Outdoor Gatherings


Once a month this spring, we will hold our Sunday morning services outdoors, at Atkinson Commons in Newburyport. Because of capacity limits, advanced registration is required. In the case of inclement weather, the service will be live streamed from the sanctuary.  All services begin at 10:30am: April 18, May 16 and June 20.

Register here: http://bit.ly/FRSoutdoorworship2021 (In the interest of fairness, please do not sign up for more than one at a time; please wait until you have attended one service before signing up for another.)

Post-Service Talk or Walk
Come down to the church to chat with others from a safe distance (some chairs will be provided, or bring your own), or take a walk. Meet in front of the church. All Sundays at noon, beginning April 4.

Spiritual Connection
Small spiritual gatherings will be held outside at parks or beaches in the Newburyport area once a month on Sundays, May-August.  These small group discussions will be based on a spiritual question, poem or topic.  If interested, please email Susan Cooper at Susanc0805@gmail.com or Diane Forman at diane.bforman@gmail.com.  May/June dates and times: 3:30-4:30 on Sunday, May 9 (rain date May 30) and June 13 (rain date June 27). July and August gatherings will be in the morning with dates to be announced (keep an eye out in future editions of The Steeple). We look forward to seeing you for spiritual connection in the beauty of nature.

Walks with Donny Rogers
Itching to get outside? To be with others—not on a screen? Join Donny Rogers for a weekly walk around Newburyport, exploring neighborhoods, parks, and perhaps a cemetery or two. Enjoy the unfurling of spring through the beautiful gardens around town while enjoying fresh air, exercise, and the company of others. Each walk will cover a mile and a half or so and last for about an hour. Meet in front of the church and wear your mask. Thursdays at 9:00am, beginning April 1. (No walk in bad weather.)

Art and Music

Bird Installation: “Hope Is the Thing with Feathers” A Community Art Project
Optional gatherings to create: Saturday May 1 and May 8 (choose one) from noon-1 (raindates are May 2 and 9 from 1-2), church patio.

Installation: Saturday, May 15 at noon, in front of the Parish Hall

Join us in the second community art project of this church year. Either pick up a bird form to decorate at home, or come to one of two gatherings to create in the company of others. Plain birds are available to pick up from Bettina Turner beginning April 25—they will be left in her garage at 7 Pheasant Run Dr. in Newburyport. You can either return your finished bird to her garage, or bring it to the installation on May 15. Or, come to an outdoor gathering to create your bird. Meet on the patio on the parking lot side of the church. Supplies will be provided. (Links to sign up below, limited capacity.)

We will hang the birds in the trees in front of the Parish Hall on Saturday, May 15 at noon. The birds are our gift to the community and anyone walking by is invited to take one home.

Birds are seen variously as symbols of hope, freedom, and awakening… all meaningful themes at this time. Join us in sharing these harbingers of hope with the wider community. Use paint, collage, or words to make your bird special. Write a favorite quote or poem on it. Consider making it somewhat water-resistant, in case of rain. Be creative and know that it will bring another joy.

Questions? Contact Bettina Turner at bettinatu4@comcast.net or Julie Parker Amery at julie.amery@frsuu.org

Sign up for May 1 event: http://bit.ly/birdsMay1
Sign up for May 8 event: http://bit.ly/birdsMay8

Jazz Vespers
April 7, 8pm
Danny Harrington returns to the sanctuary for one more Jazz Vespers this year. His generosity has made a great impact on the music program during the pandemic, and we are excited to present one final event in this church year. Watch on YouTube: https://youtu.be/itLKVQ43qQU

Open Virtual Choir Invitation
Beginning April 15, 7:30pm

You are invited to join the FRS Adult Choir for their final anthem of the year. We will be preparing an SATB arrangement of the favorite hymn “Blue Boat Home,” which will be presented as a virtual choir performance at Sophia Lyons’s ordination and at our final service in June. Anyone who wants to try singing virtually is encouraged to contact Justin Murphy-Mancini at justin.murphy-mancini@frsuu.org Technical support is available.


Seeing White
When was the concept of race created, and why? The “Seeing White” podcast series approaches the topic of race by turning the lens and asking what it means to be white in the United States. Each of the 14 episodes offers a new challenge to what we thought we knew about history, science, and culture. Learning with others enhances the experience, as we share our perspectives, insights and experiences. Join the 50+ members and friends who have experienced “Seeing White”. These two groups will be the final groups offered this year.

Group A meets Monday and Thursday evenings, 7-8pm, beginning March 29 and going until May 10. Sign up here: http://bit.ly/seeingwhitespringA

Group B meets Tuesday and Friday mornings, 9-10am, beginning March 30 and going until May 11. Sign up here: http://bit.ly/seeingwhitespringB

Foundations of UUism
Whether you’re a newcomer considering membership, or someone who’s been around awhile, this series will help guide you toward a greater understanding of Unitarian Universalism, or fill in some gaps in your knowledge. Sign up for as many as you’d like. Each session will be at least partially interactive to keep things moving. All sessions will take place on Wednesday evenings from 7:00pm-7:45pm.Session One—The Roots of Our Faith (April 7) Basics of Unitarian, Universalist, and Unitarian Universalist history.

Session Two—Faith Without a Creed (April 14) How can a faith without a unifying creed be considered a religion? Is it true that UUs can believe anything they want? What are some basic beliefs about God, evil, an afterlife? Aren’t the Seven UU Principles a creed?

Session Three—The Sources of Our Faith (April 21) An exploration of the Six Sources to which UUs look for wisdom.

Session Four—Faith in Action (April 28) A history of social justice/action in UUism and the role it plays today.

Sign up here:  http://bit.ly/foundationsofUU


Book Discussion: Sitting Pretty 
April 1, noon-1pm
As follow up to the recent viewing of “Crip Camp”, we offer a further opportunity for dialogue around inclusion and accessibility. We will meet via Zoom on Thursday, April 1, 2021 at noontime to discuss the book Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body by Rebekah Taussig, Ph.D., HarperOne, 2020.

Rebekah Taussig is disability advocate, writer and teacher in Kansas City with her doctorate in Creative Writing and Disability Studies. She is the creator of the Instagram platform @sitting_pretty. The book is a memoir-in-essays, painting a beautiful, dynamic portrait of a body that looks and moves differently than most. She delves into the complications of kindness and charity, the pervasiveness of ableism in all media, the beauty of both independence and dependence, and the pervasive cracks in America’s health-care system.

Sign up here: https://bit.ly/sittingprettydiscussion

Pivotal Events of the Civil Rights Movement
A Series of Lectures Sponsored by the UU Living Legacy Project
March 28, 5:30-6:30pm
Freedom Rides and Freedom Summer: The Movement in Mississippi
Speakers are Hezekiah Watkins, the man dubbed “Mississippi’s youngest Freedom Rider” and Angela Lewis, the daughter of civil rights activist, James Chaney, who was murdered in Neshoba County, Mississippi, in 1964. More information and registration here: https://www.uulivinglegacy.org/crspeaker3.html.

April 25, 5:30-6:30
The Selma Voting Rights Movement
The speaker is Joanne Bland, Bloody Sunday survivor and lifelong Civil Rights activist. She will speak about how the events in Selma and on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in 1965 still have relevance today. More information and registration here: https://www.uulivinglegacy.org/crspeaker4.html

Summer Book Discussion: Are Prisons Obsolete?
Beginning June, time and date TBD
Following on the success of a summer group reading and discussion of Alex Vitale’s The End of Policing, Justin Murphy-Mancini will lead another installment of this program. This summer, we’ll be reading Angela Davis’s important and provocative book Are Prisons Obsolete? This vital work explores the impact of prisons on contemporary American society, and asks challenging questions about their usefulness and relevance. In-depth, spiritually grounded discussion is the core of this small-group experience. Contact Justin for more information: justin.murphy-mancini@frsuu.org


Short Story Group
First and Third Tuesdays of each month, Noon-1pm

The short story group is a resource that provides an activity that helps to grow literary knowledge while also building a sense of community. We read one short story for each meeting. Currently we are using the anthology Best American Short Stories of the Century, edited by John Updike; we’ve done approximately 40 of the 50 stories we will be reading in this book; when finished the group will choose a new source of stories.

The discussion of each story is either free-form, or led by people in the group on a volunteer basis. Participants have a variety of “literary” backgrounds; people agree that we all learn something from the discussion of each story. The discussions often lead to conversations about topics raised by the stories; these can include topics such as gender roles, attitudes about race, relationships between parents and children (of all ages!), and how to live in the world.

The group meets the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of each month from Noon – 1:00pm. Notice of each meeting usually appears in The Steeple and includes the title of the story to be read for that meeting. Contact Tom Himmel for the Zoom link or for more information at thimmel43@mac.com.

Book Discussion Group
Fridays 10-11:30am

Our group is a welcoming and valuable FRSUU resource in providing opportunity for both personal growth and relationship building. We turn to fiction and nonfiction to stretch our intellect, challenge our belief systems and to increase our compassion for differing perspectives. And to have FUN!

The group is open both to the church community and to friends of the church community. Attendance varies from 7-8 people to larger meetings of 15 or more.

We meet every Friday from 10 am to 11:30 am now via Zoom. We have a closed caption option for our members. We generally read about 50-60 pages a week. This gives us time to dive deeply into the themes of the books (fiction and nonfiction) we choose.  Books are selected democratically by a series of votes and all members are encouraged to bring book suggestions to the selection meetings.

We are currently reading Middlemarch by George Eliot. This is an unusually long read for our group but has suited us for the winter. We will probably be selecting our next book in late April. Sign up for our weekly email to find out about the next book selection meeting or join us now for Middlemarch.

Recent books we have read include Spying on the South by Tony Horwitz, The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead, The Lies That Bind by Kwame Appiah.

 CONTACT: We have a weekly group email listing the book we are currently reading, the page assignment for the coming week, and information about how to access our Zoom meetings. Please send an email to ssw1@comcast.net  (Susan Wilner) if you would like to receive our email. All are welcome!

Exploring Eldherhood Together
Special Program for Spring! “Looking Back, Looking Forward: Coming Out of Covid with Grief and Gratitude”
Thursdays 12-1:30
April 15, 22, 29, and May 6

The mission of Exploring Elderhood Together is to bring FRSers together, age 60 plus, to engage with a variety of topics related to what it means to grow older in the 2020s, and through sharing from our own lived experiences, to build a greater sense of belonging within our community. Our programs begin with a presentation (a live guest or a TedTalk), followed by small group discussion.

This spring, we have a special offering—a four-session, weekly program entitled “Looking Back, Looking Forward:  Coming out of Covid with Grief and Gratitude”

As we reflect back on this past year, many of us are carrying a lot of sorrow and grief, some visible, some invisible, some tended, some unattended.  We are now approaching a threshold, emerging from a time of social distancing and isolation to more connection with one another.  As we enter this tender period, let’s pause together as a community and reflect on this time. What grief are we carrying that we might want to name, tend to with kindness and share with one another?  What have been some of the silver linings from Covid? What did we learn about ourselves, our priorities and our values that we might want to carry forward?  Were there unexpected joys, strengths and resources that emerged in us?  How has our sense of gratitude deepened?  Claire Willis, co-author of “Opening to Grief” and our March program speaker, will guide us through this process.

We anticipate spending four Thursdays together from 12:00 to 1:30 to share both our grief and our gratitude.

Please register here: http://bit.ly/comingoutofcovid


Monday Night Meditation on Zoom
Mondays, 6:30pm
These weekly sessions are led by Joyce Haydock, Senior Dharma Teacher with the International Kwan Um School of Zen. She has been with the school since 1989. This FRS UU Monday group was established over ten years ago. Our sessions consist of two or three chants, two readings/teachings and 30 minutes of sitting meditation. Beginners are welcome.

Contact Joyce at 978-363-5457 or email joycehaydock@outlook.com to be added to our list and receive access information.

Spiritual Practice with Julie Parker Amery
Tuesdays, 11:00am
This is a drop-in program, so come as often as you’d like. Each week, we dive into a poem, reading, photograph, painting, or wisdom tale and notice what it’s saying to us in that particular moment. This is not interpretation—it’s not about trying to figure out what the writer or artist is trying to convey—but what it stirs within you. Questions? Contact Julie Parker Amery at julie.amery@frsuu.org

Join Zoom Meeting:


Meeting ID: 944 4098 2749

Passcode: 867415

Dial by phone: +1 646 558 8656

Guided Relaxation with Susan Cooper
Wednesdays, 10:00am
Join FRS member and LICSW Susan Cooper on Wednesdays at 10am for a brief period of mid-week relaxation and renewal. Each 30-minute session will include a guided visualization and reflection on questions around where we hold stress and how we can release it. You’ll also learn some relaxation techniques to use on your own. This is a drop-in program; come one time or many.

Join Zoom Meeting:


Meeting ID: 873 4945 8812

Passcode: 884416

Dial by your location: +1 646 558 8656

Friday Reflections: Making Peace with the Pandemic
Fridays 5-6pm, May 7th and 14th
Join Rev. Rebecca as she leads us in a time of reflection and sharing. We have all gone through a lot over the last year. It matters that we take the time to reflect upon what we’ve learned and decide what to carry forward. We also need a space to grieve our losses and reconnect to our dreams. This is an opportunity and invitation for all of those things. Register here: http://bit.ly/frsuufridayreflections Zoom information will be sent prior to the first session. Please plan to attend both sessions.

Summer Series: JOY
Weekly Emails
Each summer, Rev. Rebecca offers an email series open to everyone. This year’s theme is joy. Registrants will receive an email each Monday for nine weeks, from June 21st – August 16th. Each week will include a brief reflection and suggested exercises, including writing prompts, conversation starters, and embodied spiritual practices. Register here: http://bit.ly/JOYsummerseries  Please share with a friend or relative who may be interested. They need not be a member to participate.









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