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This Week in Religious Exploration

Posted by on Sep 19, 2019 in Coming Up in RE, General News, Religious Exploration

  • Nursery care for children ages 0-4:

Nursery care is available during worship this weekend!

  • Religious Exploration for children and youth in grades K-8:

This Sunday, September 22, our all-ages Religious Exploration class will give students the opportunity to explore the idea of courage.  What does it mean to be courageous?  How can we harness the strength within ourselves to stand up for what we know is right, even when we feel afraid?  We will hear an African folk tale about a person who has to find the courage to overcome a very difficult obstacle, practice our own assertiveness skills through role-playing games, and create art that allows us to explore and express situations when we need to have courage in our own lives.

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Volunteering in the Religious Exploration Program

Posted by on Sep 18, 2019 in General News, Religious Exploration

The Religious Exploration Program is actively seeking volunteers for this year!

Volunteering in the RE program is rewarding and fun, and it’s also a wonderful way to contribute to our congregation!  We have a number of volunteer slots available this fall!  Here are some of our exciting volunteer roles:

  1. Teaching Religious Exploration classes to students in grades K-3 or 4-8: Jenna will have your lesson plans and materials prepared and set up in the classroom for you each week!
  2. Helping in the First Parish Nursery with children ages 0-4: Please help to care for our youngest children during worship services!  We have a lovely nursery classroom and lots of toys and crafts to entertain little ones!
  3. Helping with the Junior Youth Group’s Social Justice Outings: Our Youth Coordinator, Sonia Prince, will be leading Junior Youth outings throughout the year, and we welcome all volunteers who are interested in working with our youth to make positive change in our community!
  4. Leading a special Share A Talent class: Do you have a talent, interest or hobby that you would be willing to share with our students? Jenna will help you to plan a lesson around it!
  5. Helping with our Children’s Choir classes on special Arts Sundays: Musicians, please come and share your musical talents with our children!

Please contact Jenna Kyes, Director of Religious Exploration, at or visit our Religious Exploration sign-up page if you are interested in volunteering this fall!

Important:  Please note that every adult volunteering in the RE program must have an updated CORI check on file with First Parish of Sudbury before they are able to work with the children and youth.

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RE Program Open House this Sunday!

Posted by on Sep 11, 2019 in Coming Up in RE, General News, Religious Exploration

Come learn about our religious exploration programs at First Parish of Sudbury during our Open House this Sunday, Sept. 15, at 9:00 a.m. Religious Exploration at First Parish nurtures the spiritual growth of children and youth from infancy through high school, supporting them as they build a loving community, explore world religions and faith traditions, seek truth and meaning, and work together to make positive change in the world. You will have an opportunity to meet our new Director of Religious Exploration, Jenna Kyes and visit our classroom spaces and register for classes. Open to the public.  For more information please visit: https://fpsudbury.org, on Facebook: First Parish of Sudbury, or call (978) 443-2043.

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9/15 Bohm Dialogue — Mindfulness

Posted by on Sep 11, 2019 in General News, Religious Exploration, Salon - Bohm Dialogue

For September our topic is Mindfulness.

“Mindfulness helps us freeze the frame so that we can become aware of our sensations and experiences as they are, without the distorting coloration of socially conditioned responses or habitual reactions.”

– Henepola Gunaratana

“Mindfulness of the body is awareness of… the taste and smell of this moment.”

– Steve Hagen

“Mindfulness meditation doesn’t change life. Life remains as fragile and unpredictable as ever. Meditation changes the heart’s capacity to accept life as it is.”

– Sylvia Boorstein

“Mindfulness is about falling awake rather than asleep.”

– Shamash Alidina

“Mindfulness has helped me succeed in almost every dimension of my life. By stopping regularly to look inward and become aware of my mental state, I stay connected to the source of my actions and thoughts and can guide them with considerably more intention.”

– Dustin Moskovitz

“Mindfulness means being aware of how you’re deploying your attention and making decisions about it, and not letting the tweet or the buzzing of your BlackBerry call your attention.”

– Howard Rheingold

“Mindfulness is about love and loving life. When you cultivate this love, it gives you clarity and compassion for life, and your actions happen in accordance with that.”

– Jon Kabat-Zinn

“Mindfulness helps you go home to the present. And every time you go there and recognize a condition of happiness that you have, happiness comes.”

– Thich Nhat Hanh

“I like mindful people. Fear prevents mindfulness, and then greed marches in because you are fearful, so you feel like you have to shore everything up.”

– Ursula Goodenough

“Disassociating, mindfulness, transcendence-whatever the label-it’s a sort of loophole in our contract with reality, a form of self-rescue.”

– Diane Ackerman

“The purpose of meditation practice is not enlightenment; it is to pay attention even at extraordinary times, to be of the present, nothing-but-in-the-present, to bear this mindfulness of now into each event of ordinary life.”

– Peter Matthiessen

“The Noble Truth of the Path leading to the Cessation of suffering is this: It is simply the Noble Eightfold Path, namely right view; right thought; right speech; right action; right livelihood; right effort; right mindfulness; right concentration.”

– Pali Tipitaka

“I came to the conclusion then that continual mindfulness… must mean, not a sergeant major-like drilling of thoughts, but a continual readiness to accept whatever came.”

– Marion Milner

Mindfulness to me is just attending to the present conscious moment – whatever thoughts, feelings,  sensations and intuitions are there right now, not getting swept up in them, not judging or interpreting them, just noticing them, and beyond that, noticing the noticing itself. What’s so hard about that? It’s easy to get swept up and stop noticing. But that’s OK, just let the thoughts, etc. pass, come back to the moment and resume noticing. That’s it.

Why do it? Well, for me the alternative is to be always trapped by the automatic flow of thoughts, etc., and believing they are more real than they are. So mindfulness is seeking freedom from that, it’s the practice of freeing yourself. Other benefits accrue. What’s your experience?

Join us to listen to what others think and to share what you think.  The Religious Exploration Salon is a group that meets 3rd Sundays to discuss various topics in the format called Bohm Dialogue which emphasizes respectful listening and balanced, synergistic sharing. For more details about how Dialogue works, please see this intro.

Everyone is welcome. You are welcome to think about the topic beforehand but no preparation is required or expected — come as you are with whatever thoughts/intuitions you have, ready to listen, learn and contribute.  We next meet Sunday September 15 at 7pm in the Brackett Room.

Contact Paul Reising, Tom Yelton or Jan Hardenbergh for more information.

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Jenna Kyes Appointed Director of Religious Exploration

Posted by on Sep 10, 2019 in General News, Newsletter, Religious Exploration

First Parish is pleased to announce that Jenna Kyes has been appointed to the position of Director of Religious Exploration for the congregation.

Jenna received a Masters in Early Education from Lesley University and a Bachelor of Arts, Cum Laude, from Brandeis University. She has an extensive teaching background that includes experience working with children and youth in Unitarian Universalism religious education programs, schools, and academic enrichment programs, and she is a trained Spirit Play teacher.  Most recently, she served as Director of Religious Education at the Unitarian Universalist Congregational Society of Westborough and was responsible for the development and implementation of religious education programming for students of all ages. Jenna also led a Coming of Age program for eighth grade students, as well as a high school youth group, and coordinated a team of volunteer teachers. She is experienced with Tapestry of Faith curricula, as well as Spirit Play, Coming of Age and OWL.

“I love helping children learn, and I am committed to the Unitarian Universalist mission,” says Jenna. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to support the faith development of the children and youth in First Parish’s Religious Exploration!”

First Parish has chosen the title Religious Exploration for this program because it is our goal to encourage students to explore their faith and their world, so that they may each have the freedom to form their own Unitarian Universalist identity. Religious Exploration at First Parish nurtures the spiritual growth of children and youth from infancy through high school, supporting them as they build a loving community, explore world religions and faith traditions, seek truth and meaning, and work together to make positive change in the world.

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7/21 Bohm Dialogue — Human Reasoning

Posted by on Jul 19, 2019 in General News, Religious Exploration, Salon - Bohm Dialogue

For July our topic is Human Reasoning.

“To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.”
―Thomas Paine

“In a republican nation, whose citizens are to be led by reason and persuasion and not by force, the art of reasoning becomes of first importance.”
―Thomas Jefferson

“We must trust to nothing but facts: These are presented to us by Nature, and cannot deceive. We ought, in every instance, to submit our reasoning to the test of experiment, and never to search for truth but by the natural road of experiment and observation.”
―Antoine Lavoisier

“NOUMENON, n. That which exists, as distinguished from that which merely seems to exist, the latter being a phenomenon. The noumenon is a bit difficult to locate; it can be apprehended only by a process of reasoning – which is a phenomenon.”
―Ambrose Bierce

“The philosophy of reasoning, to be complete, ought to comprise the theory of bad as well as of good reasoning.”
―John Stuart Mill

“All of our reasoning ends in surrender to feeling.”
―Blaise Pascal

“When the intensity of emotional conviction subsides, a man who is in the habit of reasoning will search for logical grounds in favour of the belief which he finds in himself.”
―Bertrand Russell

“To say that man is a reasoning animal is a very different thing than to say that most of man’s decisions are based on his rational process. That I don’t believe at all.”
―Rex Stout

“The purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure pure reasoning, and inhibit clarity. With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog!”
―Bill Watterson

Is reasoning our noblest faculty? It has been suggested that human reasoning evolved as a group process, with speakers arguing to persuade the group and listeners trying to poke holes in the arguments. By this reasoning, individual reasoning is apt to go astray.

Join us to listen to what others think and to share what you think.  The Religious Exploration Salon is a group that meets 3rd Sundays to discuss various topics in the format called Bohm Dialogue which emphasizes respectful listening and balanced, synergistic sharing. For more details about how Dialogue works, please see this intro.

Everyone is welcome. You are welcome to think about the topic beforehand but no preparation is required or expected — come as you are with whatever thoughts/intuitions you have, ready to listen, learn and contribute.  We next meet Sunday July 21 at 7pm in the Brackett Room.

Contact Paul Reising, Tom Yelton or Jan Hardenbergh for more information.

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