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Connector September 4, 2013

Connector September 4, 2013

September 4, 2013

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Minister’s Column by Rev. Dr. Marjorie Matty

revmarjorieHello members and friends of First Parish!  I hope that, for the most part, you are enjoying your summer fun.  I personally love the summer, and yet the last couple of months have been a challenge after deciding to sell my home in Jamaica Plain and move out to Metrowest.  I felt that is was important to be close to Sudbury as I began my ministry so I made it my goal to be living in the area before homecoming Sunday.  Little did I know what it would take, and I have to admit that it is one thing to have challenge foisted upon us and quite another to actually invite and welcome it into our lives.  So as I write this Connector column I officially live in Stow.  Over the last few months I have been keeping a close eye on how things were going at FPS and working closely with your interim minister, Rev. Tracey.  I have met with Tracey a few times and received updates about members of the congregation.  I know that many of us in the last few months have faced challenging news, disappointment, loss, a difficult diagnosis and/or surgery.  Not all of the challenges that you have faced have been negative, but even the exciting news of a new job can raise one’s anxiety with the possibility of change.  The coveted summer months in New England are meant to be enjoyed at a slow leisurely pace, but it seems that many have had to negotiate transitions and embrace the reality of re-imagining his or her identity.  This is not a new phenomenon in our lives so… “here we are once again.”  As we face the challenges, crossroads and changes of life I want you to know that, if you are in need or struggling, First Parish of Sudbury is here for you.  As your new minister I am here to travel with you on your journey wherever it may lead; please keep in mind that you are not alone… If you reach out we will be there.

 As a congregation of seekers we have a commitment to one another to face what may come; we are on this journey as individuals together.  It is my pleasure to guide, remind, minister to you, and inspire you to endeavor towards a future of our own design.  I have been thinking about the members, friends and visitors of First Parish since you called me to be your 44th minister on April 28th.  I have to admit that it was hard to build all of the energy that we did during candidating week  to then go into hibernation until my start date, August 19th.  What waiting has helped me to realize over these months is that slow and steady will help us to achieve our goals.  Since officially beginning my ministry with you I have met with many members and the leadership of FPS to discuss our direction and goals.  The one consistent message that I have shared in every meeting is that in the beginning was the word.  What I am referring to is not necessarily biblical but practical. Words contain power to help or hurt, and in our first month together we will endeavor to understand and practice “Speaking Our Truth in Love.”  It is a well known fact that communication and miscommunication can make or break a community, thus, it will be our first skill and spiritual/religious practice to investigate.  “Speaking Our Truth in Love” entails making a commitment to suspend judgement and to be acutely aware of our innate vulnerability and endeavor to bring our higher selves to bear in relation to one another.  We will begin September by sharing in our Unitarian Universalist water ritual on the 8th, officially welcome the new minister, that would be me, with a picnic on the green (aka a fancy name for the FPS lawn) on the 15th and actively engage our minds and hearts throughout the month.  I will be speaking about such topics as the nature of language and expression and how we can be a truly genuine and intentional congregation.  I ask for your patience in the coming months as we enter a time of experimentation in worship and leadership.  Please feel free to share feedback with me, but refer to the aforementioned “speaking your truth IN LOVE” when doing so. 🙂

It is absolutely my pleasure to be starting this September as your minister and to know with full confidence that together we will realize our hopes and dreams for the First Parish of Sudbury.  We have so much to look forward too, even though at times we may feel challenged to the core.  Rev. William Ellery Channing, one of our Unitarian forefathers, once shared, “Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage.  The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict.”  May we move bravely and boldly into our future, inspired by the challenges that we face and willing to be changed by them for the better.

In Love,

Rev. Marjorie

Content Highlights & LINKS

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Please wear your name tag and help everyone get to know who you are.

 

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Roberta Altamariby Roberta Altamari, Director of Lifespan Religious Education

Welcome back to another year together at First Parish!  I look forward to seeing everyone and hearing about your summer adventures.  From several weeks at Ferry Beach to volunteering at Camp Erin (a camp for children who have lost a loved one), I have enjoyed a variety of professional growth experiences that I look forward to sharing with you.  Most significantly, I have felt a reaffirmation of the importance of keeping your loved ones and your beloved communities close.  In the busyness of life, may we always find time to appreciate one another!

In that spirit, I have decided to dedicate the rest of my column to sharing several quotes that inspired me this summer.  How might they inspire you?  How might they inspire your feelings and commitment to our community here at First Parish?

“The secret to a good life is to never stop … Smiling . Dreaming . Loving . Hugging . Holding . Searching . Thanking . Feeling . Learning . Playing . Laughing . Thinking . Wishing . Forgiving . Healing . Expressing . Appreciating . Believing . Cherishing . Creating . Hoping . Living” by Heather McCloskey Beck. 

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” by Maya Angelou 

When asked how they managed to stay together for 65 years, the woman replied, “We were born in a time where if something was broke, you fix it … Not throw it away.” unknown origin 

“Sometimes the most ordinary things could be made extraordinary simply by doing them with the right people.” by Elizabeth Green 

Before you speak, THINK!  T – is it true?  H – is it helpful?  I – is it inspiring?  N – is it nice?  K – is it kind?  Unknown origin 

Blessed be.

Roberta

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Religious Exploration NEWS

Here’s what is coming up in our Religious Education program this September.  Stay tuned to the next newsletter and the website for news about some exciting programs new for this year!

Sunday, September 8th

Join together for a multigenerational ingathering service. Folks of all ages are invited to join us for this special worship service to begin a wonderful new year together.

Sunday, September 15th

Don’t miss this festive all kids together “welcome back” celebration. All kids are invited to bring an item/object that symbolizes a joy or a sorrow that happened this summer for our sharing circle.  Our Hop Brook Morris Dancers will also be doing a demonstration dance during our celebration and later at Social Hour.  All youth in grades 5 and up are invited to join (and to invite a friend to join as you do not need to be a First Parish member to dance).

Sunday, September 22nd

The first day of regular Religious Education groups. We are very excited to start another year together!  Please save the date of Sunday, October 6th for our annual R.E. meet and greet (after social hour while the kids are entertained in the petting zoo).

Join Rev. Marjorie and Roberta for a Book Discussion Group on 9/25 and 10/2!

Rev. Marjorie and Roberta are pleased to invite you to join them for one (or both) of our book discussion groups about “The Language of Flowers” by Vanessa Diffenbaugh on Wednesday, September 25th at 7 pm or Wednesday, October 2nd at noon.  When Marjorie and Roberta first met, they both remarked how compelling and emotional this book was and thought it would be a thought provoking first adult spiritual exploration event to kick off our new ministry together.  Highlighting a year of reaching beyond our congregational walls, we will also post the most engaging discussion questions/points online.  Please join us in person or on Facebook!

The Language of Flowers” by Vanessa Diffenbaugh is a New York Times bestseller and this is its description on Amazon: “The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Now eighteen and emancipated from the system with nowhere to go, Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But an unexpected encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning what’s been missing in her life. And when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.”

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Both Morris Dancing Groups Are Welcoming New Members!

Our Hop Brook Morris Dancers (kids in grades 5 through 8) and our Great Meadows Morris Dancers (kids in high school) are seeking new members.  First Parish youth are encouraged to invite friends as you do not need to be a FPS member to dance.  Hop Brook starts on September 29th at 11:45am and Great Meadows starts on September 15th at 4:45pm.  For those of you not familiar with it, Morris dancing comes from the Cotswold region of England and is a springtime ritual dance done in the small agricultural villages around Cambridge and Oxford.  The bells, sticks, and colorful costumes combine with the vigorous dancing to wake the earth and drive away the evil spirits of winter and guarantee a good crop that summer.  These dances are hundreds of years old and were passed down through the generations to us today.  Our Sword dance comes from Northern England from a village called Ampleforth.  This dance is part of a mummer’s play, which acts out the ancient theme of death and resurrection.  St. George is killed by swords which circle round his neck and then is brought back to life by the mystical magic of the “fool.”   Hop Brook Morris was started in 1990 at First Parish of Sudbury by Tom Kruskal and a group of 5th – 8th graders.  We perform ritual dances from England at festivals and events around the Boston area.  There are many adult groups performing these dances, but we are one of the few kid’s teams.  For more information contact Tom Kruskal, 978-443-8940, 

Awesome Interfaith Service Project to Benefit Our Local Neighbors!

Middlesex County is the hungriest county in Massachusetts with over 130,000 people living in households that struggle to put food on the table.  On September 29 the congregations of Sudbury have a unique opportunity to help.  Beginning at 11am, the Sudbury Clergy Association will be sponsoring an event to package 37,500 meals in honor of Sudbury’s upcoming 375th anniversary.  These nutritious meals are comprised of rice, fortified soy protein, vegetables, and essential vitamins & minerals.  The nutritionally beneficial dry food packages contain six servings, have a long shelf life, and are easy to prepare at a cost of only 25 cents each.

You can help out in 1, 2, or 3 ways. 

  1. Donate funds – our goal is $9375.  Each meal costs only 25 cents.  Consider a donation of $37.50.  That will allow one person to package meals for an hour, and you will feed 150 kids in the hungriest county in New England.  Online at EndHungerNE.org/donate and mention “Sept. 29-Sudbury” in the special instructions section.  By Check – payable to “Outreach Inc. – Kids Care” with “Sept. 29-Sudbury” in the memo section.  Funds are needed as soon as possible to pay for the supplies.
  2. Volunteer time – Sign up for a 1 hour shift (or more!).  Four assembly lines of 12 people each will be set up in Ames Hall at Memorial Congregational Church.  Join with volunteers from all over Sudbury to put the meal packages together.  In 1 hour, 50 volunteers can package 8,000 meals!  We anticipate completing our goal of 37,500 in 5 hours.  Sign up at MCCsudbury.org/event/food.
  3. Connect with area food pantries – If you are aware of a need in the area, please let one of the clergy know so we can contact them to arrange for delivery of meals.

This is a great opportunity to work side-by-side with your neighbors to make a real difference in our area.  And it’s not just for church goers – invite your friends, everyone is welcome!

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Living Our Faith

This new section now encompasses all Social Justice News at First Parish

With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony …..we will be able to work together ……knowing that we will be free one day.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. August 28, 1963

Fifty years after the March on Washington much has changed, yet much remains to be done. And Unitarian Universalists have an important role to play in fulfilling the dream of freedom, equality, and justice that drew some 250,000 people to Washington in 1963. In fact, our Seven Principles lead us – through acts large and small, local and global – to create the Beloved Community of which Dr. King so often spoke.

Here at First Parish we are embarking on an exciting journey of Living Our Faith. It’s a journey we will take together as a community and a journey that honors the work already being done by so many members and friends. It’s a continuation of our work to feed the hungry, to support domestic violence programs, to encourage literacy around the globe, to make life a little better for children living in shelters, to ensure true equality for GLBT people. But we are also embarking on a new phase of the journey this year, with a renewed commitment to work with each other in community, to engage in moral discourse, and together address the pressing social issues of our time. Reverend Marjorie has invited us to come together and share our own dreams of what a more just world would look like. She’s invited us to think about how we might support each other in the work already being done and to join together, as a congregation, to carry our UU values out into the world.

  • What might church as a community of moral discourse and action look like at First Parish?
  • How might we create a shared vision of living our faith?
  • What dreams do you have for the world?
  • What would a world of Beloved Community look like for you?
  • What ideas do you have for projects that we can do together?

We invite you to give some thought to these questions and then join Reverend Marjorie immediately following the service on September 22nd for a congregational conversation about our first steps on this part of the journey of Living Our Faith.   Snacks and child care will be provided; there’s no need to RSVP, just bring your dreams and ideas!

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From Your Faith In Action Team

Our next meeting is scheduled for 8:30 am, Sunday, September 14, in our First Parish Library. You are very welcome to attend and, also, to join our Team.

We expect to continue our practice of two Share-the-Plates (STPs) each month during the coming church year. The first three that have been scheduled are for Barakat, a local Interfaith Service Project and Concord Prison Outreach.  We invite you to tell us for what organizations you’d like us to have STPs. The application blanks are on the Faith in Action bulletin board in Parish Hall. Please fill them out and give them to me or put them in the Faith In Action folder in the office.  For those of you who are new to First Parish, or who have forgotten, STPs denote our sharing the contents of our offering plates between First Parish and the designated organizations. — Judy D, Coordinator, Faith in Action Team

Bring in Your Backpack Donations

gdbackpackAs the summer draws to a close, please remember to include shopping for backpacks and school supplies on your “to do” list for the fall.  This is such an easy way for all of us to “live our faith” by helping others while we go about our daily lives.

For ten years, First Parish and HOPEsudbury have partnered to help children living in homeless shelters and transitional housing to feel a bit more special as they go back to school by providing new backpacks, pencils, pens, crayons, notebooks, etc.  The students range in age from elementary through high school.

There is a bin in the First Parish lobby to collect the backpacks and supplies. Questions, please contact the office or Ginny D for Living our Faith.

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Share the Plate September 8 with Barakat

On September 8, we will Share the Plate (divide the offering/collection from our worship service 50/50) with Barakat, a Cambridge and South Asia based organization that provides elementary education in Afghanistan and Pakistan for girls and boys and literacy programs for their mothers.  Educating the women means that students continue to learn at home and  the mothers can become more independent as well.  Learning to read and do simple math is a big deal for women living in rural Afghanistan and Pakistan and in the Afghan refugee camps just inside Pakistan.

Barakat was operating in Afghanistan during the prior Taliban regime and expects to continue after the US withdraws.  Barakat has no affiliations with US government agencies, so it is not specifically impacted by the political climate.  Its services are even more needed when the rights of women are in jeopardy, as they have been throughout most of Barakat’s history, including now.

Barakat works with the village elders, who provide the buildings for the schools.  Barakat employs the teachers, who are credentialed from local universities,  as well as providing supplies.  The families pay the tuition for boys, but Barakat must fund the girls’ education, or it doesn’t happen.   In addition Barakat is able to provide some scholarships for secondary education to girls completing their program.   An early graduate of the program has returned to her village as a teacher.

Many students in Barakat’s schools are the first of their families to attend school. Students are provided with transport, uniforms and textbooks, at no cost to their families.  Female participation is increased by creating female-only sections for each grade.

All education is secular in nature. Students at schools are instructed in Dari, the national language of Afghanistan. Subjects taught also include English, mathematics, science, social sciences and Islamic studies (required by law of all schools).

Teachers at both schools are regularly trained by the government of Afghanistan, at the Dar Mualimin, or Education Center, in Andkhoy to increase their knowledge for different subjects and higher grade levels.  Training sessions are five days a week, for two hours a day, for a two-year period.

This Share the Plate to support Barakat’s education programs is the kick-off for Team First Parish, a group of adults participating in  Barakat’s 6th Annual Walk for Literacy, which takes place on Saturday, September 28.  You may also sponsor team First Parish of Sudbury directly on the website.  More information is available from Carolyn L and at barakatworld.org/Walk.html

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From your Welcoming Congregation Committee

Victories and Hope for Transgender Equality

We are delighted to announce two victories impacting the transgender community. On June 17 the Social Security Adminiamanallyistration announced it had revised its policy concerning changing gender markers on social security cards, making it easier for transgender people to have a social security card that accurately reflects who they are.  Also, on June 18  the Delaware House of Representatives voted in favor of nondiscrimination protections for the transgender community. When the final bill is signed, Delaware will become the 17th state with protections for this population. The Delaware law includes protections in the area of public accommodations which we are still advocating for here in Massachusetts.

To learn more about the Massachusetts Equal Access Bill, please contact .

Historic Supreme Court Decision Impels States to Enact More Discriminatory Laws

Extremist right-wingers are riled up and lashing out over the Supreme Court DOMA (Defense of Marriage) rulings and the historic return of marriage to California.  The clock is ticking while the far right wing grows louder.  Anti-gay leaders have had some choice words:  Rick Santorum called these victories a “death knell”  for marriage, and Gary Bauer warned that the “militant homosexual movement” is leading America toward a “criminalization of Christianity.”  And if you thought our Supreme Court victories marked the end of the fight for equality, you are wrong.  Rep. Tim Huelskamp is already renewing efforts to pass a constitutional amendment in Congress that would reinstate DOMA and ban marriage equality – even in states where it already exists.  Some states are rushing to pass bans on same-sex marriage before voters force new amendments.  The fight for equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals continues.  Please let your US and State legislators know how you stand as a UU and a person of faith.

UU Animal Ministry

In the latest issue of the UU World magazine, author Kimberly French’s cover piece, “Our Animal Contradictions,” has brought about a lively discussion about her views, pro and con, on the UU Animal Ministry list-serve/chat line.  Wherever you fall on the spectrum, I urge you to educate yourself thoroughly, keeping in mind our  UU Princliples.  Says member Chris Holbein, ” By living our Seventh Principle and choosing exclusively plant-based foods, UUs will help lead humanity towards a more sustainable, kinder world.”  For more information go to www.uuam.org.

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Picnic on the Green September 15!

What better way to welcome Rev. Marjorie than a community gathering visible to everyone passing First Parish of Sudbury.  On Sunday, September 15, bring your blanket and picnic basket for lunch on the front lawn following the morning service.  The Community & Hospitality Committee is working on having music, dancing or other festivity for all ages.  Beverages will be provided.

If it rains … we’ll move the “lawn” inside and have a picnic anyway!  If you have suggestions or would like to add something to the festivities, please contact Ginny S, Nina P or Sheila D.

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Women’s Alliance Invites All Women Sept. 15

femclipAll women of the Parish – members, friends, visitors, are warmly encouraged to attend the meeting of the Women’s Alliance on Sunday, September 15 in the Commons  5:30-7:30 PM.

We’ll share pot luck supper of store-bought or home-made food and beverages.  Rev. Marjorie Matty will be there.  On the agenda is how to spend the money made at the Rummage Sale and planning for the one day Retreat on November 2.

Community & Hospitality Committee

COFFEE, TEA, AND ….  The Community and Hospitality Committee (CHC) would like people to have choices about how to support Coffee Hour.  After considerable discussion, the CHC has decided to try a Coffee Hour experiment.  The sign-up sheet will be divided into three sections:  coffee, sweets (pastries, etc.), healthy stuff (juice, fruits, veggies, cheese, etc.)  Individuals – singly or in pairs, as committees or interest groups – may sign up for all or one of these opportunities for Sunday mornings.  While we hope there always will be coffee & tea available, some Sundays might not include snacks.

This division obviously makes it easier for everyone to contribute to the hospitality we offer to each other on Sunday mornings.  It offers you the opportunity to participate to your best ability.  The CHC will welcome feedback in early October after we have tried this for a while.

In addition to Coffee Hour, there are many ways to contribute to hospitality at First Parish without being on a committee!

  • Sign up to provide flowers for the sanctuary one Sunday.
  • Pair with an experienced usher.  Please contact Nancy Moore or the office.
  • Pair with an experienced greeter to welcome people as they enter.  Please contact Ginny Steel or the office.

CHC:  Sheila D, Carolyn L, Nina P, Cilla R, Ginny S

FYI-There is a paper sign up sheet in the Parish Hall on  the bulletin board to the right of the kitchen or contact the office.

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From Our Landscape Committee

mumsPlease note:  There will not be a Mum Sale this Fall.

The Committee thanks those who supported the sale in the past but has decided not to hold a sale this year.

 

Thank You

Thanks to Cate D our Wayside Pulpit sign on the corner of Concord Road and Hudson Road looks great.  Cate scraped the old paint off, sanded, primed and painted the sign and puttied in a new clear plastic sheet.  Thanks for the completion of this project also go to Steve G who repaired much of the Waysde Pulpit’s structure and rebuilt its back door, and to Bruce L who coordinated this re-do behind the scenes and took the lead on updating the main lawn sign as well.  The team’s next project is our lawn sign on Concord Road.

Thank you to Steve Gabeler for fixing the broken cabinet door and installing new screws on the folding chairs in the Commons…and to Bruce L for working with the Town to plan a patch for the big pothole in our parking lot, tiding us over until the entire lot is redone…and to Terry L for quite a number of “little fix its” that were done over the summer around the meetinghouse.

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Save the Date and Make Those Preserves!

The 112th Annual First Parish Harvest Craft Fair is October 19 from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Please save the date for lots of fun – and, of course, volunteer opportunities!

We sell homemade jams, jellies, and preserves at our Fair so please make a couple or 20 extra jars for us!  All flavors are welcome.  If you have any questions regarding size, number or flavor of preserves, please speak with one of the Co-Chairs, Sherri C, Elaine J, Mary Ellen F, Carolyn L, or Sue C.

Speaking of Co-Chairs, we need one more.  This would be the Co-Chair of Facilities.  The job runs from now until the night of the Fair and includes working with the volunteers and setting up the church for the Fair, and then returning it to normalcy again.  There is no experience necessary and lots of help and support given – as this is a group effort.  Please contact one of the afore-mentioned co-chairs with any questions or to volunteer.  Thank you very much.

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People We Care About

Kellimage020y and Dan S. report:  Our youngest son Patrick has craniosynostosis which basically means that the cranial suture in his forehead fused together before he was born.  On September 9 he will be having surgery at Mass General where they will remove his forehead, reshape the bone, and then reattach it.  He will be in the hospital for 3-5 days.  While Patrick and Kelly are in the hospital, Kelly’s dad and stepmom will be taking care of the boys.  Thoughts and prayers are welcome, and please feel free to contact Kelly with any questions or to see if there is anything they need.  Kelly can be reached by phone or email (see your copy of the FP Members & Friends Directory) or contact the office a 978-443-2043 /

Stewardship

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. — Winston Churchill

Thank you to all the members and friends of First Parish who pledged their financial support during the spring pledge drive. Because of you we raised just over $228,000 to support the 2013-2014 budget. Thanks to your generosity, we are able to maintain our historic meeting house, continue to support the ongoing programs of First Parish, and award salary increases to our hard working staff. Your support is vital to the life of First Parish and is deeply appreciated.

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District, Denominational and local  UU News

Please check the bulletin boards in the Parish Hall for events at other churches, the Clara Barton and Mass Bay Districts of UU Congregations, image026the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA) and others who share our values.

Position Opening posted August 25, 2013.  The UUA currently has a career opportunity for a Professional Development Assistant to join our team in Boston. See   www.uua.org/documents/hr/jobdescriptions/mfd_prof_dev_asst.pdf

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FIRST PARISH OF SUDBURY UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST

327 Concord Rd., Sudbury, MA 01776

www.fpsudbury.org   978-443-2043

WORSHIP & RELIGIOUS ED. SUNDAYS 10:00 AM

Newsletter submission deadline is 5 pm Wed., Sept. 10 for the issue of Wed., Sept. 17

Send to administrator   or phone 978-443-2043

We are a diverse and welcoming community of spiritual seekers;  we strive to learn together and support one another as we celebrate life’s important moments and serve the larger community.  At First Parish of Sudbury we welcome all who wish to explore their own spiritual journeys in the company of others and any who are seeking a religiously liberal community of faith.  Our ministry is for people of all ages: we are a religious community that combines spiritual exploration, religious education, music, caring and compassion, service, advocacy, public witness and action.  Our community is not confined to Sunday worship, rather we live our faith in service and action both inside and beyond our historic meetinghouse.  Please visit or call or check out our website.

Minister:  Rev. Dr. Marjorie Matty — 

Director of Lifespan Religious Education:  Roberta Altamari — 

Director of Music:  Debra Morris-Bennett — 

Congregational Administrator:  Donna Scalcione — 

 

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Events Calendar

Click here to see the block calendar.