The First Religious Society Newsletter
The Steeple Biweekly

Scroll down to find these news sections. 
  • Sunday Services
  • Joys and Sorrows
  • Interim Q&A
  • Calendar of Events 
  • Within Our Community
  • Beyond Our Doors
  • Journey of Faith

Sunday Services

February's worship theme: Roots and Wings
Flying flock of Canadian geese
February 12 - "Strength in Unity" - Family Service - Rev. Susan Milnor, Julie Parker-Amery, DRE, Kristen Miller and Young Church Choirs, Dana Maiben... Our service will include an ancient Indian story to remind us how we might be stronger together, a ritual resulting in a gift for some neighbors, and wonderful music by the choirs. Everyone of all ages will worship together for the service today.
February 19 - "Free for What?" - Rev. Susan Milnor. We speak of our religious tradition being a "free faith," but what does that mean? Here, in a month in which, on some Sundays at least, we are considering roots and wings, it's time for a little reflection.
February 26 - Jazz Service - Tom Stites, Lark Madden and Jazz Vespers Band. Jazz is an improvisational music, meaning that the players are inventing what they're playing in the moment they play it. Inventing in the moment is something that all of us are called to do from time to time in our lives, and Unitarian Universalism, as a creedless faith, actually requires us to take responsibility for composing our own religious lives as we live them. Our wonderful FRS Vespers Band will provide special music this morning that brings our theme of improvisation to life, and our own Tom Stites will preach We All Can Improvise. It will be the tenth jazz service that Tom has conducted at FRS since 2003.
Collection for Cause
Half of February's unpledged cash collection plate donations will go to the Unitarian Universalist Association, of which FRS is a member. 
Interim Questions & Answers

Question: What's the status of the position of music director?
Answer: When the search for a permanent music director ended without a hire in late spring of 2016, the Parish Board directed that an individual be selected to fill the position temporarily. During the summer, Dana Maiben was hired as Acting Music Director. Her contract is for one year, with the possibility of renewing it for a second.
Calendar of Events

Wilson concert 2.12.17
Sunday, February 12: Justice Action Ministry. 11:45am. The JAM group
holds an all-member meeting regarding our next First Wednesday programs and
updates of our progress. We hope all can attend.--Susan Swan

Sunday, February 12 : "Max Schwimmer, Saxophone & Natasha Ulyanovsky, Organ & Piano." Sanctuary, 4pm. Great music including tango and klezmer tunes, ending with the famous Sabre Dance.

Sunday, February 12: "Merchants of Doubt." Firehouse Center for the Arts, 5pm. Jointly sponsored by FRS Climate Action Project and Transitions Newburyport. Inspired by the acclaimed book, "Merchants of Doubt" takes audiences on a satirically comedic, yet illuminating ride into the heart of conjuring American spin. Tickets are $10 at Firehouse Ticket Office or . Child care is available at the church--contact Julie Parker Amery to reserve a spot for your child. Read more...

Tuesday, February 14: ROMEO (Retired Old Men Eating Out). Connie's Stagecoach, 95 Elm Street, Salisbury, noon. RSVP to Ted Bailey.

Wednesday, February 15: Retired Ladies Lunch. Seaglass, Salisbury, noon. RSVP to Peg Mays. First-timers welcome.

Sunday, February 19: Forum: How Finances at FRS Work. Lower Meeting House, 11:45am. Come to a community-wide (congregation and friends) forum to discuss the current and future finances of the FRS. Members of the Finance Committee will present an overview of the sources of revenue we have, our expense structure, our balance sheet (including the debt we currently have) and how we look compared to other similar UU churches. Read more...

Sunday, February 19: Getting to Know the First Religious Society. Sanctuary, 11:45-12:30. Newcomers are invited to an informal conversation with the Rev. Susan Milnor.

Tuesday, February 21: Short Story Group . Lower Meeting House, Rooms A&B, 12-1pm. The story for discussion will be "The Lottery," by Shirley Jackson. All are welcome.

See the website calendar for a complete listing of events.
Within Our Community

Banner We stand with our Muslim neighbors
Muslim solidarity banner goes up at FRS
On Sunday, February 5, the Justice Action Ministry brought before the congregation a banner reading, "We Stand with Our Muslim Neighbors." When JAM's representative, Annie Maurer, asked for the congregation's approval for hanging it outside, those present gave the effort a standing ovation. Read more...

Contribute food and personal items for Pettengill
During the month of February, the Community Human Services Committee will be collecting food and personal items for Pettengill House. We will also accept donations of money and do the shopping for you. Each Sunday a member of the Committee will be in the vestibule to accept your contributions.--Carol Kilty, Community Human Services Committee

Take the interest survey
What's your passion? Your skill? Your profession? Chances are, we could use it in Young Church! We're creating a database of potential workshop leaders for three-week sessions. Filling out the survey doesn't commit you to anything; we just need to know what our resources are. So please take a few seconds to fill it out You might think we have no need of someone with architecture skills or bread-baking know-how, but we do!

Transition Team announces second set of workshops
The Ministerial Transition team invites your participation in the second series of workshops to help us, as a congregation, create a shared, compelling vision of our future. We will re-cap main themes that emerged from Workshop series #1, including discussion of how we can build upon our strengths and address identified gaps in the next few years. There will be a presentation of trends and innovations from other congregations. The workshop will conclude with a Visioning Holistically brainstorming session as we begin to define who are we called to become as we enter our 4th century. Register for one of the sessions on our website  or in person on Sunday mornings. Sessions are Tuesday, February 28, 7-9pm; Thursday, March 9, 10-noon; Sunday, March 12, noon-2pm (childcare provided on Sunday).

You want a membership directory
And the staff hears you. The first thing to know is that we are moving to a new membership database and there will be a debugging period. The second thing to know is this: It used to be a matter of course for a church to hand out a printed membership directory. But now we are all more cautious about where our email addresses, telephone numbers, and even snail mail addresses wind up. Read more...

Lasagna servings get bigger at Friendship Table
FRS participated in the Friendship Table at the Salvation Army on Thursday, January 19. We seem to be serving fewer guests lately which means we are giving larger servings of lasagna. We are also providing meals for people who request to-go orders. We had a considerable number of helpers which actually worked out quite well. Read more...

The couple and their granddaughter, with FRS members Eileen Fitzgerald and Nancy Crochiere
FRS gives $1,000 to asylum seekers
Mother Theresa once said, "We cannot all do great things. But we can do small things with great love."  The Community Human Services voted at their January meeting to give the $1,000 set aside in last year's budget to an asylum-seeking Afghan couple in Portland. The couple had been brought to the US to help their ailing daughter who died a short time after they arrived. Their situation is desperate. Read more...

Nominations sought for officer positions
FRS has a vibrant community of active members whose passions for our shared values are alive and well. The church seeks leaders who have the vision to continue to fuel that passion and guide the church through very interesting times. Do you want to be a part of this leadership? Read about the open positions.

Feeling gregarious? Wear a red scarf
Will you help with an experiment to make visitors more comfortable at coffee hour? Take a red scarf from the name tag rack as you head into Coffee Hour. Your wearing it is a symbol: "Come talk to me. I welcome conversation with someone I haven't met yet." Thanks to Linda Buddenhagen and Carol Kilty for the handiwork.

Pre-paying parking on Sunday
Ever rush out of coffee hour or a meeting to feed a parking meter at noon? You can avoid any panic by pre-paying your parking fee. Paid parking begins at noon on Sundays in Newburyport and costs $1 per hour. If you think you will be staying later than 12:00 you can pay any time that morning. Read more...

How we govern at FRS
During this time of transition the FRS has begun a process of looking inward, as we explore who we are, who we were, and who we wish to be. We are getting to know each other all over again; refreshing our collective memory and perhaps learning a few things along the way. In service of this exploration, the Governance Committee, which serves the Parish Board, is reflecting on the FRS governance structure. Between congregational meetings, and the many other activities that the church will be engaged in over the next year and a half, we want the congregation to be better informed about governance; what it is, how it works and how the congregation participates in it. This is the first of many articles that will feature the FRS governance model and how it works.  To understand how we govern, we have to go back to the beginning. Read more...

New friends, old friends
Smiling couple
Here are a couple of our favorite shots from FRS' annual Mid-Winter Party. Thanks to Jay Iannini and Rebecca Brodish for hosting this year, and to the Hospitality Committee for organizing. Photos by John Mercer. 

Laughing group in kitchen

Beyond Our Doors

Stand up for Justice in Washington, DC
Monday, April 3 through Wednesday, April 5, St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 301 A St SE, Washington, DC. The rising tide of inequality, intolerance and racism makes it more important for UUs to stand up for their values. UUJEC and UUs for Social Justice in the National Capital Region (UUSJ) are organizing a spring conference in Washington DC to give UUs an opportunity to advocate for a vision of a fair and compassionate society directly to decision makers on Capitol Hill. Read more...

Volunteer Opportunity with Constellation Hospice
Volunteers for patient/family visits in the greater Newburyport and NH Seacoast areas. An in-depth orientation program, on-going training and supervision will be provided. Volunteer assignments will be made to best match volunteer's and patient/family needs, schedules, interests and personalities. Volunteer for an hour a week, or less or more. To arrange for an interview, contact Joel Grossman, Volunteer Coordinator, 978-904-1086

Women's Build 2017
Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity 2017 Women's Build Schedule:
  • February 18, 2017
  • March 4, 2017
  • Women's Build Week, May 10-13, 2017
  • October 21, 2017
  • Women Veterans Build, November 11, 2017
Journey of Faith
Jim Lacey

Jim Lacey gave this Journey of Faith on January 22, 2017.

First, I'd like to talk about my "spiritual" journey.

I was brought up Catholic and during high school in the early 1970s was quite involved with the church. This was in part due to a young liberal priest who ran a "rap group" for young people. It was a mix of prayer, folk songs, consciousness raising, and meditation. As I entered my late teens, I began questioning Catholic teaching and was generally drifting away. Two separate incidents that disillusioned me were when the head of the Mafia in New York City -- the real-life Godfather -- had a big Catholic funeral, and when my liberal priest friend became more conservative.

Also, during high school, I had a good friend who became involved with Buddhism and spent time in a Buddhist monastery after graduation. I also became a fan of Jack Kerouac's writing, particularly the novels On the Road and The Dharma Bums, his novel about Zen. Read more...

The deadline for the February 21 Steeple Biweekly is Friday, February 17 at noon.
Send your submissions to Diane Young.
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