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 - September 2010

First Church of Houlton
Unitarian Universalist

61 Military St.
Houlton, ME 04730

"Place yourself in the middle of the stream of power and wisdom which animates all it floats, and you are without effort impelled to truth, to right and a perfect contentment." - Ralph Waldo Emerson from his essay "Spiritual Laws" (1841) Jyoti - photo by Dave
"Jyoti" - photo by Dave
With one hundred and ninety nine years under our belt as a religious organization in the town of Houlton we are entering our two hundredth year. To help put things in perspective, in 1811 James Madison was president of the United States campaigning for his second term, Maine was still a part of Massachusetts, and the War of 1812 hadn't started yet! A lot has happened since then, (For instance, the Red Sox have won the World Series 7 times.) yet the basic human endeavor of seeking meaning and significance continues in every era. During our bicentennial year we will be looking back at our own history as well as looking ahead to "the what might be next?" The creative act always occurs in the here and now. We are the ones who will be adding new material to the archives and the ones telling new stories to go along with the old.

Emerson talks about "placing yourself in the middle of the stream of power and wisdom which animates all it floats." This current of animating energy is available to us at all times and all places, but how often do we access it? As over-thinking Unitarians we may try to pin it down or define it, but when you simply feel it, it's experienced as peace, noticed contentment and a general okay-ness with what is here and now. One of the symbols we use in our Unitarian Universalist tradition to reflect this truth is the flaming chalice. Light is a powerful symbol of truth, transcendence, and the timeless. The light illuminates darkness with love and compassion as the chalice holding the flame symbolizes the support of spiritual community. It's helpful to remember that personal transformation is always possible as the human experience plays itself out, and most importantly, you don't have to do it alone. That is one of the reasons we have been organizing ourselves and telling our stories for almost two hundred years.

The "Jyoti" banner hanging in our sanctuary was commissioned and dedicated in 2003 as part of our continuing story. If you look closely you will notice a flaming chalice in the center with brightly colored fabric on either side. Jyoti is the Sanskrit word for light or fire. And although the tradition is specifically Hindu, the artwork is just abstract enough to hint at multiple religious influences. Take a closer look the next time you're walking by it. This beautiful banner is just one of the many parts of our history that make up who we are and who we are becoming.

Place yourself in the middle of the stream...


Welcome back to a new church year!

I hope each and every one of you have had a wonderful summer. As the days get shorter and the leaves begin to turn color, we return to our regular weekly schedule of Sunday church services. This church year will be the 200th year of our existence as a religious body. We will celebrate both our history and our future as we go through the year.

Every single one of the 200 years is a tribute to those who were members at that time. Those members have seen war and peace, winters so cold and snowy we can barely imagine, summers with snow every month, and have built and maintained three separate church buildings over the years.

Our current church building was constructed shortly after the great Houlton fire of 1903. At that time, members of the church banded together to design, build and pay for the beautiful structure we use today. They had it paid off in an amazingly short period of time.

The building has required maintenance, of course. A very important addition (the coffee room) was built in the 1940's. Major repairs to the foundation and other parts of the building were done in the 1980's. In the late 1990's members conducted an amazing facelift to the church, which gave us such a wonderful place to hold the coffeehouse events in the basement.

Once again, our church building is in need of some major repairs. Drainage from the flat roof built in the 1940's over the coffee room has eroded part of our foundation. John Lloyd and Bill White have been working though the summer to find the most practical and least expensive responsible solution to this problem. The best solution found will have us recontour the flat roof to drain the water off the side of the building, and direct the water into the town storm water drain.

These necessary repairs will not come cheaply. Thanks to the farsightedness of church members in the past, most of the cost can be paid out of the church's trust account. This will reduce, however, the amount of interest the account earns. As a result, there will be less money available to help with our general operating budget next year.

Now is the time for us to step up and become an active participant in the history of our church. Through the combined efforts and pledges of all of us, we can and will continue to make thoughtful, liberal religion available in southern Aroostook County.

I look forward to the celebration of our 200th year while we also celebrate the community we all share in the church. I feel blessed to be part of our church family.

Love, Fred

Let people be who they are.
As some of you already know, I will be having some elective surgery this month. In the life of our church building, this is also a time for some elective-but-necessary surgery—building a new roof, shoring up part of the foundation under the coffee room, improving drainage. You will be seeing this surgery in progress during the fall, if all plans continue as anticipated. I will be seeing the bills from this building operation in the fall as well. I respectfully request that you give serious thought—as you are able--to paying your pledges for the remainder of the year early and to paying some of your 2011 pledges early as well. If anyone has a special connection to our precious church building, now would be a good time to make a special gift on behalf of the building.

Thanks to those who have contributed and bequeathed gifts to the Trust over the years, the Board has been able to plan for the building repairs/improvements without delaying the project, knowing that the Trust funds are accumulating interest. We have been given many gifts from the past. May we honor and appreciate those who have given and continue to give to the life of our church.

Please be careful in stepping around the necessary construction obstructions. May the renewed health of the building reflect the strength of our congregation and our hope for the future. See you in the fall,



"The Thoreau You Don't Know" by Robert Sullivan (2009)   Published by Collins  
Illustration by Wes Duvall, Associated Press Illustration by Wes Duvall, Associated Press

Reviewed by revdav
You might be surprised to know that one of the places you're most likely to find a book written by or about Thoreau (besides Concord of course...) is Greenville, Maine. This is due to the fact that Henry David Thoreau made two excursions to Moosehead Lake in the years 1853 and 1857. Linda and I spent a couple of days in Greenville this summer and I noted this association for the first time. As it happened, a member of our Unitarian Society was in Greenville on the same day checking out bookstores and purchased "The Thoreau You Don't Know" by Robert Sullivan and gave it to me a few days later. Robert Sullivan is a somewhat unconventional nature writer. His earlier works include paddling across a polluted waterway in "Meadowlands" and spending a year in a lower Manhattan alley studying the behavior of rattus norvegicus in "Rats." With his latest book Sullivan attempts to broaden the usual concept of Thoreau as an overly serious recluse who inspired the modern environmental movement, into a more complex, witty social critic who was actively engaged in the issues of his day. Sullivan shakes the icon of Thoreau by the lapels of his coat until the reader gets a more accurate sense of what Thoreau was about. The book is high on readability and especially well suited for a new generation of readers interested in learning more about Thoreau. That being said, even the experienced Thoreau reader will find new tidbits of information that make the book worth a reading or purchase. The book will be available in our library this Fall. Check it out.

At the end of the book Sullivan makes a trip to Concord to visit Walden Pond and finish his writing project. He stays at the historic Colonial Inn which is located on the town common. In a Thoreauvian mood he decides to leave his car in the parking lot and walk to Walden Pond. Henry did it all the time, why couldn't he?! Here is an excerpt from the book as he stops at the nearby post office to ask for walking directions.

As I paid for postcard stamps, I asked if I could get to Walden Pond from there by heading down Walden Street, which seemed right, according to my maps.
"Yes, sure," one of the post office workers said to me. "Where is your car parked?"
I told him that I was planning to walk to Walden Pond.
"You're walking to Walden Pond?" he asked incredulously. Suddenly the people in the other two lines were looking at me.
"Yeah," I said. "I've got some time, and I thought I'd walk."
One of the people in line next to me asked the person next to her, "Can you walk to Walden Pond?"
"You drive," the woman said.

For more information about Sullivan check his blog found at

At long last, the raffle of the queen size quilt made by Leigh Griffith and quilted by Lois Morin has been completed. The drawing was held on Sunday July 4th in front of the church immediately after the end of the parade. The winner, whose name was pulled from the box by a child who had been watching the parade near us, was Gail McNerney from Hudson, ME. She was amazed saying that she NEVER wins raffles! We told her that she can no longer say that...

All in all, the raffle brought in a little over $1,000. Thanks to Leigh and Lois for creating this beautiful quilt! Thanks to everyone who helped staff the booth throughout the year(s) as well as those who supported the raffle with their love, encouragement and ticket purchases! We had hoped that somebody we knew would win it, but we think it has gone to a good home anyway!
Our first service of the new church year is on September 12th. Please bring a small bottle of water you have collected from special places nearby or far away during your summer adventures. We individually pour waters into our collective basin and reflect upon our life as a spiritual community. Water seeks the form of the container into which it is placed and no matter how many different waters are added it all becomes one thing. The four elements will be represented on the altar as we explore our relatedness to each other and the world around us.
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.)