A wise sage Swami Prajnanpad once shared: “In nature, action and reaction are continuous. Everything is connected to everything else. No one part, nothing, is isolated. Everything is linked, and interdependent. Everywhere everything is connected to everything else.” Our seventh Unitarian Universalist principle dovetails nicely into this wisdom, calling us to, “Respect… the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.” As summer is finally upon us I am compelled to think about the interdependence of the past, present and future while trying to slow down the drive within towards action and reaction. I reflect on the moments that we have shared throughout this church year, and I imagine the days, months and activities that are yet to be planned, all while I endeavor to stay firmly planted in the present moment. The challenge to this practice of staying present is that our culture wants and, in many ways demands, that we think and plan ahead and at the same time be fluent in one’s past (short and long-term). In large measure, it seems that we are not rewarded for staying in the here and now. The only time that we really allow ourselves leisure is during the “lazy days” of summer. Summer permits one to stay present and to enjoy life a little bit more and not get caught up in minutia of calendaring or driving for some goal. We slow it all down and in many ways try to be mindful of our connection to everyone and everything else. <insert a sigh of relief here>
PAST: What an incredible ten month stint we have had from August to June! This last Sunday our Seniors bridged and graduated, and we engaged in the sacred ritual of the annual meeting. It was a time where I shared my thoughts about this last year in a Powerpoint presentation up on the big screen. I shared a litany of accomplishments that spanned as follows: “It all began with water… Animals, Samhain, cornbread, Hanukah, Yule, Christmas, Strategic Thinking, All Kinds of Love and chocolate, themed Saturday nights, Easter Morning, Passover, Pancakes, a May Pole, the sacred ritual of “The Annual Meeting” and Flowers…” Then I took a breath and continued to share all of the ways that the congregation of First Parish shared our gifts with the world; whether walking, volunteering, wrapping gifts, helping to distribute food, buying flip-flops or sunblock for children or needed toiletries for the Sudbury pantry. I shared how we made a partner in Cambodia to help provide fresh drinking water to a village and how we considered solar as a way to reduce our carbon footprint on the planet. Friends, we have done some amazing work this year! We also began the process of thinking about our future strategically, no small task in itself. We engaged in two successful searches this spring: one for a Director of Religious Exploration and then another for a Congregational Administrator. I must admit that it is difficult to see members of the staff transition; Donna and Roberta have contributed in amazing ways during their time at FPS and in their current roles and I thank them for all that they have shared with us as well as the patience that they had with me this year, the new kid on the block!
FUTURE: I will admit that I am thrilled with the outcome of this spring’s search processes. Leslie Silva will be our Congregational Administrator and book keeper beginning on June 16th. She will share her years of experience as an office administrator of large law firms in Boston and having recently, last year, transitioned to being a Congregational Administer, she brings a wealth of knowledge. Laurel Whitehouse will be starting in August as our Director of Religious Exploration and will bring much to our nursery thru grade 8 religious education program. Laurel has spent the last five years working at the UU Church of Belmont, leading their program which is comprised of 189 children. I am very excited about the year to come, and Laurel and I have already begun to talk about themes and scheduling for the upcoming year. During June I will meet with our new staff members, preach two more sermons, and attend the UUA General Assembly and UU Ministers Association meetings in Providence, Rhode Island. I will meet with Sheila Murphy, the newly minted Board of Trustees chair, to review the 2014-2015 draft calendar and discuss best practices as well as summer plans. This month of June is all about wrapping up the details of the last ten months while putting the foundation in place to launch a successful 2014-2015 FPS year. The Board will not be meeting during the month of July, per the minister’s recommendation, and we will start again with two new Board members, Della Hughes and Susan Curnan, the first week of August. I will be on leave the month of July and will not be available via email, phone or in person; if you have an issue or emergency please contact a member of the Pastoral Associates Group directly. They will be checking the minister’s voicemail at (978) 443-2043 ext. 2.
PRESENT: Here I am in this moment… being both humbled and proud of the incredible effort that we all put forth and what we were able to accomplish together over the last ten months. I am trying to slow myself down a bit after the annual meeting and the June Board meeting and endeavoring to be more in the moment… I am watching the grass grow in my front yard, trying to be patient and trying not to be concerned about the water ramifications of having a lawn. I have to admit that this is a hard one. It isn’t always easy to just chill out and turn the UU activist mind off as I plan the many ways that I want to enjoy the summer, whether it is in Acadia National Park, in Syracuse, NY, on the Saint Lawrence River, or on/in Lake Boon. I try to remind myself in a moment such as this that, “Everything is linked, and interdependent. Everywhere everything is connected to everything else” and this makes me smile, because I think of all of you doing your thing, whether that is golfing, gardening, sitting on the beach, or boating…
Friends, be safe and travel safely wherever you roam and know that you have earned a rest, enjoy being in the luxury of the present moment and enjoy the summer services that the Worship Associates Group have imagined for you. This is how I will endeavor to balance my heart and mind over the coming weeks, being held somewhere between the past, present and future, not spending much effort in either the past or future, and instead being right here and right now. I invite you to join me!
Peace, Love, and Lightness of Being
R.E.flections by a chaliceD.R.E.amer
by Roberta Altamari, Director of Lifespan Religious Education
I know no one likes saying goodbye, and I am very sad to soon say goodbye to many of you. While it feels a little less traumatic because I will continue working as your Director of Youth Ministry, I know that Fall will bring the hard reality that I won’t see many of you more than once or twice a year. (Unless you sign up to help with youth ministry … not so subtle – hint, hint).
Most significant, I want to say thank you. I would like to thank each and every one of you for six years of love and support. I know I am supposed to be the “professional leader,” but you all have taught me so much. And I truly have appreciated how affirming and patient you were as I grew into the leader I am today. As the Bette Midler song says, you truly have been the “wind beneath my wings” that has allowed me to fly (and laugh and love) in the work I do.
I will also forever be grateful to you for the care and compassion you have shared with me as my life has transitioned through a divorce and the blending of a new family. And I am equally grateful for welcoming my older daughter into your community with open arms. Being a part of First Parish has meant so much to her.
I met with one of the trustees for my exit interview last week, and it was especially nice to reflect on what I love about First Parish. First of all, it is such an AWESOME community of people. Starting with all of my amazing R.E. volunteers and our incredible children and youth and continuing onward and upward to the entire community, this really is a wonderful congregation because of the people here. My parting wish for you is that I honestly hope you can all practice the unconditional compassion you have shared with me with every child who comes to First Parish. Practicing radical hospitality to children (especially those with special needs) is a vital ministry … and one that will insure the congregation’s health in many ways. My ex-husband and I used to call Watertown the “handicapped capital of the world.” The name seemed obvious being home to the world famous Perkins School for the Blind, but it also came from never walking through Watertown Square without seeing someone with a disability. The remarkable thing was that this was what made Watertown so wonderful. People with disabilities brought many gifts to the community that I cherished. Many of them became my friends. Beyond just my personal experience, there was a level of kindness and compassion in the entire town that I have only since witnessed in religious communities. I hope that each of you will consider carrying forward this hospitality and ministry.
At the end of the This I Believe service in April, Tom Arnold wished that I would someday share my personal credo with you and got some of you to agree with him. I don’t have a service left in which I have the time to share that, but in many ways, I feel you know what I believe. I am a humanist in that I believe there is a spirit of love that is bigger than any one of us. I believe in the power of collaboration. We truly create magic when we work together. I believe that each individual has gifts to share with us, no matter how much it can seem like they don’t. And as my previous paragraph reveals, what is most important to me about my faith is putting it into action and living it in the real world. I love Unitarian Universalism because it is about deeds, not creeds. I love this faith that calls us out into the real world to spread love and compassion instead of staying home debating who is right or professing who is more loving. Let’s go live our faith! Now!
You have all loved me for who I really am and for that, I will be forever thankful. You all mean so much to me and I’m sincerely sad I have to say goodbye as your DRE. I know the future holds incredible things for you individually and collectively. T hank you for listening to my words and stories for these past six years, and I look forward to continuing to hear your stories.
Blessed be. Roberta
Coming Up in R.E. this month
June 8 ~ Annual Celebration Sunday with Flower Communion (and Roberta’s last Sunday service with us as our DRE) followed by an awesome potluck/pool party at the home of the Prince family from 12 to 4pm. Everyone is invited who wants to come say goodbye to Roberta and/or who volunteered in RE this year.
Saturday, June 14th for most of the day is the Boston Pride Paradeand the youth would love to have our families join us to march.
June 15 ~ Special all-kids-together “Father’s Day” activity followed by our ice-cream sundaes at Social Hour.
All month: Please bring sunscreen and/or beach towels to donate to local homeless families. Items we take for granted are hard to find for kids who are homeless. A collection bin is located in the downstairs lobby.
EVERYONE IS INVITED to Come Say Goodbye to Roberta…and Celebrate our R.E. Volunteers June 8
All First Parish members and friends are invited to a potluck/pool PARTY on Sunday, June 8 from noon to 4pm to celebrate Roberta’s six years as our Director of Lifespan Religious Education and to thank our R.E. volunteers. Bring a potluck dish and a bathing-suit/towel to swim at the home of the Prince family. Fun for all ages!
Interested in Living Our Faith? Interested in the FPS Strategic Plan?
The Living Our Faith Task Force warmly invites the congregation to a conversation on June 10 at 7:00 PM about the many and varied living our faith activities and how they can be supported and become an integral part of the FPS strategic plan.
It’s been almost a year since we created Living Our Faith as an “umbrella” for all the social and environmental justice work that so many people and groups are doing at First Parish. Once Rev Marjorie arrived, she created the Living Our Faith Task Force to focus on congregation-wide activities. But, as Marjorie said recently, Living Our Faith is not a committee and, in fact, everyone at First Parish is a member of Living Our Faith.
We’ve gone through a church year with this model and, with a new strategic plan in the works, it’s a great time to get together and talk about how we can create synergy across groups and committees and make “work for justice” a core element in the FPS strategic plan.
If you aren’t able to attend, please feel free to email your thoughts in advance to
Anyone going to General Assembly?
General Assembly (GA) is the annual meeting of our Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and this year it is in Providence RI. Attendees worship, witness, learn, connect, and make policy for the Association through democratic process. There are tons of workshops, and just imagine hanging with hundreds of other UUs!
The theme for General Assembly 2014 is Love Reaches Out. Liz Rust, Fran Sharp and Sheila Murphy are First Parish delegates – let us know if you’re planning to attend so we can all connect while there. ( or )
Living Our Faith
Hot time, summer in the city! Help us keep things cool!
We are finishing up our collection supporting homeless children in Marlborough, who are part of the Families in Transition program, living in homeless shelters in 2 hotels, while their families wait for permanent housing. At any one time there are between 50 and 85 kids in the program.
As summer is nearly here, all kids look forward to playing outside and maybe going swimming. For kids who live with their families in one small hotel room, getting outside is a special treat but their parents often can’t afford to buy the summer supplies we all take for granted. That’s where we come in.
We are collecting bottles of sunscreen, flip-flops, sunglasses, beach towels, sidewalk chalk, bubbles and any other outside “stuff” you can think of. These don’t have to be fancy or expensive items, just everyday brands will do. And any size from toddler through teens will be helpful.
The families also need individually packaged snacks, which can be expensive for parents to buy and which aren’t usually available at food pantries. During the school year, the program makes sure the kids get snacks through their schools, but it’s harder for them to do that in the summer.
We will wrap up our collection during our Ice Cream Social on June 15th, so as you shop for your family’s summer supplies and snacks, please buy some things for a family in need. Use those 2-for-1 coupons to help some kids to have a fun and healthy summer!
Collection bins are in the Parish Hall, near the doors to the sanctuary stairs.
Come Build a House with us!
First Parish of Sudbury has reserved Saturday June 14 to build with Habitat in Wayland. As you probably know, volunteer groups are integral to helping Habitat fulfill their mission of building homes, communities, and hope.
We still have some spaces for people to participate. People can sign up for all or half day (8-4 or 8-12 or 12-4). Volunteers must be over 16 to build and over 18 to use power tools.
Habitat for Humanity – MetroWest/Greater Worcester is building 4 affordable homes on donated land on Stonebridge Road in Wayland. Homes will be sold to qualified homeowners who demonstrate a need for housing, ability to partner with Habitat and ability to pay a mortgage. The four families have been selected, and will probably be building with us.
This is a great opportunity to make a difference by helping to build a home for some new neighbors. For more information, see the MetroWest/Greater Worcester Habitat For Humanity at http://www.habitatmwgw.org
Please contact Liz Rust for more information or to sign up. ()
From Your Faith In Action Team
Gun Control Bill Pending
It’s too late for you to appear at the State house on June 3 in support of this bill, but it’s not too late for you to tell your state legislators that you want them to vote for it. PLEASE DO! Even those legislators already in favor of it will want to show the support of their constituents.
Here’s what the bill (which so far has only a Docket Number, HD4253) includes:
Background checks for all secondary gun sales, including for all private sales. Such sales would have to take place with a licensed firearms dealer present.
Massachusetts coming into compliance with the National Instant Criminal Background Check system (NICS). There are provisions to protect the privacy of the submitted information.
Expanded police chief discretion in issuing gun licenses for rifles and shotguns in addition to handguns. This gives police chiefs discretion to not issue when there are known dangerousness issues.
Improved data collection about guns used in crimes and suicides, tracing the ownership history of all guns used in and recovered from crime scenes to help determine the source of these guns.
A fifth very desirable provision, a limit on handgun purchases per month, will probably be introduced as an amendment and so, if you do, please tell your legislators that you support it.
Interfaith Forum on Economic Justice: FREE Including dinner
Wednesday, June 4, 6:00 to 9:00 pm, at All Saints Parish, 1773 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA. Sponsored by Cooperative Metropolitan Minstries (of which we are a member)
From UU Animal Ministry
Join with other Unitarian Universalists at www.uuam.org if you “…acknowledge and affirm the kinship and interdependence of all beings, and adopt an ethic of interspecies compassion as an integral component of liberal religion.” [break-wrap]?
Your Welcoming Congregation Committee invites you June 14 to the PRIDE Parade for GLBTQ equal rights
Contact Roberta Altamari, this year’s coordinator, to make plans to gather and march as a group representing First Parish at Pride Parade, Saturday, June 14 at 11:30 in Boston. Wear a FPS rainbow t-shirt. It’s an easy walk and an upbeat fun time.
At uua.org, you’ll find a wealth of information. Check out Identity 101: Learn more about sexual orientations and gender identities, as well as identity-based resources at http://www.uua.org/lgbtq/identity/index.shtml Stay connected to the work of welcome and inclusion. Subscribe to The Welcoming Congregation Bulletin at http://www.uua.org/lgbtq/welcoming/230747.shtml
The Trustees held their final meeting of the church year on June 2nd. Heartfelt appreciation was extended to outgoing Trustees: Sherri Cline, Chair, Sue Carboni, and Bettie Rose. Incoming members were warmly welcomed: Susan Curnan, Della Hughes, and Fred Rust. A special thank you goes to Alex Andrews who will continue as a Trustee next year, filling the final year of a term. The Trustees elected Sheila Murphy as Chair for the 2014 – 2015 year.
The Trustees meet the first Monday of most months at 7:00 PM in the Commons. Our meetings are open to the congregation and all members and friends are warmly invited to attend. Our next meeting will be August 4th at 7:00 PM.
Gathering of Men – June 21
At our last meeting we had a very interesting discussion about our “ministries” – – helping those closest to us or total strangers – – and why.
At our next meeting on June 21 the topic will be our fathers: who they were, how we saw them as we grew up, and how we see them now.
All who identify as men at First Parish (new comers and long-timers) are invited to join us at 10:30am in the Library for coffee, donuts and a lively discussion.
Coming soon… July 4th FPS Grill
Join us for the annual 4th of July grill when we will serve hot dogs, sausages, cold drinks and other goodies during the Sudbury parade. Lisa LaCava and Susan Curnan will be coordinating the grill this year, so let them know if you can help cook, serve, cashier, shop, or other myriad jobs. In addition to helping raise funds for First Parish and getting a prime viewing spot for the parade, it will be a fun day!
“Garden Buddies” needed!”
Would you be willing to help Landscape Committee members with a variety of outdoor tasks this year? We are initiating a buddy program so that we can get more done for the parish without placing a burden on anyone.
Folks who are interested in helping out can water plants this summer or assist our knowledgeable committee members for an afternoon or two of invigorating work in the sunshine. We can make it better than a work-out at the gym if you want! Please direct any questions to Valerie Tratnyek at
Our New Director of Religious Education
The DRE search team, along with the RE Committee and the Board of Trustees, are very pleased to announce that we have a new Director of Religious Education who will begin with us in late August. She will oversee the children’s RE program from birth through 8th grade. As you have read previously, Roberta Altamari will oversee the Youth program including junior high Our Whole Lives (OWL), senior high OWL, and the Coming of Age program.
Let us introduce to you our new DRE—Ms. Laurel Whitehouse. Laurel lives with her family in Wayland, and for the past five years has served as the Director of Children’s Religious Education at The First Church in Belmont UU. Prior to that she chaired the RE Committee at First Parish in Wayland during which time she fulfilled many DRE responsibilities at a time when Wayland was without a DRE. She has taught RE groups from kindergarten through 8th grade, and OWL for 8th graders and kindergarteners. She also has extensive experience teaching preschoolers at Wayland Creative Preschool and through the Beach Buddies program for the town of Wayland. Prior to RE involvement, Laurel worked at Digital Equipment Corp as an Information Systems Analyst and Financial Analyst.
On accepting the position, Laurel writes:
I am excited to be coming to the First Parish of Sudbury next fall! I was in search of a congregation that values children’s religious education and is willing to embrace new possibilities for extending religious exploration outside the Sunday morning classroom experience. I choose this congregation among others I applied for due to several factors: the magical spirit of community displayed on your vibrant website, the amazingly thoughtful care with which the search team approached the interview process, and the overall sense I have gained of a congregation with a commitment to service and a sense of fun. My philosophy is that religious education should provide strong roots in our Unitarian Universalist identity and supple wings to engage in a lifelong search for knowledge and spiritual meaning. It should develop caring, committed UUs who willingly reach out to serve the local congregation, the wider community and the earth with compassion and justice. I look forward to walking this path together with you.
Please join us in welcoming Laurel to the FPS staff!
The DRE Search Team: Abby Bridgemohan, Daphna Cox, Rich Davison, Lisa LaCava, Rev. Marjorie Matty, Sonia Prince, Fran Sharp (chair), and Oliver Willett.
On May 17 I played a 3-stringed instrument called a strumstick during service, and a lot of people asked me where they could get one. A fellow named Bob McNally in northern New Jersey has been making them for more than 20 years and you can order them online. Here’s the link: http://www.strumstick.com/
The strumstick was designed for people who don’t play guitar or think they can learn … you simply strum it and whatever you do sounds pretty good. It uses banjo or mandolin strings and so has a nice Americana sound. It’s fine as a solo instrument and also adds a nice, bright stringed voice to someone else’s guitar playing.
The one I played is the original model (I bought it 20+ years ago), tuned to a G chord, and now lists for $169. There are many options available, including number of strings, tuning, exotic woods, electric pickup and so on. I believe he also makes ukuleles. The site is loaded with information and audio clips for anyone interested in checking it out.
Please check the bulletin boards in the Parish Hall for events at other churches, the Clara Barton and Mass Bay Districts of UU Congregations, the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA) and others who share our values.
Friday, May 23 at 7:00 pm A FREE COMMUNITY PRESENTATION by Steve and Deb Boczenowski, parents and founders of TADS – Teenage Anxiety and Depression Solutions (www.tadsma.org) at Billerica First Parish UU Church, 7 Concord Rd (on the common) Billerica. Free and open to public – Disability accessible – All welcome – Light refreshments.www.uubillerica.org
You and your partner are invited to the 2nd Annual ‘Same Love, Same Rights’ LGBT Wedding Expo in Providence on Sunday, Aug. 3. Dozens of gay-friendly exhibitors will participate, eager to help you and your fiancee plan the ceremony of your dreams! Photographers, DJs, Officiants, Wedding Planners, Venues, Jewelers, Invitations & more. FREE Raffle Giveaways, LGBT-Planning Tips & Trends! Aug. 3rd (12:30-3:30pm) Providence Marriott Downtown, 1 Orms St., Providence, RI 02904. FREE TO ATTEND – Couples, singles, and allies interested in marriage rights are all invited. Rainbow Wedding Network (Box 2434,Weaverville, NC 28787 Tel. 828-645-8750) has produced 100 Gay & Lesbian Wedding Expos throughout the nation. RSVP at www.SameLoveSameRights.com
F.I.S.H. NEEDS DRIVERS – F.I.S.H. is a volunteer organization that provides transportation for Sudbury residents to medical appointments. The volunteer drivers are under no obligation to accept any assignment unless it fits comfortably with his or her schedule. There is no weekly or daily schedule or requirement. You only drive when and where it is convenient for you. F.I.S.H. is a great way to help your neighbors who are in need. If you are willing to become a driver, or would like more information, please the F.I.S.H. answering machine 978-443-2145, or call Ed Gottmann 978-443-9233.
Aug. 8-10 at UMASS Amherst Northeast Organic Farming Association Summer Conference. Over 200 workshops in eight 90-minute sessions, covering farming, gardening, land care, nutrition, & food politics. www.nofasummerconference.org
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 —
We are First Parish of Sudbury, 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.