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Our Mission

  • First Parish is a Unitarian Universalist church that welcomes individuals and families who seek spiritual growth and nurturing.
  • We worship, celebrate and learn together.
  • We respect each other and value our differences in a way that reflects the love, compassion and openness of our faith.
  • We strive to build a better community for all people.


We encourage you to visit us for a few months and join our activities, attend an orientation meeting, or have a conference with our minister. When you are comfortable with us – when you feel you’ve found your spiritual home – tell our minister that you would like to sign the membership book, and become a full-fledged member. Twice a year we have a ceremony at a Sunday worship service, a special welcome to those who have recently joined. While the ceremony is simple, the commitment is real.

We have these expectations of our members:

  • Be present – attend regularly and bring your authentic self.
  • Grow your own faith – seek to develop a spiritual life.
  • Make this part of your community – venture into deeper connections with others.
  • Give of yourself at least three ways each year: e.g., help our children, do something for social justice, care for those in need, help with a Sunday service.
  • Support the church financially by making an annual pledge.

Our budget runs about $220,000 per year. A pledge of financial support is a good faith estimate of what you will contribute to support the operating budget. We hold a Stewardship Campaign each February during which we ask people to pledge, according to their means, for our next fiscal year, July 1 through June 30.

Click here for an overview of Finance at First Parish.


In the Fullness of Time – December 24, 2010

As Unitarian Universalists, the living tradition we share draws from many sources. Among those many sources are the teachings of the Christian tradition. Tonight is a night held sacred by followers of Jesus, some here in our congregation, some our neighbors, family members or friends, and billions of others all over the world, unknown to us by name. So, it is fitting that on this night we should take time to appreciate the insights of that faith tradition. Read More >>

There’s Room Enough at the Inn – December 19, 2010

In a moment, we are going to hear a story. It is an old, familiar story, that our children are going to tell to us. They’ve been working hard on it, I’m looking forward to it. I don’t want to spoil any of the surprises. But I do want to comment, just a bit, on one small part of that story, before we get to enjoy the whole thing, together. Read More >>

FPC songstress shares her bliss.

Kathryn Lordan’s CD, “Following My Bliss” is out.


Sunday Worship Services

Through the ministry of words and music we gather each week to celebrate our community and to experience inspiration and support for the living of our day to day lives. This shared experience buoys our spirits and challenges us to reflect on our individual and collective endeavors to make the world a better place.

Lay Led Services


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year our Music & Worship committee schedules several Sunday services which are not led by our minister. They may be led primarily by one person or by a group, be drawn from within our church community or from outside resources.

On Sunday October 25, 2009 four members of our church, Julia Quigley Long, Sarah Shamel, Doug Baumoel, and David Flynn, generously and with love shared their spiritual journeys. Although they are from all different backgrounds, their stories were funny and touching, and full of appreciation for where they are now, and for how they got here.

Grandmother’s Attic: Tales from the First Parish Church Building

How many of you remember your grandparents? I certainly do. In particular, I clearly recall my grandmother. As I was growing up she had so many stories of her life during the war in Norway. She repeated them over and over again (embellished them more each time, I think) as I listened, transfixed. As I got older, I became more skeptical of these stories and eventually felt the need to investigate them further. Some, it turns out, were really embellished. Some were dead right. And some things I found out about my grandmother- well, she never told me! On balance, the stories have become a treasure for my family, and a body of memories I will carry with me always.

If members of this congregation (indeed, all residents of Beverly) were to claim a common ancestor of sorts, it might just be the building that is the First Parish Church. It has stood at this location since before the American Revolution. Read More >>

Following Yonder Star – December 12, 2010

It is nearly the end of the second week in December. The days here in Beverly are growing all too short and the wind off of Massachusetts Bay is blowing powerfully cold. There are carols on the radio, red, white and green colored cookies and treats in the shop windows, and all of my favorite sitcoms had “very special” episodes this week. Even I, who am so critical of the effects of capitalism upon religion, and in particular of retailers who put up decorations and play jingles earlier each year, in the hopes of drumming up more sales. Even I, must admit: we are really in it now. The season of Christmas is upon us. Read More >>

Winter’s Chill

Winter is coming. Its been cold enough lately that you could believe it was already here. The days grow shorter and the nights grow longer as the orbit of our Earth takes us as far away from our star as we can get in the course of a year. I can see the breath in front of my face, and feel the dry cold crinkling on my hands and face.

Long ago, the onset of winter was a time for bonfires and revels late into the night. People gathered together for warmth and shared what light they could make together in the dark. Pagans marked the solstice with fire – and today still do – but that habit is not unique to them. Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the Christian observance of Advent all involve lighting candles in the days close to the end of Autumn and the beginning of Winter. Tiny suns to keep watch in the lengthening night.

In our modern age we have things much brighter than meager candles or even large bonfires, of course. Electric lights and decorations, both in-doors and out, mark this season now. There is one particularly impressive house on my new street this year that is a nightly storm of color and radiance, all flashing and glowing and beaming, casting shadows until the dawn.

We have magnified the brightness of our substitute stars, and found ways to insulate ourselves from the cold – gas furnaces, synthetic insulation and cars with heated seats – that our ancestors could not have hoped for. And if we can afford them, any of these privileges may be ours. But so many of these new ways we have to insulate ourselves from the harsh realities of Winter push us apart rather than bringing us together. We retreat to private spaces for electric light and fossil-fueled heat. What is too often missing in our modern rituals for surviving the coming of Winter is the warmth of community.

And this is why I come to church. I do not wish to be warm and alone, or to live a life brightly lit, yet afraid of the dark. I should rather spend time with others who share my fate: held tight by gravity to a rock spinning through space, its axis askew and my own little part of it starved for heat for three months or so out of every twelve. In the presence of community, there is light to share even in the longest night, and warmth to enjoy, even in the chill of Winter. So this year, as the seasons turn and the fire of the sun seems almost to fade, I will be with the people who celebrate life, and who will do their best to love each other even as the world grows cold. I hope I’ll see you there.

In Faith,

Rev. Kelly Weisman Asprooth-Jackson

PS: “Spend less, love more.” This was the basic challenge I set before us in late October of this year: to focus our practice of Hanukkah or Christmas or the Solstice or Festivus or whatever else, on creativity and depth of feeling, rather than commercialism. I have enjoyed hearing from some of you about how the experiment is going so far, and I have been challenged by it several times myself in the last few months. If this is something you haven’t given much thought to, there’s still time to try something new – just as there are still more than two weeks of shopping days left until Christmas, there are also just as many hours remaining for you to turn up the radio and have an impromptu family dance party instead of making one more trip to the mall. December 19th, the last Sunday before Christmas, will be our annual pageant Sunday, and will also be the day on which our Coming of Age class collects from the congregation all the money we didn’t need this holiday season. However much less you spent, bring it in. All contributions will go to the charity chosen by our children and youth: UNICEF.

On Being Hyphenated Religiously – December 5, 2010

I’d like to begin this morning by telling you a Unitarian Universalist joke. At least, I used to think it was a Unitarian Universalist joke – it was taught to me by a Unitarian Universalist, at a Unitarian Universalist summer camp. It starts out like this: a piece of string walks into a bar. Never mind how it is that there’s a piece of string walking around town frequenting businesses. This is a joke, and in jokes, as in life, we must be strategic in which contradictions and inconsistencies we confront, and which we choose, however temporarily, to accept. Read More >>

Ferry Beach

The First Parish Church members and friends gather at Ferry Beach one weekend each October for fellowship, fun and relaxation.


Our Vision

  • A Community of Lifetime Learning and Caring
  • A recognized Source of Active Support to the Larger Community
  • A Strong and Self-sustaining First Parish Community

Washing Dishes in the Sacred Kitchens – November 21, 2010

A friend of mine once told me that she felt everyone ought to spend at least a few months waiting tables, at sometime in their lives. For many people in the world, providing food and hospitality to strangers is a primary career, rather than a temporary job. But for folks who are going to do just about anything else with their lives, this friend of mine – who had worked in restaurants before and as a theater major might well have anticipated doing so again in the future – felt strongly that they ought to get a little bit of the experience. Read More >>

Great Acoustics

From a musical perspective, First Parish is uniquely blessed with a sanctuary featuring excellent acoustics and a visually beautiful pipe organ. The choir at First

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Parish sings for Sunday service twice a month as well as for all major holiday services. The choir is 18 members strong, with a good balance amongst all four sections. Four professional singers lead each section to provide a solid choral sound.

Loving the Hell Out of Life – November 14, 2010

A few weeks ago there was a rally held on the national mall in Washington. You might have heard about it on the news, or saw footage from it; at least one of us here today, I know, was there in person. That rally was hosted by comedian and media critic Jon Stewart. It was billed as a chance to promote reasoned discourse, a counterweight to the loud and angry voices in politics. Now, I will tell you that I enjoy Stewart’s work, and also that I disagree with him on a great many things. His rally wasn’t really my scene, and so I didn’t plan to watch any of it. But a number of friends, and some of you, in fact, commended to me the speech that he gave at the end of the rally. So, on those strong recommendations, I watched the video of that speech. Read More >>

Lost and Found – November 7, 2010

Standing on a thin patch of grass between the road and a huddle of trees, we waited for the it to arrive. We leaned out from the sign-post, watching down the winding street of cobblestone and asphalt, anticipating. We had our hiking shoes on, and I wore a big, ridiculous hat to keep the sun off of my face. The two of us, my partner Sara and I, were visiting central Mexico, staying with a local family and studying Spanish. Each morning and afternoon, as we walked from our host-family’s house to the school and back again, we had seen it pass us by: the bus. After the first several days of exploring our neighborhood we wanted to see what the downtown was like, to visit the cathedral and the zocalo. And that meant taking the bus. Read More >>

We Are Guests in Each Others’ Lives

“We are guests in each others’ lives,” a wise friend once told me. It was one statement in a much larger conversation between a whole gaggle of agitated people in a hot and crowded room. It was a plea for folks to be more gentle and understanding with one another. At the time, that friend and I were on different sides, seeing things from different directions; and may be that today we still do not fully agree. Read More >>

A Diverse Community

We are a community of individuals and families of many sorts. We practice a faith without dogma or creed, for we believe that we need not think alike to love alike. We affirm the dignity and worth of all people and know that each of us has a piece of the truth. By coming together to learn from each other, we become wiser, and stronger.

Some of us are gay and some of us are straight. Some of us are old and some of us are young. Some of us are partnered and some of us are single. We are Humanists, Christians, Atheists, Agnostics, Pagans, Buddhists and Jews, among other things. As a congregation, we are dedicated to the proposition that beyond all our differences, and beneath all our diversity, there is a unity which makes us one. Bound together by that unity, our diversity enriches the life we share, and gives us strength for the work we have to do together.

The Living Faith of the Dead – October 31, 2010

From those who came before us, we gain strength and courage, a challenge to set higher goals for ourselves, and make strong our commitment to spend our lives doing what is right. Each of us can think of caregivers and patient teachers, those who taught us what it meant to love another, or who first loved those that first loved us. Lessons from our family members, from friends, perhaps from our early faith communities; the generous legacy left to us by those who no longer inhabit the Earth. It is true for us each as individuals, with our personal stories, and also for us as Unitarian Universalists, with the shared inheritance of our faith. The lessons of those who came before shape the lives we seek to live today. Read More >>

Simple Gifts – October 24, 2010

$288. That amount of money means different things to different people. Depending on where you live in the world and what sort of work you do, that could be a day’s wages, or a week’s, or a month’s. It could be a car payment, or a car repair bill that’s too high for you to pay. For almost anybody, its an amount of money you wouldn’t mind getting, and that you’d notice if you lost. Read More >>

Three exciting new curricula this year!

Picture Book UU

Picture Book UU is based on the 36 best picture books for teaching young children about the love, reason, tolerance and good works that make up our faith. Some of the books that will be used are Henry Builds a Cabin by D.B. Johnson (teaches children to think for themselves and live simply, as does Henry, the bear, based on Henry David Thoreau), Owen and Mzee by Isabella Hatkoff (Author), Craig Hatkoff (Author), Paula Kahumbu (Author), Peter Greste (Illustrator) (a true story about a Hippo and a Turtle who become friends) and Chicken Sunday by Patricia Polacco (three children work out a way to solve some problems and make connections despite differences in race, religion and heritages). Picture Book UU will be used for our Kindergarten, grade 1 & 2 class.

Spirit of Adventure

Spirit of Adventure concentrates on Unitarian Universalist identity through exciting activities from themes in engineering, exploration, medicine, sports, holidays, food and nature. It is an action packed curriculum. For example, a food session in the kitchen explores the world of Unitarian-Universalist Fanny Farmer. A science session exploring the impact of the world-wide-web features a take-apart part party where our young scientists get to disassemble assorted electronics. Spirit of Adventure will be used in our grade 3, 4 & 5 class.

Traditions with a Wink

Traditions with a Wink, our new Middle school curriculum, teaches an understanding of UU faith and identity that replaces the vague “anything we want to” statement with: “We come from a long tradition of questioning and searching. We come from a long tradition of loving kindness and good works.” As Unitarian Universalists, we have powerful stories and visions of hope. Through Traditions with a Wink, we share them

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with our older children as they begin the process of shaping their own faith. This curriculum will be used with our grade 6 ,7 & 8 class.

Chalice Children

In addition to these new curricula we will be offering Chalice Children for our Preschool class. Chalice Children follows the premise that children learn best through direct experience. This curriculum is designed to nurture children’s spiritual growth, creativity and connection to their Unitarian Universalist community.

Download Church School Enrollment Forms

Heavenly Rides

Try our airport ride program. A volunteer from First Parish Church will take you or your friends to Logan, Manchester, or Portsmouth airports at any time of night or day and then pick you up when you return. We’ll be there to provide top-notch service and stimulating conversation. You then make a donation to First Parish; we will provide a business receipt if needed. That way, First Parish benefits from an expense you would have to incur anyway. Tell your friends and business associates. For more information or to arrange a ride please contact Dunc Ballantyne or (978) 998-9113.

Local Food Resources

Here’s the resource guide. It is not meant to be complete, but just a start. There are so many good local food resources in our area! Please share freely and widely.     

Local Foods in the Beverly Area
A Starter Guide

Some of you are veritable experts on local food sources, while others may be new to this concept. Start by considering ingredients closest to home. Do you or your neighbors have food to share from your gardens? Are you familiar with any wild edibles in season? Chances are you’ll still need to go shopping. The list below offers some sources of local foods. Most of the fruit and vegetable growers have farmstands on-site. Some of the cheeses and some other items need to be purchased at a retail store. Many independent or natural food stores are attentive to sourcing some foods locally. Try Green Meadows Farm in Hamilton, The Organic Rainbow in Beverly and Whole Foods in Swampscott. A staff person at any of these locations can be helpful in clarifying which products meet the 100-mile guideline.

This time of year, local fall veggies and apples are easy to find. Local sweeteners can be used by substituting honey or maple syrup for sugar. Locally-grown grains and beans can be especially tricky to find, but the brands listed below are often available at Green Meadows and/or The Organic Rainbow.

At the potluck, help everyone appreciate the flavors and origins of your dish; please write down each ingredient and its source on an index card to display next to your contribution.


Many local foods, sold directly from the growers or producers and all in one easy location! The Beverly Farmer’s Market (Mondays, 3:30-6:45pm in season) is a great resource.You can always find great local produce – and sometime local fish, meats, eggs, and cheeses – at other North Shore markets.

  • Marblehead Farmer’s Market, Saturdays, 9am-12, thru 10/23 – 217 Pleasant St, Marblehead.
  • Peabody Farmer’s Market, Tuesdays, 1-6pm, thru 10/31 – Railroad Ave, behind the courthouse.
  • Salem Farmer’s Market, Thursdays 3-7pm, thru 10/21 – Derby Sq, Front St, Salem.

Commuting to Boston? There are multiple markets daily in different neighborhoods. To find MA Farmer’s Markets, go to


  • Brooksby Farm – 38 Felton St, Peabody (978) 531-7456. Their own apples and some veggies.
  • Canaan Farms – 93Main Street (Rt. 1A) Wenham (978) 468-1554. Their own veggies. Sometimes local eggs and cheese.
  • Cider Hill Farm – 45 Fern Ave, Amesbury, 978- 388-5525. Their own apples, cider, some veggies. Local cheese.
  • Clark Farm – 163 Hobart St, Danvers, 978-774-0550. Their own veggies.
  • Connors Farm – 30 Valley Road (Rte. 35), Danvers, 978-777-1245. Their own fruits and veggies.
  • Green Meadows Farm– 656 Asbury Street, Hamilton, 978-468-2277. Their own veggies, eggs and meat. Locally sourced fruit, milk, and cheese.
    Marini Farms – 259 Linebrook Rd, Ipswich, 978-356-0430. Their own veggies.
    Russell Orchards – 143 Argilla Rd, Ipswich, 978-356-5366. Their own fruit, some veggies, and wine. Valley View cheese often available.


  • Baer’s Best Beans – Distinct heirloom beans grown at Moraine Farm, Beverly. Available at Green Meadows Farm, The Organic Rainbow, and other locations.
  • GrandyOats – 349 Center Rd, Brownfield, ME. Maine-grown oats and other grains and grain products. Available at Green Meadows Farm, The Organic Rainbow, other locations, and online.
  • Kenyon’s Grist Mill – 21 Glen Rock Rd, West Kingston, RI. Cornmeal and other grains and flours. Some products are locally-grown, others are just locally milled.


  • Alta Vista Bison Farm – 80 Hillside Road, Rutland, MA, 508-886-4365. Bison.
  • Courser Brook Red Deer Farm – 2 Fruit Street, Byfield, MA. 978-465-7826.
    Green Meadows Farm – Chicken, lamb, pork, and turkey.
  • Pete and Jen’s Backyard Birds – 159 Wheeler Road, Concord, MA 01742, 978-318-0063. Chicken, lamb, pork, rabbit, and eggs.
  • Tendercrop Farm – 108 MA 1A, Newbury, MA 972-462-6972. Chicken, beef, turkey, and eggs.



  • Green Meadows Farm.
  • Long Ears Farm – West Newbury, 978-363-2341.
  • Natural Way Farm – Anne Goldstein, 79 Hill Street. Topsfield, 978-887-8580. Available at The Organic Rainbow store.
  • Pete and Jen’s Backyard Birds – 159 Wheeler Road, Concord, MA 01742, 978-318-0063.
  • Tendercrop Farm  – 108 MA 1A, Newbury, MA 972-462-6972.



Spiritual Parenting

For parents of children of all ages, First Parish offers Spiritual Parenting meetings. This lay-led group meets approximately 6 times a year for a themed parenting discussion and camaraderie.

Examples of past topics include:

After Worship Discussion

Following the benediction and Closing Circle, The Adult Learning Program is offering an After-Worship Discussion. This is an opportunity for those who would like to delve more into the theme of today’s service to collect in the Minister’s Study at the rear of the sanctuary for a chance to share your reflections on the service. Feel free to bring your

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Thanks for Asking – October 10, 2010

We’re going to start things off with an informal poll, this morning. How many of ya’all have a set of jumper-cables in your car? Put your hand up if you would. And keep your hand up, if and only if, you know how to use them. Alright so you’re the people I’m going to call the next time I can’t start my car. Read More >>

Lonesome No More!

The other day, I had a conversation with one of you about family. We started out talking about where we grew up, and realized that we have something in common: both of us are now living and raising families far away from our own parents, siblings, and extended family network. This is a very common story in our nation (and with the rise of globalization, it is becoming more and more common all over the world): we grow up, we set out to begin lives and perhaps families of our own, and in order to pursue a dream or a job or a lover, we leave the home of our childhood behind. The family and friends and neighbors who, in previous eras we might have lived among for most of our lives are now set apart from us by a great distance – connected by phone lines and heartstrings, of course, but still set apart. Some of us may have lost members of our network of support to time and to death. Others of us might have lost such folks not physically, but emotionally, the connection broken by what wasn’t done, and should have been, or by what should never have been done, but was. As many of us – not all, but many – make our lives without frequent connections with family and long-time friends, our nation is growing lonelier and lonelier.

Robert Putnam published a book several years ago on the shrinking social circles of American life called Bowling Alone. (The title highlights the decline of bowling leagues – replaced by folks bowling in smaller, more homogenous groups – as a symbol of narrowing social networks.) Fifteen years later, the nation is in a different place than he could have fully anticipated – for many of us vast webs of interconnection have been created by the internet and related technologies. But the root problem he was pointing out still remains: deep interactions between people, particularly people of differing opinions and outlooks, have become unfortunately rare.

In his novel, Slapstick, Kurt Vonnegut describes a future in which the United States has elected its last President, who ran on a single-issue platform, with the slogan, “Lonesome No More!” The candidate’s promise was to relieve each person of their growing sense of isolation by giving them a new group of people to act as their surrogate extended family. In the book, each person in the U.S. is assigned a randomly generated middle name, and those with the same middle name – people of all ages, races and walks of life – begin to group together and look out for one another. It

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idea, but it keys into a real human need: the need to know others, and to be known by them.

Spiritual communities such as our own exist, in part, to serve this need. It’s a need we experience whether or not we have large, local, tightly knit networks of family and friends. (And for those of you who have lived your whole lives in the same area surrounded by close relations, chances are you need a place where you can go to get a break from those people every now and then.) We come together to share in a sense of connection and of common good, which does not overwhelm or erase our differences, but which endures and helps us to better appreciate them. As Unitarian Universalists, we affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person, but to experience that worth, and to appreciate that dignity – in others, and in ourselves – requires relationship. Our coming together to know and be known is among the most basic and the most important expressions of our faith.

In Faith,

Rev. Kelly Weisman Asprooth-Jackson

Join In

If you are looking for ways to join with others to enrich your life, improve the world around you, share your joys and sorrows, have some fun, come try us out. We firmly believe that diversity enriches us all, that each has talents to share and together we can accomplish wonders.

Links to ways to become connected: sing in the Choir, holiday fair, Sunday coffee & snacks, occasional church school assistant, visiting with or sending cards to those who are ill, make a meal for someone, play at Ferry Beach, minor repairs and projects on this venerable building, join us for movie and discussion night or meditation group.
People in our congregation help one another through our Pastoral Care committee. We get the word out when someone needs a ride to an appointment, or a meal, a visit, child care, an errand done or just a friendly, supportive card or call.


Parking is most available in the municipal lot behind the stores across Cabot St. Enter from Bow St. Chapman St. or Federal St. The small municipal lot behind our church may also

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be available. A ramp is at the side entrance and an accessible bathroom just inside that door. MAP


First Parish Church

225 Cabot St

Beverly, MA 01915


Office Hours: Mon 8:00 - 11:00 am & Tue-Fri 8:00 am - 12:00 pm

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