The Advance — November 2009

From Frieda

I learned so much from you all during the Octoberfair. You have many talents and a bottomless well of energy and effort for something you love.

Barbara Haight is a wonderful coordinator for this fair, because she builds relationships with each of you who volunteers and encourages you to do what you enjoy. Ray Haight was there working alongside Barbara every day during the week prior and baked a large number of pies by himself. Iain and Joanne Goddard worked long hours on the setup the week before. Ingrid Johnson and Dona McDuff set up the Artisans Corner in an especially beautiful way, spending a full day and evening (maybe more) to get it just right. Bob Cumming is truly a saint. He pounded the pavement to get shop owners to donate for the silent auction. This meant hours of work and many trips back to each place. He did all of the computer work for the auction and dispersing of the items to the winners. This is the single biggest project of the fair, and it continues for days afterwards. Frank Armstrong was a fabulous MC all day. I want to mention Andrea Sweeney, new to the church, who volunteered her considerable artistic talent and time to do face-painting for the kids. She spent the entire fair working on this. Her creations can be seen among the many photos now up on our website. So many of you baked, worked tables, lovingly set up your wares, and served your customers. Your generosity and ability to have fun was so apparent during this event.

It was also quite successful financially. The exact figures are still to come as of this writing. We have many fundraising projects this year. In addition to the fair, there was Joy in the Fall, and up soon is a concert by Larry Plitt and the Squeezebox Stompers on November 14. It should be another very fun event.

It may seem like Northshore Church is focused on making money these days, but don’t forget all the good experiences between members and the community that make our winnings far more than financial. I envision that we will become so generous in our pledges one day that we can turn this wonderful spirited group effort to more outreach in the community. You have built the most amazing teamwork together. Just think of the many people to whom we could bring the good news of Unitarian Universalism. Just think what you will be able to do for the homeless, or to increase justice, or for spiritual growth in our community and beyond, or whatever you might find a passion to do, if we work together.

In loving faith,

November 2009 services

November 1, 10:30 a.m. “Lessons of Living and Dying: All Saints Service.” Rev. Frieda Gillespie. We’ll celebrate the lives of those we know personally and those in the public eye who have died since last year. Bring pictures of loved ones for the altar. The sermon will focus on the legacy of Rev. Forrest Church.

November 8, 10:30 a.m. “It Takes a Mother: The Gifts of Sophia Fahs.” Rev. Frieda Gillespie. Our UU History Series continues by celebrating Unitarian Sophia Fahs, who was a pioneer in children’s religious education. Her innovations impacted the way all denominations do church school, and our current curricula build upon her insights, which in large part came from being a parent.

November 15, 10:30 a.m. “Risk of Love.” Rev. Liz Walker. In these turbulent and chaotic times of shattered foundations and loss of trust, where can we turn? What can we risk? Liz Walker suggests we reconsider love – unconditional love – as a spiritual and social movement.   Rev. Walker will speak from her personal journey from celebrity television news anchor to humanitarian working in war-torn Sudan. A share-the-plate collection will be taken for My Sister’s Keeper, her foundation for women-led humanitarian action focused currently in Darfur (  Rev. Frieda will be away at a convocation of UU ministers in Ottawa.

November 22, 10:30 a.m. “Kindness.”Rev. Frieda Gillespie. Adam Phillips and Barbara Taylor have written a book, On Kindness, about the decline in recent decades in the practice of kindness. They also claim committing acts of kindness is one of the greatest joys in life. What keeps us from depriving ourselves of the joy of kind actions? We will collect Guest At Your Table boxes today.

November 25, 7 p.m. Ecumenical Thanksgiving Service at Calvary Episcopal Church, Danvers. Many came out for this service last year when we hosted and it was an amazing experience of respectful common ground between differing faiths. There will be a pick-up choir, which will rehearse at 6:30 p.m.

November 29, 10:30 a.m. “Home for the Holidays.” In this spiritual-reflection service we’ll explore the joys and tensions of being with family during the holidays. Do we repeat the same experiences over and over or can we be new? If you have a particular reading on this topic, bring it to share.

From the Board of Directors

As much as we have come to think of ourselves as a community of like-minded friends and acquaintances, it’s important to remember how little-known and appreciated we are. This came home to me during the recent and very successful Octoberfair, which was a triumph of hard work and dedication. But, wandering through the place, during the fair, I was struck that everyone there had a familiar face – lovely, to be sure, but familiar, nonetheless. There were exceptions, to be sure, and it was a wonderful turnout, in any case. It was such a convivial moment, I thought about what a great opportunity it was for us to showcase this great gift we all have, right here at 323 Locust Street. While few things can match the vision of Brendan Steeves with a big old snake wrapped around his neck, our regular Sunday service has often been an equally uplifting moment.

We should never be afraid to recommend Northshore Church to those around us, particularly people who have never been there before. In the coming year, the Board will be striving to grow the congregation, and to bring new and different energy to the church. I believe that the potential audience of new congregants is larger than we realize. So many people are looking for a spiritual essence in their lives, but may have been disappointed by the more structured doctrines and positions of churches from which they have since fallen away. Those who have small children think about this a lot. We should not be shy about telling them about what we have here.

Speaking personally, four years ago, when I first came to Northshore Church, it wasn’t because I had found it. A friend told me about it. I remain eternally grateful to her.

John Forbes
Northshore UU Church Board Chair

Unemployed? Need Support?

We will be starting a support group for people looking for work or evaluating next career steps.

  • When:  1st and 3rd Wednesdays of the month at 10 a.m.
  • Where:  Northshore Unitarian Universalist Church
  • Who:   Anyone is welcome, so feel free to tell others outside the church.

The first meeting will be November 4 at 10 a.m. Rev. Frieda will facilitate. Coffee and tea will be provided.

Squeezebox Stompers

Playing a rootsy blend of New Orleans-style music at Northshore Church, November 14, from 8 to 10 p.m. Come to dance or listen. There will be refreshments, door prizes, and more!

Raffle for prizes including artwork by Larry Plitt.

Tickets: $15. Children are welcome at no charge.

Tickets are available in the church office or e-mail your request to nsuu {at} verizon {dot} net.

A message about the Ministerial Evaluation Committee

At my request, because of the UUA requirement for new ministers to be evaluated for at least three years before being “in final fellowship,” we have a committee called the Ministerial Evaluation Committee. It consists of members chosen by the Board, the Leadership Development Committee, and me.

We meet once a month to discuss my ministry at NSUU. It’s been a very enjoyable experience for me and apparently for the committee, since they signed up for another year! This may be the last year I need this evaluation, which is also completed by the Board and me.

The members of the committee are listed below. If you have concerns, questions or input about my ministry, do come and talk with me. You can call me any day but Thursday at the church or come see me on Monday, Wednesday, or Sunday. The committee welcomes your comments as well.

Committee members are Beth Blanchard (BDHBlan {at} comcast {dot} net), Dan Kennedy (dkennedy56 {at} gmail {dot} com), and Tracee Kneeland (tke {dot} swan {at} verizon {dot} net).

Wanted: Greeters for Sunday services

There are newcomers to our church almost every Sunday. It is really crucial, if we want to grow our church, to reach out, make these people feel comfortable and want to return to this friendly spiritual community. The six members of the Membership Team have been filling this role to date and now would like to expand the Greeters group. Greeting involves only about one Sunday a month. It is such a good way not only to meet newcomers but to get to know others in our community and to simply welcome one’s friends.

We’re sure you know how welcoming it is to have a friendly face at the door Sunday morning, knowing your name and making it clear that they are glad that you have come. If you would like to be part of this outgoing,” front door” group and make this an opportunity to make a real contribution to the on-going life of our community, please join the Greeter Orientation, Sunday, November 1, from noon to 1 p.m. A light lunch will be served while we talk about the Greeter function and how important it is to the growing of our church family. Please contact one of us and let us know you will attend: Linda Budd, Joanne Ciaravella, or Maureen Duram.

There is still time to join with one or all of our Music Groups

Share some beautiful music with Northshore Church community over the holiday weeks.

The Adult Singing Group has an ongoing need for singers, and we meet every Sunday morning at 9 a.m., just before the church service.

The Family Singers is an intergenerational singing group for all ages, children, parents, and adults who sing about three times during the church year, usually at the holidays. We meet for a series of rehearsals for about six weeks prior to the performance. This fall we will to try rehearsing after church services in the Meeting Room for half an hour.

The Hand Bell Choir plays two times each year, and sometimes more. We will be starting rehearsals for holiday music in the next few weeks.

If you read music at all and have an interest in trying the bells, we welcome you to join us.  We will be rehearsing Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesdays.  The group will determine what is best.

If any or all of these interest you, please see Judy Putnam, music director, after the service or call her at (978) 356-8880, or e-mail her at judeputnam {at} verizon {dot} net. We look forward to hearing from you!

Religious Services Committee

The Religious Services Committee is the committee working with the minister in planning all services at NSUU Church throughout the year. We are particularly involved in planning all aspects of several special services during the church year such as: the Thanksgiving ecumenical service that was held here last year, the Solstice Service, Christmas Eve, and all services when the minister is off, and we have an outside speaker or a lay-led service. We also assure that everything is in place prior to Sunday services.

The committee meets once each month except for July. At this time the Religious Services Committee would like to extend an invitation to interested NSUU members who might like to become part of the committee. If you are interested, please contact: Tracee Kneeland at (978) 356-1685 or Marty Langlois at (978) 927-2059. Other members of the committee are: Jim Lynch, Amy Tedford, Helen Brandt, Judy Putnam, and Frieda Gillespie, and they too would welcome your inquiries.

News from the Social Action Committee

Share the Plate: During the November 22 service, Northshore Church will “share the plate” with the Association for Frontotemporal Dementias (AFTD). Please make checks payable to AFTD. For more information about this disease and this organization, see

November’s Share the Plate recipient was proposed by Jean Koulak-Young, who wrote this about her reasons for suggesting this 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 times inappropriate. Doran suffers from frontotemporal dementia (FTD), a family of neurodegenerative disorders characterized by progressive changes in personality, social behavior, impulse control, speech and language comprehension, and reasoning ability.”

Danvers Food Pantry: The church is still collecting nonperishable food items for the Danvers Food Pantry. Please bring a donation to church with you on Sunday and leave it in Fellowship Hall. Nelson Scottgale delivers our donations to the Food Pantry every few weeks.

The Social Action Committee: Lois Markham (chair), Paul Brailsford, Joanne Ciaravella, Maureen Duram, Jean Koulack-Young, Marcia Lassar, and Brian Orr.

Organic fair-trade coffee is coming

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.

“The Wealth of Your Life”

Meet with Rev. Frieda to share with each other the stories and insights you’ve lived.  If you like, we can work together to each develop an “Ethical Will” to document this wealth of wisdom, feeling and family lore within you for future generations. This is a fun and meaningful way to get to know others at Northshore Church better as well. The first meeting will be Wednesday, October 28, from 2-3 p.m. The November meeting will be Wednesday, November 11, from 2 to 3 p.m.

Please contact the church if transportation is needed. RSVP at (978) 774-7582.

November 2009 Member Profile

Ingrid Johnson, Deb Nelson, Vanny, and Linh

By Martha Ardiff

Ingrid Johnson, from a thoroughly Unitarian family in Ohio and then Michigan, and Deborah Nelson, raised Congregational in Wakefield,  have lived in Ipswich for 19 years and have been volunteers for the Ipswich River Watershed Association for about 15 years, monitoring the river at a specific spot every month. Deb says, “Reverence for nature is important to me.” Ingrid adds, “One of our biggest joys is to spend time outside,” and she refers to nature as “my true spiritual home.” They have been meditating for about 25 years and belong to a small meditation group. They have been part of the NSUU community for 10 years and particularly value the Small Group Ministry program, in which Deb is a facilitator. Both agree that “it is so touching to hear people’s stories and to appreciate them as human beings and fellow walkers on the path.”

Ingrid is a professional artist in varied media, including painting, drawing, print making, and silk hangings. She has displayed her work in our sanctuary three times and at many regional as well as national galleries.  She worked as a graphic designer for many years. This year she chaired the very successful Arts Area of NSUU’s Octoberfair. She has also taught in our RE program.

Deb, a licensed psychologist with a Ph.D., has long served vulnerable populations such as children in the social-service system, young offenders, the physically disabled, and the elderly.  She co-founded Beacon Health Strategies, which provides health care management to about a million people, many of whom are poor, non-English speaking and with complex medical needs.

Deb has also served as a faculty member of the Harvard Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry and is Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee of the Cuvilly Arts and Earth Center, which includes an organic farm and a wind turbine in its modeling of methods of ecological sustainability . She serves on the Advisory Board of the Sharing Foundation, which seeks to improve the lives of children in Cambodia, and is President of the Angkor Dance Troupe, which teaches the traditions of Cambodian performance art, promotes appreciation for Cambodian culture, and develops programs for urban, at-risk Cambodian-American youth.  She is currently on the NSUU Board, served on the Stewardship Committee for a year, has been a mentor in our Coming of Age Program and has played in the Bell Choir. This year she received NSUU’s Frank Farnum Community Service Award.

Ingrid and Deb were happily living their beliefs, enjoying travel, work, friends, spiritual practices, environmental service, and their two dogs. But they began wanting to give back to the world in an even deeper way. Ingrid says that their daughters found them. Both had very good early care in their orphanages, Vanny in Cambodia, and Linh in Vietnam. When Vanny, now 8,  was due to join them, Deb and Ingrid knew they needed to do something about their well loved but large and somewhat aggressive dog Kokee. He sometimes pestered their other terrier, Skye, and they weren’t sure how he would be with an infant, so they put up a notice on the church bulletin board seeking a new home for Kokee. Judy Putnam and Leonard Swanson responded, loved and cared for Kokee for the rest of his life, and in the process became the beloved  “local grandparents” in Ingrid and Deb’s family. Vanny wanted a sister and called Skye her “best sister” while Skye was alive.  Later, when it was time to bring Linh home, Vanny and her parents visited Cambodia for a week, then flew to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. When they met Linh, the girls seemed to recognize each other instantly and were closely bonded from that moment on. Vanny still frequently says, “I love my sister!” and Linh, who has just turned 3, obviously adores her sister.

Ingrid has been recovering from breast cancer this year. Her progress is quite good, but the process is long and doctors tell her to take it easier at least another year. She’s having to say “No” at times but loves enjoying the present.

Ingrid and Debbie were married at NSUU on June 6, 2009, on their 28th anniversary, with 28 chimes of our bell. They and Vanny and Linh  each wore a dress made of Cambodian and Vietnamese silks, in honor of their family’s cultural diversity.  Linh attends Cuvilly Earth and Arts Center, as did Vanny when she was younger. Vanny now attends Brookwood School in Manchester. Both girls assist with the monthly Ipswich River monitoring. And Vanny loves singing in NSUU’s Family Singers.

November 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