November Newsletter JIM’S JOTTINGS

Dear Ones,
What is going on in worship? When I came to FPB ten years ago our worship services were often ritualized,
reasonable, and emotionally flat (missing affect). And we were fairly typical of UU worship at the time. Over
time we have experimented with more testimonials and skits in place of readings, replacing wordy prayers
with more experiential meditations, and spicing up our logical and reasoned sermons with more stories and
personal experiences. Have you noticed? Yet each year our staff team goes to the UUA General Assembly,
and we usually discover we are still behind the curve, adapting more slowly to new expectations than many
more vibrant UU worshipping congregations.
That was my experience at GA again this year, and UU theologian Thandeka told me she could help me, our
staff team, and our congregation better adapt to the changing expectations of deepening affect in worship. I
engaged Thandeka on the spot. She worked with my sermons over the summer and I wonder if you
experience the difference? She worked with our staff team in August. All of our worship services this Fall
reflect some of her impact on how we approach our services each Sunday. Now Thandeka is coming back to
lead a workshop for the entire congregation, Friday evening December 5 and all day Saturday December 6,
before she leads our worship on Sunday December 7. Please approach her methods with an open mind and
let’s see what she can teach us as a congregation!
What do you want from me? My spiritual teachers taught me that pain is part of life but our suffering is
usually optional. Over four decades I have been taught and practiced spiritual teachings that help me to
manage the pain of life. I successfully used those techniques in dealing with my brother David’s death from
AIDS, my father’s death from lymphoma, the loss of my job, my daughter’s stage 4 ovarian cancer, and my
mother’s slow slide into senile dementia, as well as lesser pain and suffering over the decades. Pain is part of
life, but suffering can be alleviated over time with spiritual practice.
When I arrived at FPB pastoral care mostly consisted of ministerial or lay presence, and perhaps a casserole,
usually only when requested. We have experimented with offering pastoral counselling, including spiritual
practices, as well as pastoral presence, and in training our pastoral care associates to meet and journey with
you as needed. I am first and foremost a spiritual teacher, but sometimes our most important life lessons can
emerge from times of trauma, and I draw on my own pain and trauma in seeking to be a non-anxious presence
in helping you to come to terms with your own. Not everybody needs or even wants this spiritual resource.
Nor am I always the best person to contact, perhaps you’d rather be with our second minister, or one of our
eight pastoral associates. Simply be clear what you want from any of us: pastoral prayers, deep listening, or
spiritual practices that can help alleviate your pain. As UU’s, you get to choose, so whatever you want form
me, I will try to provide to the best of my abilities. We are blessed to be traveling this journey, for a time,
Blessings on your journey!
Rev. Dr. Jim
Pastoral ministry is a cherished service for the congregation of First Parish. Our ministers are gifted at this kind of deep
listening, prayerful presence and spiritual counsel. Working with the ministers are the Pastoral Associates, lay members
of the congregation who have trained to extend this important ministry and make it even more available. The Pastoral
Associates are: Laura Walters, Mary Rogers, Dorothy Richardson, Jon Hazilla, Ellie Boynton, Madeline Fine, Fiona
Horning and Paul McLean. Look for them in the Sanctuary or during Hospitality on Sundays, or contact them by email or
November 2 - Beyond Categorical Thinking - Our immigration policies shape our sense of identity as
Americans. We wish to move beyond categorical thinking. For this Social Action Council service we will take a food
and clothing collection for immigrant children as well as a special collection for the Chelsea Latino Collaborative and Centro
November 9 - Love Reaches Out to the Battlefield. Unitarian Universalists take pride in a history that identifies
us as part of the anti-war movement. From the origins of Mothers’ Day, to the Viet Nam war draft resisters being given
sanctuary in our churches, and most recently in our efforts to bring our troops back from Afghanistan, we continue to
voice our opposition to the senseless exportation of violence. This is indeed something to be very proud of. However,
our UU history also reflects that when it comes to welcoming and providing spiritual support to our soldiers and their
families, we often ignore them when they need us the most. Join us as we explore the ethical dimensions and moral
imperative of embracing both our commitment to peace with justice and reaching out to our soldiers and their families.
November 16 - The UU Tree of Life - Unitarian Universalists are rooted in our six sources and branch forth into
the world through our seven principles. This Sunday we will explore the roots and branches of our faith which together
create the Unitarian Universalist Tree of Life.
November 23 - Thanksgiving Stories - Our spiritual practice of thanks giving is full of surprises. Sometimes those
who appear to have much don't feel very thankful. Others who seem to have so much less still have thanks giving
stories of joy and memorable times with the ones they love. Come share some stories of thanksgiving with our guest
UU community minister Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen. Our annual Thanksgiving Feast is open to all immediately following
Also - November 23 - Brookline Interfaith Thanksgiving Service - Many faith communities in Brookline will
come together for a 7 pm joyous celebration of thanksgiving! Please join Rev. Dr. Jim in representing First Parish in this
wonderful service at Temple Beth Zion.
November 30 - A Service of Remembrance - Many of us feel blue during the holiday season, often yearning for
loved ones we have lost, and feeling alone in our grief. Jon Hazilla, Stan Strickland, Jeannie Gagne and our ministers will
use readings, jazz, and silence to help create a safe space to explore our feelings coming into this holiday season. Come
with your fears and tears.
Please mark your calendars - Our annual Thanksgiving Feast will take place on Sunday, November 23rd, immediately
following services. The Thanksgiving Feast is one of the ways that we embrace each other, new and seasoned members
alike, in the spirit of our Loving Community. We will be sharing locally raised turkeys, vegetarian and vegan fare. This
year FP will provide a hearty meal with Rev Jim as Head Cook.
• If you'd like to lend a hand (he needs about ten people to cook and/or prepare the meal) or have any questions
please do contact him directly at [email protected]
We ask folks attending to help cover the costs which will be - $10 per person, or $15 per couple, or $20 for families of
three or more, but if cost is an issue, pay what you can, for no one will be turned away hungry. Come and share your
First Parish in Brookline, 2014-15
Your Parish Committee has established 4 goals for this church year:
Goal 1) Update our bylaws in order to provide clarity and transparency about the congregation’s
organizational structures and decision making.
Goal 2) Develop a broadly endorsed mission/vision statement for adoption at our 2015 Annual Meeting in
May, focused on how we will make justice and love visible in the world
Goal 3) Begin to define organizational relationships by working with the Leadership Development
Committee to implement the committee charter process with 4 pilot committees, to be completed for
Parish Committee approval in the spring of 2015.
Goal 4) Begin to align our shared mission, financial resources and diverse needs to best serve the long
term needs of the congregation.
We urge all of you to think about what input you would like into the fulfillment of these goals. Throughout
November, PC members will be eliciting your thoughts. We will do this in the most expedient ways we can
think of, being respectful of your time and energies.
The Parish Committee is pleased to formally charter year 2 of the Second Minister Search Committee. Please
see the detailed charter below. This year’s committee members are: Sue Andrews, Janet Britcher (Chair),
Almas Dossa, Ann Gilmore, Gerry Leader, Mark Reynolds, Dorothy Richardson, Landon Rose and Ron
Wilkinson. Please look for the first of several reports from this year’s SMSC herein. The Parish Committee
offers our sincere gratitude to this dedicated and talented team for their service and good work. We look
forward to welcoming our new assistant minister in late spring.
In the spirit of gratitude and recognition for the goodness of the loving and thoughtful efforts of the Second
Minister Search Committee’s (SMSC) efforts last year, the Parish Committee has asked them to extend their
charter into a second year. As we enter the second full year of Rev. Dr. Jim’s senior ministry, it is time to
finalize the search for our second minister. The search process will continue to be managed under the SMSC
throughout this church-year. The Parish Committee will make the hiring decision, as authorized by the by
laws, in the spring of 2015 with input from the SMSC and Rev. Dr. Jim.
Charge: Much of the work that was done last year applies to the scope of effort required to finalize our
search so the Parish Committee has edited the scope of the charter to include the focus that remains. This
year’s charter is to:
Thoughtfully and lovingly consider last year’s input from the congregation, key committees and the
ministerial team to reflect their needs and wishes for our second minister,
Coordinate with the UUA for consultation and candidating timelines,
Promote First Parish in Brookline among UUA candidates in a favorable light to attract the most
qualified candidates with an increased focus on those aligned with a second minister position for such a
thriving community,
Refine the job description for the approval by the Parish Committee with input from Rev. Dr. Jim and
the rest of the ministerial team as needed,
Identify and vet qualified candidates through dossier reviews, interviews and neutral pulpits, and
Make a recommendation to the Parish Committee for the final decision.
The information and feedback collected by the SMSC last year remains a thoughtful and accurate reflection of
our hopes and interests. This year’s focus will be on the milestones and timelines of the UUA’s ministerial
candidating process as well as an increased focus on the targeted nature of the position.
Values: The process should be grounded in respect, right-relations and gratitude for our congregation, our
ministers and our staff who serve us faithfully. We are fortunate to be part of a vigorous, wonderful and
spiritual congregation. The search process should honor that spirit. The process should be transparent to the
congregation. All aspects of search, decision-making and hiring processes must be conducted in keeping with
the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws and regulations.
Timetables. The committee should complete its work no later than March 2015. The Parish Committee
must be in position to hire the second minister in March or April of 2015. A more detailed schedule of key
milestones follows.
Schedule of Key Milestones:
Key Milestone
Date to PC /
Sr Min
Date to
Coordination with UUA (Ministerial
Settlement Representative)
Fall 2014
SMSC Report on the Upcoming Process
to the PC and congregation
Review compensation package
recommendations of SMSC
Updated Congregational Record, Profile
and Information Packet
Online Application for Minister
Exchange Information Packets and make
initial contact with Interested Ministers
Jan 2015
Pre-candidating begins to include
interviews and neutral pulpits
Feb/Mar 2015
Update/overview of candidate pool
Final recommendation to PC
Offer Extended by PC
Minister Arrives
Date to UUA
Aug-Sep 2015
Aug-Sep 2014
Relationship to the Parish Committee: The Second Minister Search Committee is responsible for
coordinating with the UUA and conducting the search and interview process. The Parish Committee will be
responsible for hiring the second minister and negotiating a contract with inputs from the SMSC and Rev. Jim.
The committee should communicate regularly with the Parish Committee Chairperson and be prepared to
report on its progress at occasional monthly Parish Committee meetings. In addition, the SMSC is encouraged
to use resources provided by the UUA district office. The District Director and her staff are available to meet
with the committee as well as the Ministerial Settlement Representative.
Relationship with the ministerial team: The needs and considerations of all members of the ministerial
team are important inputs throughout this process; the needs of the congregation should be balanced
with those of the ministerial team. As our settled Senior Minister and supervisor to the second minister, Rev.
Dr. Jim should engage with the SMSC chair and Parish Committee liaison at least monthly and with the SMSC
as a whole occasionally.
Report to First Parish in Brookline Congregation
November 2014
SMSC Members
Sue Andrews, Janet Britcher: Chair, Almas Dossa, Ann Gilmore, Gerry Leader, Mark Reynolds, Dorothy Richardson,
Landon Rose, and Ron Wilkinson
SMSC Email [email protected]
SMSC Process
As we enter the second year of the search process, we want you to know the Second Minister Search Committee
includes many members from last year. We feel that we collected valuable information from the congregation over the
course of our group conversations, on-line surveys, interviews with staff, meetings with committees, and informational
opportunities at coffee hour. Therefore we are proceeding with the search process using the same goals and criteria
that we learned about last year.
SMSC Timeline
• November 1, 2014 SMSC reconvenes to review our objectives, and make changes based on what we
learned last year
• November 15, 2014 updates will be made regarding membership numbers and budget
• November 28, 2014 data will be uploaded to UUA website for candidates (Congregational Record)
• November & December are a quiet period, during which candidates express interest to UUA
• January 3, 2015 UUA releases background information from candidates to the positions they seek
• January 2015 Review of candidate packets and initial phone interviews by committee
• February/March 2015 In-person interviews and neutral pulpits, observing candidates preach
• March 23, 2015 Final recommendation to PC and Sr. Minister
Criteria for Assistant Minister
• Congregation: connecting well with all groups, great speaker, communicator, spiritual, challenges us,
committed to diversity, empathic
• Parish Committee Goals: governance, engage congregation, collaboration
• Ministerial Staff goals: deepening beloved community, clarify programs for High School youth, formalize
programs for children & youth, deepening cultural competency, social action beyond our community
Spanish for Social Justice Classes begin on Tuesday, November 4th from 7-9pm. All levels welcome! Whether
you have never taken a Spanish lesson before, took a course in High School long ago, or just don’t get enough
opportunities to practice, this is for you! We will develop a practical vocabulary related to our social justice
work and our UU principles. This means that instead of focusing on conjugating the pluperfect tense of irregular
verbs, we will practice Spanish by singing, listening and dancing to music, reading poetry, telling stories, playing
word games, watching video clips, and learning words and expressions to help us welcome our community
partners. We will have opportunities to share our work with the congregation, especially by participating in our
first ever Christmas Posadas* on December 14th and on February 8th for our second worship service on
Immigrant Rights.
The class will meet on the following dates:
Tuesdays - November 4, 11, 18
Thursdays -December 4, 11, 18
Tuesdays - January 6, 13
Thursdays - January 22, 29
Please sign up by emailing Rev. Maria Cristina at [email protected] Don’t worry if
you can’t make it to every single class. If you think you can attend at least half, we encourage you to sign up. Join
Dear FPB Friends,
Last month’s Blessing of the Animals gathered several species together in the spirit of St. Francis in Pierce Hall.
A number of dogs and two sibling cats with their people enjoyed singing along with Matt Lauer and The
Soundcheck String Band. Jeff Cadow, Elena Garafoli and Weston intern Jen Duhamel offered readings and joys
and sorrows. We blessed the animals who were present and some who couldn’t be for their compassion and
love, their joy and their visible delight in the present, among other gifts. And our hearts were filled with the
memories of dear ones who have passed away. As St. Francis said, “We have been called to heal wounds, to
unite what has fallen apart, and to bring home those who have lost their way.” I thank all who participated in
the peace this service created.
During the coming feast time of Thanksgiving, let us be grateful for all the sentient beings whose lives enrich us,
nourish us in countless and often invisible ways, and remind us what it means to be alive.
Happy Thanksgiving to allRev. Eliza
Dec. 7 Pet Loss Healing Circle will be offered to all in the Dana Room from 7 to 8:30 pm. Please spread
the word to all who might benefit from sharing in a safe and supportive space.
DEEPER DISCUSSION - Starting on Sunday Nov 2 and on first Sundays thereafter, please gather with the
Welcome Team in Pierce Hall immediately after the service for Deeper Discussion. Look for Welcoming Team
members, who will help hold the space for dialogue. If you would like to connect in reflection and fellowship,
consider joining in this quieter alternative to coffee hour!
NEWCOMER LUNCHEON – Sunday Nov 2 at 12:40 pm - What is Unitarian Universalism and how can I
learn more about my own spiritual journey? I'm new - how can I get connected with other folks at First
Parish? I just came to First Parish - how can I get involved with various opportunities? If you are new to the
congregation and are interested in exploring the answers to any of these questions, or know someone who is,
we invite you to our upcoming Newcomers Lunch Gathering! Starting at 12:40PM, we invite newcomers to
come meet with one of our ministers and members of the Welcoming Committee for shared fellowship over
lunch. Even if you've been to one before, we would love to see you there! Please let us know if you're coming
so we have a general idea of how much food to order!
BOOK CLUB - The FP Book Club normally meets the first Sunday of each month at 7:30 pm in the Peterson
Room. There's no obligation or long-term commitment required to participate! If a title strikes your fancy, we'd
be delighted to have you join us. If you've been especially impressed by a book and have a burning desire to
discuss it with others, let us know about it. To be added to the mailing list, contact Julie Horvath. November’s
Book Club Meeting will be on November 2nd Book to be discussed: Americanah, by the celebrated, young
Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Achibie
FIRST PARISH VESPERS: On November 9th we will continue our lay-led Vespers services in Lyon
Chapel, at 7pm. The intent of this service is to welcome a sense of quiet contemplation as a complement to
Sunday morning services, closing the week in peaceful communion with each other. Moments will be offered
for remembering those deep in our heart. We welcome anyone who would like to add more quiet to their lives.
Vespers will be held on the second Sunday of the month throughout the church year. This program is organized
by: Anne Copeland, Jamie Redgrave, and a group of other regular attendees. For more information or questions,
please contact Anne Copeland at [email protected]
ST. FRANCIS HOUSE - We will be helping to prepare and serve lunch from 9:00 to 1:00 at St Francis House
on November 29. Please contact Susan Caplan if you would like to help.
Love Beyond Belief:
with Thandeka December 5 (evening) & December 6 (during the day)
Rev. Dr. Thandeka, a UU theologian, minister, author, congregational consultant, and Emmy award winning
television producer, is coming to FPB to lead a weekend workshop ON THE HEART OF our liberal faith. We
would like as many members of our congregation as possible to experience this highly interactive workshop that
can enhance each participant's faith, spiritual power and moral strength. Thandeka brings joy as she helps us to
discover new insights and create stronger spiritual bonds as a liberal faith community. Thandeka will also lead
our worship service on December 7.
We want everybody to try to join this exciting weekend, please RSVP with Rev. Jim or the office before
November 30 so we know who will be there, and if you need childcare please also let us know by November 30
as well. This is a rare opportunity to learn fun stuff directly from one of our leading UU theologians.