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The Compass, January 31, 2024

Updated: Feb 3

Our Mission: Our Mission is to encourage diversity and mutual acceptance and to work for positive change in ourselves and our community.

"We envision a congregation in which we practice the principles of our faith. We seek to enjoy peaceful reflection and inspiration in intellectually and spiritually satisfying church services. We aim to embrace the people and efforts of our church community by supporting our children and their programs, our committees and their goals, our staff and their efforts on our behalf, and each other."


February Services

February 4: Justice, Hope & History, Rev. Karen LeBlanc

February 11: Poems of Love, Justice, and Liberation with Everett Hoagland and guest singer Candida Rose

February 18: Local Black History, The Story of Abraham Skidmore, Rev. Karen LeBlanc

February 25: Social Justice Service with guest speaker Lee Blake from the New Bedford Historical Society


See everything happening at UUNB on the website calendar!


I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.

-Angela Davis


Did you miss Sunday service? Watch it here!


What does it mean to be a people of Justice & Equity?

February 4: What is Equality, Equity, and Justice?

February 11: The Gift of Building Better Relationships, An Ode We Owe By Amanda Gorman

February 18: The Gift of Building a Better World (Black History Month), The Magnificent Dr. Gladys Mae West. We are excited to be lifting up the life of Dr. Gladys Mae West for Black History Month. Dr. West is a mathematician whose talent gave us GPS (Global Positioning System) without which we would still be using those old paper maps and would also be getting lost a lot more often!

February 25: The Gift of Joy and Beloved Community

The Way Cool Sunday School invites you to make heARTs. Bring your creativity and imagination to the open studio classroom from 5 pm - 7 pm! We heART New Bedford!


30 Days of Love Week Three: January 29 - February 4

Theme - Possibility: Bodily Autonomy


by Rev. Amanda Schuber, Rev. Jami Yandle, and Rev. Ranwa Hammamy,

Imagine a world where everybody - every body - was treated as truly sacred? Every body, whatever shape, size, expression, or ability - was revered as one of the infinite expressions of the Divine?  A reflection of God?  An opportunity to celebrate the holy diversity that makes up our humanity?  

When we witness our shared humanity we are called to care, to defend, protect, and affirm OUR very existence and our inherent worth. In this world, every body is cared for.  Everybody has the ability to make the decisions they need to be safe and whole in their being.  Every body has access to the resources they need to thrive.  Everybody - every body - is held in a truly liberating love.

Unfortunately, we know that the world as it is today does not treat every body as sacred.  Dominant ideas of safety have created inflated police budgets that rob our children of books and our communities of healthcare.  Living outside prescriptive gender binaries can mean losing a job or your life.  Our society isolates disabled people from community and care by denying access to housing, healthcare, and public space.  But ideas alone aren't what is killing us. It is the allegiance to a values system that moves people to violent and deadly action – against their neighbors, their country, and sometimes their own children.  Our society’s dependence on these immoral forces has moved us so far away from our shared humanity - brutalizing sacred bodies in a vicious cycle of exploitation, violence, and death - so that we no longer regard one another as threads woven together in a Divine tapestry.

These attacks on our bodies are attacks on our existence.  They are neither isolated nor unrelated.  We know this because there is a unified strategy and single solution.  Devalue and criminalize our identities and institutionalize our people.  We know the tactics and the institutions - prisons, jails, conversion therapy, conservatorship, detention, surveillance.  These are the many tentacles of the carceral state that are strangling so many of our Beloveds. 

The nature of the attacks on our sacred bodies means that those of us who live at the intersections of multiple marginalized identities face this violence on all aspects of our being.  Within the carceral state - which already disproportionately targets black and brown communities - 40% of the state prison population are people with disabilities. The number is even higher for incarcerated youth.  In just this first month of 2024, at least 322 bills targeted the transgender people, many in states where we have already witnessed the criminalization of reproductive health care.  And among individuals specifically seeking abortions, 1 in 5 must travel out of state for care.  That barrier creates unsurmountable burdens for individuals without the financial, social, or physical means to travel.  As we dream of a world where everybody thrives, we find ourselves fighting to create a world where every body can at least survive.

And yet, it is within this fight where we can remind ourselves that another world is possible, but only if we commit to creating it together.  In the midst of what is, there are glimmers of what could be.  There are holy moments of possibility that we must lean into during these desperate times.  From the quiet moments of self-determination and action, to the power of thousands showing up for collective liberation, there is hope in all of those moments that connect us. 

Our connection isn’t just sacred, it is powerful.  Some of these moments look like gathering together to protest anti-trans laws at the capitol; holding vigils to honor the community members whom we have lost; teaching our youth what rights they have over their own bodies; and growing mutual aid networks that strengthen each others’ access to essential resources and care.  In those moments, where we show up together, our momentum is realized and the loneliness is lessened. 

Changing the world has always happened when the few become the many.  When we each find our common humanity in the strength of our values, we all find new ways to love the hell out of this world! 

Knowing that God lives in the margins, on the edge of all possibility, we are called to engage in the world as it is, grounded in our values and in an all-encompassing LOVE, to turn it into what it could be.  This week we hope you will take time to think about how to build the world of infinite possibility that we dream of, where our bodies, however they are, are expressions of all that is good and sacred in this world.  

Rev. Amanda Schuber, Disability Justice Associate

Rev. Jami Yandle, Trans Support Specialist

Rev. Ranwa Hammamy, Congregational Organizer


Board member, Mary S. Rapoza - Building a salt marsh, in the city: New Bedford is reclaiming a piece of urban waterfront for nature.

Salt marshes lace much of the South Coast shoreline, but not in New Bedford. Development of the harbor displaced nearly all traces of them more than a century ago.

Now, with climate resilience in mind, the city and a nonprofit partner are building a salt marsh, from scratch, in one of New Bedford’s most densely populated neighborhoods. In the process, they’ll connect Riverside Park — and the neighborhood — to the water.

Like a big-city greenway, only smaller, Riverside Park runs for six blocks between Belleville Avenue and the Acushnet River. It has a soccer field, skate park, playground, and big community garden.

On a windy day, the city parks director, Mary Rapoza, is walking toward what’s probably the least popular thing at Riverside Park: a small, stagnant pond.

“Hi — hey, buddies,” she says, greeting a couple of ducks paddling around. The wind is rushing through tall, tasseled reeds.

“These are phragmites — and that's really where this whole story starts,” she says.

Phragmites are invasive, and they’ve grown from nothing a decade ago to easily 10 feet high. They’ve created a visual barrier, Rapoza says, “so this is why you see a lot of dumping happening here at the pond.”


QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION - Hosted by the Long Range Planning Group

February 18th, after the church service.

Come with your questions and comments about the Future of our Church. This will be a hybrid event, attend in person or via Zoom. Please visit the church calendar on the website for the link.


You are invited! Are you curious about becoming a Pagan or want to meet more earth-centered individuals? Join us for a meet and greet at the First Unitarian Church's Parish House on February 2 from 6 pm - 9 pm.


  • Something for the nibbles table (snack or drink)

  • A poem, song, artwork, etc. to share in a "Bard's Circle."

We will discuss the needs of the Pagan community and ways to create a new, diverse Pagan group for the Greater New Bedford area.

RSVP below!


Social Justice Meeting - Today at 6:30 PM


We want your feedback! Please take our anonymous survey to better understand the congregation's specific needs as we plan for the future. Thank you for your participation.


This Sunday, the New Bedford Historical Society will celebrate the connection between New Bedford and Frederick Douglass during the 21st Annual Frederick Douglass Read-A-Thon.

'The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An, American Slave Written by Himself' will be read from 2 to 6 p.m. the First Unitarian Church, 71 8th St., New Bedford. This is the first autobiography of Frederick Douglass written in 1845.

The annual Read-a-thon is a celebration of the historical connection between the people of New Bedford and the young Frederick Douglass. Douglass found his way to New Bedford through the Underground Railroad as a 20-year-old freedom seeker in the fall of 1838. He earned his first paid wages as a free man gathering and putting away coal for the minister of the First Unitarian Church, Ephraim Peabody. Douglass cast his first vote as a free man in elections in the city.

Members of the New Bedford community are invited to join the event as readers in honoring the legacy of Douglass. Refreshments will be available. For additional information or to be a reader, contact the Society at (508) 979-8828 or


Call (508) 993-0772 or email for tickets!


Our Promises

  • Each person is important.

  • Be kind in all you do.

  • We help each other learn.

  • We search for what is true.

  • Each person has a say.

  • Work for a peaceful world.

  • The web of life’s the way.

  • Build the beloved community, free from racism and oppression.

First Unitarian Church in New Bedford

71 8th Street, New Bedford, MA 02740

(508) 994-9686

Administrator ext. 10

Minister ext. 13

Karen cell: (508) 441-9344

Board Members & Officers

Steve Carmel, President

Charles Morgan, Vice President

Deborah Carmel, Treasurer

Cora Peirce, Clerk


Committee Chairs



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