The First Religious Society Newsletter
The Steeple Biweekly

Scroll down to find these news sections. 
  • Sunday Services
  • Rev-eries
  • Calendar of Events 
  • Within Our Community
  • Beyond Our Doors

Sunday Services                March Theme: The Time Is Now...


March 12 - To Build a Strong Community: Celebration Sunday! - Rev. Susan Milnor and a Cast of Thousands. This week we will celebrate what we love about this community with a cast of many. Young Church will join us for a "Time for All Ages" before going downstairs for a special activity. Youth Choirs and Adult Choir will sing, and we'll have generally fantastic music. Our teens will share something with us; we'll hear from congregants; and Rev. Susan Milnor will deliver a sermon on "The Time is Now - But Why?" Today is the kickoff of our annual stewardship drive, and it's important to consider the deeper meaning of stewardship in these challenging times. First Giving Sunday: this will be the first opportunity for you to make a pledge for the coming church year.

Don't forget to set your clocks forward Saturday night, March 11 for Daylight Savings Time!

Standing on the side of love banners
March 19 - To Act Boldly from the Core of Our Faith - Rev. Susan Milnor. The demands our ideal of justice is putting on us now are extraordinary. How can we be grounded in our religious tradition during these difficult times? Can it help us to distinguish between pure partisan politics and acting for our core values? I struggle with this every day, and the struggle is important. Second Giving Sunday.

Ray Wilson will share his Journey of Faith. Today is Soup Sunday--enjoy soup, chili, and fellowship during Coffee Hour.

March 26 - A Wind at the Back: Some Thoughts on Privilege - Rev. Stan Barrett, FRS Affiliate Minister.  When life is challenging--and when is it not?--we don't usually spend much time feeling, or thinking about being, privileged. Yet we know that having (or not having) certain characteristics--like being white or male or "straight"--can make life easier (or harder) for us. And it's complicated, because we - and those around us - have different mixtures of privilege and its lack. Beyond that, how "should" we feel about privilege, to the extent that we have it? Read more...

Collection for Cause
Half of March's unpledged cash collection plate donations will go to Our Neighbor's Table, which provides food assistance to individuals and families.

I am asking two things of you.

First, come and celebrate our life together at First Religious Society on Sunday, March 12. The past several months have been a challenging time, and we need a moment to celebrate. Yes, it's the kick-off to our annual stewardship drive, and your support is an important part of that. But it's about so much more. Celebration Sunday is about giving in every way possible until we feel good:  with music, with the energy of generations coming together, with love, and with commitment to all that we believe in. Read more...
Calendar of Events

Tuesday, March 7: Social visionary and activist Chuck Collins. At the  Belleville Congregational Church, 300 High Street, Newburyport, 7pm. Collins, author of Born on Third Base: A One Percenter Makes the Case for Tackling Inequality, Bring Wealth Home, and Committing to the Common Good, offers bold new solutions for bridging the economic divide and re-engaging the wealthy in rebuilding communities for a resilient future. Co-sponsored by the Belleville Congregational Church and FRS. Free.

Plants in container
Wednesday, March 8: Container Gardening. Lower Meeting House, 1pm, preceded by lunch and business meeting at noon. The UU Alliance begins their spring season with a program called "Container Gardening Just in Time for Spring." If you don't have a green thumb this program is for you. Read more...

Thursday, March 9: Transition Workshop. Lower Meeting House, 10am-noon. Register now.

Thursday, March 9: Program Council special meeting. Parish Hall, second floor, 6:30-7:30pm. At the last Program Council Meeting, we voted to support a service project and open house to thank Newburyport for its support of our building project. Jay Iannini and Rebecca Brodish are co-chairs of the project and will present at this meeting how we can become involved and make it a success.

Sunday, March 12: Parish Board members hold listening post. Parish Hall during Coffee Hour, 11:30am. Ask your questions and express opinions at this every-second-Sunday event.

Sunday, March 12: Transition Workshop. Lower Meeting House, noon-2pm. Child care and food provided. Register now.

Tuesday, March 14: ROMEO. Connie's Stagecoach, 95 Elm Street, Salisbury at noon. Retired Old Men Eating Out welcome newcomers. RSVP to Alec White.

Wednesday, March 15: Retired Ladies Lunch. Ithaki, Ipswich, noon. RSVP to Peg Mays.

Sunday, March 19: Getting to Know the First Religious Society. Sanctuary, 11:45-12:15. Newcomers are invited to an informal conversation with the Rev. Susan Milnor.

Sunday, March 19: FRS youth present an immigration documentary and discussion. Lower Meeting House, noon-2pm.Join the B'Link (youth immigration justice trip) group for a viewing of the documentary "Harvest of Empire," followed by discussion. "Harvest of Empire" tells the story of how U.S. social and political policies have driven millions of people to migrate here from Latin America. This will also be an opportunity to hear more about the trip we will be taking to Tucson and Mexico in June. Grab a quick bite to eat after church, then join us for the program.

Monday, March 20: Program Council. Lower Meeting House, 7pm.

Tuesday, March 21:  Short Story Group . Lower Meeting House, 12-1pm. The story for discussion will be "A White Heron," by Sarah Orne Jewett.

Wednesday, March 22: "Before the Flood."  Central Congregational Church, 14 Titcomb St., Newburyport, 7pm. A documentary on how Earth is changing due to rising temperatures and how individuals and society at large can help preserve our precious environment--produced by Leonardo DiCaprio and Fisher Stevens. Sponsored by Central Congregational, Transition Newburyport, and the FRS Climate Action Project.

Saturday, March 25: Community walk at Maudslay State Park. Meet in front of the church at 9:30am. Members who like walking can expect 3-5 miles over easy terrain. Call Mike Veves for more info. Rain or damp weather cancels.
Steinberg Duo

Sunday, March 26: Concert: The Steinberg Duo. Sanctuary, 4-5:30pm. The Steinberg Duo, violin and piano, will perform a concert of Romantic music by Dvorak, Grieg, and Franck. Suggested donations are $20, $10 for seniors, children and students free.

Friday, March 31: Un-birthday party for all. Lower Meeting House, 6:30pm. You are invited to a brand-new intergenerational event. A fun mixer for all ages as we celebrate our un-birthdays together.

See the website calendar for a complete listing of events.

Within Our Community

The VUU-a social justice and video project for middle schoolers
Is there an issue you feel passionate about? Do you want to make the world a better place? Do you want to make your voice heard? Do you want to express yourself creatively and have fun? Are you in middle school? Read more...

Help shape our vision for the future
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. Register for one of the remaining sessions: Thursday, March 9, 10-noon; Sunday, March 12, noon-2pm (childcare and food provided on Sunday).

Submit names for the FRS Ministerial Search Committee
Over the 2017-18 church year, a Search Committee of FRS members will do the important and confidential work of finding a candidate for our next minister. This month, e very congregation member (those who have signed a membership application) is asked to submit a list of up to five members that they would recommend for the Search Committee. Read more...

Bylaw changes for 2017 Annual Meeting
Bylaw changes will be presented to the membership at the Annual Meeting on May 21. These changes are being suggested by the Parish Board to bring us into alignment with best practices. In this two-year period of transition we are reflecting on many of our practices, and getting them in order for a new settled ministry. Read more...

Seeking members interested in church leadership
The Governance Committee of the Parish Board is busy at this time of year. Part of our role is to oversee the nominations process - seeking interested members to take on the mantle of leadership for the next church year. We're always in search of members who might be interested in church leadership, and we'd be happy to answer questions or speak to anyone who might just want to find out more about the different roles of leadership in the church. Read more...

End Mass Incarceration
Kelcourse meeting
March 20, 8:30am Kelcourse Meeting. 23 Green Street (behind Post Office). Present criminal justice reform legislative issues. Ask which he is willing to back. Ask for a commitment to sign on to these bills. All are welcome to join us.
Post-Incarceration Programs Next Steps Meeting
March 18, 10am. Haverhill UU Church. Clarence Blevins, Tina, two representatives of POSE, members of the Amesbury Meeting, will join us in making the next step to setup a center and/or resources for previously incarcerated men and women trying to rebuild their lives. All are welcome. Contact Sandra Thaxter

Finding information on the FRS website
Looking for an older article on the FRS website? Try the search box on the right-hand column of any page.

Membership series--for old and new
For newcomers who want to know what membership entails, for new members who missed an introduction, for "old-timers" who'd like a refresher. We'll talk about the principles of Unitarian Universalism, the history of FRS, church programs, and our own spiritual journeys. Three Tuesdays: March 28, April 4, and April 11, 7-8:30pm. Sign up for the series with Diane Young, Director of Community Engagement, Ext. 409.

From the Justice Action Ministry (JAM)
Connect with other UU's about election responses--what are congregations doing and what is the UUA doing? Check out these two events.
New England Regional Assembly, Woburn, MA, April 21-22
Lift our collective heart, mind and spirit through music, worship, learning, laughing, conversing, and participation in our UUA democratic process. This is an opportunity to step outside our church community into the wider Unitarian Universalist movement in New England. Great music and wonderful events!
General Assembly, New Orleans June 21-25
Our annual gathering- hands on service projects, music, worship, racial justice training, and amazing connections. Scholarships.

New policy on announcements during Sunday service
The Worship Committee has instituted a new policy for announcements in the service, adding a few new aspects and formalizing what has been a looser set of practices. The Committee is happy to hear your feedback as the weeks progress and we implement the policy. Contact Merryl Maleska Wilbur, chair.

Reserving meeting rooms at FRS
Thanks to all of you who are using the new online room reservation form. Nicole Salemi is doing a great job of keeping the calendars up to date and synched, but there are always bookings in progress. Please remember to check the website calendar, but wait for a confirmation from Nicole before sharing the date with your group or the media.--Diane Young, Director of Community Engagement

Organizational chart part 1
How we govern at FRS: our model of governance
For those of us who are visual learners, the FRS organizational chart provides a snapshot of our governance model. In prior articles we talked about the concept of congregational polity and how the Parish Board is the governing body that represents the congregation in the application of governance, and in this article we will look at the whole picture of governance to point out how the Parish Board accomplishes this. Read more...

Help the FRS community by joining Parish Friends
The members of Parish Friends help fellow parishioners with cards, home and rehab visits, ridesto church and health care appointments, hot meals, and errands for shut-ins. Over 50 volunteers make up the group. A new volunteer decides which aspect of care they feel most comfortable with. Some of the volunteers are folks who have received help themselves. If you'd like to join the Parish Friends, please contact Nicole Salemi, Office Administrator, Ext. 401.
Beyond Our Doors

Raise Up : Sunday, March 12, 4pm in the Lower Meeting House. Did you know that Massachusetts has one of the highest rates of income inequality in the nation? Raise Up Massachusetts is working to pass legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15.00 and guarantee paid family medical leave for all workers in Massachusetts, and to pass the Fair Share tax on annual incomes over $1,000,000. Learn about Raise Up's work to reduce income inequality in our state and what actions you can take to help in the effort to improve the lives of Massachusetts workers.
The deadline for the March 21 Steeple Biweekly is Friday, March 18 at noon.
Send your submissions to Diane Young.
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