First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church on Bedford Common was among the more than 500 churches tolling their bells on Thursday, July 30, 2020.
First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church on Bedford Common was among the more than 500 churches tolling their bells on Thursday, July 30, 2020.
In a Thursday evening email to members of First Parish Unitarian Universalist on Bedford Common, senior minister the Rev. John Gibbons reported that the historic 1817 building had been defaced.
“Grafitti of “BLM” was recently spray-painted on the exterior of Bedford’s First Parish,” Gibbons wrote.
At the behest of First Parishioner Dorothy Africa, a small group gathered on Bedford Common to observe Juneteenth, on Friday morning, June 19 marking the 155th anniversary of the announcement of the end of slavery to the citizens of Galveston, TX.
The Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863 but the word took that long to reach Texas, to the benefit of local slaveholders. First Parish’s bell tolled 13 times at 10 am, to honor the 13th Amendment, along with the enslaved and freed Black Bedfordians interred at Bedford’s Old Burying Ground on Springs Road.
The group walked in silence from Bedford’s historic meeting house to Springs Road where they left a ribbon on the Black Slaves’ monument to commemorate Juneteenth.
As protests continue in every major city around the country, local communities have begun to hold protests of their own. Bedford has been no exception, holding protests on the Common every day since June 2. Tuesday’s initial protest began small, with five Bedford High School alumni gathering in protest of racially inspired killings by police. The following days saw upwards of 100 Bedford residents gathering in unity for the same cause.
Many organizations, agencies, faith communities, and other groups have issued statements decrying racism and acts of violence against black people and people of color, including the killing of George Floyd. We share in the outrage and affirm the calls for our nation to seriously and unrelentingly address systemic racism, which is ingrained in our society and embedded in our way of life. Another statement to this effect is likely not what is needed in this time, and yet we stand in support and solidarity with those seeking an end to racism, and the rebuilding of a world where justice and true peace are for all people.
With thanks to three of Bedford’s environmentally active organizations, including links to a pair of Sunday morning church services to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day
The first Earth Day 50 years ago was a revolutionary event in which 20 million people participated. This year it will be celebrated with the country doing shelter in place. It can still be revolutionary. This is a moment when we can reflect on the kind of world we want to build. We now see first-hand how interconnected we are. Just as a strong, united effort has been needed to address the coronavirus, so a united effort is needed to address climate change and create a healthier planet for everyone. That is what Earth Day is about.
Over the past several weeks, Bedford has been plagued by several incidents of hate speech involving swastikas, unfortunately, scrawled around Town by one of our own students. Fortunately, the diligence of the Bedford Police Department, and the cooperation of school personnel, have led to the successful identification of the student(s), which will allow for appropriate sanctions AND education to take place with regard to the behavior. The Bedford Police, in cooperation with the District Attorney’s office, will be forthcoming with information about the incidents.
In between doing activities to fill our days of isolation– jigsaw puzzles, games of Scrabble, reading, favorite TV shows/movies, neighborhood walks, talking with friends and family — my husband and I did something we’ve been putting off for a long time.
We sat together and talked about our concerns and wishes for end-of-life; specifically, we started preparing our individual advanced directives for health care and other end of life decisions.
The Covid-19 pandemic is certainly highlighting for me the reality of my vulnerabilities and mortality in ways I was able to dismiss or ignore previously. This is not easy…in fact, it is darn hard and terrifying at times. But I have found that possessing good information, getting in touch with what I value most, and concretely talking about my wishes with my loved ones has given me a semblance of control in this unpredictable and scary time.
Rabbi Susan Abrams has videotaped a complete Passover seder using a Haggadah which she wrote. The Haggadah is available for download on her temple website,
The Board of Directors of Bedford Embraces Diversity this week issued a statement of response to recent episodes of hateful graffiti on the sides of a couple of local buildings. The grass-roots organization, which sponsors the annual Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration and multicultural festival, originated seven years ago in response to incidents of antisemitism.
Here is their statement:
The challenges presented by the worldwide pandemic are bringing out the best in people, and Bedford is no exception. Ordinary residents are stepping up, navigating the limits imposed by the virus, and finding creative ways to help those in need – health care professionals and support staff, neighbors who are isolated, anxious or elderly, and local first-responders.
In that context, it is especially infuriating to learn of hateful graffiti discovered last week on two buildings on the eastern side of the town and at Shawsheen Cemetary. Let’s be clear: the swastikas and Hitler references not only symbolize hate, they represent the methodical destruction of millions of human beings and entire cultures less than two generations ago. They represent beliefs and policies that spit in the face of all the inspiring efforts to do good that we see around us.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Passover snuck up on me this year. After a March that came in like a lion and went out with a quarantine, and seemingly went on forever, I lost track of time. (After all, didn’t you hear- we are down to only three days a week: yesterday, today, and tomorrow.) But here it is, and here we are.
One of the most cherished traditions at the Passover Seder is the recitation of The Four Questions, when the youngest child present asks a series of questions to the group about Passover and its rituals- eating matzah, eating bitter herbs, dipping vegetables, and eating while reclining. The beginning line of The Four Questions, which is perhaps the most famous, is traditionally translated as “How is this night different from all other nights?”, from the Hebrew “Mah nishtanah halaylah hazeh mikol halaylot?”
“I am sorry to report that over the weekend first on Friday evening, and again on Saturday afternoon, Bedford Police discovered offensive graffiti, including swastikas and other inappropriate and racist content, painted along the back of a private building at Great Road Shopping Center, and on a storage shed at Shawsheen Cemetery. Our Police Department, in partnership with the District Attorney, is investigating this incident and will be reviewing surveillance cameras to try to determine who committed these heinous acts. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Police Department at 781-275-1212.
Whether this was done with malicious intent or just out of ignorance, it is an action that must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. This incident is evidence that no community, even one as welcoming as Bedford, is immune from hatred and that we must remain ever vigilant in denouncing these acts and in supporting efforts to combat bigotry and hatred in any form. Five years ago these sorts of despicable acts resulted in the Bedford community coming together to stand up for the value of respecting our neighbors and embracing diversity.
The headline is tongue in cheek, but on a practical basis at least it isn’t far from the truth. Numerous local churches and temples were contacted by The Bedford Citizen for a two-part article querying leaders about what is being done in their organizations in response to the restrictions imposed by Covid-19.
Zoom (www.zoom.us), the free video-conferencing and messaging application that simplifies virtual meetings across any device, is being used by nearly all of the congregations (and many other local organizations) in Bedford to take the place of in-person services, programs, and even counseling sessions. Creative videos and YouTube also figure prominently in the ways in which leaders and members are exploring how to stay in touch and be supportive of one another during this period.
Looking for something fun to do this evening?
Brad Conner, Music Director at First Parish on Bedford Common, will lead a Bedford Lyceum focusing on the music of Ludwig van Beethoven TONIGHT, Tuesday, March 24 at 7 pm. The program is available free of charge le via ZOOM.
The Bedford Interfaith Clergy Network has been informed that the local public health department has issued an emergency order requiring houses of worship to suspend all public gatherings, services, or other activities in efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We appreciate the hard work of our public health leaders in this time, and support this decision wholeheartedly. We encourage everyone in our community to follow all recommendations and directives from our public health and other governmental officials to help us stem the tide of this pandemic, including important social distancing practices.
In a Sunday morning service on February 2, at the start of Black History Month, First Parish on Bedford Common dedicated a small new plaque. It remembers a woman named Nanne and is installed beneath a memorial to Bedford’s first minister, Nicholas Bowes, her owner.
Joshua Wolf Coleman and the touring company from Watertown’s NewREP Theatre will bring Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall to life in the sanctuary of the historic meeting house on Bedford Common at 10 am on Sunday, February 9.
Thurgood traces Justice Thurgood Marshall’s career, highlighting his landmark decisions such as Brown v. Board of Education. This biographical work is a remarkable tribute to Marshall’s enduring legacy as the first African-American to sit on the Supreme Court.
On a cold morning of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, a large group gathered for the MLK Jr. Community Day at the First Church of Christ, Congregational, in Bedford Center. The fourth annual event, co-sponsored by Bedford Embraces Diversity (BED) and the Bedford Interfaith Clergy Network (BICN), kicked off with a light breakfast and a warm welcome from Cantor Ben Silver of Temple Shalom Emeth, who led the group in a joyous opening song. Reminding “everybody [to] get together, come and love one another,” the speakers all echoed this sentiment throughout the morning.
Bedford Embraces Diversity and the Bedford Interfaith Clergy Network are partnering to plan an expanded community day of learning and service in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, January 20, 2020. For the first time, the commemoration will include a community service component, with a choice of activities that reflect Dr. King’s message. The theme for the day is, “Who’s My Neighbor?”
The program will begin at 9:30 a.m. (doors open at 9) at the First Church of Christ, Congregational, with a light breakfast, followed by inspirational remarks by the Rev. Vernon K. Walker. The speaker is affiliated with Berachah Church in Dorchester and is a leader in social justice and climate action. Participants will then have the option of joining one of the community service projects, some of which will be offsite.
Have you made your reservations yet???
Community service projects are among the highlights of Bedford’s Martin Luther King Jr. Community Day, beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, January 20, at the First Church of Christ, Congregational, 25 The Great Road.
Bedford Embraces Diversity and the Bedford Interfaith Clergy Network are partnering to sponsor this fourth annual observance.
The celebration will begin with a light breakfast and keynote remarks by the Rev. Vernon K. Walker of Pentecostal Tabernacle Church in Cambridge, speaking on “Who’s My Neighbor?” Rev. Walker received his master’s degree in theological studies from Boston University School of Theology. He is the program manager for the Communities Responding to Extreme Weather (CREW), which fosters climate change resilience. His resume also includes service in racial and economic justice.
Admission will be $5, covering the breakfast, plus a suggested donation of paper goods or toiletries for the food pantry at Middlesex Community College. This community service project will help students’ and teachers’ families in need. Appropriate items include paper towels, tissues, soap, toothpaste, shampoo, shaving cream and razors, and personal hygiene products, as well as dish and laundry detergent, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, plastic storage bags and cleaning supplies. Donations will be delivered to the Springs Road campus later in the week.
Community service projects include:
The public is warmly invited to join the annual Martin Luther King Jr. service at the First Baptist Church, 155 Concord Road, on Sunday, Jan. 12, beginning at 4 p.m.
The church has marked Dr. King’s birthday for more than three decades with a service of reflection, a celebration in Gospel music, consecrated poetry and prayer. A reception will follow. And on January 20, 2020 ~ Celebrating the Legacy of Martin Luther King ~ “Who is My Neighbor?” Bedford Embraces Diversity and the Bedford Interfaith Clergy Network are partnering to plan an expanded community day of learning and service in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, January 20, 2020.
A special church service honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. will take place at 4 pm on Sunday, January 12 will take place at Bedford’s First Baptist Chuch, 151 Concord Road. Everyone is cordially invited to attend.
Thanks to Bedford’s faith communities – First Baptist Church, First Church of Christ Congregational, First Parish Unitarian Universalist, Lutheran Church of the Savior, St. Michael Parish, and St Paul’s Episcopal Church – for sharing their 2019 holiday services.
Additional Christmas Eve Note: Bedford becomes a twinkling village at dusk on Christmas Eve, with luminaria glowing along roads, driveways, and paths throughout the town. Thanks to neighbors, friends and the Bedford Minuteman Company the Historic District along The Great Road is especially lovely. (Shameless promotion: luminary sales at Chip-in Farm benefit the Minuteman Company’s scholarship fund for a double win!)
I wish to extend our sincere thanks and gratitude to Chuck Connell for taking on the task of organizing and running this year’s Turkey Trot. Also to Callahan’s Karate and WT Phelan Insurance for sponsoring the event, and to long-time contributor Bedford Florist for donating the floral arrangements for winners in particular areas.
Cecelia Norfolk Maccabe Parks passed away on November 7, 2019. Mrs. Parks gave her time, talent, and energy to many projects in Bedford and volunteered regularly at Adelynrood, the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross retreat center in Byfield, Massachusetts.