Frequently asked questions about First Parish in Plymouth.
When are Sunday services held?
Sunday mornings at 10:00 am. While our church services seem rather typical with music, hymns, readings, and a sermon, the content of our services are very different, covering a wide range of topics. Our services are led by the Reverend Ed Hardy or guest speakers. We have a variety of special services throughout the year. Feel free to check out what services are upcoming.
Are all people welcome in this congregation?
Yes, all are welcome, but not everyone might be comfortable. Some might be looking for an absolute belief or where the Church tells you what you should/must believe. We believe each person might want to develop their own beliefs and adjust them over the course of life. “Church is the place where you get to practice what it means to be human” James Luther Adams.
Are there people here who hold diverse beliefs?
Yes, there are many diverse beliefs in each Unitarian Universalist church—as there are in the world. Today one of the questions every religion and belief need to answer is how will they live peacefully with other beliefs. “Unitarian Universalism is where all your answers are questions.”
How do I meet people and get involved?
Jump right in. Ask the person at the front door to introduce you to the Minister, President of the Parish Committee, the Music Director (if you like to sing), or the Director of Religious Education (if you have children). (We recommend that you accompany your children each Sunday so they get accustomed to the other children, the class room, activities and snacks at “Coffee Hour”. Or you could go to the sanctuary and sit next to or behind someone and just ask them, “What do you like most about this church?”
Where can I park?
There is a public lot on Market Street next to the John Carver Inn.
There is a public lot on Main Street, next to Tedeschi store.
There is street parking on Market St., and School St.
There is very limited parking behind the Parish House for First Parish.
There is large lot at Jenny Grist Mill, across the street from the John Carver Inn.
Is the sanctuary handicap accessible?
Yes, the sanctuary is handicap accessible, BUT the building is not totally handicap accessible (Yet). The accessible entrance is at the back on the left of the church off of Church St. There are only stairs to get down to coffee hour following the service. And there are people to assist with the stairs as needed.
Is there handicap parking?
Yes, there is handicap parking, but only a few. If you call ahead during the week, we will do our very best to accommodate you. Office telephone: 508-747-1606
What is the significance of the Flaming Chalice?
A flame within a chalice is a primary symbol of the Unitarian Universalist faith tradition. Every Sunday at First Parish in Plymouth we light our chalice, a lovely pottery base with a flame reservoir at the top. Our chalice was made by First Parish member, Valerie Peck. Many of our congregations kindle a flaming chalice in gatherings and worships and feature the chalice symbol prominently.
Hans Deutsch, an Austrian artist, first brought together the chalice and the flame as a Unitarian symbol during his work with the Unitarian Service Committee during World War II. To Deutsch, the image had connotations of sacrifice and love. Unitarian Universalists today have many different interpretations of the flaming chalice, including the light of reason, the warmth of community, and the flame of hope.
What should I wear?
While a few still wear suits and ties or dresses, the majority of us are casual—from dress slacks to blue jeans. Dress in warm layers during the winter as the temperature can vary depending on where you are sitting in the Sanctuary. During the warmer months some wear shorts. And sandals are quite common.
Do you have services during the summer?
Yes. Our summer services are held in our lovely Brewster Chapel. Brewster Chapel is found by following the drive to the left of the Church as you face it. Most of the summer services are led by members of the congregation. These services have a unique flavor and display the many talents and interests of the congregation.
What are Joys & Concerns?
Joys and Concerns is a time during the service when members and guests are invited to come forward, light a candle and express a joy—birth of a child, new job, old friend is visiting—etc. or a concern—a member or friend might be sick, someone lost a job, etc. Some come forward and light a candle in silence. It is a time of sharing.
Do I have to donate money or make a pledge?
During the Sunday service an offering will be requested. If you are a first time visitor, as our guest we invite you to let the plate go by without making an offering.
Our church is totally supported by the generosity of the members. All expenses are paid by member pledges, fund raising, and endowments. If you were to become a member then an annual pledge or financial commitment would be expected. The median pledge was around eight hundred dollars in 2016.
Do I have to sign anything?
No. If you decide to become a member we would invite you to sign the membership book.
Where are the restrooms?
When you come in the front door directly in front of you is an arch; go through the arch and take the stairway to the left; the bathrooms are at the bottom of the stairs.
Can my child stay with me during the service?
Children are invited to attend our Religious Education classes (grades K-12) or stay in the nursery (age 0-3), which are held during the worship hour. But if your family prefers, children are welcome to sit with their parents during worship. Coloring books and crayons are at the back of the sanctuary.
Do I have to stand and introduce myself?
When you pass through our front door, you will be invited to put on a name tag so that members can easily say hello.
The minster, Rev. Ed Hardy, would be pleased if you introduced yourself before or after the service. Once or twice a year we might ask everyone to get up, go around the sanctuary and introduce themselves.
What ceremonies are celebrated, and what holidays are observed?
We celebrate all the ceremonies of life—dedications or baptisms, weddings, and memorial services. We celebrate traditional Christian holidays—Christmas and Easter, Jewish holidays—Hanukah and Yom Hashoha, and National holidays like Fourth of July, Lincoln/Washington birthdays, Martin Luther King Jr. and Memorial Day. During the church year we might discuss other world religions and talk about their holidays and rituals of celebration.