Tuesday Spiritual Studies

Our next Spiritual Exploration Unit, special for Advent, begins Tuesday, December 7!

“Oh, Baby!: Characters in the Advent and Christmas Stories”

 Tuesdays: December 7, 14 and 21, 7:00-8:15 PM on Zoom

Angels, shepherds and kings are just some of the characters we find in the Gospel stories surrounding Jesus’ birth. Over the course of these three weeks, we will explore a number of those characters, examine their words and actions, and discuss their role and importance from a literary, theological and spiritual perspective. We will also consider how they might speak to us in our time and place.

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.

Contact office.fpchurch@gmail.com for the Zoom link.

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.

As always, 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.

Links to recorded versions of Prayer and Mediation, Bible Study and Spiritual Studies can be found in the emails sent on how to participate in each program. You can also contact the Church Office for a direct link.

Prayer and Meditation

Wednesday Prayer and Meditation will take place on December 8 and 22 at 7pm and will take place twice per month most, if not each month until August 2022.

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 office.fpchurch@gmail.com for details.

Thursday Bible Study will be held on the following dates in November at 4pm:

Bible Study will be held on the following dates in December at 4pm on Zoom:

Thursday, December 2

Thursday, December 9

Thursday, December 16

Thursday, December 23

There will be no Bible Study on Thursday, December 30.

Those on our email list 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 join our list sign-up on our homepage.


Sunday Morning Worship Service, 10 AM, 10 Central St. Manchester by the Sea, MA

Click to watch online at Facebook Live

Worship is led by Rev. Dr. Mark Boyea with Dr. Herman Weiss, Rebecca Shrimpton and Paul Knox and the First Parish Choir.

Past Worship services also available on YouTube, here.

On the heels of what was a joyful and graceful Sunday, November 21 on which we celebrated “Thanksgiving Sunday”, “Pledge Sunday” and the Sacrament of Communion as a spiritual community, we began the sacred Season of Advent on Sunday, November 28. During these weeks in which we prepare to welcome the birth of Jesus – the embodiment of God and God’s ways for us in the Christian spiritual tradition –  our theme for this year will be “It’s Better to Light a Candle…”

Borrowing from the quote attributed to people as varied as Confucius and Eleanor Roosevelt, “It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness”, during each of the four Sundays of Advent we will explore one of the theological and spiritual concepts identified with the four candles of the Advent Wreath – Hope, Peace, Love and Joy – as it relates to our call from God to light candles in the dark spaces and places of our own and others’ lives.

Please keep in mind that the Indoor Mask Mandate for Manchester-by-the-Sea remains in place until December 2. Therefore, we will continue with the Sunday morning protocols we have been using throughout the fall until Sunday, December 5 .

On Sunday, December 5, we will celebrate the Sacrament of Communion.

On Thursday, December 16, a special “Silent Nights” service will take place at 7pm in the Sanctuary. This time, often referred to in other places as “Blue Christmas”, is meant to acknowledge and reflect upon the fact that the Advent and Christmas seasons are also a time of struggle for many people due to current and past loss. Please consider joining us for this special sacred time.

Then, on Sunday, December 19, the Choir will bless us with the Pepper Choplin cantata, “Once Upon a Night” during our Worship celebration.

Christmas Eve, Friday, December 24, will once again feature two Worship celebrations.

At 5pm, a presentation of the Christmas story, directed by Jeanne Westcott, will be offered for all, but especially for families with children and grandchildren from First Parish and the wider community. Carols and solos from Rebecca Shrimpton and Paul Knox will also be a part of this special time.

Then, at 7pm, we will welcome Jesus into the world with a candlelight celebration of carols, anthems, solos, Scripture and Dramatic Reflection led by Rev. Mark, Dr. Weiss, and the First Parish Choir.

Finally, we will conclude our worship celebrations for December with a special “Carol Sing” on Sunday, December 26. You will have the chance to request some of your “Greatest Christmas Hits”, which Dr. Weiss will lead us in singing all or part of.

Youth offerings

Winter Queen’s Emporium

Youth Community Service Opportunities

Direct questions to Jeanne Westcott, Director of Youth and Children’s Ministries, at Jeanne.fpchurch@gmail.com

Book Group

Book group is open to everyone!
Consider Joining Us

Do you know we have a Book Group at First Parish?

It is open to all and we are now meeting again in person on the last Monday of the month

We will next meet on November 29 at Meredith Tuft’s home to discuss “The Orphan Collector” by Ellen Marie Wiseman

In the fall of 1918, thirteen-year-old German immigrant Pia Lange longs to be far from Philadelphia’s overcrowded slums and the anti-immigrant sentiment that compelled her father to enlist in the U.S. Army. But as her city celebrates the end of war, an even more urgent threat arrives: the Spanish flu. Funeral crepe and quarantine signs appear on doors as victims drop dead in the streets and desperate survivors wear white masks to ward off illness. When food runs out in the cramped tenement she calls home, Pia must venture alone into the quarantined city in search of supplies, leaving her baby brothers behind. Goodreads

Looking ahead to December the book will be “Mr. Dickens and His Carol” by Samantha Silva along with a potluck dinner and a Yankee Swap of a used book. We will meet on December 13 at 6:30 PM location TBA.

Laced with humor, rich historical detail from Charles Dickens’ life, and clever winks to his work, Samantha Silva’s Mr. Dickens and His Carol is an irresistible new take on a cherished classic.
Charles Dickens is not feeling the Christmas spirit. His newest book is an utter flop, the critics have turned against him, relatives near and far hound him for money. While his wife plans a lavish holiday party for their ever-expanding family and circle of friends, Dickens has visions of the poor house. But when his publishers try to blackmail him into writing a Christmas book to save them all from financial ruin, he refuses. And a serious bout of writer’s block sets in.
Frazzled and filled with self-doubt, Dickens seeks solace in his great palace of thinking, the city of London itself. On one of his long night walks, in a once-beloved square, he meets the mysterious Eleanor Lovejoy, who might be just the muse he needs. As Dickens’ deadlines close in, Eleanor propels him on a Scrooge-like journey that tests everything he believes about generosity, friendship, ambition, and love. The story he writes will change Christmas forever. Amazon

 This is a time for church members as well as non-church friends to come together and engage with one another, build relationships, and share in a discussion of books that are of interest to people of various backgrounds. We have fun visiting, conversing about the book and sharing stories and would love to have you join us!

Questions?  Please call Mary Ellen Cook 978-500-0018.

Join our email list to receive updates by email, the sign up link is on our homepage.
Everyone is welcome to join us at these groups. Come for one or come each month.

The Seaside Parish Knitters

Meeting the 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month at the FPC Chapel building, 1 Chapel Lane, 3 PM. 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  laphenpen@live.com We welcome anyone wishing to join us.

Read more about us

**Book Group – Books Read


  • December Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva
  • November The Orphan Collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman
  • October The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  • September The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
  • August The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd
  • June Saving Fish From Drowning by Amy Tan
  • May The Exiles by Christina Kline
  • April The Searcher by Tara French
  • March This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger
  • February The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker
  • 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 Elegy” 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 Still Speaking Seminar

New dates TBA

The Still Speaking Seminar meets on the first and third Mondays of each month from 7:30 to 9 pm via Zoom.  Its purpose is to look at a variety of modern intellectuals’ thinking on issues of faith, morals and justice as they relate to our spiritual tradition.  Topics rotate in response to the interests of the group.  In recent weeks we have spent time with topics such as Harvard Philosophy Professor Michael Sandel’s exploration of the ethics of meritocracy; twentieth century Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr’s work on social ethics in relation to economic inequality and warfare; Catholic Social Teaching and Christian Democracy movement; Pope Francis’ recent encyclicals on the environment and immigration:  The Fourth Turning by demographers William Strauss and Neil Howe; and spiritual experiences in eastern traditions.

The name Still Speaking Seminar is a play on the UCC’s slogan “God is Still Speaking” and is intended to  highlight our view that faith is constantly renewing itself and presenting fresh insights in the present moment.  We will continue to use our  format of a video exploration of some aspect of  modern thought from an authoritative source, followed by discussion.  No preparation is required; additional background material will be available for those interested in deeper explorations of the ideas under consideration.  The group is coordinated by Richard Smith and Steve Carhart.  If you are not already on our email list and would like to receive regular notifications of topics and Zoom invitations, contact us at 978-590-7497 (Dick) or 978-407-8454 (Steve).

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