The Advance — January 2010

From Frieda

Happy 2010!

There is much to look forward to this year. I’m planning this year to take a deep look at food. Not only do I want to lose weight to improve my health and well-being, but I’ve been learning more about food production in this country and feel very motivated to change both where I get my food and the quality of it. If you haven’t seen the film Food, Inc., I highly recommend seeing it. It will certainly affect the way you view food. Jennifer and I have made a commitment to do everything we can this year to eat locally grown food from sustainably run farms. We are so fortunate to live in a state where that is possible. From there, I envision getting involved in some advocacy efforts to radically change the way animals raised for food are genetically manipulated and treated as they are fattened for slaughter. These are issues of safety, health, and humanity. Stay tuned for much more about this in the coming months. If this is something you’ve been aware of and are interested in doing something about, I’d love to hear from you. Together we can do so much more than we can on our own.

At Northshore Church we are revitalizing our commitment to the Salem Mission. Michele Chausse has been the lone champion of this opportunity to serve those in need. And there has been a small list of regular volunteers On January 10, plan to sign up for a Sunday evening in the coming year or, if that’s not possible, to give a donation to cover the cost of the food we serve.

Also coming up, January 17 will be the start of another “New UU” class. If you are new to the church, to Unitarian Universalism, or both, this class will be a chance to get to know us better. We’ll talk about what UUs believe, and how this movement and church started and grew. And we’ll give you a chance to get to know others better. To sign up for this three-session class, contact Nancy in the office or sign up in Fellowship Hall.

What are your desires for this year? Whatever they are I wish you great success, prosperity, and joy.

Happy New Year!


January 2010 services

January 3, 10:30 a.m. “Patience: You Can’t Live with It and You Can’t Live without It.” Rev. Frieda Gillespie, Minister. We make resolutions at the New Year, hopeful that we can do what we haven’t been able to do so far. Those resolutions often fail us — don’t they? — and we might resolve to give them up. But perhaps there’s another way, the way of mindfulness, of patience.

January 10, 10:30 a.m. “What Now?” Rev. Frieda Gillespie, Minister. Many of you heard a lovely and inspiring talk by Liz Walker about risking love, stepping out of your comfort zone to help others. If you didn’t have the pleasure, you can hear it at Now what? What happens to our inspiration, and how can we keep it alive? We will also hear from the director of Salem Mission, Mark Cote.

January 17, 10:30 a.m. “UU History Series: Becoming a Multiracial/Multicultural Faith.” Rev. Frieda Gillespie, Minister. Our movement has been, has lost, and now is reaching again to become a multiracial/multicultural faith. What does our history tell us about what is possible now? How do we step out of our history into the new?

January 24, 10:30 a.m. Matt Meyer, Artist of Percussion. A handful of our members who experienced Matt’s talent and skills in action returned excited and encouraged us strongly to invite him to conduct a Sunday service. This should be a very exciting and dynamic morning. Matt is knowledgeable and experienced in a variety of styles including Latin, Jazz, Brazilian, folk, funk, hip-hop, and pop. He is a graduate of Berklee College of Music.

Following the service, Matt will be offering a 90-minute drumming workshop. Lunch will be provided to those who attend. Sign-up information will follow soon. For more information, please contact Judy Putnam at (978) 356-8880 or Bringing your own percussion instrument is not required.

January 31, 10:30 a.m. “The Peace of Wild Things.” Rev. Frieda Gillespie, Minister. A group of nature-lovers was wondering together: What is it about wilderness that so feeds the human soul? Why doesn’t it feel the same to everyone? What is the meaning of Thoreau’s statement “In wilderness is the preservation of the world”?

From the Board of Directors

As I write this mid-morning, Christmas Eve Day, the local paper rests beside me on the kitchen table, with a timely article situated below the fold on the front page entitled “First Parish Church selling historic silver to survive.” The church mentioned, founded as a Puritan congregation, used this silver for communion services prior to the 1830 conversion to the denomination of Unitarianism.

The article is both interesting to me from a historical perspective and a personal perspective. As a member of the board of NSUU, I am interested in how neighboring churches are able maintain the physical plant of the church and surrounding property during these difficult economic times. While it is sad to see churches across the land auction valuable heirlooms to stay viable, it is obvious that each church board has had to make tough decisions and probably considered all angles before resorting to this action.

Unfortunately, our church lacks valuable silver to shore up our resources. But what we do have are committed and caring members, who help us, both with an annual pledge and with in-kind contributions of manual labor to assist in upkeep with buildings and grounds. Others help out as RE teachers, as coffee hosts, as volunteers at a fundraising event, and still others use a specific area of expertise to assist. We depend on these tireless individuals, probably too much so, as our “priceless silver.” 

Are you an untapped resource; are you part of our virtual priceless silver? Would you like to be? Please consider joining us to work to maintain our church. The most direct route, a pledge or contribution, is welcomed, but there are other ways to participate. In addition to making a monetary contribution, why not join a church committee? Truly, we need you! For example, our Religious Education Committee is particularly in need of interested members; you need not have a child in RE to join.

Does the root word of committee, “commitment,” sound like too much of an obligation with your hectic schedule? We have many events of limited duration at which we can we use your help; pick something that sounds interesting and get involved.

One short-term project on which we are working is to revise the church bylaws in time to present at the annual meeting. Under particular scrutiny is “what constitutes membership” at NSUU. Have an opinion? Join us for what I promise will be a lively and spirited discussion while we look to get the wording just right.

The hallmark of our denomination is social action. This committee is newly revitalized; come to a meeting and put your ideals in action.

With social action and ideals but no place to gather with kindred spirits, imagine how less enriched our lives would be, NSUU is the place that allows that to happen.

We UUs don’t like to talk about money. Really, who does? Yet without sufficient funds, we would have no ability to afford our building, our minister, our RE program, or our organized outreach to the community. How do we rally our congregation to handle our need for capital to keep it all running?

In order to continue with NSUU as a viable entity, our pressing need is for an annual pledge drive chairperson to make it all happen for the next fiscal year. The pledge drive chair is a critical position, but a short-term commitment — a sprint, with long-term marathon benefits to all those we serve. Are you the one to get us to the finish line this year? Please say “yes,” and preferably soon!

For more information on any group or church activity, or to propose one, please contact our board chair, John Forbes, a board member, a committee chairperson, our minister, Reverend Frieda Gillespie, or the church administrator, Nancy Paskowski.

Yours in involvement,

Judith Doherty
NSUU Board Member

“New UU” class

If you are new to the church or to Unitarian Universalism, join Rev. Frieda and the Membership Team to learn more about our beliefs, our governance, our history, and how you can connect with this church. You’ll get to know other members and new people to the church. It’s a good class to take if you’re considering joining the church as well. All questions will be entertained and answers attempted. The sessions are January 17, January 31, and February 7 from 11:45 a.m. until 1 p.m. Lunch will be served to all. Sign up in the Fellowship Hall or call NSUU at (978) 774-7582 and leave a message for Rev. Frieda.

The Wealth of Your Life

What will you leave behind besides your money and your things? You’ve already given much that your children or friends and colleagues will remember. What would you like them to know about you, your family, or what you’ve learned from life so far? In this group we’ll be compiling these bits of history, lore, and wisdom into an “ethical will” that can be given or left to whomever you wish to have it. Rev. Frieda is facilitating, and the group meets the second Wednesday of each month at 2 p.m. January 17 is the next session. If you need transportation, please call the office at (978) 774-7582.

Employment support group

Out of work by surprise or by choice? Are you considering some alternative field or seeking new ways to apply your current skills? This lively group meets every other Wednesday at 10 a.m. for support, laughter and new ideas. The next meeting is January 6 at the church. Join us!

Auld Lang Syne from Building and Grounds

The Buildings and Grounds Committee will remember 2007-2009 for all the work done on the exterior of the building. There are still things to be done, but we welcome 2010, for the list is getting shorter and our vision is taking shape.

In the fall of 2007 we power-washed the exterior siding and started staining before the cold weather set in. Many in the community signed up that fall to stain their favorite side. Work continued throughout 2008 and into the early spring of 2009. The power-washing crew has long since dried out and the stain has faded from those helping hands, so now you’ll see them in their Sunday-Go-To-Meeting best. They are Olivia, Katherine, and Susan Timmins; Emily, Daniel, Gwen, and Nelson Scottgale; Susan Cayouette, Amy and Aaron Steeves; Martine Kellet; Neil and Carole Ayer; Andrew, Eric and Maria Duggan; Leonard Swanson; Charles Wilson; Peter VanDeBogert; Barbara and Ray Haight; Malcolm Bruce; Frank Armstrong; Bob Cumming; and Tina and John Gibson.

The staining was completed this spring, and there was no stopping us from restoring the trim boards to their original barn red. With scrapper, sandpaper, and brush in hand, we worked through the summer and into the fall, breaking again with the onset of cold weather. Now we are looking forward to a long winter’s nap. We are Dot Barton, Martine Kellet, Malcolm Bruce, Ray Haight, Bob Cumming, and John Gibson.

The grounds crew kept us looking sharp during the growing season with Aaron Steeves, Greg Erwin, Ray Haight, and Rick Johnson getting a workout behind the mower. Special thanks to Greg Erwin for keeping us in the light at the right price.

We all do our part in community to keep the vision alive now and for those who follow. Once winter loosens its grip, we’ll tighten ours and get back to work. We are better together and need your help!

Thanks for the opportunity to serve, and for making it happen.

John Gibson

February circle dinner

Circle dinners are a fun way to get to know others in our church. There are two sign-up sheets — one for hosts and one for guests. 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, entrée, salad, dessert, drinks, and the like.

Sign-ups for the January 16 circle dinners are now closed. But you can still get in on the fun in February! Watch for the February circle dinner host and guest sign-up sheets posted in the Fellowship Hall later on this month.

Contact Leonard Swanson (978-356-8880) or Joanne Ciaravella (978-921-0519) if you have any questions.

Share the plate

During the January 17 service, Northshore Church will “share the plate” with the Massachusetts General Hospital Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) Research Fund. FTD is a family of neurodegenerative disorders that primarily affect the frontal and anterior temporal regions of the brain. These areas control personality and social behavior, impulse control, speech and language comprehension, and “executive functions” involved in reasoning, decision-making, and planning.

FTD is not like Alzheimer’s disease, though some of the symptoms may overlap. FTD is characterized by a gradual onset of progressive changes in personality, social behavior, and language ability, rather than memory. This organization was brought to the church’s attention by Jean Koulak-Young, who had this to say about FTD: “I have personally dealt with this destructive and frustrating disease for the past six years, as my husband became less and less the once brilliant man he was.”

Social action

The Social Action Committee’s recent survey of the congregation showed that respondents strongly support the church’s continuing its commitment to providing food and serving dinner at the Salem Mission on the fourth Sunday of each month. As part of its effort to involve the whole congregation in the project, the Social Action Committee has arranged for Mark Cote, director of the Salem Mission, to speak at the church service on January 10. This will be an opportunity to find out more about the Salem Mission and our church’s role there. Please come and think about how you might be involved in this important project. The next meeting of the Social Action Committee will be on Monday, January 11, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Contact Lois Markham ( for location.

Member profile

Helen Brandt

I grew up in New York and New Jersey but went to college at Michigan State University and lived 35 years in Michigan. During my music teacher training, I had the opportunity to student teach in the international school system in the Hague, Netherlands, and I grabbed it. To this day I have maintained contact with the Dutch family I stayed with. After I received my B.A., I taught public school vocal music for two years, then waitressed and traveled through most all of Europe as well as Central America.

Singing has been my love since I was a small child. I have been active in community choral groups and church groups. My claim to fame is that I was on the stage with Luciano Pavarotti at the opening of the Detroit Opera House in 1985. I was in a 200 voice chorus behind Pavarotti and was treated to his charm and his amazing voice, even toward the end of his career. I also sang in the chorus of the Michigan Opera Theater production of the opera “Peter Grimes.” Currently I sing with The Essex Harmony, performing singing school music of the mid-1700s through mid-1800s.

I drifted into a career in nursing after deciding teaching wasn’t my niche. Nursing has turned out to be an incredibly good fit for me. Most of my career has been in oncology, although I worked nine years in high risk obstetrics in Detroit. I have lots of crazy stories about that. Currently I work at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, where I administer chemotherapy to lung, esophageal, and head and neck cancer patients. Beyond starting IVs and administering drugs, I have the opportunity to touch people’s lives in a positive and compassionate way on a daily basis and also to be touched by them. I believe, and hope, that I have become a better person because of the goodness and courage that I witness each day. I am so fortunate to find myself in a paying job that is also a ministry to others.

I grew up in the Presbyterian church and at one time imagined myself a missionary translating the Bible into some previously unwritten language. However, as life went on, I couldn’t help but question some of the things that didn’t make sense to me. I switched to the Birmingham Unitarian Church in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, in the early ’70s and sang in their very active and ambitious 50- to 60-voice choir.

In 1985 I gave birth to my son, Bill, becoming a single parent. He filled my life with joy and purpose. I continued my wanderlust with him beside me, with trips to Egypt where he played in the sand at the foot of the Pyramids, Australia where he couldn’t get enough of feeding the kangaroos, and the Netherlands where he was a sulky 13-year-old and decided that Europe was stupid. Bill is now a 24-year-old pursuing a B.S. in chemistry at Western Michigan University.

While going to school at MSU and during my Netherlands student teaching I met my friend Barbara, and our association was to be life changing for both of us. Her family was incredibly kind to me, and I ended up claiming them as my own. Her parents were grandparents to my son, and we spent all our holidays with them, becoming extended family to each other. Barbara moved to the Boston area in the mid-’70s, but I saw her often as she returned for summers and holiday gatherings. Years later when she and her husband were unable to have a baby on their own, I offered to carry a child for them, and beautiful Casey was born in 1992. She is currently a senior at Masco and plans to become a nurse. I usually refer to Barbara as my sister and Casey as my niece. I delight in being able to witness my birth daughter’s inner and outer beauty and her accomplishments.

In the year 2000 it became clear to me that I needed to move from Michigan for the benefit of my son. Also, my mother was ill with cancer in New Jersey and Barbara had been diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer. I find Boston friendly, stimulating, comfortable and a good fit for me. When I moved I intentionally had a plan to meet people in my work and to find a church family. NSUU was the first church I came to and I have never forgotten the power of my first service here, which was the one following 9/11.

I have enjoyed working with Judy Putnam in the music program at Northshore Church, both singing and playing handbells. From there it was a short hop for me to participate more fully in Sunday morning services. I very much enjoy putting together a service, especially readings and music, and I have been gratified to have received positive feedback from the two “sermons” that I have presented.

January 2010 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