The First Religious Society Newsletter
The Steeple Biweekly

Scroll down to find these news sections. 
  • Sunday Services
  • Rev-eries
  • Calendar of Events
  • Within Our
  • Journey of Faith

Sunday Services

October Worship Theme:  Acceptance and Diversity

Symbols of many faiths
October 8 - What Feeds Us -- Rev Susan Milnor. We often speak of the theological diversity in our Unitarian Universalist congregations - God/ No God/ UU Christian/ Buddhist. Does that diversity need to get in our way? How do we navigate it in a way that is mutually respectful, on the one hand, and rich and meaningful on the other? Susan will be joined by Seminarians Sophia Lyons and Jason McLin.

October 15 - Beyond Categorical Thinking: The Van Gogh Café" - Rev. Keith Kron and Rev. Susan Milnor. Living our Unitarian Universalist values isn't always as easy as we would like it to be. Often what we strive for is not what actually happens. How can we improve the odds that we will lead with our best values inside and outside our congregation? This sermon will explore these issues as they pertain to your next minister. Read more...

October 22 - Animal Blessing - Family Service - Rev. Susan Milnor. The opportunity to accept our fellow creatures on this earth is indeed a grace-filled one. Bring your well-behaved pets - leashed, caged - and let's bless them and our life on this earth. We might have a howling good time while we are it.
October 29 - Jazz Service - Tom Stites & FRS Jazz Vespers Band. As members of a faith whose First Principle affirms and promotes the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and as citizens of a country that doesn't, what are we called to do as religious people? As our country's political culture disintegrates before our horrified eyes, this becomes an urgent question. Read more...

Collection for a Cause
Half of October's unpledged cash collection plate donations will go to Community Action: Headstart.

Kristen Fehlhaber
I am truly excited to announce that we have been joined at FRS by a new Director of Finance and Administration, Kristen F. Fehlhaber. In fact, Kristen will have begun her service on October 2, even before you receive this Steeple. You can reach her at or 978-465-0602 X404.

Kristen most recently worked as Business Administrator at the Waldorf School at Moraine Farm, where she oversaw all aspects of a $1.2 million budget. She has also worked at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Marblehead, Boeing Airlines Employee Credit Union, and the AIDS Action Committee. In addition to having the financial knowledge and skills we need in this position, she has experience supervising employees and working sensitively with parent constituents in a school setting, as well as familiarity with our faith tradition. Read more...
Calendar of Events

Toy house on artificial grass
Wednesday, October 4: First Wednesdays: Who Can Afford to Live in Newburyport? Lower Meeting House, 7-8pm. Pennies for Poverty and the FRS Justice Action Ministry sponsor a panel discussion to explore next steps in further advocacy for affordable housing in the Newburyport area. Get information from expert panelists and invite active discussion about locating and developing affordable housing. Free and open to the public.--Susan Swan, JAM

Wednesday, October 4: Jazz Vespers. Sanctuary 8-8:45pm. Enjoy the house band of Lark Madden, Tomas Havrda, Susan Creamer and Michael Gruen, and readings by Cyd Raschke. Jazz Vespers celebrates the inspiration of Jazz, Blues and Pop music, and includes readings and time for reflection. All are welcome.

Tuesday, October 10: ROMEO (Retired Old Men Eating Out). Connie's Stagecoach, 95 Elm Street, Salisbury, noon. RSVP to Alec White .

Tuesday, October 10: Membership series begins. Want to know what becoming a member of FRS is all about? Share your spiritual journey, meet some longtime members, learn about the history of the congregation. Three consecutive Tuesdays, 7-8:30pm. Sign up with Diane Young, Director of Community Engagement, X409. No commitment, just an opportunity for discernment.

Wednesday, October 11: The Alliance presents "A Plum Island Mystery." Just in time for Halloween: Woman dies under very suspicious circumstances on Grape Island on Plum Island. Contradictions abound. Well known Boston lawyer implicated. Was justice served? Come and judge for yourself! Presentation by Marise Fraser. The program is preceded by a brown bag lunch and business meeting at noon. Drinks and desserts are provided.

Saturday, October 14: Beyond Categorical Thinking. Parish Hall, 9am-noon. The Ministerial Search Committee invites all congregational leaders, members, and friends to participate in a workshop led by the Rev. Keith Kron of the Unitarian Universalist Association. It's designed to promote inclusive thinking and help prevent unfair discrimination in the search process for a new minister. RSVP to Sarah Spalding ( 978-270-6140) by Monday, October 9 with your number and if you need childcare.

Sunday, October 15: Soup Sunday. Parish Hall, 11:30am. Enjoy a variety of soups and chili at a sit-down lunch with friends old and new. Suggested donation $5. Volunteers are needed. Contact Susan Clark .

Sunday, October 15: FRS Connect Sign-Up Event. After the service. Get one-to-one help setting up your login for our online membership directory.

Tuesday October 17: Short Story Group.  Lower Meeting House, 12-1pm. The story for discussion will be "Shiloh" by Bobbie Ann Mason. Attendees are welcome to bring a lunch. This group meets regularly the first and third Tuesdays of every month. All are welcome.

Wednesday, October 18: Retired Ladies Lunch. The Deck, Salisbury, noon. Call Peg Mays to reserve. First-timers are welcome.

Sunday, October 29: FRS Connect Sign-Up Event. After the service. Get one-to-one help setting up your login for our online membership directory.

Monday, October 30: Drop-offs for the November 3-4 rummage sale begin.

Wednesday November 1: First Wednesdays: Prison Policy. 7pm. Featuring Essex County Sheriff Kevin Coppinger, recently elected to replace Sheriff Cousins. Learn about the role and contribution of prison policy and programs in the Criminal Justice Reform initiatives now being discussed on Beacon Hill and the recommendations of the Governor's Council. Read more...

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

Name tags for kids
Later end time for Young Church
Along with the exciting change of having children and youth in the first part of the worship service every Sunday, there's been another change. Young Church now goes until 11:45. We decided to do this so that in addition to experiencing part of the worship service in "Big Church," our children would continue to have their own worship circle in Young Church before beginning their other activities. Read more...

Beyond Categorical Thinking
On the weekend of October 14-15, the First Religious Society will participate in the "Beyond Categorical Thinking" workshop offered by the Unitarian Universalist Association for congregations involved in the search for a new minister. The Ministerial Search Committee invites all congregational leaders, members, and friends to participate in this workshop.

The Beyond Categorical Thinking program is designed to promote inclusive thinking and help prevent unfair discrimination in the search process for a new minister. This program includes a three-hour BCT workshop and a Sunday morning service with facilitators trained by the UUA. Read more and sign up...
Realm is now FRS Connect
We have a new name for our online membership directory/database: FRS Connect. Come to a sign-up event after church on October 15 or 29. Then you'll be able to search the directory, check your giving, communicate with your groups, and more. Already have a login? Go to and click on the "FRS Connect Login" button.

Group Spiritual Direction to start in November
Spiritual direction is the practice of going deep beneath the surface of one's daily, doing existence to discern the soul's calling and yearning. It is a practice of deepening one's relationship with what one considers the sacred. Practiced in the context of a group, spiritual direction also involves companioning with others as they, too, seek a deeper meaning to life's questions. Read more...

Youth Group collecting hoodies for people in need
As a continuation of last year's service project on homelessness, this fall Senior Youth Group is collecting new, extra or extra-large hoodie sweatshirts to deliver to an organization in Boston before winter starts. Bring your donation on Sunday morning beginning October 8.

Volunteer on Soup Sundays
The Hospitality Committee is looking for volunteers to help put on our monthly Soup Sundays, which run from October to April (except December). Help set up or tear down. Provide soup, cornbread, desserts, etc. Help one time or many. Contact Susan Clark .

Strong collection for islands hit by Hurricane Irma
The Justice Action Ministry, Climate Action Project, and Community Human Services would like to thank everyone who donated to disaster relief on Sunday, October 1. We raised over $1200 for United for Puerto Rico and the Community Foundation for the Virgin Islands Relief Fund.

Rummage Sale coming soon
As cool days return, remember to put aside all your clothing and accessories donations for the Fall Rummage Sale. Bring donations starting October 30 to the church vestibule. Volunteer to sort, hang, and price the donations on Thursday, November 2, 12-5, and Friday, November 3, 12-5. Rummage Sale dates are Friday November 3, 6-7:30 and Saturday November 4, 9-11:30. All proceeds go to the Steeple Fund.

Wilson Music Series 2018, mark your calendars!
All concerts are on Sunday afternoons at 4pm in the Sanctuary.
January 7, Vox Lucens (led by Jay Lane)
January 28, Akropolis Reed Quintet
February 11, Del Sol String Quartet
March 25, Concerto Incognito (led by Dana Maiben)

Ministerial search timeline: Four phases of finding and calling a minister
1. Discovering
Timing: May 2017 through September 2017
Purpose: To discover who we are now and, thus, what sort of minister we need.
Tools: Transition Team Report; Strategic Interviews with staff members, leaders, and parishioners; congregational survey; this forum

Have a question about our ministerial search process?
Here are four simple ways to get an answer:
  1. Visit the Ministerial Transition FAQ Page. If you don't see your question there, submit a new one via the form on the page.
  2. Email your questions to
  3. Put your questions in the black suggestion boxes in the church vestibule or near the conference room.
  4. Ask someone. If you prefer the personal approach or want to engage one of our church leaders in discussion, please approach them on Sundays or during office hours.

Donate flowers or steeple lighting

Dates are available for Steeple Lightings and providing flowers for Sunday service. To sign up for a date, contact Nicole Salemi, (email preferred,  or X401). Steeple Lighting is $75. Flowers either you provide or the church orders a standard arrangement ($35 plus tax) and florist bills you. Read more...
Steve Costello
Journey of Faith

Given by Steve Costello on September 24, 2017

A few years ago when my wife Eileen and I took the UU History class in anticipation of becoming FRS members, we were asked to bring in an object that symbolized our religious and spiritual background. I brought in an egg. This wasn't meant to symbolize my soul, nor to illustrate a hard shell that I had built up over years of religious turmoil. I brought the egg because I can still vividly remember the ridiculous number-thousands!-of eggs cooked on the grill for the Easter Sunday Sunrise service at The Hanover Center Congregational Church in New Hampshire where I grew up. Read more...
The deadline for the October 17 Steeple Biweekly is Friday, October 13 at noon.
Send your submissions to Diane Young.
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