Community Groups

We welcome you to join one of our many community groups.

Chalice Circles

What Chalice Circles Are

Six to ten people, chosen randomly based on availability, meet monthly for two hours, usually in someone’s home. A trained convener leads the meeting using a standard format: opening words, Chalice lighting, check-in, exploring a topic, check-out and closing words. The format requires that only one person speak at a time and that there be no cross-talk.

Each Chalice Circle agrees together on certain guidelines for their group. The group also agrees to two other things: 1) that the group will remain open to new members and, when necessary, grow and sponsor new groups, and 2) that the group will commit to doing a service project together at least once during the year.

What they aren’t

Chalice Circles do not replace worship, but rather complement and strengthen the experience of worship.

Chalice Circles are not adult courses, but they provide an opportunity for exploration to those seeking spiritual growth, those looking to know themselves better and those who simply want to discuss questions of faith and meaning.

Chalice Circles are not a committee or a service group, but they do seek ways for participants to live out their most deeply held beliefs and values by serving one another and the larger community.

Chalice Circles are not therapy, but through good times and bad, the group offers to one another compassion and support, community and connection.

What’s in it for me?

Learning to listen. Doing some spiritual deep-diving. Getting to know a few others really well. Making time for some spiritual exploration.

You won’t be judged, you won’t be given advice, you won’t be challenged. You will be heard. You will be supported. You will be energized by compassionate listening and the genuine relationships that grow in the circle.

What’s expected of me?

You will be asked to commit to a Chalice Circle for at least one year. Once committed, you will be expected to attend regularly. Each fall, everyone will be invited to review his/her relationship to this process and either recommit to the same circle, join another one, or opt out.

You need only a positive attitude, a willing spirit, an open mind and heart. Come ready to share and learn. Make a commitment to your Circle for yourself and the others in it.

Faith in Action

Faith in Action at First Parish is one way we live our UU values in the world. We work to make positive changes in society by increasing our congregation’s awareness of our collective responsibility and our commitment to generosity. Members work on issues related to the environment and reducing our carbon footprint, prison reform, racial justice, gun control, economic justice, immigration, domestic violence, and much more. It is the passion of our members—working individually and together as a congregation—that creates a multi-faceted Faith in Action. We hope you will join us!

Meeting Structure:
The Faith in Action team meets monthly, September – June. We determine the dates at the beginning of the year, in September. Location, including Zoom link, is on the FPS calendar.

Overview/Mission of Group:
Our UU values call us to work for justice – both inside our Meetinghouse and in the larger world. We do this by acknowledging our collective responsibility, making a commitment to generosity, and working together to eliminate social and environmental injustice.
First Parish members and friends work on issues related to the environment and reducing our carbon footprint, prison reform, racial justice, gun control, economic justice, immigration, food insecurity, domestic violence, and much more. It is the passion of our members—working individually and together as a congregation—that creates a multi-faceted Faith in Action.

Periodically, the Faith in Action team solicits input from the congregation to determine what issues have the highest priority for members and friends. Our work generally falls into three categories: direct service (ex: food drives), education (ex: racial justice book group), and systemic change (ex: legislative action).

Children and youth participate in Faith in Action under the direction of our Director of Religious Exploration. In addition, we welcome children and youth to participate in all our justice work.

We provide financial support to organizations working for justice through our monthly Share the Plate program. We invite members and friends to suggest an organization that is meaningful to them to receive one-half of our collection one Sunday each month. In addition, each year the entirety of our Christmas Eve collection is given to a local service organization. The Faith in Action team also considers small donations and grant awards throughout the year.

Requirement and Commitment to Participate:
Participation in the Faith in Action team is open to all members and friends of First Parish. We warmly invite you to join our committee by participating in existing projects and/or sharing your ideas for new projects.
For more information, please contact us at.

Racial Justice Group

Part of our commitment to racial justice is to engage in educating ourselves, individually and together, about the realities of racism and white supremacy. The Racial Justice Group meets at FPS throughout the year and sponsors programs such as a book group, speakers, and workshops, to help us move beyond complacency.

See our recommended racial justice reading list,

Social justice programs

Share The Plate: Once per month, we share the Sunday collection with organizations working for social and environmental justice. CLICK HERE for full details on Share the Plate.

Secret Santa Program: This Faith in Action collection provides holiday gifts to more than 70 children in Metrowest each year.

Family Promise: We send a team of walkers, annually, to raise funds for Family Promise, a group dedicated to ending family homelessness.

Conscious Eating Group: This group meets on the third Thursday of each month (September – June) at First Parish for a lively discussion about the impact of our food choices on our environment, on our local economy, and on our health and well-being. It’s all about making intentional choices—being a vegetarian (or not), buying locally, eating organically grown food, and more.

Open Table: On the fourth Monday of each month, a group from First Parish works at the food pantry at Open Table in Maynard.

Unitarian Universalist Service: We actively support the work of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee helping individuals throughout the world to help themselves.

Other initiatives include:
Supporting the UU Mass Action, Sudbury Food Pantry, Renewal House, Sustainable Sudbury, and UU Urban Ministry.

350 Mass Metrowest: FPS participates in and hosts meetings of 350 Mass Metrowest, which is one of 17 town and area nodes in 350 Mass for a Better Future, a well-organized climate activist groups. 350 Mass organizes grassroots power for strong, science-based climate action. Meetings are typically held the first Thursday of each month, alternating between FPS and Peace Lutheran Church in Wayland. Join  us!

We Are A Welcoming Congregation: Through the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Welcoming Congregation Program, we intentionally welcome gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons. Our welcoming Congregation Committee works to educate the congregation and the wider community about social justice issues affecting LGBTQI people.

Individual Initiatives: Some of our most successful projects began as a seed planted by someone suggesting a favorite cause. Our Faith in Action Team is very interested in helping to start and support new initiatives. Please feel free to email or call the office (978.443.2043) with your ideas!

Men's Group

This is an informal group of the men of First Parish. We get together one Saturday morning a month throughout the year to discuss topics of mutual interest. In the past we’ve talked about our personal ministries, important events in our lives, the environment, and a variety of other topics. All men, young and old, are invited to be a part of this group. It is a great way to stay connected and become part of this supportive community of men at First Parish.

Mindfulness Meditation

This program is held on Tuesday from 1:00-2:30pm in The Commons throughout the year. This group was initiated by Laine Gifford, a First Parish  member who is a longtime student of Buddhist teachings and a meditation practitioner in the Vipassana tradition. The group meets weekly to meditate together, and to explore the applications, and implications, of  mindfulness in everyday life. Weekly readings in a chosen book are recommended for reflection and discussion during each meeting. This group provides a setting in which to learn about and receive support for the development of a regular meditation practice at home. These meetings are open to people with any level of meditation experience.

Women's Alliance

Alliance General Information

The Women’s Alliance of First Parish of Sudbury, Unitarian Universalist has existed for over 100 years as an organization within, but separate from, First Parish, both in terms of budget and governance.

The Alliance is composed of all members and friends of the congregation who identify as women. One need not be a signed member of First Parish to be a voting member of the Alliance or to be involved with Alliance activities. The only requirement is to have participated in or supported with time or treasure either Alliance or church activities within the past two years.

We support First Parish and other non-profit organizations in the greater community by providing programs and by awarding financial grants. From fund raising and from endowments wisely invested, we have our own funds and do not seek expense money from First Parish. In fact we regularly give substantial monies to First Parish for specific purposes.

Monthly Meetings

The Alliance meets on the 8th of most months for an informal potluck dinner,  brief business meeting, and program or discussion topic. we usually meet at First Parish,  but sometimes in the home of a member. We welcome all who identify as women at any time.  Announcements of the meetings are in the Sunday order of service, the calendar and “This Week at FPS.”

Annual Retreats

We have an annual Weekend Retreat, for our spiritual growth as well as to continue our work building a close-knit community of women.

We have an annual 1-day retreat, usually the first Saturday in November, at the Harvard Unitarian Church.


The Alliance holds a Rummage Sale each spring, which is also a way to provide a service to the general public.  Our Rummage Sale is a little different.  We charge a fee to get in, and each customer gets a full sized paper grocery bag to fill up with anything they choose from the piles of donated items.  When we start collecting donations, we ask that each item donated be no larger than can fit into a full size paper grocery bag,  and that all items are  clean and in good repair.  All categories are welcome:  clothing, household goods, office supplies, toys & games, music (no VHS, no tapes, and books (no textbooks, magazines, manuals, or encyclopedias please).