Rev. David Hutchinson, Minister, 446-6858
Fred Griffith, Moderator, 532-2455
Susan & Bruce Glick, Co-Treasurers, 538-9264
Debra Frazier, Clerk, 521-0387
Karen Klahr, Newsletter, 532-4051
Church Phone, 532-9269
Committee on Ministry,
Debra Frazier, Larry Tonzi

Newsletter - April 2011

First Church of Houlton
Unitarian Universalist

61 Military St.
Houlton, ME 04730


Unitarian Meeting House My life partakes of infinity. The air is as deep as our natures. I wish to transcend my daily routine and that of my contemporaries; to have my immortality now and in the quality of my daily life... You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.

What is a course of history, or philosophy, or poetry, no matter how well selected, or the best society, or the most admirable routine of life, compared with the discipline of looking always at what is to be seen? Look, see what is before you, and walk into futurity.     Henry David Thoreau

When these words were written by Thoreau in the 1840s the Unitarian Society of Houlton was occupying its first building, the “old Unitarian meeting house” on North Road (which was named Putnam Street at the time). This building held the distinction of being the first church structure in Aroostook County of the Protestant variety. We only had one photograph in our archives of the original building which was taken sometime after 1888 when the structure was struck by lightning and partially destroyed. One of our alert members noticed the image had been “19th century photoshopped” after the church had been abandoned, but it was the best we had. The old meeting house met its final demise when it succumbed to fire in August of 1897. To my surprise, while I was researching a story about the Houlton Unitarian Church in the Sesquicentennial Issue of The Pioneer Times from 1957, a pristine photograph of the “old Unitatarian meeting house” was included in the article! The digital image accompanies this column.

Our second church building was constructed in 1890 and was located on Military Street next to the Court House and County Jail where the corner of Broadway is today. George E. Norris’ artistic 1894 Bird’s Eye View Map of Houlton shows the location of both of our first two buildings and can be viewed online if you are interested. After the Great Fire of 1902 our current church building was constructed and here we are today two hundred years from our starting point as a religious organization in Houlton, Maine still going strong.

The words of Thoreau are as timely now as they were when we were in our first building. He talks about moving into our own futurity. We are not limited by outside circumstance or time frames, it is our inner view that leads to infinity. Look. See what is before you. Live this moment.


On Sunday April 9th, Leigh pointed out to me that our Daffodils are starting to poke their heads up through the ground. I guess Spring is on its way at last. It won't be long before their flowers brighten our days and sweeten the air around them.

For many of us, Winter is a time to hide away under our blanket of snow, staying warm and waiting for the return of Spring. The time has come for us to pull back the covers, jump out of bed and embrace the new season for we have plenty to do and plenty to celebrate!

Our congregational meeting provided some great input and ideas. If you mentioned something that you would be willing to do, please talk with Rev. Dave or a board member to set up a date and time for the event or activity. If you can help with painting, mowing, planting, or might like to offer your assistance to members who have trouble doing such things, please let us know!

On May 8th, only two weeks after the concert, we will celebrate Beltane/May Day with a Maypole in the front yard. Please bring at least 6 yards of cloth ribbon to help us weave the connections in our community as we weave the pole.

On June 5th, we will hold our Flower Communion Service followed immediately by our Plant Sale / exchange. Please invite your neighbors and friends to join us! This will be followed by a potluck Bar-B-Que at Dave and Linda's house!

Then on July 2nd, we will be having our bicentennial open house with booths on the front lawn while the craft show is going on in the park. Our schedule of Summer Activities is not yet firmed up. We are still open for suggestions but we do need to have volunteer coordinators for each event. Please see the article about Summer Activities for more details.

One more thing to keep in mind, there are some members of our church family who, for various reasons, have not been able to attend church regularly. If you think that you are feeling lonely over the summer, imagine how they are feeling? I suggest that each of us try to connect with those we have not seen for a while, at least once or twice each month to let them know that they still matter and we still care about them. If you are not sure who or how to contact them, please see Rev. Dave or a board member for assistance.

Enjoy the Spring and watch out for Black Flies and Mosquitos!

Love, Fred

This year we look back with pride on a two hundred-year history of The First Church of Houlton and the two churches it spawned. We have many wonderful stories bequeathed to us by the forerunners of the town of Houlton and the church they established. The stories are artifacts or perhaps better considered the residue of a journey. This year it is a pleasant and honorable task to examine and show respect for important features of our journey as a church. If you were or are a fan of Jean Luc Picard, you may recall that in one episode he said, “Time is a companion that goes with us on a journey. It reminds us to cherish each moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we have lived.”

One such discovery of a journey over time, is the knowledge about our first settled minister, William Augustus Whitwell. Nothing was really known about our first settled minister other than the fact he served our church from 1839 to 1842. The Houlton Unitarian Society received a painting of Rev. William Augustus Whitwell, in 1901. It was a gift from his niece, Miss Charlotte Galvin, who lived in Germantown, Pennsylvania.

Standing in front of the painting one could not help but wonder what Rev. Whitwell was like as a pastor, where was he born, did he go to a theological seminary, did he have a family, and where did he go after he left Houlton? Finding information seemed difficult because early church history (prior to 1866) was lost in fires that occurred during the early years. Researching his life seemed like a rather impossible task but it was worthwhile to learn as much history as possible.

Various accounts state that the painting was displayed over the fireplace in the parlor for some time and eventually it was removed and stored in the choir loft of the church. As we began to plan the celebration of our Bicentennial Year, the painting was secured from storage and some thought was given to restoration of the painting. The painting had suffered the ravages of time since it was painted about 183 years ago. The canvas was thin and deteriorating in a number of places plus a five-inch rip was evident in the upper right corner. Interestingly the paint had cracked over time, however, the paint had not flaked off to any extent.

Fortunately, Roger Morin agreed to take on the restoration of the painting labor free if the church could cover the cost for materials used in the restoration work. Mr. Morin restored the work with some help from his friends and there was little change to the original frame and painting. When Mr. Morin was finished with the restoration work he stood back and announced, “Now it is good for another 100 years.” Indeed the removal of the grime, soot, and dirt from the painting transformed Rev. Whitwell from an older looking man to a younger and fine-looking gentleman. Rev. Whitwell’s youthful appearance indicates that the painting was done shortly after his graduation from the Cambridge Divinity School in 1827.

As a result of my research on his life, we now know a considerable amount of information about his life. William Augustus Whitwell was born on 10 January 1804 in Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts. His parents were William Whitwell and Hanna {Storey} Whitwell and he had three brothers and one sister. Since his family lived in Boston, it is probable that William Augustus Whitwell attended Boston schools. He entered Harvard College and graduated in 1824 with a Bachelors of Arts degree. After graduating from Harvard College he attended Cambridge Divinity School and graduated in 1827. It is not clear where Rev. Whitwell first supplied a Unitarian Pulpit, however he did serve eight separate Unitarian pastorates. The eight pastorates were: Walpole, New Hampshire; Rochester, New York; Hallowell, Calais and Houlton, Maine; Wilton, New Hampshire; Easton, Massachusetts; and Harvard, Massachusetts.

Rev. William Augustus Whitwell came to Houlton early in his ministerial career after serving the Unitarian Society church in Calais, Maine from November 1, 1833 to July 2, 1839. One of the more notable tasks he completed for the Calais Unitarian Society was to write their Church Covenant. During Rev. Whitwell’s stay in Calais he met Eliza (Galvin) Patterson, the widow of Otis Patterson, a lawyer in Calais who died in 1836. It is likely that Rev. Whitwell and Eliza were married before he moved to Houlton.

No written records exist from Rev. Whitwell’s pastorate in Houlton because church records were destroyed by fire. We should acknowledge that his stay must have been fruitful and that he was loved and enjoyed the support of church members as well. This can be assumed from the fact that among his eight pastorates Houlton was singled out to receive the painting from his niece. It is also notable that one family in Houlton thought highly of him because their son, Frank Whitwell Pearce received his middle name from Rev. Whitwell. Some records suggest that he taught school while he was in Houlton and he maintained his interest in teaching during his entire life.

His eighth and probably his last pastorate was in Harvard, Massachusetts. He was the eleventh Unitarian minister to supply the Unitarian Pulpit in the Town of Harvard. He served in this parish from 1857 to 1861. While serving as minister he was active on the Harvard School Committee in 1859. From information published on this town we learn that Rev. Whitwell and his wife Eliza had no children. While serving the Harvard Unitarian Church he was described as having many estimable qualities which won the affection of all with whom he had contact. A personal friend said of him, “He was a good man and true; simple as a child, but strong in faith, hope and love.”

Rev. William Augustus Whitwell died on February 10, 1865 at Chestnut Hill, Newton, Massachusetts survived by his widow, Eliza (Galvin) Whitwell. Shortly after Rev. Whitwell’s death Eliza moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to live with her brother Thomas P. Galvin and his family. Eliza was age 77 in 1880 and she had been living with her brother and family for over ten years. Eliza must have moved the Rev. William Whitwell painting with her belongings to Pennsylvania. One can only guess that Eliza informed her niece, Charlotte W. Galvin, of the fond memories she and Rev. Whitwell enjoyed during their stay in Houlton. After Eliza’s passing, Charlotte W. Galvin honored the wishes of Eliza and presented the painting to the Houlton Unitarian Society in 1901. We can look back over the 172 years since Rev. Whitwell served as minister at the “Old Meeting House” on the North Road in Houlton and remember to cherish each moment of our church history, because it is how we have lived as a church family that is most relevant.

    –Bill White

The activities for this summer are not finalized, but we can share with you what we are talking about so far... Right now we are looking at having a day at Baxter State Park (hiking, canoeing / kayaking / croquet / biking) and another at Aroostook State Park, possibly after joining Caribou UU's for their service. We have a BBQ planned at the Morin's, a retreat planned at the Lipski's and I hear that there may be a party at the Lloyd's as well!

There are those who would like to get together at least once a month for a potluck dinner/coffee at the church. This could include arts and crafts, games, ice cream, DVD's, improptu workshops, etc. If you would like to coordinate and host one of these events, please let us know. Without someone who is willing to do that, the event will not take place so please step up.

There are some who want to get together for gardening, and others who want to get together for a book/kindle discussion group... who wants to coordinate these? If each of us are willing and able to coordinate just one event over the summer, we will have a very full summer of fun activities with our church family and nobody will get burned out.

To hear about upcoming events, or to announce a spontanious event you would like to invite church members to, please go to the UU Houlton Community Yahoo Group at: If you are not yet on the UU Houlton Community Yahoo Group email list, I strongly suggest that you go to to sign up, or email Karen for assistance.

See you at different activities this summer!

Love, Fred

(date to be determined by those interested)
I/we are willing to help folks explore the UU presence in SL sponsored by the Church of the Wider Fellowship, meet fellow UU's from various places and attend at least one virtual UU service in SL.

Attendees do not need to join SL for this, but they may if they wish. If you DO wish to join SL you will need a computer with a GOOD graphics card and may wish to use speakers at home. (Much of SL can be experienced successfully with no speakers at all.) A good broadband signal is essential. Joining SL is free (advanced is recommended). Those logging in will need to download a viewer, either from Second Life or another viewer creator such as Phoenix. This will be covered if folks are wanting to do this. I could also run a separate workshop for folks that will teach the basics of Second Life: what it is, creating an avatar, how to navigate in SL.

The Services in SL are held at 9:30 pm every Thursday, and generally the second Saturday of each month at 2 pm. (They are announced ahead of time.) In addition to services, there are discussion groups, library materials, a labyrinth, a "chat group", and various areas themed for different religious expressions (Buddhist Temple, Christian Church, etc.) There is a memorial garden and spaces where you can light candles for people as well. All are located in (where else?) UUtopia!


the logo of The Cup Café Don’t miss the grand opening of The Cup Café on Saturday, May 14th. Come early for supper and then catch the Houlton Coffeehouse at 7PM featuring Sully & Friends from Rockland, Maine. The espresso bar will be open and there will be special items on the menu to try. Door prizes too! We are also pleased to have Vicki Kennedy as our first featured artist. Her art will be on display for the grand opening and the show will run through the summer. Come and help us celebrate the official opening of the cafe. Make it a night to remember!

Please click here for the currently scheduled events.

An email discussion mailing list is a tool for a group of people to exchange messages via email. Any subscriber to the list can send messages that are received by all the subscribers, creating an email-based group conversation. The UU Houlton Community Yahoo Group has been created for members and friends of the Unitarian Society of Houlton. We currently have 21 members. Please take a look at the webpage.   If you'd find it useful and wish to join just click the "Join This Group" button, or contact Rev. Dave if you have questions or need further instructions.
  • The website of the Unitarian Universalist Association
  • The website of the Northern New England District (NNED)
  • The UUWorld magazine   (You can also sign up for a weekly email update.)