group of like-minded people. See the video from Channel 7!

April 30th is the Statehouse Day of Action.
"volunteers will wrap bright orange banners around the State House, covered with roughly 30,000 petition signatures calling for Jobs, Not Jails!"
From the Jobs Not Jails website:

Below is a script, with information about six items that are immediately possible, which will help end mass incarceration and fund job creation.  Please call:
1)    Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo  (617) 722-2500
2)    Senate President Therese Murray  (617) 722-1500
3)    Your own Representative and Senator. Find their names and numbers at  (just enter your address!)
Tell them you support Jobs Not Jails, and ask them to vote for the following items:
  • H.1646, An Act to repeal mandatory minimum sentences for drug offensesMandatory sentencing is one of the major causes of over-incarceration, and leads to disproportionately long sentences for low-level drug offenders – and even innocent people who have no information to trade to a district attorney.
  • S.1643/H.3099, An Act relative to motor vehicle license suspensionThis bill would repeal the law that requires an automatic one- to five-year driver’s license suspension upon the conviction of any drug offense, followed by a minimum $500 reinstatement fee.  The current law creates a large and counter-productive barrier for people who are trying to secure employment and rebuild their lives.
  • Spend $26.5 million on Youth Jobs, to engage young people in positive, self-sustaining work!
$9.5 million for SSYI (jobs for teens who have been struggling)
$12 million for Youth Works (jobs in the community)
$5 million for School to Career (private sector jobs)
  • Raise the Minimum Wage to $10.50, and index it to inflation. Low-wage workers should not have to see their incomes weakened even further by inflation every year, even while corporate profits soar.
  • Oppose H.1311, which would charge applicants $50 per casefor a request to seal their CORI.  This bill filed by Rep. Fernandes of Milford severely undermines CORI reform.  People have to struggle for 5-10 years before sealing a CORI, often unemployed or underemployed, and this fee (which could mount to hundreds of dollars as people are hit with multiple charges for one offense) could close the door on this hope.
You don’t have to list them all!  You can elect your own priorities. You can find out more at the links “Criminal Justice Priorities” and “Jobs Priorities” off the main page of this site. These are just six of the most immediately viable and pertinent issues right now.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Don’t forget!!  Saturday, May 3, is our fifth annual FREE Metal Recycling Day.  Please collect and bring all forms of metal, from fridges to fencing to pots to pipe.  Bring your metal to the roll-off container in the church parking lot from 9-noon.  Volunteers will be available.  All proceeds will benefit the Bridgewater Food Pantry, thanks to our collaboration with keyforhope.  Please tell friends, family, and co-workers about this event.  Let’s make it a big success!! 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sermon with Rev. Paul Sprecher, our ministerial candidate

This Sunday 4/27, our guest minister is Rev. Paul Sprecher, our ministerial candidate. The topic will be “The Love of Money” - Someone said that "the love of money is the root of all evil;" but the love of money is what appears to be driving the world economy.  It seems that none of us can get enough!

Come hear Rev. Paul and stay for the Open Forum w/ Rev. Paul and a pot luck lunch.

Rev. Paul Sprecher served minister of Second Parish in Hingham Unitarian Universalist from 2006 until 2013.  Prior to being settled at Second Parish, Paul served a combined Ministerial Internship at Arlington Street Church and the Church of the Larger Fellowship as part of his preparation for his third career.  He taught seventh and eighth grade English and US History for ten years at the Collegiate School for Boys in New York City, then started a new career as a computer consultant and then as Vice President for Technology at the American Stock Exchange; he retired from that position in 2005 to finish his preparation for ministry.

Rev. Paul is the treasurer of the Unitarian Universalist History and Heritage Society and the Scribe of the Ministerial Conference in Berry Street, sponsor of an annual essay by a Unitarian Universalist minister that was founded by William Ellery Channing in 1820.

He holds a Master of Divinity Degree from New York Theological Seminary (2005) and an M.S. in Education from the University of Wisconsin (1975).  He graduated Summa Cum Laude from Harvard College in 1972.  Paul is married to Deedee Agee; they are proud parents of David, 31 – an artist living in Chicago – and Sean, 28 – a musician living in Allston.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Are you Ready for the 13th Annual Goods & Services Auction?

Saturday, May 10th is the evening for one of the most fun and exciting events at our church.

Wine & Cheese, Silent Auction, and Wine Pull is at 6 pm and the Live Auction begins at 7 pm with Jenny Donahue as auctioneer.

Our annual auction is one of First Parish’s biggest fundraisers of the year and a whole lot of FUN! Don’t Miss It! Make it an evening for you and your family. Child care will be available. Start off with a glass of wine to sharpen your bidding skills. Peruse the silent auction table and plan your silent bidding strategy. Select a mystery bottle of wine for $20 and take a chance of getting a bottle valued at 4x that amount! And did you buy a raffle ticket for a trip to Nantucket? You will!

Then take a seat and let the live auction begin. There are wonderful things to eat, fun places to go, beautiful crafts, and useful services. All for sale to the highest bidder. The competition for coveted items is intense. You have you heart set on something. You hear bids from every corner of the room. The price is going up. YOU WANT IT. You BID $5 HIGHER (what’s another $5 for such a good cause?). You hear the auctioneer say “SOLD”! And she means TO YOU!! You outbid everyone and got the goods. Ah! The joy of winning! And if that wasn’t enough excitement, suddenly it’s intermission and time for fabulous desserts and gourmet coffee. Just when you think you can’t possibly have any more fun, the auctioneer is back on her feet with more exciting items for sale! Will you get back in the ring!? GO FOR IT – it’s a once-in-a-year opportunity to buy fun goods and services that keep on giving. A BIG WIN for you and First Parish at the same time.  

We Need Your Donated Items and Services!

Start planning your auction donations. Baskets are being requested from each church committee. Forms will be available in the next couple of weeks, online and at coffee hour. If you have any questions, please speak with one of our Auction Committee members.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Jobs Not Jails Rally

From the Jobs Not Jails Facebook Event:
Let us ALL bring together 10,000 people from across Massachusetts to say NO to incarcerating our family, friends, neighbors, and loved ones. Let us say YES to good jobs that are meaningful and pay living wages.

We will listen to speakers. We will chant with one another. We will be motivated to act with loud voices. 

This event is being organized by a statewide coalition. JOIN US!

Participating Organizations:

Action for Regional Equity

AIDS Project Worcester

American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts

American Friends Service Committee

Arise for Social Justice, Springfield

Arlington Street Church

10-Point Coalition

Black and Pink

Boston Feminist Liberation

Boston Living Center

Boston Workers’ Alliance

Children’s League of Massachusetts

Cleghorn Neighborhood Center, Fitchburg

Coalition for Effective Public Safety

Coalition for Social Justice, Fall River and New Bedford

Coalition to Fund our Communities

Committee of Friends and Relatives of Prisoners

Committee for Public Counsel Services

Community Labor United

Criminal Justice Policy Coalition

Dismas House

Dorchester People for Peace

EPOCA (Ex-prisoners and Prisoners Organizing for Community Advancment)

Families for Justice as Healing

Families Against Mandatory Minimums

First Parish Church of Arlington

First Parish Church of Northborough

Fitchburg Minority Coalition

Harvard Law Students PLAP

Lesley College – PAWS

Lynn Youth Street Outreach Advocacy (LYSOA)

Massachusetts CURE

Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery

Massachusetts Women’s Justice Network

Mothers for Justice and Equality

Multicultural Wellness Center

NAACP Youth Council, Boston Chapter

National Association of Social Workers, SIG

National Lawyers’ Guild

Old Cambridge Baptist Church

Prison Policy Initiative

Progressive Massachusetts

Prisoners’ Legal Services

Real Cost of Prisons Project

Roxbury Youth Works

St. John Missionary Baptist Church

SPAN, Inc.

Spontaneous Celebrations – Beantown Society

Straight Ahead Ministries

Teen Empowerment

Teens Leading the Way

Timothy Baptist Church

Toastmasters Prison Volunteers

United Church of Christ, Innocence Commission Task Force

Worcester Branch, NAACP

Worcester Homeless Action Committee

Worcester Youth Center

Youth Against Mass Incarceration

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Green Sanctuary Tip of the Month - Sustainability

Are you anxiously waiting for the first crocuses to show their color? Try cultivating a little summer with vegetables and herbs in pots to make your meals a little tastier.These tips are from Greenwrite on the Seventh Generation online news letter.
Herbs A lot of herbs grow well in pots indoors – and you can keep them that way year-round if you like. Basil is probably the simplest herb of all to grow inside—just plant a packet of seeds and place the pot next to a south-facing window for maximum sunlight. You can also buy cuttings or small starter plants of oregano, parsley, thyme, or rosemary year-round and plant them in small pots.

Root Vegetables Imagine – a carrot patch with no four-footed invaders! Round varieties of carrots and radishes, which tend not to root as deeply as other varieties, do great indoors. Sow seeds at any point from late winter to mid-autumn. All you need is a box, trough, or pan.

No more mealy tomatoes for you! If you’re willing to put in a bit of extra work, you can grow small types of tomatoes inside. You’ll still need to stake the plants so they can bear the fruit’s weight, and most plants will need to be transferred from a small pot filled with starter mix to a larger container of potting soil as they grow, but the end product is like a delicious handful of summer!

Monday, March 10, 2014

The House I Live In

Wednesday, March 26 (snow date April 2)
7:00 pm with light refreshments beginning at 6:30

Join members and friend of First Parish Bridgewater for a viewing of The House I Live In, a  thoughtful video about mass incarceration and its repercussions in society. (See IMDb details; also available on Netflix, but join us for your first viewing if you can!)

First Parish invites the community -- especially people in law enforcement, public service, and social agencies, as well as students over 18 -- to view this one-hour film. The viewing will be followed by a discussion of ways to address the problems of mass incarceration.

Among the discussion leaders will be Jack Cole, the founder of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), who speaks frequently about the War on Drugs, prison reform, and related concerns.

Sunday, February 9, 2014


Today we were treated to a thought-provoking sermon about the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-28), given by guest minister, Rev. Richard Trudeau. We learned to think about parables in general in a whole new way, and about some interesting implications for social justice of this particular parable .

Before his readings and sermon, however, First Parish organist Marika Grossman treated us to a moving rendition of Stairway to Heaven on our congregation's magnificent and historic pipe organ. Those who enjoyed the piece by Messrs. Page and Plant might also enjoy the 2012 performance by Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart. They performed it at the Kennedy Center, with President Obama and the surviving members of Led Zeppelin in attendance. They were backed by a full orchestra, a choir, and drummer Jason Bonham. Chris LeDrew explains why the presence of this young drummer helped to make this such a moving experience for Robert Plant -- and a spiritual experience for many viewers.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Evolving Thoughts

In recognition of his upcoming birthday, our community minister Rev. Rachel Tedesco spoke yesterday about the religious ideas of Charles Darwin. He was born on February 12, 1809, the very same day as Abraham Lincoln. First Parish had recognized that amazing coincidence with a special program at the time of their shared bicentennial, but that program had been focused mainly on the theological implications of his scientific work. Yesterday, science was of course part of Rev. Tedesco's sermon, but she also share some interesting insights about Darwin's spiritual and social thinking.

For example, the idea of "social Darwinism" was already being discussed during his lifetime, and he made his opposition to the idea very clear. As a Unitarian, he was far more interested in cooperation. In fact, he argued:
In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.
I immediately thought of a line in an interview with Pete Seeger that I had heard earlier Sunday morning. Pete explained his embrace of the term "communist" in the anthropological sense by saying:
If there is a world here, if there is a human race here in a hundred years, we will have learned how to share again. 
Pete Seeger was, naturally, mentioned in the sermon itself and the congregation enjoyed singing several of his songs together in recognition of the decades of inspiration and leadership he provided.

Rev. Tedesco also connected the discussion of Darwin to another aspect of evolutionary thinking that has long fascinated me -- the role of electronic media in the consolidation of a global form of consciousness. As she mentioned, this was foreseen in some ways by the French theologian and anthropologist Teilhard de Chardin more than a half century ahead of the Internet itself. I had done some reading and writing about Teilhard many years ago, and was surprised to hear this idea twice in a week, as Krista Tippett had recently interviewed Andrew Revkin about Teilhard's concept of the Planetary Mind.
Cartographer Martin Vargic has recently prepared what might be considered a map of such a planet, as he applied National Geographic cartography standards to the Internet itself.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

First Parish in the News!

The Bridgewater Independent provided front page coverage of First Parish's Empty Bowls painting party. See the Facebook page for more information.

Thursday, January 30, 2014


Cutting back on eating animals products will help to limit environmental problems, including greenhouse gases, that are created during their production. The United Nations report, Livestock's Long Shadow - Environmental Issues and Options, released in 2006, stated that the meat industry is “one of the most significant contributors to today’s serious environmental problems" and that "urgent action is required to remedy the situation. The report states that the livestock sector is one of the top contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. The findings of this report suggest that it should be a major policy focus when dealing with problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortages and pollution, and loss of biodiversity. ( quote)
A good resource is the Meatless Monday website:

Tuesday, January 28, 2014