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Adult Education

Adult Education opportunities at First Parish

Jessica Skidmore, Christian Ministry Coordinator

Contact or 978-526-7661 ext 3 with questions about any of these programs

Thursday Bible Study

4 PM at 37 Beach St. Rev. Marlayna leads Bible Study on Thursday afternoons.  Everyone is welcome to start their weekend with this wonderful time of fellowship. Join us Thursdays from 4-5:30 PM – there is a cozy seat waiting for you, a cup of coffee and friendly faces!

May 3

I Corinthians 11:23-26 (sermon theme:  the sacrament of communion)

May 10

John 14:23-29 (sermon theme:  the Mothering Work of the Holy Spirit)

May 17 

We are meeting for dinner at The Windward Grill, Essex 4 PM. RSVP to Maggie M. by Sun. May 6th (spouses/partners/significant-others welcome). (scripture for that Sunday will be Acts 2:1-12; Pentecost)

May 24


May 31

June 7

June 14

Matthew 6:5-14 (sermon theme:  God our Father) ( Last Bible Study until Fall)

Book Group meets once a month all year

We continue with a new selection; for the month of May "Small Great Things" by Jodi Picoult With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn't offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game. Goodreads Wendy Clark will be hosting the next book group, Tuesday, May 29, 7 pm at 99 Pine St. Manchester. Please RSVP to Wendy at, 978-526-4146 so she can plan accordingly. We have fun visiting, discussing the book and sharing stories. Each month is a new host, who provides light snacks, beverages and dessert but only once a year!!!! The host then chooses the book for the next month.  When we meet we will rate the book and give comments which we will record in a journal that hopefully the FPC book group will continue with many years from now!!! **See our list of Books read further down this page

Soup & Conversation

Save the Date! We are our stories. We get to know one another by listening and telling them.  Do you have a story to share about a birth or a death in your life, about a miracle or a saint or about your faith?  On April 15th, after worship, we will gather in small groups in the chapel to listen to each other’s’ tales guided by a moderator. After lunch you will select one topic of your choice to listen and share about during the event. Together we’ll marvel at facets of each other we never knew and yet recognize, as we’ve been through something like it ourselves.  Our goal in this story-sharing process will be to deepen our faith and strengthen our connections with one another in community.  (Note:  story topics are “birth,” “death,” “miracle,” “saint,” and “faith,” but the topics can be interpreted as widely as you wish.  For instance, a story about a birth could be a story about a new chapter in your life when you felt you “started over;” a story about a “saint” could be a story of someone who inspired your faith in some way.) Soup and Conversation Soup & Conversation is a luncheon event with discussion led by guest speakers. Each event is open to all and we hope you can join us at the Chapel at 1 Chapel Lane Manchester, MA at 11:30 AM for this event. If you can bring soup or a salad sign up online.


  • April 15 Christiane Alsop "We Are Our Stories"


  • October 29 - Rev. Dr. Llewellyn Smith "Reformation"
  • April 30 - Jen Powers "Reflections On My Childhood in Saudi Arabia"
  • April 2 - Lisa Fenn, author of “Carry On”


  • October 23 - Edward M. Matuvhunye, the past President of the United Church of Christ of Zimbabwe.
  • October 2 - Margaret Bendroth, "Congregational History", a 300th Anniversary Event
  • February 28 - Barbara and Richard Smith presented “Courage and Light” Exploring Passion, Renewal and Creativity.
  • March 13 - Rev. Lelly Smith presented Pilgrimages: Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and African American.


  • March 22, 2015 we kicked off our Soup and Conversation with Wendy Booker
  • April 26 – Larry Kirby visited with us and provide a fascinating afternoon of  conversation on “The Emotions of War”
  • May 31 – We had Vin Terrill, Henry Lapham and George Nickless visit with us all about the history of the FPC Steeple and clock
  • October 25 -  Rev. Rona Tyndall on The Grace Center

Sermon Series and Discussion Group

Starting February 4 and running through April 15th, Rev. Marlayna will be preaching a sermon series on “Noticing God” in our everyday lives. The series will be based on a book of that title by Richard Peace. Also, beginning February 4th, from 8:55 to 9:40 am before worship each week, Rev. Marlayna will lead an adult discussion group in the chapel based on this book.  We will do a different chapter each week.  Please let Rev. Marlayna know via email if you would like to attend—and if you would like her to order you a copy of the book.  (Or feel free to obtain the book on your own!) April 8 “Noticing God in the Church” (Scripture:  Matthew 18:20; Hebrews 10:24-25)  

**Book Group - Books Read


  • May Small Great Things ” by Jodi Picoult
  • April “The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story” by Hyeonseo Lee
  • March “The Light Between Oceans” by M.L. Stedman
  • January/February "King Peggy: An American Secretary, Her Royal Destiny, and the Inspiring Story of How She Changed an African Village" by Peggielene Bartels and Eleanor Herman
  • November/December “Waking Lions” by Aylet Gundar-Goshen
  • October “Before We Were Yours” by Lisa Wingate
  • September "The Storied Life of AJ Fikry" by Gabrielle Zevin
  • Summer "Last Hope Island" by Lynne Olson
  • May "A Gentleman in Moscow" by Amor Towles
  • April "Hillbilly Elogie" by J. D. Vance
  • March “Everything I Never Told You” by Celeste Ng
  • February “Hissing Cousins: The Lifelong Rivalry of Eleanor Roosevelt and Alice Roosevelt Longworth” by Marc Peyser and Timothy Dwyer
  • December 2016/January 2017 "A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman


  • November:  “Inferno” by Dan Brown
  • October: “Carry On” by Lisa Fenn
  • Summer: “In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex” by Nathaniel Philbrick
  • June: "The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto” by Mitch Albom
  • May: “The Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd.
  • April: "The Secret Diaries Of Charlotte Bronte" by Syrie James
  • March: “Fates and Furies” by Lauren Groff
  • February:  “The Little Paris Book Shop” by Nina George
  • January: "The Boys in the Boat" by Daniel James Brown


  • November/December: "Fish in a tree" by Lynda Mullaly Hunt and "Out of Dust" by Karen Hesse
  • October 10: "I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives" By Martin Ganda
  • Summer 2015 "The Power of One" by Bryce Courtenay
  • May 2015: “Caleb’s Crossing” by Geraldine Brooks
  • April 2015: “All The Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr.
  • March 2015: "Cutting for Stone" by Abraham Verghese

The Seaside Parish Knitters

The Seaside Parish Knitters are looking for knitting needles and yarn that you might be considering "casting" aside. We continue to knit blankets, shawls, and scarves; and for our military troops: helmet liners, neck gators, and scarves. We use both 100% wool and synthetic fibers for yarn, and straight and round knitting needles....all sizes. Contact Penny Lapham at 978-526-7128 or We welcome anyone wishing to join us. Meetings the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of each month at 1 Chapel Lane, Read more about us

Past programs have included:


     The Art Of Prayer

There are many types of prayer in the Christian tradition, including intercession (praying for others), petition (asking God for something), thanksgiving (giving thanks to God), and penitential prayer (expressing sorrow for your sins). Another type is meditation, which has been described as simply "listening to God." Most Christians throughout history have probably prayed using a mix of types and styles. Our last session will be on April 15th titled “The Process of Prayer”. The wonderful Maren Tirabasi will help us look at the rituals, routines and many different ways we pray.  We will examine the 7 different ways to pray and identify the role they play in our lives. We will meet from 5:15 – 6:15 PM in the Chapel room. We hope you can join us for this special program even if you have missed the first two – each one stands alone so you will definitely not be lost! "Make Prayers Count"  will repeat on March 18th (the last time it was offered was a stormy night) Those who attended thought it was a wonderful introduction and history of prayer beads and felt it was so special. You are welcome to join us and make your own beads to pray with - all ages will enjoy this so feel free to bring you children. Please join us in the Conference room from 5:15 - 6:15 for a look at prayer in a different light. Wednesday, Feb. 4th “Make Prayers Count” - a discussion on the prayer bead system - the history and traditions, why it is so meaningful and how you use beads to pray.  Everyone will receive a set of beads and will have the option of creating their own prayer bead design in the narthex during the Hour of Tranquility. Tuesday, Feb. 24 6:30-7:15 PM “The Power of Prayer” - a discussion on the impact of prayer - what happens when we tell someone we are praying for them? Are your prayers powerful – how do we know? Wednesday, March 18 - 5:30 – 6:15 Repeating a program from the stormy night of Feb. 4th “Make Prayers Count” - a discussion on the prayer bead system - the history and traditions, why it is so meaningful and how you use beads to pray.  Everyone will receive a set of beads and will have the option of creating their own prayer bead design in the narthex during the Hour of Tranquility.

 Ten Best Ways to Live:  The Ten Commandments for Today’s World

10Commandments “Ten Best Ways to Live:  The Ten Commandments for Today’s World,” led by Dr. Judy Haley has started. Far from an outdated code of do's and don’ts, the Ten Commandments still offer God’s expansive perspectives and anchoring practices that bring life and joy to families and communities. Combined with Jesus' incisive enactment of them, they provide a framework for making decisions, guiding children and living a vibrant life together. May, Commandment 10, Desires.