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Sunday Service: “Through a Glass, Darkly”

Service led by FPS members Ashley and Jerry Taylor.

A reflection on faith, mothers, shelves, and door-bell ditching.

Ashley and Jerry Taylor’s greatest accomplishment has been making four real humans, whom they love inordinately. They grew up in Utah and Idaho, respectively, and moved to Sudbury in August. They might never leave.

Today they will share some thoughts about their own spiritual journey as they’ve explored beyond the faith tradition of their youth.

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“The Grace Machine”, Mr. Kurt Leland

Join us on Sunday, May 5 when we welcome Mr. Kurt Leland to our pulpit.

Mr. Leland writes of his sermon: Grace is sometimes defined as “being right with God.” But what does that mean? What if grace was a force pervading the entire universe, a gentle but persistent pressure to turn back toward our divine Source whenever our personal or collective suffering causes us to turn away in pain?  What if the universe was a great grace machine, a mechanism as inevitable as the law of karma perpetually working to make us whole?
Kurt Leland is a national lecturer for the Theosophical Society, an international organization founded in New York in 1875 a promote universal brother/sisterhood, the comparative study of science, religion, and philosophy, and the investigation of unknown laws of nature and the spiritual powers latent in humanity. He is a poet, composer, and author of eight books on alternative spirituality and mystical states of consciousness.
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April 28: Music Sunday Bluegrass Mass with Southern Rail

Annual Music Sunday with guest musicians Southern Rail. Sunday April 28.

An offering of “The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass” by Carol Barnett. This is an amazing work that beautifully combines traditional choral writing and bluegrass music. Music will include First Parish choir, conducted by Rev. Debra Morris-Bennett.

You wouldn’t think bluegrass music and a traditional choral mass could go together. But be prepared to change your mind on Sunday, April 28. That’s when the First Parish of Sudbury choir will be joined by well known bluegrass group Southern Rail to perform Carol Barnett’s “The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass.” It’s a rousing interpretation of the classical mass set to soaring refrains, intricate harmonies and freewheeling instrumentals. Conducted by First Parish Minister of Music, Rev. Debra Morris-Bennett, the performance is free and part of First Parish’s April 28 Sunday service, which begins at 10 a.m. All are welcome.

Southern Rail, the well known and loved New England-based bluegrass group first performed this work with First Parish’s choir in 2013. Members Jim Muller (guitar), Sharon Horovitch (acoustic bass), Rich Stillman (banjo) and John Tibert (mandolin) have invited fiddler Tim Roper and mandolin player Steve Roy to join them for this special musical service. You can look forward to hearing them throughout the rest of the service as well.

“A Bluegrass Mass” was originally commissioned for VocalEssence, an acclaimed professional choir in Minneapolis, with composer Carol Barnett and librettist Marisha Chamberlain on board. According to Chamberlain, “Great bluegrass music is infectious and lively, so it’s easy to see why any church would want to add bluegrass, but why call it a Bluegrass Mass unless there’s liturgy, too—a text in the bluegrass tradition? Bluegrass is more than a sound. The lyrics of so many Bluegrass songs display an unpretentious, earthy philosophy that is easy to sing and easy to understand: Adam lives just up the street and Eve’s the girl next door. Love is the major theme—frustrated yearning love, secret, satisfied love or boldly proclaimed love. And although romantic love between two people is huge in Bluegrass, so is love of God, the Gospel tradition. In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us, says John in the Gospel, which launches our Bluegrass Mass as an earthy, immediate story of love between Creator and creation.”

Southern Rail’s bluegrass music is high-energy exuberant fun, with riveting harmonies, irrepressible humor, and sparkling banjo and mandolin solo work. This talented quartet has been performing since 1978, and is about to release their 12th recording. Their reputation for strong original material, heart-stopping harmonies, and infectious good humor has spread to both coasts. The group’s performances range from folk festivals to bluegrass festivals, from coffeehouses and concert halls to church services, from art institutes to educational television. For more information, visit

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Easter Sunday

Rev. Katie Lee Crane. What better way to celebrate Easter than to celebrate life! Our worship service will begin with the dedication of Audrey Orcheski, daughter of Ben Orcheski and Mary McLaughlin and granddaughter of longtime FPS member, Leslie Bryant. Noting the coincidence of timing, Rev. Katie Lee Crane, our Minister Emerita, will explore the ancient rites of spring that evolved into the festival we call “Easter,” and conclude with a meditation on how the prophet Jesus might respond to the complexities of our world today.
Rev. Katie Lee is Minister Emerita at First Parish of Sudbury, having served from 1998 to 2010. Now retired from active ministry — she says she really likes being a person in the pews! — she is thrilled to be with you again to celebrate this joyous day.
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Sunday Service Mr. Jan Hardenbergh

Image result for jan hardenberghMr. Jan Hardenbergh speaking on “How First Parish Became Unitarian”.

In 1959, our minister Carl Scovel wrote a very well researched sermon about how and why First Parish became Unitarian, including the story of locking our minister out of the service in 1837. This look back at a pivotal moment in our congregation’s history can help us understand who we are today.

Jan Hardenbergh and his wife Gail have been a member of the congregation for 32 years. His day job is medical imaging and his hobbies are studying history and consciousness.

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It Might Have Been Otherwise: Spiritual Gratitude

Rev. Edwin Lynn

Rev. Lynn will reflect in his sermon on a personal near death experience, after which he asks “what did I learn?”

Edwin Lynn is the Minister Emeritus of the Northshore Unitarian Universalist Church in Danvers MA , where he served for 33 years.  Rev. Lynn also was a visiting Lecturer at the Harvard Divinity School for 22 years. He is an architect and author of the book TIRED DRAGONS: Adapting Church Architecture to Changing Needs. His most recent book is SHORE LINES: LIFE Lessons From the Sea.

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