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Bell Street Chapel


Standing on the Side of Love in the West End and Beyond ...

We are a congregation rooted in Unitarian Universalism that seeks to build community both within and beyond the walls of our building. Join us for worship every Sunday at 10:oo am, as we gather in community for a time of reflection, inspiration, and music. 

Childcare is available during worship. Also, Religious Education for school-aged children is available during the school year.


Our mission is 
to welcome all people into our loving community;
         to nurture each other;
         to deepen our spirituality together
         and to work for peace and social justice

Theme-Based Ministry at Bell Street Chapel
This year at Bell Street we have organized the program year into monthly themes. This means that each month we will explore a particular theme in worship, religious education, and other aspects of church life.

Every month will focus on a different religious or spiritual theme, and we will explore these areas through a Unitarian Universalist lens.
The newsletter will include weekly questions (called "Possible Ponderings") to consider and engage as an individual, a family, or in other aspects of our lives outside of church. Check out this month's questions in the section below.
Themes for the year include:
January – Truth
February – Change
March – Salvation
April – Letting Go
May – Grace
June - Simplicity
What does it mean to be a people of truth?

This Month's Possible Ponderings...
January 1-5: As you begin this new year, what are the parts of yourself you want to nurture? How can you go about doing that? Write or meditate about this for 5 minutes.
January 6-12: Think about the parts of your nature that are true. How do you know that a part of your character, behavior, or heart is true? How do you know or feel that another person is being true to you?
January 13-19: Martin Luther King, Jr. once said  “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” Reflect on this idea with a friend, colleague, fellow church-goer, or on your own.
January 20-26: Our 4th principle as Unitarian Universalists affirms a free and responsible search for truth and meaning. How are you searching for these things? What contributes positively to that search? What gets in the way?
January 27-February 2: As Unitarian Universalists we affirm that our beliefs and truths change over time. What are beliefs or truths that are a constant for you, even amidst the inevitable changes?
Rev. Weis will be on vacation from January 7 to the 13th.  If you are experiencing a pastoral emergency please call Christine Constantineau (401) 749-0747 who will contact the minister on call.  

The parish office will be closed from January 7 to January 14. 
Tonight @ 6:00 PM (Federal Court House 1 Exchange Street, Providence) Rally for Tamir Rice and Sandra Bland in response to the non-indictments in both cases this week.  Bring signs and posters if you would like.  

January 3 is the deadline to reserve a seat at the Bruins game.  See details below. 

Upcoming Events
Sunday January 3 @11:30 (Eddy Hall) Bell Street member Josie Shagwert currently works at the Center for Civil Society and Democracy in Syria, an organizing Bell Street has been supporting with its Share the Plate program. Josie will be here to speak about the efforts and achievements of CCSDS. Please come to hear about how your money has contributed to the building of peace and democracy there, and how we can continue to build peace between all people. This event is free and open to the public.

Tuesday, January 5: Worship Committee Meeting @ 6pm (Parish House)

Wednesday, January 6: 8th Annual Interfaith Vigil for Poverty (State House) @ 3-4pm Hosted by the RI Interfaith Coalition to Reduce Poverty
Gather with other people of faith from across the state as we call on elected leaders to take action to reduce poverty in RI. We will: bear witness to our faith traditions' teachings that we are to be a community that cares for all, not just some; call on elected officials to govern with care, compassion and wisdom; propose policies for legislative action in 2016 to reduce poverty; and find - and offer - inspiration and encouragement in the struggle for economic justice.

Sunday, January 10: Sock Drive and Feminine Product Kickoff!!!
Two of the most needed items for people who are homeless are new, clean, dry socks and feminine hygiene products. Please help us gather brand new socks (men’s, women’s, and children’s) and feminine products (tampons, maxipads, etc.) and bring them to Bell Street throughout the month! We will donate them to area programs that provide necessary items to folks who need them.

Thursday, January 14: Pub Theology @ 6pm (The Grange, 166 Broadway, Providence)
Join other young adults (18-40) for a night of good food, good drinks, and good conversation. Pub theology mixes theological, spiritual, and ethical conversation with new friends and opportunities to meet other young adults. The theme for January is “Truth,” or whatever else comes up in conversation! Bring your friends!

Friday, January 15: Bell Street Chapel goes to the Providence Bruins!!!
Tickets are $20 (and kids get free popcorn, soda, and a hat!). We will sit together at the game, and Bell Street Chapel will be mentioned on the jumbotron! A great way to meet other Bell Streeters, see a game, and have a great time! For more information see Susan Weis by January 3rd!

Sunday, January 17: Parish Council Meeting @ 11:30 (Parish House)
All committee chairs will meet to plan and collaborate on upcoming Bell Street events.

Wednesday, January 20: Governing Board Meeting @ 6:30pm (Parish House)


Sunday, January 24: Bring a Friend to Church Day!
Know someone who might want to check out Bell Street Chapel and Unitarian Universalism? Been away from church for a bit and looking for an excuse to come back? Have a colleague, friend, or neighbor who might like to find a new sense of community? Come to this service and bring a friend!

Wednesday, January 27: Memorial Service for the Homeless, details TBA
January Worship Schedule
Sunday, January 3, 10:00am:     
Rev. Margaret Weis, preaching

As we embark on a new year, let us reflect on what has served us well and called us to our best selves, and let go of that which has not. Our annual fire ceremony will follow the service (outdoors).

Sunday, January 10, 10:00am:  Bringing Forth What Matters      
Betsy Tabor, preaching

"Use your words!" parents urge their children. For people of faith, right speech—choosing how and when to speak our truth—is part of our life's work. What better time than the start of the new year to take what we say seriously?

Betsy Tabor came to the ministry after enjoying an early business career in New York and raising two children, now in their mid-twenties. She has earned her Master of Divinity from Andover Newton, done a two-year internship at the UU Church of Reading, MA, and completed three units of chaplaincy training in Portland, Maine. A frequent guest preacher in the Greater Boston area, she looks forward to parish ministry in the near future. Betsy and her husband John live in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Sunday, January 17, 10:00am: Break the Silence
Rev. Margaret Weis, preaching

Join us for this multigenerational service as we explore the idea speaking truth in love and sticking up for what is right. We will honor the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. and explore how we might strive to follow in his footsteps.

Sunday, January 24, 10:00am: Not All Who Wander
Rev. Margaret Weis, preaching

 As Unitarian Universalists our fourth principle affirms our free and responsible search for truth and meaning. How do we go about such a tall task in our lives? How might we journey toward that truth and meaning in community with one another?

Sunday, January 31, 10:00am: Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire
Rev. Margaret Weis, preaching

Is it ever okay to lie or to deceive the truth? What is the harm in a fib or small lie? Let’s explore this idea in worship together. 
Join Rev. Weis for her office hours this winter! 

In an effort to be more present in our West End community, Rev. Weis will start holding Community Office Hours starting September 8th. Each Tuesday from 2-5pm, join Rev. Weis for a conversation, coffee, or bite to eat at Seven Stars Bakery (Broadway location).

If you're looking for more traditional office hours, you can find Rev. Weis at the Bell Street office on Wednesdays from 2-5pm (or by appointment). 

Rev. Weis will not be available from January 7 to the 13th.  If you are experiencing a pastoral emergency please call Christine Constantineau (401) 749-0747 who will contact the minister on call.  

Ministerial Musings
What does it mean to be a people of truth?
 To be a people of truth is to be a people of honesty and forthrightness. This means offering help to others when we are able, and asking for it when we need it. It is not always easy to ask for help – it is something that takes some practice!

Here at Bell Street, we can help! 

The Share the Plate beneficiary for January thru March is the Minister’s Discretionary Fund (MDF). This fund is set aside to help members of the Bell Street congregation and the surrounding community who need temporary financial assistance. This may be in the form of money for groceries, gas, home heating oil, small medical bills, or other needs. 

The fund is dispersed at my discretion (according to our MDF policy), as the minister, and all information is kept confidential. 

If you are experiencing a tough financial time, and are in need of assistance, I encourage you to come speak with me. My office hours are posted and I am also available for meetings by appointment. Please know that even when times get tough, there are ways we might be able to help.

Alternatively, if you are feeling financially secure and are looking to make a donation to the MDF, please do so. You may write a check to Bell Street Chapel with “Minister’s Discretionary Fund” in the memo line. This quarter a portion of each week’s non-pledge offering will go into the fund, and additional donations are always welcome. 

To be a people of truth we must be a people of trust – in one another, in that abiding Love that sustains us in life, and in ourselves and our personal power. 

As this New Year arrives, I wish each of you a 2016 that unfolds your true self, brings you challenges from which your heart will grow, and brings moments of abundant joy!

In faith, 
Rev. Margaret
From the Board
The Third Reconstruction: Will Truth Prevail?
by Ellen Kellner

The First Reconstruction after slavery ended was sabotaged by ugly lynch mobs and white supremacists in the 1870’s.  The catalyst for the Second Reconstruction was Rosa Parks and the civil rights movement of the 1960’s.  Laws were passed for integration, but racism continued with the ugly suppression of opportunities for blacks in all realms of society:  economic, education, housing and criminal justice to name some.

Added to that, the ugly manipulative, super-pac (Citizens United) politics of the 21st century corrupted the democratic process by gerrymandering districts and restricting voting rights.  Their ugly actions guaranteed conservative/extremist winners in statewide elections, leaving us with little hope that racism will end.

What will it take to reverse these ominous trends?  The truth.  Moral people of good faith are working together to systematically expose racism, inequities, and corruption.  It is happening now with UU’s and folks from other denominations and grassroot justice organizations joining forces in more than a dozen states for Moral Monday rallies and marches.  Moral Mondays are not funded by super-pacs, but are powered by truth.  Truth is what gave the Second Reconstruction (1960’s civil rights) the will, faith, and energy to succeed.  And truth is the basis for moral fusion politics as documented in the 2015 winter UU World issue, pages 28-35.  

The ugly truth is that we are a society imbued with racism – the same as the ugly caste system or apartheid in other cultures.  Moral fusion politics is exposing this ugly truth and demanding change to guarantee blacks basic human rights.  With actions based on truth, the Third Reconstruction will prevail.  To quote my wise big sister Linda, “the ugly truth is always preferable to the best dressed lie.”
From the Worship Committee
by Art Toegemann
Truth is the language we use to describe facts, the world, our lives. In logic, true statements are those which are not false. We tell the truth, we hear the truth. Indeed, telling the truth helps us to hear it.

Philosophically, we learn the truth, comprehend it with other truths, and build and advance as a civilization. Important and vital, all of us rely on truth. We speak,  we sing, we write, we even play with truths;  we’re wrong and we may even lie (rarely and with correction), but truth prevails, always. As Unitarian Universalists, truth is featured in the 4th of our 7 Principles "a free and responsible search for truth and meaning". I add defend and promote with my search for truth. Perhaps most interestingly, truth appears again in one of our covenants, so that we seek the truth in love. Is love logical? Might love compromise a difficult truth? Searching, seeking, and finding truth in love recognizes the ultimate benevolence of truth.
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