Murray Church Notes

December 5, 2019

Volume 8,  Issue 18

In this Issue:


It Wouldn’t be Christmas Without the UUs!

Rev. Gretchen Weis

Christmas is less than three weeks away.   With Thanksgiving coming so late this year, the holidays are really sneaking up fast.  Some people are finding it hard to get their heads and hearts onto the holiday fast track this year. 

Bah, humbug, you say?  In the spirit of the season, here are a few fun facts about the many ways Unitarian Universalists have helped to shape many of our favorite Christmas traditions.  (Special thanks to my colleague and friend Joanna Fontaine Crawford, and her reflection, “How the UUs Saved Christmas,” as well as my colleague Carl Seaburg, editor of the anthology, Celebrating Christmas.)

First, there’s the Christmas tree.  People have been decorating trees to celebrate the Winter Solstice since pagan times.  Here in America, Unitarian minister and abolitionist Charles Follen is one of several German immigrants credited with introducing the first Christmas tree in the U.S. Follen introduced a decorated Christmas tree to his Lexington, MA congregation in the early 1800s, and the tradition rapidly grew throughout New England.  Unitarian Catherine Maria Sedgewick, helped to spread the popularity of the decorated indoor tree tradition.  She wrote a fictionalized account in 1835 of the indoor fir tree she witnessed first-hand in Follen’s home, with fruits and toys hanging from its branches.  Her story became popular with many readers, excited to adopt this new custom in their own homes in the years that followed.

Next, there’s a significant UU contribution to holiday literature.  In the U.K., the story goes that Unitarian Charles Dickens attended church at the Little Portland Street Chapel in London.  He was so inspired by one of the sermons, that he went home and wrote what would become his most popular work, A Christmas Carol.  Published in 1843, A Christmas Carol is of the season’s most enduring and beloved holiday stories, featuring Scrooge and his haunted and life-transforming encounters with the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future.

When it comes to holiday music, UUs have certainly made their mark.    Read More     
"Diwali: The Hindu Festival of Lights"
Diwali is a five-day festival celebrated in the late fall by Hindus, Jaines, Sikhs and some Buddhists. During the festival, homes, shops, temples and office buildings throughout India are brightly illuminated, celebrating the spiritual and metaphoric victory of light over darkness, of good over evil, and of knowledge over ignorance. Kavita Vansant, our Dir. of Lifespan Religious Education will co-lead worship for this multi-generational service.

"A Child is Born"
What do we actually know about Jesus’s birth?  Not a lot.  The early church originally picked January 6th to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  Some scholars suggest Jesus might have been born in the spring, when shepherds would have been more likely to be outside with their flock by night.  Other Biblical scholars suggest that the Roman census would have been held in the summer or fall, when Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem to register. Still others theorize that Jesus might have been born in the early summer of 2 B.C.E., when Venus and Jupiter came together to create a brighter than normal night sky — an actual astral event that might have served as the inspiration for the Star of Bethlehem.  Let’s explore some of the more interesting myths surrounding the birth of a poor peasant child who would grow up to change the world.   
This Sunday Dec. 8:      

Dedicated Offering

“There  can be no equal justice where the kind of trial a man gets depends on the amount of money he has.”  ~ U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, 1964
This Sunday, December 8
Our December Dedicated Offering will be for the Massachusetts Bail Fund.  As many as half of the inmates in our jails are there simply because they cannot afford to post bail. The Fund provides cash for bail.  It has assisted with payments as little as $25 and as much as $500.  So far, over 2700 people have been freed on bail through the Fund.  The current pace is 120+ bails posted each month. 
This is a rotating fund:  once a trial has concluded, your donation is returned to the Fund, to provide bail for the next person. 
Our donations will help folks return home for the holidays.
Without bail assistance,
  • those charged may be held in jail for weeks and months
  • (or) the alternative has been to plead guilty, just to be able to go home*
*With your bail assistance, the accused is freed from jail and the presumption of innocence is protected.  The person is free to prepare a legal defense; half of the Fund’s recipients saw their cases dismissed.  A successful defense can help spare someone from a criminal record and its lifelong impact on employment, housing, and education.
We welcome your contribution.  If you choose to write a check, please write two things on it:  on the “pay to” line, please write Murray Church;  on the “memo” line please write Dedicated Offering (or DO):  Mass Bail Fund.
                                                  Thank you. 
                                                  The Murray Church Social Concerns Committee
Dec. 24:

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

Prelude Concert: 6:30 PM
Service: 7:00 PM

Come join us on Tuesday evening, December 24th for our traditional candlelight service.  Our Murray musicians have prepared a beautiful concert, which will begin at 6:30 PM, followed by our candlelight service at 7:00 PM.
Religious Education for Sunday, December 8

Nursery will begin at 9:45am.  Please note Sunday, December 29 there will be no RE and no Nursery.  We would like our teachers to enjoy their Christmas weekend.

This Sunday is our multi-gen Diwali service.
Youth Group:
This Sunday is our multi-gen Diwali service.

Ends Dec. 15:
Giving Tree 

This year the Giving Tree will sponsor local non-profit organizations (read about them below). Please visit the Giving Tree in the Unity Room during coffee hour and sign up 
to be a donor for our giving drive.  You can choose an ornament off the tree which will describe a specific donation request.  We are asking all donors who take an ornament to also sign up on our list and we’ll send you a reminder.   All donations will be due back at church on Sunday, December 15th.  
Please return your gift donations in one of the two collection boxes at church - in the 
Sanctuary Foyer and the Unity Room.  Please attach your ornament to your donation.  

If you have any questions please contact Laura Gustafson or Kavita Vansant.
New Hope is a non-profit organization that works throughout Massachusetts to build an anti-violence movement to end sexual and domestic violence. As an organization dedicated to social justice, New Hope encompasses a way of seeing, naming, understanding, and acting aimed at addressing inequality and oppression across society. New Hope offers a wide range of services which combine crisis intervention, violence prevention, life transition and self-sufficiency opportunities, while promoting behavioral and systemic changes to reduce violence at the individual and community levels.
The Friends of Attleboro Animal Shelter (FAAS) is an all-volunteer organization which donates time and hearts to the cats and dogs in Attleboro and surrounding communities. They are committed to nurturing and promoting the animal-human bond and creating a community where our relationship with companion animals is guided by compassion. Their vision is to reduce the number of unwanted animals through community spay and neuter programs, low-cost vaccination programs and micro-chip events, all while raising awareness and promoting responsible ownership. Each year, hundreds of abandoned companion cats and dogs looking for a second chance in life are successfully placed in loving homes through adoptions facilitated by FAAS.
This Friday and Monday, Dec. 6 & 9:

Food Pantry Limited Commitment Opportunities   

On the morning of December 6th, our food pantry will be the recipient of generous food donations from Studley Elementary and Brennan Middle Schools, our partners in the Attleboro Public Schools Holiday Food Drive. Help is needed to load vehicles, as enthusiastic students carry or roll bags and boxes of food out from their buildings. About 4-6 people and 2 large vehicles should make this rewarding task go quickly. 

Help will also be needed to check can and package dates and repack like items into boxes the following Monday afternoon, December 9th

To sign on please contact Barbara Clark.
This Sunday, Dec. 8:

Humanist Discussion

There will be 6 topics -- one per month.  For more information on all the topics please go on our church website ( or our Facebook page (Murray Unitarian Universalist Church).

“Tolerance is not an excuse for doing nothing.”
“Tolerance does not mean acceptance or indifference.”  
“We believe in the toleration of religious ideas.  All religions, in every age and culture, possess not only intrinsic merit, but also potential value for those who have learned the art of listening.”  

The first two quotes are from the book Anti-science and The Assault  On Democracy, and the third is from the UU pamphlet “What UU’s Believe”.  

  • Are we too tolerant?
  • What can we as Humanists do?
Date: Sunday, December 8 
Time: 11:30 am 
Place: Harmony Hall 

Questions?  Please contact Len Yutkins
New Date! Dec. 9:

Clara Barton Guild Holiday Luncheon   

The Clara Barton Guild  Holiday Luncheon and Christmas Party has been postponed to Monday, December 9, in the John Murray Room at 11:45 a.m.  We will have desserts and beverages provided by our hostess group.  Members will bring their own sandwich or salad.  Irene Yutkins will lead us in our traditional Yankee Swap.  Gifts should be no more than $10.00 in value.  It promises to be a festive time with seasonal decorations and music along with good food and fellowship.  Any interested women of the church are invited to join us.  Please contact Bev Hall (508-222-9324) with any questions.  
Dec. 10:

Murray Men's Lunch Bunch

Inviting all Murray men to join us for lunch, the second Tuesday of each month, at Morin's Diner in downtown Attleboro. This is a very informal gathering for conversation and fellowship. No reservation required, just come as you are. 

If you need a ride, please call Rob Hasselbaum at 774-282-0818, a few days in advance, and transportation will be arranged.

The next luncheon is on Tuesday December 10th at noon.  Look for us in the back room of Morin's. If you don't see us -- just ask!
It was a very busy day at the Food Pantry on Monday, November 25th!  43 families shopped and 60 turkey baskets were given out.  Thank you to all of our food pantry donors and volunteers for making it happen!

Vintage Photo Found

This wonderful old photo from the World War II era was left in the Murray kitchen following the Holiday Fair.  If this is your photo, please claim it by contacting the church office.
Dec. 15:               

Murray Holiday Outing

Want to experience some fun holiday music?  Membership & Welcoming is attending the Providence Gay Men's Chorus holiday concert on Sunday, Dec. 15th at 4:00 p.m.  It is at Beneficent Congregational Church in Providence, RI.  Tickets for our group are $20 each.  We'll carpool from the Murray parking lot at 3:00 p.m.

After the concert, we'll walk two short blocks down to Coal Fire Pizza at 385 Westminster Street for eating and chatting.  Felices fiestas!

RSVP to Sandy Stuart.
Dec. 15: Save the Date!     

Soup Sale

The soup sale will take place on December 15th during coffee hour.

If you can help this fundraiser by preparing soup, or have questions, please contact Peggy Dixon.
Dec. 18:

Blood Drive

Calling All Auction Donors!

Donors Wanted   


*** Feb 29th ***
A Leap Year Spectacular!

The date is Saturday, February 29,2020. The time will be 5:30 pm to about 10 pm. The auction will consist of a silent auction, a fully catered buffet and a live auction.  The ticket price of $25 per person.

But first we need donationsonly with lots of great items to auction off will our fundraiser be successful. Do you have:
                                                     *   Time to give
                                                     *   Talent to create or
                                                     *   Treasure Items to share

Everyone has something to contribute!  Examples that may generate ideas:
  • Assorted items: original jewelry, handmade comforters, oil paintings and lithographs, maybe even a large-screen TV or a canoe. Lots of possiblities!!
  • Baskets of goodies: bath basket, cook's basket, craft basket, pasta lover's basket, liquor basket, whatever would be fun to assemble.
  • Dinners/Parties: cocktail party, ethnic dinners of various sorts, picnic party, wine or beer tasting party, board game evening, movie and dinner, garden party, BBQ, soup supper (soups breads deserts & salad), luau, poetry party, craft party

General Assembly Registration Now Open

Please Join Us For General Assembly 2020!
General Assembly is the annual gathering of Unitarian Universalists for conducting business of the Association, exploring the theological underpinnings of our faith, and leaning fully into our mission and principles. Please join us Wednesday, June 24 through Sunday, June 28, 2020 in Providence, Rhode Island for this 5-day immersive experience themed Rooted, Inspired & Ready! Join your faith family at inspirational worship services, informative workshops and a bustling exhibit hall. We anticipate that 4,500+ UUs will gather for this unforgettable experience and leave with renewed energy and innovative ideas for congregational and community engagement.

Shopping Online?  
You Can Help Murray Church with 

As we head into the busiest time of year for online shopping, you can benefit Murray Church by using  

To sign up, go to the login page here.

Select Murray UU Church as your charity, and Amazon will donate a half percent of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to Murray Church.

Food Pantry Donation Suggestions      

The food pantry is in need of hearty soups.

Donations of personal care items would also be most welcome, including deodorant, toothpaste, and feminine care products.

Thank you from the Murray Food Pantry team.

Newsletter weekly schedule

Please e-mail all newsletter submissions by Tuesday end of day for inclusion in the following Thursday's Murray Notes.

The next deadline is December 10th  Please include 'NEWSLETTER' in the subject line.  

If the weather outside is frightful, the minister and board president will confer to determine if worship services must be cancelled by 6:30 am on a Sunday morning. WBZ-TV, WCVB-TV5, FOX25 and WPRI-12, FOX Providence will air any Sunday Service cancellations during the morning news.

Websites for cancellations:,,
Cancellations will also be posted on our website and Facebook page: 
Be sure to "Like" us to see updates in your news feed. 

What's going on at Murray? Click the calendar!

Our mailing address is:
505 North Main Street Attleboro, MA 02703