The Advance — April 2010

From Frieda

Our dog Annie (a golden/shepherd mix) came in from her morning romp in our backyard woods with something gooey and stinky on her neck and head, where she had no doubt rolled in some decaying … well, that’s enough information. Suffice it to say that it is certainly spring. The messy, muddy, barren, rainy, cold-then-warm-then-snow-then-sun time of year when we start to know that winter is past.

This time of transition can be hard on us. It’s a time when illness spreads, a time when we are gearing up for more activity when we’d really like to be headed on vacation. The world feels muddy, messy, barren and cold these days — just the magnitude of suffering around the world, the gridlock in Washington, the cruelty and downright evil people are capable of—too much information can be depressing. What would we do without the joy of sunshine, or the well-timed discovery of a gentle soul or brilliant but well-grounded mind, or an unexpected kindness, or a glimpse of some wildlife peacefully living among us? These are moments of remembrance and hope. This is a season where extra kindness toward our own mistakes is needed. We are tired from the long winter, the long rains, the work behind us, and the work ahead. But there is much to sustain us.

For me, the conversations I have with you are enlivening. They remind me why I am doing this work and why I love it. What sustains you at this time? A few moments in the shower, a good book, a call to or from a friend, the sun finally emerging, a brief time of awakening as you are driving in your car, your child’s laughter? Any of these and many other small things can make such a difference. The flowers will come, the trees will leaf

into green light, and we will rest in their shade someday soon. Until then, as the song goes, only kindness matters.

See you in church!

Congregational Call to the Annual Meeting

May 2, 2010, following the church service:

  • To elect officers of the NSUU Church as presented by the Nominating Committee.
  • To hear the report of the Investment Committee.
  • To hear the report of the Treasurer and to vote on the budget.

April 2010 services

April 4, 10:30 a.m. “Resurrecting Jesus: Easter Sunday.” Rev. Frieda Gillespie. Jesus’ teachings were socially radical and deeply spiritual. His parables were meant to bridge the inner and outer worlds. On this ancient holiday to celebrate the renewal of the Earth, we’ll look at the way Jesus envisioned a renewal of the spirit.

April 11, 10:30 a.m. “Mismatched Socks and Mindfulness.” Rev. Frieda Gillespie. Mindfulness is the term used most commonly these days to describe being fully present with a “beginner’s mind.” Plenty of evidence demonstrates a lack of mindfulness in our lives. On the other hand, some rather brilliant people are considered “absent-minded.” What does that really mean? And how do we cultivate the spiritual art of mindfulness?

April 18, 10:30 a.m. “Haitian Voudou.” Rev. Frieda Gillespie, Manbo Marie Maude Evans, a Haitian voudou priestess who heads the group Sosyete Nago, and Adam Michael McGee, a doctoral student at Harvard University and voudou priest, will speak with us about the real voudou faith, helping us to see beyond the Hollywood images we’ve been given.

April 25, 10:30 a.m. “Creative Goodness: Grace Found in Community.” Rev. Fayre Stephenson. We know how important the UU communities we build are to each of us on a personal level. Is there a liberal theology that can give UUs a framework for the spiritual fulfillment we find in religious community? How does our commitment to community unify us in all of our diversity? In addition to providing some possible answers to these questions, this service will be a celebration of our unique UU religious communities. 
Rev. Fayre Stephenson is the program director at Ferry Beach, the Unitarian Universalist Camp and Conference Center on the shores of Saco Bay. Before entering the ministry, Fayre worked for many years as a legislative aide in Massachusetts and as a lobbyist and writer for the legislative office of a labor union. After graduating from Harvard Divinity School, she served as minister of the Foxborough (Massachusetts) Universalist Church, where she is Minister Emerita.

From Fred

Church has two sides. There is the growing, healing, learning, wondering side, and there is the work side that keeps the wondering side alive. Northshore Unitarian Universalist Church is blessed to have a really fine work side. A great example is the Religious Education Committee. Jenny Beauregard, Susan Cayouette, Donna Cushing, Maria Duggan, Barbara Kennedy, Amy Steeves, Jill Updegraph, Peter Ward, and Judy Doherty (as board liaison) form the group that manages the scope and direction of the RE program here at NSUU. It is the RE voice of a caring congregation. Unlike many other faiths, we are not given a set dogma or curriculum to follow. Our congregation is in charge of choosing our path and our ideas.

The RE Committee meets after church on the first Sunday of each month (unless it is Easter). All are warmly welcome to attend these meetings. If you would like to teach, or explore the possibility of teaching, please feel free to talk to any committee member or to me.

Upcoming events. On Wednesday, April 28, we will be hosting a children’s game day. It will be very much like our recent game night, but geared toward our younger members. Come and join us for a lively game of Chutes and Ladders; if it is a pleasant outdoor day, we’ll play some tag as well.

On Saturday, May 8, Dr. Brian Orr will present a workshop on parenting. Specifically, the workshop will address “Behaviors That Drive You Crazy” and is offered to parents of middle-school children or younger. This event, being held the day before Mother’s Day, might be the best gift you think of this year.

Among ourselves

Jackson McDonald continues to impress coaches, Scouts, and friends with his track performance. He recently competed in the five-event state pentathlon, winning three events and setting a meet record for total points. Congratulations, Jackson!

Newsletter schedule

Vivian Wheeler, newly recruited editor of ADVANCE, requests that all items for the newsletter be sent to her at vbwheeler {at} verizon {dot} net by the 15th of the month. Your cooperation in meeting this deadline will allow timely publication before the first of the following month. It would also be helpful if you could send your material as an attachment to your email, in 12 point Times New Roman. Many thanks!

From the Board

No obscure math is needed to describe the financial picture of the church. All told, the total annual operating budget comes to about $250,000, just to cover our present expenses. This past year, we’ve had some problems trying to squeeze by on about $30,000 less than that, based on gifts of about $120,000 — also roughly $30,000 less than we received in gifts the year before. There are undoubtedly legitimate reasons why giving was down so much this past year. But the fact remains that we had to use the kind of creative accounting that can’t and shouldn’t go on indefinitely.

Deferring maintenance on an aging physical plant may get us by for a year, but it’s not smart long-term planning. We suspended paying dues to the UUA, a resource we rely on and the backbone of American Unitarian Universalism. So we’ve effectively made our financial problem their financial problem as well. And we’ve had to put on hold plans for an active senior youth group, despite having hired our first Religious Education Director, whose presence on the staff is vital to the future of our NSUU family.

The reality is that all these financial cutbacks diminish us as a church and in terms of our life mission. These are shortfalls that limit our ambitions to define and promote the values of NSUU. We would be a more compelling congregation if we could promote the ideals that made us Unitarian Universalists to begin with. Wouldn’t you like us to be a greater voice for social justice, as we’re beginning to be at Lifebridge, the former Salem Mission for the homeless? With more cash on hand, we could sponsor lectures by interesting, even controversial scholars. We could fully fund the music program, which only thrives because of Judy Putnam’s devotion and hard work. Finally, we could begin to tackle the structural problems that have bedeviled our building and grounds for years and that aren’t going to go away. They are only multiplying.

What is critically important is that everyone be involved. If you’ve never given before, or if you didn’t last year, we’re asking you to do so this year. Your gift has never been more important. If you did commit to the budget drive last year, we’re asking if you’d consider increasing your gift by as much as 20 percent this year. Can we count on you?

John Forbes
Chair

Seating at services

Our floor is noisy! Even if you enter quietly, a group of people entering late makes distracting noise when there is quiet in the room for reading or music. This means that some people won’t hear what’s being said or played. Feel free to come in and stand inside the door so you can hear too. Please see the Order of Service for times that you can find a seat without worry, anywhere you like! The ushers will help you, and we thank you very much for your cooperation with this.

If you have questions, please see any member of the Religious Services Committee: Marty Langlois (co-chair), Tracee Kneeland (co-chair), Helen Brandt, Jim Lynch, Amy Tedford, Peter VanDeBogert, Judy Putnam (music director), or Frieda Gillespie (minister).

Social Action Committee

Share the Plate. During the April 25 service, Northshore Church will “share the plate” with the Association for Frontotemporal Dementias (AFTD). (The collection was postponed last November.) Please make checks payable to AFTD. For more information about this disease see www.ftd-picks.org. Jean Koulak-Young wrote the following about her reasons for suggesting the organization: “In the past six years, I have watched my husband, a high-functioning teacher, become totally dependent. I have had to curtail almost all social interactions with him, because his behavior can be impulsive and often inappropriate. Doran suffers from frontotemporal dementia (FTD), one of a family of neurodegenerative disorders characterized by progressive changes in personality, social behavior, impulse control, speech and language comprehension, and reasoning ability.”

Walk for Hunger. Project Bread’s annual Walk for Hunger will be held this year on Sunday, May 2. The twenty-mile walk raises money for local food pantries. If you are interested in walking with a group from NSUU, please contact Lois Markham (lamarkham {at} comcast {dot} net) or sign up by April 5 on the sheet posted on the bulletin board in the Fellowship Hall.

Sunday-night suppers at Lifebridge. If you want to work at one or more of the Sunday night suppers at Lifebridge, please sign up on the white board in the Fellowship Hall. The task involves shopping for a small amount of food and being at Lifebridge in Salem to cook and serve from 5 to 7 p.m. on the fourth Sunday of the month. If you’d like to volunteer but can’t commit to donating the cost of the food, let Brian Orr or Maureen Duram know so that they can reimburse you. For those who can’t volunteer to shop, cook and serve, please consider donating money to buy food. Both monthly and one-time donations are welcome. Checks can be made out to NSUU, with “Lifebridge” on the memo line; they should be put in the collection plate, left in the office, or given to Maureen, Brian, or any other member of the Social Action Committee.

Danvers Food Pantry. NSUU is still collecting nonperishable food items for the Danvers food pantry. Donations can be left in the box in the Fellowship Hall.

Discussion group. The Social Action Committee will host its second discussion group on the topic of ethical eating on Sunday, April 25, from noon to 1:30 p.m. A light lunch will be provided and child care will be available. Parents are welcome to bring children and youth who are interested in discussing the topic. To help us plan, please sign up ahead of time on the bulletin board in the Fellowship Hall. However, you are welcome to attend even if you have not signed up.

What’s new at NSUU.org

We are pleased to announce a big step forward in our online social-networking efforts. Last month we launched a Facebook group for the Northshore UU Church.

What’s it for? That’s for you to decide. You can connect with friends from church, hold online discussions, and post messages, photos, and videos. For instance, where else can you see pictures of Sally and John Kroeker’s trip to India?

The NSUU Facebook group is not intended as a substitute for NSUU.org. Rather, it’s a gathering place for members and friends of the church. Please spread the word. And if you’ve been putting off joining Facebook, this would be a good time to give it a try. Just go to http://www.facebook.com and sign up.

You’ll always be able to enter the NSUU Facebook group with one click by selecting the “Find us on Facebook” graphic at NSUU.org, at the top of the right-hand column.

Dan Kennedy
Editor, NSUU.org

NSUU on cable: Relive those stirring moments

If you live in Danvers or Peabody, you may be able to see yourself on television! The church’s Membership Committee has produced audio/video programs of the first five services in the UU History Series (including the wildly popular “The Trials of Susan B. Anthony”). These programs contain the sermon recordings as posted on NSUU.org, as well as the music and readings from the services. Each audio program is embellished with still photos of the service, the church building, and Mother Nature. Think of them as radio programs with illustrations. (As you may recall, the first three services concerned William Ellery Channing and Theodore Parker, Sophia Fahs, and a multicultural faith.)

The programs will air weekly for five weeks starting April 4, and we’ll post the schedules on the church website. As of this writing, the times will be as follows:

Danvers: Comcast Channel 99, Verizon Channel 36, Sundays, 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Peabody: Comcast Channel 10, Mondays, 10 a.m., and Thursdays, 8:30 p.m.

If you don’t happen to have Danvers or Peabody cable, we’re working on a solution to bring these programs to you as well. We hope they will help to increase the church’s presence in our old hometown of Peabody and give people there and in Danvers more familiarity with us. Please let us know your impressions.

Profiles of new members

Assembled by Martha Ardiff

Theresa Milne grew up Catholic in Rockport and was the eldest of seven siblings in an extremely close family. After being outside organized religion for a while, Theresa went to the Rockport UU church, did some reading about UU beliefs, then happened upon NSUU two years ago when she accompanied a friend to a musical event here. She loved the space! And she already loved the UU mission statement, its tenets, inclusiveness, emphasis on social action, and sense of welcome regardless of one’s place on the spiritual path.

She started attending NSUU in the spring of 2009, joined the church and the singing group in August, but had to pull back for several months. She was taking care of two very ill family members, was laid off from her job, had to give up her car, then lost her mother in December. Spring is helping her emerge from this dark spell and she hopes to attend church again, find a job, and continue to enjoy her many interests. Those include hiking, kayaking, and swimming — “anything to do with outdoors” — lifelong learning (for example, online courses in Roman architecture and microbiology, and all sorts of reading), and music (guitar and singing).

If anyone feels moved to offer Theresa a ride to church, her number is 978-979-7538. She lives in Beverly, near the Danvers line. For many years Theresa worked in health-care administration, mostly in operating-room settings. She is looking for similar work and would love to hear about leads anyone has.

Tim and Gail Bernard live in Danvers and are the proud parents of Julianna, 8, and Natalie, 5. Having both grown up Catholic, they were looking for a community where they could raise their daughters to become the best people they could be, but without the constraints of specific religious dogma. Their nephews’ Coming of Age ceremonies at the North Parish UU Church in North Andover persuaded them that this was the type of religious education they wanted for their girls. After attending that church for a year, they switched to NSUU in September 2008 after their friends Amy and Aaron Steeves became members. Now they realize it is a great fit for them as well as for their children.

Tim, who has a degree in Music from UMass Lowell, works for Sears In-Home Services as a District Operations Manager. He is currently composing and recording songs with a friend and plays drums, guitar, mandolin, piano, and saxophone. Gail has a degree from Dartmouth College in Earth Sciences with a minor in Environmental Studies. At present she is a “retired” Environmental Analyst/Administrator and feels blessed to be able to stay at home with her two daughters. She is very active in their school, and in her spare time belly dances in a local troupe. She is also involved in our “Cakes for the Queen of Heaven” and the drum circles run by that group.

Marcia Lassar reports: I am a single mother and have two teenage boys, aged 17 and 19. I came to the Beverly area in 1980 after graduating from the University of Massachusetts with a BFA in design. I spent several years working at architectural firms in and around Boston. During that time I also pursued my interest in drawing and painting, exhibiting on occasion in group shows at the Beverly, Concord, and Newburyport art guilds, the Newport Art Museum, and Montserrat College of Art. I continued to take classes at Montserrat and (seeking more of a connection to the Beverly community) volunteered for a while at the Beverly Historical Society.

When my children were born, I took a leave of absence from my job for a number of years. I immersed myself in volunteer work at my children’s elementary school, coordinating the arts and enrichment programs funded by the PTO. For the past nine years I have enjoyed working as a designer with the architectural firm Olson, Lewis, Dioli and Doktor.

Growing up I attended a liberal Baptist church, but as a teenager I rejected the Christian faith as having too narrow a point of view for my spiritual experience. As a freshman in high school I was invited by a friend to attend an LRY retreat that took place at the Unitarian church in Worcester. I felt a connection with the unconventional outlook of the young people who attended that first retreat. Afterward I attended many LRY conferences and retreats. The theme, activities, and food were entirely planned by the young people who attended these events. Although I never joined the church, I came away with the impression that the Unitarian faith encouraged young people to explore, question, and express themselves.

NSUU is the first church I have joined in my adult life. I value the connection to a liberal spiritual community. I have become a member of the Social Action Committee, and have enjoyed the camaraderie of helping set up at Octoberfair and preparing meals at Lifebridge in Salem.

Joan Williams is a new member who has been part of the Bell Choir. She has not yet been interviewed because of her need to focus on leg problems, first with lots of physical therapy and recently with surgery. We wish her well, we look forward to seeing her again soon, and we look forward to getting to know her better.

Painless church fundraiser

If you eat food, this is for you! We can earn a donation to the church from Crosby’s Markets, based on the amount of groceries we buy. Here’s how it works.

For a three-week period, Sunday, April 25, through Saturday, May 15, we shop at a Crosby’s in our area. When we pay for our groceries, we turn in a preprinted certificate. At the end of the three weeks, Crosby’s donates 5 percent of our purchase total to the church. This donation could amount to $500 or so, depending on how much shopping we do at these particular markets. Crosby’s has stores in South Hamilton, Georgetown, Manchester-by-the-Sea, and Salem (also Marblehead and even Concord, if those work better for you). Watch for further details — or ask Iain Goddard.

Beverly church auction

The First Parish Church, UU, at 225 Cabot Street in Beverly will hold its annual auction on Saturday, April 10, at 7 p.m. for children, family, and community. It is the church’s biggest fundraiser of the year. Let’s support this event as Beverly members have frequently supported ours! See the church website, www.firstparishbeverly.org, for further information.

People-to-People Auction

The auction and fundraising luncheon were attended by many and were a great success. Thanks very much to all who donated time, heart, and energy to this event. Your support is much appreciated.

Jennifer Revill
Auction Coordinator

Choir Festival

On the afternoon of February 28, five members of the NSUU Singing Group participated in the first Massachusetts Bay District Choir Festival. Those attending from our church were Maureen Duram and her friend Claire Jackson, Helen Brandt, Jennifer Revill, and me. Nine additional churches sent singers from their choirs to the event, held at the First UU Society of West Newton. The result was a brilliant music-filled afternoon.

Each group of singers performed two selections for the larger group, which took close to one and a half hours. A variety of music was shared, and it was wonderful to see what music other choirs are utilizing at their churches. We gleaned all sorts of ideas for future programs at NSUU!

Prior to that Sunday, we had been given some music to learn so that the larger group of approximately 125 singers could perform those selections together. In addition, we were taught two pieces on the spot, which we all performed after the individual church music sharings. For the modest-sized audience present, this closing was absolutely magical! Singing in a large group such as this is truly a unique experience. All the NSUU singers expressed delight at the very special time we spent together. And the singing was of course followed by food!

The festival was so well received by everyone there that I’m sure it will be a regular happening.

Judy Putnam
Music Director

Massachusetts Bay spring conference

On Saturday, May 1, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the First Parish Church in Weston will host the Mass. Bay District’s annual spring conference. The topic this year is “Using Social Media to Fuel Congregational Mission.” Participants will be introduced to many of the new technologies, among them Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Shelby Meyerhoff, UUA public witness specialist, will present a series of talks on the relevance of these social media to the UU faith and the purpose of our congregations. The fee is $35 if received before April 11; thereafter it is $45.

Ferry Beach weekend

At this time of year, when winter seems to have overstayed its welcome, I find my thoughts turning once again to a place that has been a spiritual home to me for nearly forty years: Ferry Beach in Saco, Maine. I eagerly anticipate the chance to sit in a rocker on Quillen porch, read a book by the fire, eat excellent food in the community dining room, walk on the beach or in the woods, watch children play on the playground and dream up wonderful talent-show acts, worship with others, and get to know people of all ages in a way that would not ordinarily be possible.

I am delighted that NSUU offers the opportunity for a weekend at Ferry Beach, a time to set aside the busy-ness that consumes our day-to-day lives and enter a space where the sole agenda is to rejuvenate ourselves, enjoy the company of other Unitarian Universalists, and maybe make a new friend or two.

This year’s weekend begins Friday night, May 14, and ends after lunch on Sunday, May 16. We share the facility with people from the UU congregation in Medford, and look forward to activities and events that will enable us all to get to know one another better. (Human scavenger hunt, anyone? How about a multigenerational volleyball game? Music making? Creating worship with others?) I look forward to hearing your ideas for weekend activities — and to chatting with you about this special place.

Ferry Beach has rooms with two or more beds in three different buildings. Bathrooms and showers are located on each floor. The cost for the weekend, including all meals, is $120 per adult aged 13 or over, $70 per child 5 to 12, free for children under 5. There is a $350 ceiling per family. Reduced rates are available for families in need; requests are kept confidential.

Ferry Beach also has a large camping grove with tent and trailer sites, each with electricity and water hookups. The grove has its own bathrooms, showers, and lodge building. The cost is $35 per site for the weekend, plus $40 per person for meals. Children under 5 are free.

Those who do not wish to stay overnight may come for the day on Saturday from breakfast into the evening, or for meals, chapel service, and activities on Sunday. The cost is $30 per day per person for meals, with children under 5 free.

Fifty percent of your total is due by May 1 to hold your reservation, with the full amount due by May 9. Please make checks payable to NSUU or UUCM, with “Ferry Beach Weekend” in the memo line, and pay at church.

Whether you’ve been going to Ferry Beach for years or have never gone before, let’s talk! To register, find me after a Sunday service or contact me at 978-352-5571 or glfv {at} verizon {dot} net.

Gail Forsyth-Vail
Ferry Beach Weekend Registrar

April 2010 calendar

The Rev. Frieda Gillespie’s office hours are Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (other times by appointment). Church office hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For up-to-date information, see our online Calendar of Events at NSUU.org.

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