Under the RE Tree: 11/14/19

Hope to see you tonight. Please note Sarah’s reminder to register for “Spiritual Parenting” by noon today.

FAMILIES OF TEENS! (8th through 12th graders)
The first YOUTH GROUP email was sent this week! Did you see it?
The **ALL NEW** Youth Group is starting up and we hope you and your children are as excited as we are.

THIS Friday, November 15th is the kick-off dinner for 10-12th graders.
NEXT Friday, November 22nd is the kick-off dinner for 9th graders.
For each, Sarah and I will provide pizza and salad. Kids arrive at 6pm; parents come at 7:30 to go over the details.

There is a link to the full calendar on the First Parish in Lincoln website, under the “Children, Youth and Families” tab on the main menu.
If you didn’t receive the email, please let Sarah or me know, so we can re-send it to you.

This Sunday, November 17th, the children will begin in the Sanctuary and walk up the hill after the Time for All Ages. This is the last Sunday of our fall “regular” RE classes.

Sunday, November 24th is ADVENT WORKSHOP! We had to switch it up a bit this year, because Thanksgiving is so late. Usually Advent Workshop is the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend – but that’s the First Sunday of Advent… and we’ll have our first Pageant rehearsal. Invite your friends to either and both!


Church Council Meeting: October 30, 2019

Meeting Highlights

1. Committee chairs created a brief overview of their priorities for 2019-20. These are available for the interested reader.

2. The Shared Ministry Review was represented as a document that offered some important direction for First Parish. A brief summary of that document is available as well.

3. Responses to the question: “How is the transition is going?” varied. A number of members felt that the tone and tenor of the parish is much more relaxed and optimistic. Opportunities to contribute to parish life seem very present as is a greater sense of liveliness and fun. The Transition Team finds people willing to talk openly about their aspirations and the congregation seems to be engaged in the process of change. The awareness of the need to make changes around accepting and supporting more diverse points of view seems to be present.

On the other hand, some feel that there remain some challenging conversations to be had and differences of opinion within the congregation. These are particularly around spiritual values and congregational priorities. In addition, there is a sense of urgency regarding membership numbers and church finances that some feel, and others do not, but which need attention. These will be priorities for discussion by the Transition Team.

It is fair to say that the group had initial difficulty embracing this topic from a personal point of view. Eventually there was more open and personal discussion of how each member viewed their experience of the transition. The congregation will depend on this type of personal reflection to continue its preparation for the search for the new minister.

4. Opportunities for FPL to increase its engagement with the Greater Lincoln Community in order to increase membership are critical to identify. There was a sense of sadness and loss among a number of those present as they talked about those who have become disconnected or disenfranchised. With this, the group again addressed the challenge that FPL has with creating opportunities to encourage discussion and to resolve differences of opinion. The ‘centrifugal force’ noted in the SMR that invites members to spin off from the church in the face of disagreement seems to be a part of the church’s history from walking down the street to a new building to leaving Concord. Nonetheless, there was a sense that this dynamic doesn’t serve us well. Some thought will be given to how the church can reach out more to the diaspora to reconnect and, hopefully, to invite them back.

A good model for community engagement exists in the OWL program; it provides a necessary service for parents who enroll their young people. While this is not worship nor, exactly, religious education, the program engages the community around a need that they have in their family. There are more opportunities for this kind of engagement to happen around family life and parent concerns that could be developed into a regular series. Likewise, activities such as the music program, adult lectures on social and justice topics can be grouped into appealing series that could draw new people to the church. Some of these activities are happening, but they would benefit from greater organization.

5. This group agreed to convene again in early January and in the spring.

Nick Covino for the Parish Committee

Upcoming Event: Advent Retreat

Saturday, December 14, 2019, 1-4pm | Stearns Room

Advent is a time of growing darkness as well as anticipation. We seem to want to take naps. We grow sleepy earlier. But life turns into a frenzy of activities. Our three hour retreat just for adults will help you slow down. We will introduce you to advent themes, hear some stories (yes, adults like to hear stories too). We will do some art in response to the stories, (drawing, writing, knitting, etc.), and some meditation. Make some new memories in front of a fire with tea and mulled cider and cookies. Please join us. All are welcome.

Facilitators: Jenny Rankin and Paula Waterman

Sign up by emailing sarah@fplincoln.org

Upcoming Event: Follow-Up Discussion on Debby Irving Presentation

Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, 5pm | Stearns Room
Let’s continue the conversation! The Adult Learning Committee invites you to join our ongoing dialogue on race and privilege at 5pm on November 17 in the Stearns Room. We are certain there will be much to digest from Debby Irving’s presentation on November 13, and we want to provide a space to process her talk in community. Bring your courageous questions, and join us as we do this important work together.

Outreach Committee: Pre-Christmas Sing at Concord Prison—Date Confirmed!

Friday, December 6, 2019, 6:00-8:30pm | 965 Barrett’s Mill Road, Concord
Join Rev. Jenny and other First Parish folks for Christmas caroling at the Northeast Correctional Center in Concord with the men incarcerated there on Friday December 6, 6:00-8:30 pm. Sponsored by FPL Outreach partner Concord Prison Outreach. Registration (limited to adults 18 and over) required by November 29. Contact Larry Buell at fplgiving@gmail.com or after service on November 17 or 24 if (1) you would like a ride from the church or are willing to drive others and/or (2) to join the group registration. Individual registration also possible via email to outreach@concordprisonoutreach.org with this information: your full legal name (must match what’s on your ID), unexpired MA driver’s license number, birthdate (MM/DD/YYYY), phone number including area code, and email address for confirmation.

Upcoming Event: We Gather Together Potluck

Sunday, November 17, 11:00am | Parish House
Our Fall New Member Signing will take place during our regular Sunday service on 11/17. Please join us in welcoming and celebrating afterwards at our We Gather Together Potluck Brunch!

The Welcoming Committee welcomes you and your help!

Please bring one of the following items based on your last initial:
A-E: Vegetable, vegetarian or vegan dishes
F-J: Quiche or other egg dish
K-O: Salads – fruit or greens 
P-T: Protein – meat or any plant protein
U-Z: Grains – bread/butter, bagels/cream cheese, muffins/butters, pasta/rice 

Feel free to drop off your contribution in the Parish House kitchen before the church service starts.

Upcoming Event: Spiritual Parenting

Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, 5:30-7pm | Donaldson Room
Margit and Jenny will lead a heartfelt conversation about how to bring the spirit home. We’ll talk a little history and theory, and move quickly to practices that you may like to incorporate into your family life… from morning blessings and nightly graces, to new traditions and holiday observances. Please bring your favorite ideas. Come and add some new plays to your parenting playbooks! All ages dine and chat in spirit together from 5:30 to 6ish; then there is childcare while the adults continue the conversation. Pizza, salad, cider for dinner.

Eight participants needed in order to run (no maximum, open to members and non-members!). Deadline to sign up is Nov. 14 at noon. Email sarah@fplincoln.org to sign up. We will let you know if the program will run by 1pm on 11/14.

Parish Committee: October 2019 Notes

The Parish Committee met on October 18, 2019.

Dwight Gertz and Tim Moynihan were unable to attend. Rev. Rankin, Peter Sugar (Facilities), Ralph Smith (Personnel), Sarah Andrysiak (Generous Giving), Gert McDermott (Administrator), Becca Fasciano, Chris Hamilton, Ken Hurd, Kathy Huber (Transition Team) were present.

Summary of Business

The PC voted to increase the hours of Sarah Klockowski to allow her to assume the responsibilities for Youth Ministry that had been budgeted in RE, but unfilled for some time.

The Personnel Committee has been diligently at work under Ralph Smith’s direction. This group was involved in the reworking of Sarah’s position and creating a methodology and process for evaluating our Interim Minister and Parish Administrator. As part of the latter, the job description and scope of the Parish Administrator will be updated and revised as appropriate. The PC heard productive reports by the Transition Team, Facilities Committee and Generous Giving.


Peter Sugar (Facilities Chair) reported on several projects that the committee is managing. The playground project has work to be done in terms of visioning and scope. Questions about public versus private use need to be resolved first by the Playground Planning Committee. These have implications for equipment and cost. Design issues also need resolution. The Playground Committee needs to evaluate the possibility of a supervised ‘Community Construction’ project versus a professional one. Also, the PC will reach out to see if the town is interested in partnering in creating a public option. A meeting of the Parks and Recreation Committee will schedule a discussion for this.

The parking lot has one bid for its repair that is approximately $22k-28k. Three bids would be optimal, and the additional bids are being sought. The Roof Project is to follow the same process of soliciting three bids. The Facilities Committee will pursue that along with the possibility of bringing Air Conditioning into the Parish Offices.

Transition Team

The Transition Team met with the PC to review their plan and to discuss avenues for collaboration, in addition to the timeline and outline that was distributed. The group thought that a discussion of Parish Finances, Settled Minister’s Salary, Parish membership and size, and the use of FPL’s financial resources would be important to address. This will be scheduled in keeping with the TT’s outline for discussion.

The TT feels very engaged with the Parish as it moves forward to select a new Settled Minister. They feel the enthusiasm of the congregation and its openness to examining ways to improve and to evolve. The TT would like the Search Committee selected by May, 2020, and they would like the compensation package for our new minister in the same timeframe. This falls to the PC to accomplish.

Generous Giving Plans

Sarah Andrysiak presented a thoughtful and thorough plan for Generous Giving that relies on creating multiple ways of engaging the congregation. A number of parish members have volunteered to advise and collaborate with Sarah as she creates opportunities for visiting, meeting in small groups and listening to the parish about their various ways of supporting the growth and work of FPL.

The parish will soon learn about the Generous Giving plans for the year.

Church Leaders Meeting

In an effort to increase collaboration among church committees, a meeting of the Church Committee Leaders will take place on October 30 at 6:00pm. This meeting will hear about the priorities that each committee has before them and discuss how each can further the general aim of engaging the greater Lincoln community in order to increase church membership.


In addition to increasing Sarah Klockowski’s hours to include responsibility for youth ministry, the Personnel Committee has developed a structure and method for evaluating the job performance of both Pastor Rankin and Gert McDermott. The latter will also address the questions about the Parish Administrator’s job definition and scope in that were raised in the Annual Report. The Personnel Committee is, also, working on rewriting the Personnel and Policies Handbook.

There is one open position on the Parish Committee that is being addressed.

Meeting adjourned at 8:10 p.m.


Nick Covino for the Parish Committee

Minister’s Message: November 2019

Dear Friends,

As twilight comes earlier and the trees glow with red and gold against these rainy days, my thoughts turn to All Saints and All Souls and this time of the year when the ancient Celts believed that the veil between the spiritual and the physical world grew very thin. John O’Donahue talks about growing up on the west coast of Ireland and the barren limestone landscape of the Burren. It was a magical, enchanted place he said, and he had a sense of the sacred as always intertwined with his physical everyday life. The holy was not something far away but immanent. Touchable. Real.

I love this time of year even though I know the days are growing shorter. It encourages me to learn from Scandinavian traditions which elevate the “cozy” (Meredith and Margit will be giving a workshop on this, stay tuned!), to light candles in the kitchen, and pick up my crochet hook or needle for cozy craft projects that are good indoors on a chilly night, and gather together with friends and family.

At church, we honor our ancestors at this time of year, All Saints and All Souls and remember that in our Universalist tradition, every soul was cherished by a God who was neither punitive nor judging but the embodiment of Love beyond love.

This fall, I’ve enjoyed digging into your “roots.” We’ve explored your earliest origins as well as the UCC and UUA traditions out of which this congregation was born in 1942. Soon, we’ll move on to conversations about your spiritual identity (individual and collective), core values and where you want to go next. There will be a “spiritual identity survey” you can take (on paper or online).

Next spring, when you elect a search committee, they will take all this good work you are doing and show it to ministerial candidates who will be delighted, let me assure you, to see how intentional and reflective you have been about articulating your identity, mission and purpose. In order for them to consider moving here and settling down, they really want to dig in to who you are, what you care about, what you hold most dear, what troubles you, what gets your energy stirring. They will be attracted to a congregation with vitality, one that is not sitting around “waiting for a new minister” but active and engaged in the world, and inviting others to join them in this revitalizing, world-building work.

As always, I hope you’ll drop me a line to let me know what’s on your mind. Invite me to your place or come and see me here at the office!

In faith,

Jenny Rankin