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Committees and More

“Church” at First Parish in Brookline is so much more than attending Sunday Service!

On the next pages are descriptions of opportunities at First Parish to try something new or pursue longtime interests and passions – all while learning, growing, and enjoying ever deepening relationships with others.They include descriptions of boards and committees responsible for First Parish governance, operations, and programs. They, too, offer opportunities to learn, grow, and enjoy – in community!

If you’re interested in getting involved, have updates to this information, or have a question, please reach out. You can also view and comment on this information on Google Drive.

Building Community and Deepening Relationships matter here! 

Auction TeamBook ClubBuildings & Grounds
By-Laws CommitteeCanvass TeamCare Team
Chancel ChoirClimate JusticeCommon Hope
Finance TeamFirst Friday Community DinnerImmigration Justice
Justice SeekersNominating CommitteeParish Board    
Poetry GroupRacial Justice Action Religious Exploration
Small Group MinistryTransition TeamVespers
Walkie TalkiesWilling HandsWorship & Welcoming

On the next pages are descriptions of opportunities at First Parish to try something new or pursue longtime interests and passions – all while learning, growing, and enjoying ever deepening relationships with others. They include descriptions of boards and committees responsible for First Parish governance, operations, and programs. They, too, offer opportunities to learn, grow, and enjoy – in community!

Interested?  Please reach out to the convener(s) identified. They would love to let you know what they most appreciate about what the group does and how it builds a strong sense of connection and community among its members.

If you have updates to this information, including any groups we’ve missed, please contact us so they can help the Parish Board Clerk keep this resource up-to-date for all of us!

√Auction TeamPlans and organizes our bi-annual online auction. The next auction will be fall 2024Be a Writer – Dream up exciting descriptions of donations for the auction catalog to entice buyers and please donors.Be a Photographer – Take pictures, get pictures or find pictures on the net to show off donations, and build our dazzling catalog.Be a Techie – Master the Auctria Virtual Auction software Get into Marketing – Create weekly updates to generate and maintain excitement and keep the congregation informed.Be a Movie Producer – Help create an auction theme and promotional videos, photos, skits, etc.Be a Solicitor – Charm donations from members and friendsOpen to allDebba Andree, organizerJeff Cadow, Nathan Freitas, Whit Larrabee,  Michael Monroe
√ Book ClubReads an eclectic selection of books chosen by the group and meets to engage in thought-provoking and entertaining discussions. Books are chosen by the group a year in advance, giving participants the benefit of being exposed to literature they may not have chosen to read on their own. The most recent selections have included Silverview, John Le Carre The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho The Candy House, Jennifer Egan Harlem Shuffle, Colson WhiteheadMatrix, Laura GroffMeets by Zoom on Sundays at 7:30 PM. (We continue with Zoom, because we have remote readers.) Schedule is determined by the length of the books and an attempt to work around holidays. We generally have a meeting each month. The next meeting is Open to all on a drop-in or regular basis.Julie Horvath, convenerEliza Blanchard, Margaret Cain, Eleanor Clarkson, Sue Davis, Madeline Fine, Martha Hadley, John Mignano, Darlene Millman, Sally Moore, Julie Flood Page, Sarah Pearl, Bruce Perry, Kevin Ruderman
√ Building & GroundsResponsibilities: Supports the mission of the congregation with facilities and grounds planning and capital projects, in collaboration with the Facilities Manager who oversees the budget for routine maintenanceMembership: open to any volunteer Clint Richmond, chairDebba AndreeTim DaileySam DennisJeff Fogelman, Facilities AssistantCarol SpitzerBob Williamson
√ By-LawsResponsibilities: Solicits from members suggestions for changes to the bylaws, considers further changes on its own, considers input from the Board and makes recommendations to the Board for amendments and/or additions in time for the Board to prepare recommendations before Annual meeting or any special membership meeting. (from the By-Laws)Membership: self-nominations welcome; chosen by the BoardJim Womack, chair
√ Canvass TeamResponsibilities: Coordinates the annual campaign for pledges to fund the annual operating budgetMembership: open to allEd Page, chairJohn Mignano & Whit Larrabee
√ Care TeamResponsibilities: Works directly with ministers, assisting with candles of joy and concern, organizing small group ministry, and providing summer care coverage. Also provides and coordinates help with meals, rides and chores for members who need assistance and offers a compassionate listening earMembership: open to all, with agreement from minister; meets monthly and as neededSue Andrews, chairKarla Baehr, Jeff Cadow, Marga Dieter, Madeline Fine,Tanya Gurian,  Jami Jordan, Margaret Williams
√ Chancel ChoirProvides music for Sunday worship. A closely-knit community of singers who share the experience of making music together, regularly engaging in social events, sharing meals, and supporting each other through life’s highs and lows.Building community grows the trust that helps us share the personal vulnerability of singing and helps supply the courage to stand in front of a congregation Sings most Sundays with a rehearsal at 9:30amMeets every Wednesday from 6:30-8:30pmAttendance on Wednesday is required for singing on SundayOpen to all, regardless of musical backgroundKeith Kirchoff, Music DirectorLisa Barrone, Adrian Jones & Elizabeth McIntire, section leaders
√ Climate Justice ActionSupports our congregation to know about and take action on climate issues affecting First Parish, our local community, and the world  Supports a path to achieve environmental and financial sustainability of our church property, and supports  our members’ efforts to personally live in a more sustainable manner.Supports “Earth Defenders” around the world.Works  closely with the Religious Education teachers to assist them in teaching our children about Nature and caring for our living Earth.  Welcomes anyone concerned about a livable climate for future generations and willing to take action. Alfred Brownell & Deane Coady, co-chairs   Debba Andree, Nancy Clark, Betsy Coons, Marga Dieter, Ann Gilmore, Jody Leader, Martha Leader, Jayleigh Lewis, Ed Loechler, Paul McLean, Tai Melendy, Clint Richmond, Elena Rippell, Carol Spitzer, Mia Szymkowicz, Bob Williamson, Jim Womack
√ Common HopeOne social justice effort at First Parish involves a long-term relationship with Common Hope, an organization working to end the cycle of poverty in Guatemala through education, health care, housing and family development ( Since 2009, five First Parish Vision Teams (including many parent-teen teams) have traveled to Antigua for one-week immersion experiences of service, education, sharing and reflection. Talk to our group about upcoming vision teams.First Parish has also collectively sponsored two children, supporting them and their families until they graduate from high school. First Parish members contribute in various ways, large and small: sponsor a child, translate letters between children and their sponsors, donate school supplies, write occasional letters to First Parish’s sponsored child, or support a Vision Team or other Common Hope activities through an Annual Walk for Hope.Anne Copeland, Susan Larrabee, Whit Larrabee, Jim Womack(Also, learn more the First Parish website, under Social Justice/Guatemala)
√ DeaconsResponsibilities: As the Board-designated “elders” of the congregation, the Deacons act as the institutional memory of the community and support the well-being of the congregation by being a strong presence in institutional life and ceremonies such as memorial services and four-time-a-year communion services Membership: recommended by the Senior Minister, appointed by the BoardBill DwyerSheila HusseyLaura WaltersRay WellbaumMidge WilckeBob WilliamsonJim Womack
√ Finance TeamResponsibilities: Advises and counsels the Board on budget and financial matters; communicates financial information to the community regularly and with transparencyMembers: current Treasurer, a current or past Canvass Team member, current FPB bookkeeper, and up to 3 others chosen by BoardMargaret Williams, TreasurerMargie BealEd PageCharles SandmelAdam Berman, FPB BookkeeperSenior Minister, ex officio
√ First Friday Community DinnerA monthly, all ages gathering to nourish our spirits in community held on the first Friday of every month featuring:Chalice lightingCommunal meal with vegetarian and “kid-friendly” options Candles of Gratitude Simple songs for all to shareA Story for All AgesTable conversation around the story and theme“All hands” shared clean upChildcare and appropriate activities for children providedEntree provided with participants invited to bring a salad, dessert, or beverage (seltzer, wine, beer, or juice)Everyone shares in clean upMembers invited to “bring a friend”Meets in Lyon Chapel at 6:00pm, October – JuneOpen to all on a drop in or regular basisSusan Larrabee, convener Debba & Fred Andree Karla BaehrEric HansonJody LeaderWhit Larrabee 
√ Immigration Justice: Hearts without Borders Takes action in solidarity with community partner organizations and in interfaith collaborations to raise consciousness and encourage action at First ParishOperates from our guiding principle of seeking  to be in relationship with neighbors who are directly impacted by immigration – either working directly with them or with those who serve themSeeks to raise consciousness, encourage solidarity actions, and mobilize resources through partnering opportunities, educational events, crowdfunding efforts, and outreach to legislators, elected officials, and decision makersMeets via Zoom the third Thursday of every month.Open to all on a regular or drop in basisGroup leadership shared by active members Ellen Blaney, Barbara Cone, Julie Horvath, Sue Kalt, Jody Leader, Martha Leader, Sarah Pearl, Merrill Pesci, James Shillaber, Marilyn Tressel, Laura Walters
√ Justice SeekersMeet together for one hour each week to connect with one another, learn about, and take action on racial, immigration and environmental justice issuesParticipants compose and send texts and emails, make calls, and sign and send petitions on issues aligned with the First Parish mission and identified each week by its convenersOur recent focus has been on Policing, Prisons, Climate, Immigration, and Indigenous SolidarityMeets via Zoom every Thursday from 1:00-2:00Open to all on a drop in or regular basisMartha Leader & Jami Jordan, co-convenersRegular participants include:  Suzette Abbott & Barbara Boches (FPB friends), Debba Andree, Prilla Brackett, Betsy Coons, Marga Dieter, Jody Leader, Sally Moore
√ Nominating CommitteeResponsibilities: Recommends to the May Congregation at Annual Meeting candidates for Parish Board, Clerk, Treasurer, Moderator, Alternate Moderator, and for open position(s) on the Nominating CommitteeMembership: immediate past Board Chair, 1 current Board member, 3 members at large who have not served on the Board during the past 4 years. Self-nominations welcomeDebba Andree, chairSue AndrewsAlfred BrownellKiara ZaniSenior Minister, ex officio
√ Parish BoardResponsibilities: Calls meetings of the Congregation, supervises the senior minister, appoints other committees as needed, prepares and submits annual budget at Annual Meeting; ensures responsive communication with members of the congregation, and manages all the concerns of the congregation (from the By-Laws). Establishes annual goals and makes policy decisions.Membership: 9 members, each elected for 3-year terms at Annual Meeting; alternates monthly meetings between Sundays and WednesdaysJody Leader, chairNancy Clark, ClerkSusan FajaWhit LarrabeeSarah LuchanskyJohn MignanoEd Page, TreasurerBrad ReichSenior Minister, ex officio
√ Poetry GroupMeets monthly to dive deeply into poetry, discussing the work of one poet each time, with participants  submitting a favorite by that poet for discussion.  Quarterly, volunteers present their own original poetry for discussionMeets via Zoom second Tuesday at 3:00pm; may begin meeting in person again if conditions warrantOpen to all, on a drop-in or regular basisSue Andrews, convenerRegular participants include: Eliza Blanchard, Betsy Coons, Madeline Fine, Ann Gilmore and others
√ Racial Justice Action CommitteeSupports the congregation in our commitment – embodied in our mission statement – to become a multicultural, anti-racist Beloved Community with special emphasis on the Congregation’s 2022 Resolution on Repair and Reparations:To learn, acknowledge and work to repair the harm done to Black and Indigenous people, we the community of First Parish in Brookline covenant to continue to learn about, acknowledge and work to repair the historic and ongoing moral and material harm to Black and Indigenous people and communities. This harm has resulted from centuries of subjugation and systemic institutional policies and practices that have led to significant racial gaps in wealth, health, criminal punishment, education, and enfranchisement. During this journey, we commit to be guided by and be in relationship with the leadership of Black and Indigenous organizations and individuals. A twin focus this year is on 1) launching a Brookline Interfaith Justice Coalition to respond to evidence of racism and antisemitism in the public schools; and 2) developing a plan for “witness and advocacy” related to that evidence.Meets first Thursday of the month, 6:30-8:30 via Zoom and in personA covenantal group, open to all volunteers who commit to the covenant which requires that people make themselves vulnerable and learning builds as conversations deepen over time through regular participationRotating LeadershipKarla Baehr, Almas Dossa, Ann Gilmore, Jami Jordan, Jody Leader, Martha Leader, Michael Luke, Elena Rippel, Mark VanDerzee, Sasha Abby VanDerzee, Ron Wilkinson
√ Religious Exploration CommitteeResponsibilities: In collaboration with the Director of Family & Community Ministries, helps shape the RE program for children and youth including recruiting teachers and volunteers, and planning and supporting activities such as parent gatherings and social justice work.Also collaborates with other groups to develop and sustain intergenerational programming to strengthen community bonds. 
Membership: Open to all with three-year term limits (shared leadership)
Micaela Coady, chairMicaela Coady & Sarah Luchansky (Spirit Play, ages 4-7))Nathan Freitas & Michael Monroe (PathFinders, 8-10)Nathan Freitas & Jayleigh Lewis*  (Neighboring Faiths, 11-13)Kiara Zani (Our Whole  Lives), 12-14)Jayleigh Lewis & Kiara Zani* (Coming of Age/ Challenge, 14+) *FPB’s Director of Family & Community Ministries
√ Small Group Ministry6-8 participants use a structured format designed by the national UU Association (UUA) to nurture deep connections (“intimacy”) and exploration of significant life questions (“ultimacy”). Facilitated by one or two trained lay leaders, each session offers participants the opportunity to listen deeply and share their experiences, perspectives, and insights. Sessions  include  chalice lighting, centering readings, and time for quiet reflection as well as sharingGroups typically meet monthly for a year or more.Details about opportunities to join Small Group Ministry groups in the fall will be available soon Karla Baehr & Katrina Regan, co-convenersEliza Blanchard, Marga Deiter, Madeline Fine, Elena Garofoli, Tanya Gurian, Ginger Melton, Margaret WilliamsSr. Minister, ex officio
√ Transition TeamFormed during the period of interim ministry, the Transition Team’s purpose is to help our Interim Minister Rev Joe Cherry help the congregation grow in self-knowledge (who we are now) by creating opportunities for congregational discussion and educationMembers are confirmed by the Parish Board Margie Beal, chairRev Joe Cherry, Madeline Fine, Martha Leader, Kiara Zani and Brad Reich (Parish Board Liaison)
√ VespersA reflective and contemplative moment of community, following a very simple Order of Service, with readings on that month’s church theme, candles, meditation, discussion, and simple music.Attendees are invited to bring a reading to share; all are welcome to join in our reflection and discussion.Our hybrid model allows remote participation, with advanced notice.Meets second Sunday every month from 7:00-8:00pmAll are welcome, on a regular or drop-in basis. Contact Anne Copeland to get on the reminder email list.Anne Copeland, convenerAnne Copeland, Susan Larrabee, Diane Shannon, with all regular attendees sharing in leadership of services
√ Walkie TalkiesThe “walkie talkies” meet in and around Brookline for hour-long walks. Participants vote via email each week to identify the days and meetup locations.  Occasional adventures take us via carpool  for longer walks in places like Mt. Misery (Lincoln), Castle Island, and the Arboretum.Typically 2-3 times a week at 9:30 or 1:30 in the summer and 11:30 or 1:30 in the winterAll are welcome on a regular or drop-in basisMadeline Fine, organizerSome regular participants include: Suzanne Federspiel & Christine Rossell 
√ Willing HandsA “fellowship of doers” who work together on an as-needed basis to undertake unique maintenance projects, move stuff, and make small repairs to the church.  Open to allEd Page & Bob Williamson,Co-convenersFred Andree, Alfred Brownell, Jeff Cadow, Eleanor Clarkson, Tim Daley, Mike Luke, Charles Sandmel, Mia Szymkowicz and others
√ Worship and WelcomingResponsibilities: The newly-reconstituted Worship Team collaborates with the minister and staff to create a grounded and spiritual place for faith expression through the church year; organizes summer lay-led services; provides and relays feedback regarding Sunday worship. Each member participates in 3-4 services each year.  
Greeters at Sunday Services welcome members, friends and visitors to Sunday services and help take the weekly collection.Those interested in learning more about what is involved in serving as a Greeter are invited to reach out to Laura Walters or our Office Coordinator.
Membership: Open to all
Susan Larrabee, Worship Committee convenerKarla BaehrRev Joe CherryAnne CopelandDarlene MillmanSally MooreLandon RoseCarol SpitzerLisa Underhill
Laura Walters, Greeters CoordinatorDebba Andree, Eliza Blanchard, Jeff Cadow, Nancy Clark, Eleanor Clarkson, Deane Coady, Elena Garafoli, Tanya Gurian, Julie Horvath, Whit Larrabee

Note on what the By-laws say about Standing Committees

Standing Committees other than those explicitly described in these Bylaws may be established by the Parish Board. The structure and functions of each such Standing Committee shall be determined by the Parish Board and described in the Standing Committee’s charter. Charters should be accessible to all members of the congregation. The charter may be modified by the Parish Board at any time. Once established, a Standing Committee shall report on its activities to the Annual Meeting, shall have its budget included in the annual operating budget of the Society, and shall continue in operation until its charter is revoked by the Parish Board. The Parish Board shall ensure a list of active Standing Committees is kept.