Grant Follow-Up from RE Committee

In November 2017 the RE Committee applied for a grant offered by First Parish Church United which fit the Church and Outreach theme “Who is MY Neighbor and How Can I/we help? We learned about an opportunity to support a program run by the Lowell Wish called ‘B.I.T.s Bags (Basic Items for Toddlers) whose mission spoke to us. In this program social workers who visit families in need carry bags filled with age appropriate items for toddlers: board books, bubbles, rubber duckies, stacking toys, etc. so that they may offer these essential, yet basic items which encourage play, fine motor skill development, language development, understanding of cause and effect, the list goes on!

Our students in the RE program range in age from toddler to high school and are exposed to a variety of developmentally appropriate activities and experiences. The idea and concept of Neighbor is an important one to the RE program and building an understanding of ‘neighbor’ is part of the K-2 curriculum. By learning about and supporting other children, just like themselves, who are our ‘neighbors’ even our youngest RE students will be able to make a connection to the mission of helping other ‘little kids’ have access to the ‘fun’ toys they themselves had access to as little tikes.

Through the generosity of our church awarding us with a grant for $400, along with donations from members of our church and our community, and the collection of coins as RE children ‘filled their buckets’ at home, we were able to fill 50 bags to go towards the Lowell Wish’s goal of 500, that’s 10%! Each colorful bag held 8 items: board book, coloring book, ‘big’ crayons, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, inflatable beach ball, rubber ducky, and a brand new interactive toy (ie stacking rings). These bags were assembled by the children on a Sunday in April and delivered to the Lowell Wish by our RE Director, Nicki Tracey, and RE Committee Chair, Jennifer Scarano, along with her two sons, Nicholas and Julian. We are all very proud of our community and the outreach we were able to do to help our neighbors.

The 43rd Annual Strawberries ‘N Arts Festival

Strawberries ‘N Arts Festival Combines Great Food, Live Music and Professional Crafts in Westford

On Saturday, June 16th, the 43rd annual Strawberries ‘N Arts Festival will take place on the Westford Town Common. Sponsored by First Parish Church United, Westford, this traditional event offers the whole family a fun day that includes high quality artwork and crafts for purchase, a wide variety of food and homemade strawberry shortcake, plus musical performances by several local groups. Admission is free and everyone in Westford and beyond is welcome to join in the festivities.

The highlight of the day for many is the serving of fresh strawberry shortcake by FPCU members. Over 350 quarts of fresh strawberries, more 1200 oversized shortcake biscuits and lots of real whipped cream are combined to create over 1000 servings of this delicious treat. Customers can begin to line up before 12:30 p.m. to partake in what for many has become an annual ritual of the beginning of the summer season. Also available are a variety of grilled food including hamburgers, hotdogs, and Westford’s favorite Hubba’s BBQ pulled pork sandwiches.

This year, the Strawberries ‘N Arts Festival has over 90 craftspeople in attendance, lining the triangular green in Westford’s historic town center. Crafts for sale this year include handcrafted woodworks, a variety of handmade jewelry, wrought iron, handpainted glassware, framed photographs and portraits & much more. Additionally there will be crafts and entertainment for the kids, and continuous music performed by several local groups throughout the common and on the Westford Common bandstand. Rain date (in extreme weather conditions only) is Sunday, June 17th.

Free parking is available at the First Parish Church United, the J.V. Fletcher Library, Roudenbush Community Center and Abbot School. Proceeds will go to the First Parish Church United, which supports a variety of local and international charity organizations through its outreach programs. For more information, please visit www.TheStrawberryFestival.org.

Declaring Independence

Declaring Independence: Then & Now

Reconsidering the promises of the Declaration of Independence: A narrated performance and community conversation

What: A forty-minute performance piece in which a narrator and cast bring to life the Declaration of Independence followed by a community conversation and refreshments
When: Wednesday 6 June 2018, 7:00 p.m.
Where: First Parish Church United, 48 Main St., Westford, MA

This event is presented as a collaborative venture by the Westford Historical Society, the First Parish Church United and Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area.

For further information visit: www.freedomsway.org

What did the Declaration of Independence mean to citizens of 1776? What meanings does it hold for us today? The thought provoking public performance piece, Declaring Independence: Then & Now, seeks to explore these questions through an animated reading of our “American Scripture” presented by living-history re-enactors. As the 18thcentury words and ideas are performed, a narrator probes their meaning and challenges the audience to consider their relevance and power for today.

“Too often the Declaration of Independence is reduced to the single line, “We hold these truths to be self-evident…,” notes historian Mary Fuhrer. “Yet the document is rich with meaning on many levels. It expresses what many Americans by 1776 had come to believe: that Britain’s king and Parliament had violated our fundamental rights, that we were justified in abolishing such a flawed government, and that we were entitled – and determined – to create a new and better nation. It also asserts truths that transcend time: that governments derive their power from the people, with the purpose of securing their liberty and guaranteeing their equality. The history of our nation has been, and continues to be, the story of our struggle to redeem and defend those promises for all.”

Declaring Independence: Then & Now is part of a multi-year joint initiative of Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area and the American Antiquarian Society to engage citizens in the ideas and transformative potential of the Declaration of Independence. This initiative includes researching the ways in which independence was conceived and debated within colonial communities in the years leading up to 1776; tracing how the Declaration’s role evolved in American communities; and considering the challenges and potential of this living document for Americans today.

The performance will take place at the historic First Parish Church United, located adjacent to the Westford Town Common. The event is free and suitable for ages 8 and up. For further details, please go to www.freedomsway.org or contact (978) 772-3654.

About Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area
The 994-square-mile Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area (FWNHA) includes forty-five towns and cities in Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire and is home to over 750,000 people. FWNHA connects people, places and communities through educational and interpretive initiatives that protect and promote shared resources and encourage residents and visitors to explore its landscape, history and culture. www.freedomsway.org.

About the Westford Historical Society
The Westford Historical Society (WHS) runs the Westford Museum at 2 Boston Road. The mission of the WHS is to promote the understanding and appreciation of Westford’s unique history to the community. By providing programming that features aspects of the daily lives, activities and achievements of Westford residents, they strive to expand and enrich understanding of how the town continues to evolve. They foster an environment of teaching and learning that strengthens a sense of community. www.museum.westford.org

About the First Parish Church United
The First Parish Church United (FPCU) was established in 1727 as the Second Parish Church of Chelmsford. Its existence was a prerequisite to establishing the Town of Westford in 1729. The Rev. Willard Hall was called as its first minister and served until 1775. Today, FPCU remains deeply rooted in its liberal religious history, while continuing to become more inclusive and diverse. It is a member congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Association as well as the United Church of Christ, and is a community-based spiritual home for many in the Westford and surrounding areas. www.firstparishwestford.org

DI press release-5.16.18

Church Office is closed today due to weather

Church Office closed today due to weather

Church Office is closed today due to weather

TJ Harper Worship Service this Sunday, March 11th

Sermon title: The Subtle Gap of Oppression
Scripture Reading: Exodus 1: 6-22 (New International Version “NIV”)
Hymn 1: Precious Lord, Take My Hand
Hymn 2: Go Down, Moses (Let My People Go)

Bio: TJ Harper serves as the Massachusetts and Connecticut Conferences’ Associate for Racial Justice Ministries. Previously, TJ operated a nonprofit organization known as the Social Justice Sewing Academy (SJSA), with programs in Chicago and Oakland, that has worked with over 900 youth through a sponsorship by Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow/Operation PUSH. Prior to SJSA, TJ worked with the StriveTogether Foundation, a network dedicated to improving educational outcomes for children; City Hall in Chicago; and U.S. Senator Richard Durbin’s Office. He is also a 2014 Public Policy and International Affairs Fellow alumnus at Princeton University.

Workshop in Fellowship Hall after service: Examining a Church’s Goal to be Racially Inclusive

News from PruCom

From PruCom – New Building Use Policy

Did you know that for Westford to legally incorporate as a Town in 1729 it was required to have a Church and a Minister? That Church was First Parish of Westford and for over 100 years Church and Town were one. Town Meetings were held here in our building until 1868 and the Church was the center of all religious, political, and social activity. Even Westford Academy graduation exercises took place here through 1907!

More than 275 years later as stewards of our historic Church building we are charged with protecting and preserving it, not just for our Congregation, but also for the community at large. With that in mind, the Prudential Committee has been diligently working on a revision of our Building Use Policy in order to safeguard and maintain the structure while simultaneously making it available to the Westford community in a streamlined, simplified and equitable process. A summary of the new policy follows:

a)  Various spaces in our building are available for use by local groups whose goals are not inconsistent with our mission regardless of race, ethnicity, gender and its expression, or sexual orientation.
b)  Pricing has been established with the goal of being affordable but at the same time accounting for our obligation to care for and maintain the building. Rules and restrictions have been put in place to protect the Church and furnishings and in consideration of our neighbors.
c)  We are working on an approved list of groups who are affiliated with the Town or the Church and have historically been allowed to use rooms without charge – we want to keep that list short and not make exceptions to it so that the wear and tear on the building is generally paid for by those who actually use it.
d)  Active Church members continue to be allowed to use the Sanctuary for wedding ceremonies, and the Sanctuary and Fellowship Hall for funerals, without charge. In addition, active Church members are eligible to use all rooms for other personal (but not commercial) activities at half the price charged to the general public up to three times in each calendar year.

You can view the new Building Use Policy in its entirety by clicking on this attachment: FINAL Building Policies and Event Form-2.12.18 Please contact the Prudential Committee with any questions about this new policy.

Office is closed today due to weather