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Nov 30 / Nancy

Book Group Jan & Feb 2019

Meeting, Monday, Monday, January 28, 6:30 PM at Marianne Round’s home

3 Greenbrier Rd., Manchester

The book for discussion will be “Alias Grace” by Margaret Atwood.

It’s 1843, and Grace Marks has been convicted for her involvement in the vicious murders of her employer and his housekeeper and mistress. Some believe Grace is innocent; others think her evil or insane. Now serving a life sentence, Grace claims to have no memory of the murders. An up-and-coming expert in the burgeoning field of mental illness is engaged by a group of reformers and spiritualists who seek a pardon for Grace. He listens to her story while bringing her closer and closer to the day she cannot remember. What will he find in attempting to unlock her memories? goodreads

RSVP to Marianne at or 978 902 5452.

February 25 at 6:30 PM at Nina Gadmer’s home

at 20 Hickory Hill, Manchester

The book for discussion will be “Their Eyes Were Watching God”, by Zora Neale Hurston.

One of the most important and enduring books of the twentieth century, Their Eyes Were Watching God brings to life a Southern love story with the wit and pathos found only in the writing of Zora Neale Hurston. Out of print for almost thirty years—due largely to initial audiences’ rejection of its strong black female protagonist—Hurston’s classic has since its 1978 reissue become perhaps the most widely read and highly acclaimed novel in the canon of African-American literature. Amazon

RSVP to Nina at or 978-412-5017.

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. 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.


Nov 30 / Nancy

Saturday Evening Advent Vespers

Saturday Evening Advent Vespers

December 8, 15, & 22

5:30 to 6:00 PM

Looking for a spiritual respite from the frantic pace of the holiday season?

Join us for a quiet service of prayer, poetry, and candle lighting on three Saturday evenings

in December as we await and celebrate the presence of Christ among us.

Services will be held at First Parish Church, Congregational (10 Central Street).

All are welcome.


Oct 5 / Nancy

More about Altar Flowers

Members of the congregation are encouraged to donate altar flowers in remembrance or in honor of loved ones or in celebration of an event. The flowers can be fresh flowers in a vase (even from your garden!), a flowering plant or an arrangement from a local florist. Altar flowers do not need to be large to be beautiful.

After the service you can take the arrangement you donated or request that it be given to someone, that the Deacon’s choose or you suggest, whose day will be brightened by them.

Penny Lapham coordinates flower donations and you can tell her that you are interested in donating or ask her questions about donating by speaking to her after worship, calling her at 978-526-7128 or emailing her at Please consider helping to brighten our worship with a donation! You can also see dates available and sign up online at

Oct 2 / Nancy

Christmas Fair by the Sea

Saturday, November 10, 2018

9 AM – 2 PM

Join us to kick off the holiday season! We will have – Delicious food fare featuring a wide variety of homemade baked goods, 100’s of cookies, and a mouthwatering breakfast and lunch menu with Fresh Hot Belgian Waffles (with your choice of strawberries, real maple syrup and whipped cream) and Gobbler Sandwiches (anandama bread, turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce). Hand Craft tables full of holiday gift items such as knitted goods, hostess gifts, holiday greens and plants. Raffles that include our famous raffle of quality themed baskets perfect for gifting. 3 White Elephant Rooms (1 dedicated to Books) and a Jewelry table full of fabulous treasures reasonably priced.

Oct 2 / Nancy

Harvest Food Drive

The annual First Parish Church Harvest Food Drive helps our neighbors who are struggling to feed their families. Every year our congregation responds generously to the call for food donations to stock the pantries at Beverly Bootstraps and The Open Door. The canned goods and non-perishables that are collected during our Harvest Food Drive assist families and individuals in Beverly, Manchester, Essex, Gloucester, Essex, Ipswich, and Rockport.

The Missions Committee, Youth Group, and Sunday School are all cooperating in this important effort. All through the month of October we will be collecting non-perishable food items and on Sunday, October 28th the youth of the church will bring the donations to the altar for a blessing before items are delivered to the food pantries.

Items can be dropped in the Chapel conference room, brought to Sunday school or Youth Group or left in the Narthex.


Oct 2 / Nancy

Soup & Conversation

Dear Friends-I hope you will join me for worship as well as Soup and Conversation on Sunday, October 14th.  The focus will be on how churches around the country connect with their community and reach new people.  We will talk about the best practices of growing churches, what your Vitality Team is currently doing, and how you can get involved in this process.  Less than 10% of people in New England go anywhere to church; there are great opportunities for congregations that will reach out and make a difference.   I look forward to seeing you.  Blessings, Rev. Paul Nickerson

To donate soup or salads click here

Aug 31 / Nancy

Bible Study Fall 2018

Weekly Bible Study resumes Thursday, September 13th, 4:00 to 5:30 at the home of Vin Terrill, 37 Beach Street.

For September, we will be studying the lectionary texts for the following Sunday’s worship.  Text for September 13th will be Mark 8:27-38.

Format of the study is as follows:  we begin with sharing joys and concerns, we have a time of prayer (where people are free to pray silently or out loud), and then 2 volunteers read the text out loud, while we all notice which words the Spirit draws our attention to.  (This way of reading Scripture is called “Lectio Divina.”)  We each have the opportunity to share with others the words “speak” to us, as well as ask questions about the text.  We also discuss how the text might apply to our lives today.

The study is led by Rev. Marlayna.

All are welcome to join us!

Email or call Rev. Marlayna for more information, or 978-526-7661 ext. 2.

Aug 22 / Rev. Marlayna Schmidt

Transition Update – Approved Vision, Values, Purpose Statements – The Transition Team/June 24, 2018

FINAL Core Values, Purpose, and Vision Statement (Approved at Annual Meeting June 14, 2018)     

 The following represent the CORE VALUES of First Parish Church, Congregational, United Church of Christ at this time in our history:

  1. We value Transformational Worship, which we define as being fed and nourished by the Holy Spirit–through music, preaching, and prayer–in such a way that we find ourselves feeling accepted as we are; challenged to grow beyond where we are now; and refreshed, joyful, and helped to live from a Grace-filled center when we walk out the door into our week. (Romans 12:2)
  2.  We value Fellowship, which we define as enjoying each other’s company, sharing both joys and concerns, caring for one another despite our differences, and deepening our connections with one another in our family of faith. (Acts 2:42)
  3. We value Tradition, which we define as the rituals associated with the rhythms of life and faith, rituals that BOTH connect us to our democratic congregational roots that go back centuries, AND allow us to adjust to changing times, mindful that when Christ is at the center of what we do, our traditions can creatively evolve in order to stay relevant. (2 Thessalonians 2:15)
  4. We value Christian Education, which we define as a growing understanding and knowledge of God that continues throughout life, helping both adults and children to form (and re-form) our faith and align ourselves with God’s Vision. (Colossians 3:16)
  5. We value Preserving Buildings, which we define as providing an environment, rich in history, to support the work of the congregation so that we can continue to pass on our faith to future generations, as it was passed on to us, for the “up-building” of community. (I Chronicles 29:16)

 The following represent the ASPIRATIONAL VALUES of First Parish Church, Congregational, United Church of Christ; these are values we hope to embody more fully in the near future:

  1. We aspire to value Social Outreach, which we define as following Christ’s example of caring service, which involves finding a better balance of connecting with BOTH those who are currently part of our fellowship AND those who are not, inviting all to experience a community whose mission is characterized by love, care, and justice for all. (Matthew 25:40)
  2. We aspire to value Building Up the Community, which we define as seeking to follow Christ together in unity, cooperating with one another, speaking the truth in love, and trusting that each of us has the best interests of the church at heart, even when we disagree. (Ephesians 4:15-16)

 The following is our PURPOSE STATEMENT, which is a description of what we feel God is calling us to do, based on our Values:

Awaken to the Light and Love of God

Be a Joyful Beacon to our World

 The following is our VISION STATEMENT, which is a “picture of the future,” a description of what we hope the church will look like in 5 years as we live out our Values and Purpose:

As a congregation, we recognize the following trends in our immediate community (and/or in our world) which we feel called to address:

  • Many people in our society (young, middle-aged, and old alike) experience social isolation and loneliness.
  • Many people in our society (young, middle-aged, and old alike) feel anxious and fearful.
  • Many people (especially young families and some seniors) are being “priced out” of our area and struggle with economic issues such as affordable housing.)

In light of the above trends, by the year 2023, we will have increased our average Sunday Worship Attendance by 20% and our active membership by 10% by means of engaging in—and inviting others to engage with us in: 

               Weekly worship that is lively, joyful, uplifting and empowered by the Holy Spirit.  (With the understanding that within each worship service there need to be elements, such as prayers and sermons, that provide encouragement to the congregation as we acknowledge and address the brokenness of ourselves and the world.)

Vibrant weekly Christian educational opportunities for children, youth, and adults that help deepen people’s faith and help them find a center meaning and vitality.  (Such as Sunday School, book groups in people’s homes, Bible studies)

Monthly Christian fellowship and learning opportunities that give people a sense of feeling welcome, accepted, cared for, and connected to God and our family of faith.  (Such as Friday game nights, Soup and Conversation, useful parenting groups)

Other spiritual activities that occur once or more during the year that give people the sense of being fellow travelers on the journey of faith/life.  (Such as Advent/Lenten Vespers, retreats “off campus”, ecumenical services in alternative locations such as outside, on beach, in movie theatre.)

Partnering with other community organizations to engage in one or two “large scale” inter-generational activities per year to give people a sense of belonging and connection.  (Such as working with Parks & Rec to plan a community kickball game with police or fire department; a candy cane hunt following the Dec. Christmas Concert we host with Women’s club; having a summer picnic on the beach; planning an activity with the Council on Aging; coordinating with High School to do an activity that dovetails with their “week of gratitude”).

Consciously making both the exterior and interior of our buildings more welcoming.  (Through use of such things as banners, signs, plants, colorful wreaths or decorations on front door during services, as well as “boards” showing our activities.)

By the year 2023, we will have increased by 10% the number of people participating in “mission events” in which we already engage AND we will have chosen one or two high investment missions for the whole congregation to focus on for a set number of years.  (Examples of current mission events:  Open Door meal serving; Brown Bag lunches.  High investment mission possibilities could include:  Zimbabwe Mission, Grace Center, and/or Family Promise.)

Aug 11 / Nancy

Latest News/Vision Process

Settled Pastor Search Committee Formed

Approved Vision, Values, & Purpose Statements

Interim Vision Process Meeting 1 – History

History – Reflective Sentences

Aug 9 / Nancy

Summer Healing Service

Summer Healing Service

30-minute Service of Healing, Movement, and Prayer

 The service will draw on both Christian and Eastern traditions,

incorporating easy movements from Qi Gong and Yoga

(No prior experience with prayer or movement is necessary)

 Sunday, August 19th, 10:15 A.M.

 Held outside, weather permitting

Meet on the steps of

First Parish Church, Congregational

10 Central Street


Offered by Rev. Dr. Marlayna Schmidt,

Interim Pastor of First Parish Church, Congregational; and

Carla Mattioli, M.A., Interfaith Minister of Awakening Arts,

Teacher of Yoga, Tail Chi, Qi Gong