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Spiritual Studies

Spiritual Studies


“Isn’t There Anyone Who Knows What Christmas Is All About?!”

Tuesdays: December 1, 8, 15 and 22, 7:00-8:15 PM Via Zoom

The Jesus we prepare for the arrival of during Advent and then welcome at Christmas is often referred to in a popular sign and bumper sticker as, “The Answer”. But what are the questions? With a title borrowed from the question Linus asks near the end of the classic special, “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, this four-week Advent unit will explore some of the vital questions that characters presented in the stories leading up to Jesus’ birth ask, looking to understand what they were searching for in their time and how those questions might speak to us now.

Join us for any or all of these evenings during this sacred time of year.

If you are on our email list you will continue to receive details on times and how to participate in all our offerings from the Church Office either on the day of or day before each gathering. To j return to our homepage and sign up.oin our email list

Prayer and Meditation

Wednesday, December 16, at 7pm, the Prayer and Meditation session scheduled for that evening will be devoted to a “Silent Nights” service. This time, which in other places is often identified as “Blue Christmas”, is meant to acknowledge and reflect on the fact that the Advent and Christmas Season is also a time of current and past loss and struggle for many people. Please consider dropping in on this special sacred time.

Bible Study

Thursday- Bible Study sessions, also continuing on Zoom at 4 PM. Participation in this has significantly increased since going online, another sign of how many of our community are using this time of necessary distancing wisely and well for the benefit of their spiritual lives. To join us with your computer, tablet, smart phone or phone contact for details.

For December, Bible Study will take place from 4-5:15 on:

Thursday, December 3 

Thursday, December 10

Thursday, December 17

Wednesday, December 23

There will be no Bible Study the week after Christmas.

American Conscience: the Reinhold Niebuhr Story

The Jordan Peterson Discussion Group will explore the life and theology of Reinhold Niebuhr, arguably our denomination’s outstanding voice in developing a contemporary Christian view of social justice.

We will work from the PBS special American Conscience: the Reinhold Niebuhr Story, which you can view here:

This feature is not publicly available but can be viewed without charge at the Kanopy site through your membership in the Manchester Public Library. You will need to create an account with an email and your library card number. A useful short summary of his life is also available here:

Call Steve Carhart at 978-407-8454 or the First Parish Church Office 978-526-7661 to receive information on how to join.


December Advent Message Theme

Throughout the four Sundays of Advent this year, we will take a look at “The Family Christmas Tree”. Each week, we will look at a character from the genealogy of Jesus presented in the first chapter of Matthew’s Gospel. We will explore aspects of their spiritual journeys, and how their lives speak to us now as members of that same family tree.

Sunday- Morning Virtual Worship Service, 10 AM

Led by Rev. Dr. Mark Boyea with Dr. Herman Weiss, Rebecca Shrimpton and Paul Knox. Streamed on Facebook. Click to watch at 10 AM.

Christmas Eve Virtual Worship via Facebook Live.

5 PM , Jeanne Westcott, our new Director of Youth and Children’s Ministry, and Rev. Mark will offer a special “Christmas Story Time” on Facebook Live for children.

7 PM, our Worship team will present a time of hymns, solos, Scripture and Dramatic Reflection for all ages. Expect a special musical wrinkle or two as well!

Past Worship services also available on YouTube, here.

Book Group

Our Book Group is not discussing a new book in December. We are instead sharing tips, recipes, classes and ideas to help us all make the Winter season more enjoyable.

Please join us Monday, December 28 at 7:30 PM. The link to the Zoom meeting goes out by email the day before or day of the meeting.


Contact Mary Ellen to find out how to send in your tip at 978-500-0018 or


Our January book will be Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout.


We meet Monday, January 25 at 7:30 PM via Zoom.


January 25th at 7:30- Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout

The iconic Olive struggles to understand not only herself and her own life but also the lives of those around her in the town of Crosby, Maine. Whether with a teenager coming to terms with the loss of her father, a young woman about to give birth during a hilariously inopportune moment, a nurse who confesses a secret high school crush, or a lawyer who struggles with an inheritance she does not want to accept, the unforgettable Olive will continue to startle us, to move us, and to inspire moments of transcendent grace.

Book group is open to everyone! This is a time for church members as well as non-church goers to come together and engage with one another, build relationships, and share in discussion of books that are of interest to people of various backgrounds. We have fun visiting, discussing the book and sharing stories.

This is a time for church members as well as non-church members to come together and engage with one another, build relationships, and share in discussion of books that are of interest to people of various backgrounds.

We have fun visiting, discussing the book and sharing stories.

The host chooses the book for their month.


August 31- A free read month-read at your leisure and we will share our reads in the group

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.

Currently not meeting – but will resume when possible on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of each month at 1 Chapel Lane, Read more about us

**Book Group – Books Read


  • January Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout


  • December No book to read. Let’s get together to share how we are celebrating the holidays, share a recipe…
  • November Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
  • October Signs: The Secret Language of the Universe by Laura Lynne Jackson
  • August/September Free read month-read at your leisure and we will share our reads at these meetings
  • July I Feel Bad About My Neck” Nora Ephron
  • June Leaving Lucy Pear” by Anna Solomon
  • May We Must Be Brave” by Frances Liardet
  • April “The Dutch House” by Ann Patchett
  • February “Gift from the Sea” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  • January “Nutshell” by Ian McEwan


  • November “Last Christmas in Paris” by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Web
  • October “News of the World” by Paulette Jiles.
  • September “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith
  • August “The Island of Sea Women” by Lisa See
  • June  “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens
  • May “There There” by Tommy Orange
  • April  “Becoming” by Michele Obama
  • February/March “Their Eyes Were Watching God”, by Zora Neale Hurston
  • January “Alias Grace” by Margaret Atwood


  • Summer “Leaving Before the Rain Comes” by Alexandra Fuller
  • June “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott
  • 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

Soup & Conversation Topics:


  • March 24 Maren Tirabassi
  • February 24 Christiane Alsop “We Are Our Stories”
  • January 6 Steve Carhart and Richard Smith “Jordan B. Peterson and a Psychological Approach to Scripture”


  • October 14 Rev. Paul Nickerson “Best Practices of Growing Churches”
  • 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