Sign up for Advent in a Bag!

Back by popular demand, and perfect to help prepare for Christmas this December while at home, “Advent in a Bag” returns for 2020. This year, however, it will look a little different! We’re not even sure at this point if it’s a “bag” or maybe it’s a “box.” No matter what shape it comes in, we’re excited about what will be included inside to help guide you through this Advent season.

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Upcoming Opportunities to Give Back

Donate Winter Coats

FCCR is once again collecting gently used coats for the Anton’s Cleaners coat drive. This includes coats of all types and sizes, for kids and adults. This year, due to COVID and space limitations, the FCCR collection will run from Monday, November 2, through Wednesday, November 25 only. Place coats in the box just inside the Sanborn St door of FCCR, Mon-Thurs., between 9am – 2pm. Coats may also be dropped off at any Anton’s, Jordan’s Furniture, or Enterprise Bank thru Jan 8. Alternatively, you can call the office to request information on contactless pickup.

Anton’s will clean the coats and donate them to charities that distribute them to those in need in the Boston area. These organizations include the Salvation Army, the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, Rosie’s Place and the Boxford-based Community Giving Tree. Anton’s held its first Coats for Kids drive in 1994, collecting 2,000 coats. In its 15-year history, Coats for Kids has collected, cleaned and distributed a total of 620,015 coats. Last year 60,000 coats were collected, a number Anton’s hopes to meet again this year. 

Annual Thanksgiving Food Pantry Drive

Sunday, November 22, from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. you can pull up to an open parking spot on Sanborn Street and either a volunteer can take donations from your trunk or you can bring them to a table. Please wear a mask.

The items collected will be divided once again between the Reading Food Pantry and Neighbors in Need, a food pantry in Lawrence.

For people unable to participate that day, there will be a weekday drop-off opportunity on Thursday, November 19. The church’s Sanborn Street entrance nearest the office will be open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., with a collection box placed just inside.

Top needs include:
Goya products, tea, coffee, body wash, bars of soap, shampoo, conditioner, tissues, paper towels, toilet paper, cereal, shelf stable pudding cups, and brownie mix. Reading Food Pantry also has an online Amazon Wish List.

Collection for City Mission’s Christmas Shop

Each year, City Mission in Boston distributes over 5,000 gifts & clothing items during the annual Christmas Shop. Toys, books, hats, mittens, scarves, clothing and underwear for kids & teens, and more. Donations will be available to be dropped off Monday through Thursday from 9 am – 1 pm on Nov. 30 – Dec. 3

There will be a “drive up” donation day on Sunday, December 6 from 11:30 AM to 2 PM on Sanborn Street next to the church.

Click here to read more about what items are in need this year, and how to support and empower local, BIPOC-owned and women-owned businesses. There is a great need for toys and books featuring children of color, and the website offers resources on where to find these items. …

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Thank you for a wonderful Olde Redding Express!

We are thrilled with the way the Express was received by the community. Despite the steep learning curve, the Express exceeded expectations in every way. This gives us a lot to work with for next year’s event, or maybe even something in the new year. I would like to thank everyone for their participation, especially those who were able to step forward to re-imagine and re-create the Faire 2020 style:
Jeannie Peirce
Gay Williams
Linda Ananian
Cindy Crampe
Diane Wilson
Betsy Connor
Craig Taylor
Rev. Emelia Attridge
Mary Ann Higgins
Peter Newhall
Mark Johnson
Carol Johnson
Christine Georgilas
Andi Jeffrey
The total profit for this year’s event (barring any late expenses) is a whopping $7,416.49! Out of this we will disburse $400 each to the Reading Food Pantry and to Emmaus, Inc. In these challenging times it is more important than ever that we share with our friends providing direct services to those in need. We are so glad that FCCR is able to continue this tradition of giving. 
Thanks to everyone, please stay healthy, and keep imagining the future.
Betsy Schneider

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Reflections on discussing White Fragility together

During the month of September, a group of about 20 church members came together over three Zoom sessions to discuss the book White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, and to dive into honest and vulnerable conversations on racism. What resulted was faith-filled, spirit-led dialogue, and wondering, what next? Two members of the book study composed this report for the October Newsletter. Interested in learning more about how you can participate in the work towards racial justice? Join us on Sunday mornings, and stay tuned for more programs, education, activism, and dialogue.

“I’m not racist!” How many times have we heard this statement by caring people who are not aware of the institutional racism embedded in our culture? This is one of the topics explored by the book group that read, White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo. Rev. Emelia led two groups, each consisting of about ten people, over a six-week period with three Zoom sessions each.

As we read the book, our discussions provided a safe place to share our personal experiences with racism, to explore guilt, misconceptions, and revelations, and also explore terms that were new to us. 

The first thing we learned was a new definition of racism. It’s no longer about “bad” people running around lynching Black people just because, or refusing to let Black people eat at a lunch counter. Such racism, once common in the United States, is no longer so prevalent. But, racism is still built into our basic institutions in that African Americans in general do not have the same access to education, health care, or decent jobs that white people have. So, the issue is more about identifying racist institutions and how we have benefitted from them, than it is about “being mean”. But when one points out the realities of institutional racism, people get all defensive. Hence “white fragility”. We can’t handle truths that should shame us.

During one session, we discussed a continuum of racism from a UU curriculum that demonstrated how not everyone is in the same place on this journey. The continuum runs from the overt racism of white supremacist militias; to people who think white folks are naturally superior; to folks who think we’re all the same, but the white way of life is the norm toward which all should strive; to honoring and cherishing cultural diversity and to being active allies in the fight to remove racist institutions. My biggest revelation was how racist my family was. I explored reasons for this and found the beginning of an answer. 

During another session, the term “White Women’s Tears,” was discussed when it was introduced in the reading. Sometimes when racism is pointed out, people break into tears (most often, apparently, white women) as a means of changing the subject away from racism: “How could you think I had anything to do with racism?” How tears evoke anger was an eye opener for me and helped to explain some interactions that I have had that I have never understood before. …

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Outdoor Prayer Services

We will be gathering outdoors for a brief 30-minute prayer and meditation service this fall. Everyone will be socially distanced at 6-feet apart, requiring masks, and we invite you to bring your own beach or camp chair. This short prayer service will allow us to see one another from a distance, hear a meditation, and pray together with some acoustic music.

Our outdoor prayer service schedule is as follows:

Wednesday, October 7 at 5 PM – location TBD

Wednesday, October 21 at 5 PM – on the church lawn

Sign up is required. This will allow us to keep our group size below 16 people & help us with contact tracing (hopefully not necessary). 
Sign up for the October 7th service by filling out the form below:

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Sign up for Virtual Sunday School

Since COVID began, we’ve been meeting each Tuesday for a Story Time on Zoom, and it’s been a lot of fun! Now, we are excited to kick off a new re-imagined Virtual Sunday School, which will meet Sundays at 12 PM on Zoom. Families will receive a special Sunday School delivery next week to help you have Virtual Sunday School at home.

Interested in joining? Register for Virtual Sunday School by clicking the link below!

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COVID-19 Update

September 9, 2020 Update

Earlier this summer, the COVID team determined that we would refrain from any in-person gatherings at the church during the summer months, including worship and meetings. During this time, we’ve been able to host vibrant virtual ministries and connecting while staying apart.

We’ve shown that we can be the church even when we’re not gathering together in our building. Through prayer, discernment, and statistics, we have determined that it is still unwise for us to return to in-person worship on Sunday mornings. After discussing the safety and the science, we asked ourselves “how would this benefit our ministry?” While we miss seeing one another, the reality of returning to in-person worship on Sundays would mean enough changes that it wouldn’t feel like the way we do church:

  • There would be no singing
  • There would be no passing of the peace
  • We wouldn’t be able to have coffee hour and socialize
  • We would have to limit how many people would be allowed

Most importantly, we wouldn’t want to put anyone in our community at risk. Rather than offer a quiet, music-less, limited worship space, we recognize that we continue to accommodate more than 60 people each week on virtual worship through Facebook Live and Zoom with music and virtual choir.
For this reason, Sunday mornings will remain virtual.

However, safety measures have been put in place so that people may return to the building in limited ways. State guidelines limit the capacity of people in reach room of the church significantly (for example, under current guidelines as of August 25, we can only accommodate 7 people in the Chapel), masks are required at all times while in the building, and instructions for sanitization help keep our space clean and safe. Three new hand sanitizer dispensers have been installed (two by the bathrooms up by the Town Hall Parking Lot entrance, and one by the office).

Small groups and ministries are allowed to schedule a room with the office to meet in-person. The office will be scheduling outside groups and church groups with timing, occupancy, and distance in mind so that there won’t be too many people in the building at once. If your ministry or group would like to return to meeting in-person, we ask that you ask the following:

  1. Would meeting in-person help the ministry of our group?
  2. Is everyone in the group comfortable with meeting in person?

Please contact the office if your group would like to inquire about scheduling an in-person meeting in the church. Please limit the number of people in your group to a maximum of 10, wear masks at all times, and attempt to limit your time together.

We will also offer small outdoor prayer services this fall. Beginning September 23, there will be a Wednesday evening prayer service held in an outdoor space every other Wednesday. We recognize that the ministry of Sunday morning versus a small prayer circle serve different purposes. These small and short outdoor gatherings will allow …

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Virtual Church now on RCTV

Access worship services from your couch throughout the week!

If you live in Reading, MA, go to your RCTV Public Access Channel. Times listed below.

Comcast Channel 9
Verizon Channel 31

Sundays: 8am, 7pm, 8pm, 10:40pm
Mondays: 5:30am, 9:10am, 10:30am, 2:15pm, 8:15pm
Tuesdays: 11am, 12:30pm, 1pm, 2:38pm, 8pm, 9pm
Wednesdays: 9:33am, 11:45am, 1:40pm, 3:00pm, 7:40pm
Thursdays: 10:30am, 5:02pm, 10:15pm, 10:30pm, 11:30pm
Fridays: 8am, 2:30pm, 4:32pm, 8:30pm, 9:30pm
Saturdays: 10:30am, 2pm, 4:02pm, 9:33pm, 11:02pm

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