The Advance — October 2009

From Frieda

Jim and Marty have had quite a summer. I don’t know if you have been inspired, as I have been, by their ability to roll with the punches and get back on their feet. I’ve heard a few doctors say that medicine does not explain healing. That’s a pretty amazing statement from a doctor. Healing is something that happens sometimes with medicine, sometimes without; sometimes it doesn’t happen even with the finest medical care. One thing I knew about Jim as I saw him laying on the gurney in the emergency room is that he has a strong heart. Whether or not his physical heart was well, his emotional and spiritual heart seemed very strong to me. I hoped it would make the difference for him. And perhaps it did. He had excellent medical care starting with the doctor who revived him when he collapsed at the gym that night after his workout. Perhaps the fact that enjoys life so much is allowing him to heal.

When Marty and Jim spoke at the water service, about how they have taken care of each other, I felt strongly that this was an important part of their healing. Marty had planned surgery on her foot, very complex surgery, and was already on her feet. What’s inspiring about all of this to me is that throughout these rough experiences they have maintained an overall attitude that they will be able to bring themselves back to full health. And this seems like an important wisdom to me: they know they can bring themselves back to health. So often our bodies are a mystery to us. They get sick, they get well and we are just along for the ride. But that isn’t really the case is it? Our viewpoint and our attitude about health and sickness make a huge difference in our ability to recover. Well, of course, that’s true of any situation in our lives. It is interesting how we can be so abstracted from our bodies that we might be frustrated with their limitations or their illnesses and not realize that we make all the difference in our recovery or the possibilities of our lives with a disability.

I met a woman this summer about my age who had recently suffered a stroke. She could walk with a little difficulty. One of her arms was bent in front of her, and she didn’t have use of that hand. She said, “Every day I get a little better.” She went ahead with her life and seemed to feel fairly certain of her recovery. Even if she isn’t able to gain all of her movement back, I suspect she will seek out more options and will be able to participate fully in her life just because she is quite willing to do what it takes.

These folks offer us a view into a life that is predicated on well-being rather than sorrow and strife. I find it very attractive, don’t you?


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

October 2009 services

October 4, 10:30 a.m. “A Hidden Wealth.” Rev. Frieda Gillespie. This Sunday is Association Sunday, when we reflect upon the greater Unitarian Universalist movement and contribute to the Unitarian Universalist Association. Three offshoots of the UUA that have a lot to offer to inspire, educate, and motivate us and our children to effective social action and liberal religious practices are the Church of the Larger Fellowship, the UU Service Committee, and the Tapestry of Faith programs. We will share the plate with the UUA.

October 11, 10:30 a.m. “Lessons of War.” John Merson. Mr. Merson is a veteran of the Vietnam War and has written a book, “War Lessons,” both about his experiences and about the prevention of war. He speaks at many churches and other organizations about recovering from the experiences of war.

October 18, 10:30 a.m. “William Ellery Channing and Theodore Parker.” Fred Mills. This is the first of a series about Unitarian Universalist history. Fred will bring to life these two firebrands who, in their youth, helped formulate Unitarian Christianity and paved the way for the evolution of our faith.

October 25, 10:30 a.m. “The Blessing of the Ordinary.” Rev. Frieda Gillespie. Simple, ordinary things sometimes have as much meaning as anything extraordinary. And we spend more time with the ordinary by definition. This collection of poetry and reflection is about our relationship to the everyday of our lives.

Sermon series on Unitarian Universalist history

  • November 8: Sophia Fahs — Rev. Frieda Gillespie
  • January 17: History of Unitarian Universalist multi-racial, multi-cultural awareness — TBD
  • March 7: Northshore UU Church history — Rev. Frieda Gillespie, Fred Mills
  • April 18: Prophetic Sisterhood — Rev. Frieda Gillespie

From Fred

A word about “Stories for All Ages”: Most Sundays Frieda or I tell a story that usually has something to do with the morning theme. I am sure that just about everyone enjoys this part of the service. I know I do. I also know that this is an important part of religious education in a couple of ways. First, it is important that our young people participate and observe our Sunday experience. The music, meditations, and form will help them develop their personal theology. The story also provides a common discussion point. It is my hope that during the ride home, families spend some time talking about their church time. The story can provide a jumping-off point. Religious education happens seven days a week. Happy talking.

Among Ourselves: A Parents’ Night will be scheduled soon. Please look forward to further details.

OWL: The “Our Whole Lives” class will re-start meeting at the church on Sunday afternoons. I ask everyone in the church to respect this group’s privacy. There will be a poster up at the entry that will let you know if the group is in session.

At Our Best is a new program offered by this church family to the larger community. At the close of last year we talked about expanding our welcoming reach and providing a nurturing place for special-needs children and their families. Several members and friends mentioned their willingness to take part as a one-on-one buddy. Please find me this week and re-commit to this exciting opportunity to affirm our belief in the dignity of every human personality.

We have a partial chalice. When we have all the teachers we need we will have a full chalice. Please see me about teaching.

Nursery volunteers are needed. This is easy and fun. You get to play with some really neat little ones.

Some beliefs are like walled gardens. They encourage 
exclusiveness, and the feeling of being especially privileged. 
Other beliefs are expansive and lead the way into wider and 
deeper sympathies. — Sophia Lyon Fahs

Social Action Committee

Mission: The mission of the Social Action Committee is twofold: (1) to develop opportunities for the congregation to engage in discussion of issues related to social justice and (2) to identify social-action needs and coordinate and support the congregation in activities in pursuit of social justice locally, nationally, and internationally as a means of living out our Unitarian Universalist principles.

Share the Plate: In accordance with our newly drafted mission statement, we are now coordinating NSUU’s Share the Plate Program. As many of you may know, Share the Plate is a program in place at many Unitarian Universalist congregations in which money from the offering is donated to a worthy cause. At NSUU, on one Sunday each month, we donate all of the unrestricted cash collected (as well as checks specifically made out to the charity) to a non-profit organization whose work is consistent with our UU principles.

However, the Share the Plate program is more than financial contributions. It involves education and advocacy. In addition to giving money to worthy organizations, another goal for this program is for us to find out more about the work being done by these organizations so that we can choose to become more involved with them. Past recipients of the Share the Plate program have included the Danvers Food Pantry, Heifer International, Bird Street Community Center, Hospice of the North Shore, Beverly Bootstraps, Strays in Need, River House, Health Quarters, and UU Philippines.

Help us decide! We are now accepting nominations for Share the Plate recipients. If you know of a worthy local, national, or international organization whose work supports our UU principles and values, please let us know about it by completing a Share the Plate nomination form. All charities must be 501(c)(3) organizations. You can obtain a Share the Plate nomination form from the church office. Please return the completed form to Lois Markham or to Nancy in the church office. In order for the Social Action Committee to effectively coordinate this program for the remainder of the church year, please submit your nominations by November 30.

Survey: The Social Action Committee would like to develop a list of community-service/social-justice organizations/activities that members and friends of NSUU currently support and/or participate in. In addition, the committee is interested in knowing what kinds of activities the congregation would like to see the church support in the coming years. To gather information, the committee has developed a brief survey. The survey will be conducted through October 25. If you have e-mail, you will receive an e-mail with a link to the survey. The survey will be snail-mailed to those who don’t have e-mail. It will also be distributed at services. To make tabulation easier, it would help if those who have e-mail respond to the e-mail version. The Social Action Committee appreciates your support.

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 the 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.

OctoberFair Silent Auction

Help is urgently needed to identify and collect gift certificates and other items for the auction, which will be held on Saturday, October 17. Restaurants and retail establishments on the North Shore received a request earlier this month from this church asking them to donate to the auction. Fewer than 10 percent have responded with a positive response to the request. In order for the auction to succeed, follow-up assistance is needed. I need individuals to make phone calls and/or drive to places of business to complete the process. If we do not pursue potential donors, we will not have items for attendees to bid on which means we will not have a “$ucce$$ful” auction.

The Silent Auction Committee urgently needs volunteers to:

  • Follow-up on donation request letters
  • Seek additional new donors
  • Help with event setup, management and close-out
  • Encourage others to attend the OctoberFair and Silent Auction

Silent Auction donation request letters, forms, and a flier are available in the Fellowship Hall. When you obtain a donation, please e-mail item details to the address below so the information can be entered into the database. The Silent Auction is a fun event to participate in as a volunteer, bidder, or both (ideally). We really do need your help!

Bob Cumming, Silent Auction Committee
E-mail: nsuuauction {at} gmail {dot} com

Wanna-be singers and musicians

Please join us for our Singing Group rehearsals every Sunday morning at 9 a.m. before the church service. We welcome everyone who would be interested in exploring our group, even if only for one time. Come and see if it’s something you’d enjoy. We will be singing some very interesting music this fall and the upcoming holidays. We really need lower voices but are very happy to have all voices join us. If you play an instrument, I would love to talk to you about sharing your talent with the congregation, and perhaps playing with the Singing Group sometime. We can’t have too many players/singers! If you have any questions, please call me at 978-356-8880. Hope you will give it some thought, and maybe give it a try.

In peace,
Judy Putnam

The Sermon Within

Do you have a story or an idea that you’ve been wanting to write about? This is an opportunity to meet with Frieda and others who are also working on finding just what wants to be expressed within. Join us to share in a friendly, supportive atmosphere. This is great preparation to write and deliver a sermon during the summer service, or to simply delve deeper into reflection.  If you’re interested, sign up on the table in Fellowship Hall. The days and times will be determined by the group. If you have questions, speak to Frieda.

October 2009 Member Profile

Beth Blanchard

by Martha Ardiff

Beth Blanchard grew up in Ohio in a traditional family with mainstream ideas in the 50’s and 60’s. She was a tomboy, taught to be a good, proper girl who did well at school and belonged to the Congregational Church and fraternal service organizations. The only family member to care about nature, as a child she planted a garden, with permission but not support or encouragement. She learned to sew, knit and embroider. And she was made to give up art lessons for Latin. “I lived the culture but didn’t fit,” she comments. Beth grew from a quiet, shy, uncertain girl into woman who knows herself well, expresses herself through varied artistic means and steadily lives her deeply felt values. She evolved not by rejecting her roots, but by biding her time when necessary, recognizing and taking advantage of opportunities which spoke to her true being, and always having a sense of where her priorities needed to be at any given stage. She particularly appreciates and honors the early orientation toward service and respect which her childhood provided.

Some of her stepping stones include:

  • two years at Westminster College, a Presbyterian school in a small Amish town, where she enjoyed the required religion classes for their historical value
  • as a Spanish major, taking a one-month class in Mexico where she lived with a family, studied the culture and visited other villages and noticed that the world was a bigger place than she’d realized
  • transfer to University of Michigan, absorbing the music and respect for diversity of the ‘60’s and living in a dorm for new upperclassmen under the strong influence of “dorm parents” who believed in building community and created a real family feeling.
  • spending summers working and living in an amusement park and becoming the foreman in charge of KiddieLand, which convinced her that she wanted to spend her time with children
  • trying subsistence farming in the ‘60’s, learning to weave, spin, batik and create fabrics
  • moving east with her husband, trying out social work and finding her niche while getting an M.S. in Early Childhood Education at Wheelock. “It was a great fit,” Beth says. “I got the skills I needed and became more confident.” Jack Langstaff and his wife, in her last class, insisted “Everybody can sing and dance and draw.” Beth took that to heart for herself as well as for her future students
  • Participating in a federated UCC/Presbyterian church in Boston, which had a liberation theology that pushed the limits of Christianity into inclusiveness, feminism, team ministry, programs for the elderly and for homeless women, the arts, justice and gay rights
  • Moving to the North Shore, going to the Beverly UU Church for a while and then to NSUU for good
  • Teaching kindergarten for over 20 years and now being in her 5th year of teaching second grade
  • Losing her parents and husband but finding the crucial support she needed as a parent from the RE program (in which she helped) and from the entire community here at NSUU. Hollis, now 30 lives in Portland, Oregon, and Dylan, 26 lives in Portland, Maine
  • Joining the Newburyport Art Association, turning her lifelong photography hobby into a serious artistic endeavor, painting, doing costuming and stage management for a Newburyport theatre company, being a long-term steady member of the NSUU Singing Group, sometimes soloing, and recently joining The Essex Harmony, a local group which performs early American songs

Beth currently chairs the NSUU Leadership Development Committee, which helps support other committees in the development of lay leadership. She and Peter VanDeBogert, with intensive research and creativity, prepared and recently presented a highly entertaining historical storytelling about Susan B. Anthony to our congregation and they have done historical storytelling in libraries and classrooms and at a literary festival.

In the Hamilton-Wenham Schools Beth runs professional trainings in “Responsive Classroom,” helping teachers create community. She says lifelong learning is important to for herself and for her students. “I have the good fortune of having work which is like my commission in life — my way of giving service to help make the world a better place.”

October 2009 Calendar

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