USNF Beacon Newsletter

July/August Reports                                    June 29, 2021
                                                                        Vol. 1, No. 6.5

Board Report
On the front burner of the Board of Trustees at their June meeting was the welcoming of new members Ed Olmsted (Vice-President), Julie Chandler and Laura Porter (clerk). We also thanked retiring members Rhys Eppich, Mark Glenny, and Kathie Bredin for their wonderful service.

David Nelson shared with us the positive results of the stewardship campaign, including detailed analysis and year-to-year comparison. Very impressive work by the Stewardship committee! It was most heartening to hear of the substantial and numerous ways in which so many contribute to USNF as intentional ways of enacting our values.

The Board also discussed the plans for holding both zoom and in-person options for Sunday services in the fall. There was a robust discussion of various points of view and areas needing further exploration. Among the many considerations, the Board is united in wanting processes to work as best they can for every one of our members and friends, recognizing the varying needs of all. In August, the transition team will meet to continue work on its recommendations to bring to the Board. In the meantime, the team will be seeking input from our congregation. Please be on the look-out for a survey coming your way later this summer, asking for your thoughts as we prepare for hybrid zoom and in-person Sunday services.

Submitted by Judy Hyde

Committee News & Things to Know

Staff Summer Hours
The office will only be staffed Tuesdays - Thursdays, 9 am - 3 pm. Office closures will be announced in the Sunday Times and on the USNF website. Grocery store gift cards will continue to be available throughout the summer.

Minister: Janet will be taking vacation and study leave for the month of July, and for one week in August.  If you have a pastoral emergency, please contact Lisa in the office or one of the members of the Presidents Team.

DRE: Jessica will be on vacation from July 4 through the end of the month and working remotely for the last few weeks of August.

Call for Poems
Friends, this is the time of year when I ordinarily begin to actively collect poems that I think I might want to include in the annual poetry service that closes out our summer service schedule on Labor Day Weekend. Usually I begin by choosing a theme that feels important or timely to me, and then I start looking for it everywhere and gathering up every poem that intrigues me. By August I may have 100 poems or more, and I have to begin the painful process of selection. Some poems are too long to read, or too difficult to take in in a single hearing. Some don’t contribute to the arc of the service. There is time to read only about 20, depending on length.

This year I’d like to do something different. I’d like to invite you all to send me poems that are important to you, perhaps especially during this past year. Poems you often think of or can quote from, that reside in your heart. They might be famous or unknown. Harold Bloom, selecting poems for a syllabus or anthology, said he looked for “aesthetic splendor, cognitive power, wisdom, and strangeness.” But we all have our own criteria.

Would you be willing to send me your personal inhabitant poems? I would like to make a service this year that casts a net wider than my own reading. Many thanks.

Sarah Metcalf

Summer Wednesday Gatherings - June 30 through September 8, 5 - 6 PM, via Zoom.
We’re pleased to offer brief weekly Zoom gatherings this summer, and you may join as many or as few as you wish. The intention of these gatherings is to give people in our congregation a way to check in, stay engaged, and support each other over the summer, as well as offering an opportunity for reflection and inspiration. Each gathering is hosted by one of our volunteer facilitators, and the format will be less formal than small group circles and connection circles. People may just drop in on one or more meetings, without registering in advance, though we do request that folks join the gathering by 5 PM. Zoom link:

Unwanted Books Wanted
The annual Haiti Book Sale returns September 19th (Rain date: September 24th) to the USNF front lawn. Please donate your unwanted books (no ex-library books, textbooks or dictionaries please) by depositing them near the side door elevator or calling Rich West (413-527-1900) for pick up. FMI: contact Rich West

Renewed Book Discussion: Mindful of Race: Transforming Racism from the Inside Out by Ruth King
Save the dates and consider joining our eight-week discussion of Mindful of Race and alternate-week practice of meditation, Wednesday evenings at 7 PM starting October 13. Explore how Buddhist-inspired mindfulness helps us understand the harmful habits of racism and cultivate a culture of care and healing. We’ll read and discuss the book and encourage meditation practice as we awaken to, and engage with the challenging experiences arising from racism. We’ll meet in the parlor and perhaps also on Zoom.

Going Forward But Differently
Small Group Circles, held all virtually this year, showed us that being together on screens is still being together. We delved into thoughtful topics, connected in meaningful ways, and got to meet each other's pets. While we are going to take the summer off, we'll be back in the fall for year #20. Watch for the brochure to show up online later in the summer, and if you are longing for connecting via Zoom groups right now, we have informal drop in groups on Wednesdays at 5 PM via Zoom - contact Katie Olmstead for the link.

When we resume in October, we'll be playing around with Zoom and in-person options. Zoom has served many people well. Others would prefer to sit with hot tea in someone's living room. We'll try to make all of that possible.

If you have immediate questions, please contact Katie Olmstead,  413 585-0564.

Welcome New Members Marcus, Jessica and Charlie Jones
Marcus and Jessica Jones both hail from Mississippi.  They have a son, Charlie, a second child due very soon, and a cat named Kudzu.  When they were visiting Northampton they came upon the popup playground that had been set up on our front lawn. They then attended a service and met Janet, Emma and Jessica.

Marcus works for Mt. Herman as a fund raiser. They serve meals at the homeless center and for activities they enjoy the outdoors. They are looking forward to going back to the Society in person. 

Submitted by Ellen Dickinson

USNF Beacon on Hiatus for the Summer
This is our last issue for the year. We'll start up again on September 7 with the Minister's report. Please send reports, events, and pictures to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Have a wonderful summer!