The Advance — December 2009

From Frieda

I had the pleasure of spending some time listening to Thomas Moore speak as part of the UU Ministers’ Convocation I attended last month. Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul and numerous other books, is a psychotherapist. His books and talks are about how we can integrate spirit and soul. Moore sees spirit as the energy that takes us toward acting, creating, moving, accomplishing. Soul is the part of our being from which we experience longing. In his book Meditations: On the Monk Who Dwells in Everyday Life, Moore reflects on his younger years spent in a monastery and how the monks’ practices inform his life today.

As we immerse ourselves in the business of this holiday season, we can easily become overextended, stressed, worried or even ill. We may not have extended periods of time to relax anytime soon. But Moore points out that many brief moments to “invite our soul” are available to us if we recognize them: driving in our car, waiting in line, a brief walk in the fresh fall air, really tasting our food, a hot bath. If our lives are all “spirit” we become drained, may perhaps even feel used or abused. The soul keeps spirit from being fanatical and destructive. Reconnecting with our soul through music, art, or everyday moments of peace can balance our holiday spirit.

May your holiday activities be laced with moments of gentle joy—a glass of wine, some chocolate savored, a chance to close your eyes, a song on the radio, or a brief respite with your dog or cat (who really know how to relax and enjoy themselves!).

Wishing you Happy Holiday for the spirit and soul.

Frieda

From Fred

“Oh Holy Night,” “Silent Night,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” I just heard all three carols and I was reminded what a great time of year this is. Whatever your theology may be, the Christmas story is a wonderful example of the power of love and joy. Two thousand years after the birth of Jesus we find ourselves continuing to celebrate a simple message, “love your neighbor as you love yourself.” This one statement is enough to solve many of the problems the world faces. Enjoy the season and revel in its message.

Have you noticed that during coffee hour you have a choice of a paper cup or a mug? The church youth have offered to be responsible for washing the mugs in an effort to reduce our carbon footprint. A paper mug may still be the best option for you, especially if you are planning to take the remainder of your coffee or tea with you when you leave the church, but this effort from our young people is a true gift. I greatly appreciate their initiative and their commitment to a better world.

How are you and your children feeling? This is just a quick reminder that if you or your child is not feeling well, it is fine to stay home. The flu can be a gift that keeps on giving. Get rest, drink fluids, and we will see you the next week.

December 2009 services

December 6, 10:30 a.m. All-Church Christmas Workshop. Come and create beautiful decorations for your home. Some singing and readings will precede the craft-making. Bring a dish to share. Sponsored by the Religious Services Committee.

December 13, 10:30 a.m. Holiday Music Service. Judy Putnam, Judy Putnam, Music Director, and Rev. Frieda Gillespie. Celebrating the season in music and readings.

December 20, 10:30 a.m. “A March into the Light.” Children, youth and adults of Northshore Church will perform in this pageant of winter solstice.

December 21, 7:30 p.m. Winter Solstice Service. Join in this festive and contemplative family celebration of the return of light on the longest night of the year.

December 24, 6 p.m. Christmas Eve Candlelight Service. Come one, come all to our joyous celebration of the meaning of Christmas in word and song.

December 25, 1 to 3 p.m. Christmas Dinner with Friends. This annual event is open to anyone in the community. It includes a full turkey dinner and carol singing in the atmosphere of candles, red tablecloths, and the Joy Blocks. As in recent years our church, the Danvers Clergy Association, and Temple Beth Shalom will sponsor the dinner. Bob Ferris and Bob Cumming will be the coordinators.

December 27, 10:30 a.m. “Reflections on the New Year.” A spiritual conversation led by Peter VanDeBogert.

From the Board of Directors

I want to take this opportunity to address an issue that seems to make many of us uncomfortable, but which continues to bedevil so much of what we try to do, or would like to do, here at Northshore Church. The issue that I’m referring to is church finances, or the shortage of them. From one week to the next, it seems as though there is always some unanticipated expense or project that someone would like to pursue, where budgetary constraints always seem to stop us in our tracks. Let me be clear, there is no crisis to speak of.

The Board posts the ongoing financial statements on the bulletin board in the Fellowship Hall for those who have the patience to read them, and they are not frightening documents. But the fact remains that the operating costs of this physical plant come to about a quarter of a million dollars a year, simple as that. If you look at the various staff salaries, it becomes apparent that nobody works here to get rich. The building, in its present state, is beginning to show its age. Even the sylvan setting has its challenges — dead trees, snow plowing, heaving pavement and walkways — the list goes on. Again, none of this is cause for alarm, but it’s not something that should be politely avoided either.

Individual members have been extremely generous, financially, and with their time and sweat equity. Overall, we should feel good about our devoted support to this little church. No doubt, everyone does what they can.

Going forward, the Board will continue to debate this very important matter. Speaking for myself, I think that our biggest challenge is to continue to gain new members of all ages. If we can increase the number of congregants by 20 percent — not an impossible prospect — a good many of the monetary challenges will effectively be addressed.

In any case, we should be willing to address money matters without feeling guilty or thinking that it is somehow uncomfortable to talk about. As with all the challenges that confront us as a community at Northshore Church, the solution is certainly within reach.

As always, the Board looks to you for inspiration and suggestions. Your advice is our dearest counsel.

John Forbes
Board Chair

Holiday Workshop

The Annual Holiday Workshop is just around the corner. On Sunday, December 6, the Northshore Church Meeting Room will be transformed into a winter wonderland of crafts, goodies and FUN! And your help is needed! If you are interested in hosting a craft table, bringing a pot luck dish or participating in any other way, please talk to Stef Erwin at 978-777-5852 (steferwin {at} verizon {dot} net) or Amy Steeves at 978-774-0342 (asteeves100 {at} hotmail {dot} com). We look forward to a fun-filled day.

Christmas Dinner with Friends

Northshore Unitarian Universalist Church looks forward to hosting the 28th Christmas Dinner with Friends. We provide a decorated dining space for others to spend a portion of Christmas Day and enjoy a great dinner with friends or total strangers. The dinner is free, without any request for a financial contribution.

The Danvers Clergy Association sponsors the dinner with other congregations providing food items to complete the holiday menu. Each church is asked to provide a cooked turkey or ham, along with an assortment of appetizers, side dishes and desserts sufficient to feed approximately 20-25 people. Mashed potatoes, stuffing, squash, sweet potatoes, vegetables and pies are always welcome. Any leftover food is sent home with the guests or transported to the Salem Mission.

Dinner guests start to arrive around noon; dinner is served at 1 p.m., followed by musical entertainment and good conversation. Guests and volunteers are typically headed home by 3 p.m. Sign-up sheets for food preparation and volunteers wishing to help will be posted in the fellowship hall beginning Sunday, December 6.

Newburyport Choral Society holiday concerts

The Newburyport Choral Society holiday concerts will be held at the Belleville Congregational Church, 300 High St., Newburyport on Saturday, December 12, at 8 p.m., and on Sunday, December 13, at 2:30 p.m. The society will be performing “Carmina Burana” as well as music of the season. There is a poster in the Fellowship Hall.

Church Photo Directory update

Bob Cumming will be available several Sundays in December and early January to take photographs of you and/or your family for inclusion in an updated version of the NSUU Church Photo Directory. A sign-up sheet is at the Membership Table in the Fellowship Hall — place your name, phone number and e-mail address on the sheet and he will contact you to arrange a time for you to have the picture taken, either before or after a Sunday service. The digital images will be e-mailed to you for your personal use. You will then indicate to Bob which of the photos you would like inserted in the directory.

Circle dinners

Circle dinners are a special way to get to know others in the church in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. We had a successful round of circle dinners last year and hope to continue the fun this year. Circle dinners will be held on Saturday evenings, starting in January, and will go on through May, depending on interest.

Right now, we’re looking for hosts and guests for the January circle dinner, which will take place on Saturday, January 16. Look for the sign-up sheets on the bulletin board in the Fellowship Hall in early December. There will be two sign-up sheets — one for hosts and one for guests. Please sign up by December 27 so we can organize the January participants in a timely manner. All hosts and guests will be notified of their specific circle dinner party by early January.

As a host, you tell us how many guests you can accommodate (two to eight) and coordinate with each guest as to what they are bringing — the appetizer, entree, salad, dessert, drinks, etc. So, if you are a host, you provide the place and get first choice as to what you are contributing to the dinner — your guests can bring the rest!

We will continue with circle dinners in succeeding months if enough people want to take part in them. You can sign up again, even if you participated in the January Circle Dinners, but preference will be given to those who have hosted (and now want to be guests) as well as to those who didn’t get a chance to join us in January.

Do consider participating – they are lots of fun! If you have any questions, contact Leonard Swanson at 978-356-8880 or Joanne Ciaravella at 978-921-0519.

Social Action

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Social Action Committee’s survey. Results are in, and the committee is currently looking at them to assess our next steps. One result is clear: respondents strongly support the church’s continuing its commitment to provide food and serve dinner at the Salem Mission one Sunday per month. We are considering ways to involve more members of the congregation in this project.

In the meantime, if you would like to volunteer to buy, cook, and serve a meal at the Salem Mission on Sunday, December 27, please contact Michele Chausse at 978-697-1928 (abovethefold {at} comcast {dot} net). The time commitment is 5 to 7 p.m.

Pledge payments

December is a great time to pay your pledge and deduct your tax-free charitable donation from your income taxes for 2009. Please mail your pledge payments prior to December 31 to get credit for the donation this year on your taxes.

Organic fair-trade coffee

As a service project, the Tuesday-morning Small Group Ministry will sell fair-trade organic coffee, tea, and chocolate bars after Sunday services. This is a win-win situation. You can support small coffee growers and human rights on three continents while purchasing delicious coffee, tea, and chocolate at prices lower than you will find for identical products in commercial establishments. Be sure to look for our table in the Fellowship Hall at upcoming Sunday services.

Profile of the Isaac Munroe Foundation

Not a revolutionary political party or a labor organization, the IMF (Isaac Munroe Foundation) is a lesser-known activity associated with our Northshore Unitarian Universalist Church. Although legally a separate entity from the church, the IMF and the church have been linked in several ways over the last 100 years.

Our founder. Isaac Munroe, who died in 1892, left his house in Peabody to be used as the Isaac Munroe Home for Orphans and Needy Children. Isaac Munroe was a member of the Peabody Unitarian Church on Park Street. This is one of the original four churches that became the Northshore UU Church in 1966.

When there was no longer a need for an orphans’ home, the house was sold and the proceeds invested, to be managed as the current foundation. “Our charter is to provide financial assistance for the benefit of orphan and/or needy children,” said Charles Wilson.

Our trustees. The trustees, by the terms of Isaac Munroe’s will, must be five men and five women from the Peabody Unitarian Church (this has been updated so they are now from our church). Trustees are chosen by the IMF board of trustees and serve until they resign from the board. Currently the president is Charles Wilson, the treasurer is Jeri Kroll, and the secretary is Cathy Savoie. Other board members are Judy Putnam (since 1980, our most senior member), Leonard Swanson, Rosemary Broadbent, Gwen Scottgale, Iain Goddard, Steve Rhode, and Bob Ferris.

Our location. The trustees come from Danvers, Salem, Ipswich, Beverly, Gloucester, Lynnfield, and Essex. “Since the Park Street Unitarian Universalist Church of Peabody merged with the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Danvers in 1966, we have been a church with a regional membership and a regional concern,” said Judy Putnam, one of the members of the original Peabody Universalist Church.

The trustees typically meet twice a year, with an annual meeting in the spring (often at Savoie home in Ipswich, including a nice dinner) and a meeting before Thanksgiving to determine the distribution of charitable grants. This fall meeting is usually held at the church. Other short meetings may also be called at the church after a Sunday service.

Our activities. Recently the trustees voted to focus the investment portfolio in socially and environmentally responsible securities. “This reflects our commitment to the welfare of future generations,” said Jeri Kroll. Even in these uncertain times, the IMF investments are doing well enough to offer some modest grants.

The recipients of this year’s Isaac Munroe grants serve children throughout our area, mainly coinciding with the towns where our church congregation lives. Leonard Swanson explained, “We prefer grass-roots organizations with little or no overhead, so our grant money goes right to the children.” The charities and their programs this year are:

  • ASC, Danvers: to provide family outings for families with an autistic child.
  • Beverly Children’s Learning, Beverly: to provide emergency assistance to families in need; requests can range from food and fuel to clothing, medications, and diapers.
  • Danvers Community Council (Holiday Giving Program), Danvers: to provide children in need with Christmas gifts.
  • Danvers Community Council (Food Pantry), Danvers: to provide food, medications, and necessities to needy families with children.
  • Good Friday Walk, Beverly: to provide financial aid to needy families with children, including payments for rents, utilities, heating oil, and other emergency expenses.
  • Haven from Hunger, Peabody: to provide free groceries to families with children (serving Peabody, Danvers, Salem, and Beverly).
  • HAWC, Salem: to provide funding to shelter residents, many of whom are children made homeless due to violence.
  • Inn Between, Peabody: to provide enrichment activities, in order to introduce some stability in the lives of the children of their shelter residents.
  • Ipswich Caring, Ipswich: to purchase food, clothing, and toys for needy families with children.
  • Ipswich Community Food Pantry, Ipswich: to purchase food for families in need.
  • Lynn City Mission (Food Pantry), Lynn: to purchase food for families in need.
  • My Brothers’ Table, Lynn: to provide meals, emergency infant formula and diapers, and counseling services to families in need.
  • S.A.F.E., Ipswich: to support art therapy programs for abused and traumatized children.
  • Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry, Roxbury: to provide a safe, enriching after-school environment for at-risk young people.
  • Wellspring House, Gloucester: to support family workshops for improving nurturing family relationships and parenting skills.
  • Camp Leslie, Georgetown: to provide a scholarship to attend Essex County 4-H Club Camp.

December 2009 Calendar

The Rev. Frieda Gillespie’s office hours are Mondays 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.