Rev. David Hutchinson, Minister, 446-6858
Fred Griffith, Moderator, 532-2455
Susan & Bruce Glick, Co-Treasurers, 538-9264
Debra Frazier, Clerk, 521-0387
Karen Klahr, Newsletter, 532-4051
Church Phone, 532-9269
Committee on Ministry,
Debra Frazier, Larry Tonzi

Newsletter - June 2011

First Church of Houlton
Unitarian Universalist

61 Military St.
Houlton, ME 04730


        "Bicentennial Banner Zoom" photo by revdav
Bicentennial Banner Zoom photo by revdav
“With all your science can you tell how it is, and whence it is, that light comes into the soul?” - Thoreau

While the Houlton Unitarian Society is turning 200 this year, your minister hit the 50 mark. I’ve tried not to make a big deal out of this personal milestone, but it’s hard not to notice when the AARP application arrives in the mail. Of course I also qualify for a free cup of coffee now at McDonald’s. But in the end, these are all just numbers. 20 years ago or 20 minutes ago are simply two ways of referencing the same thing. Who is the entity that is reading this sentence right now on the page (or computer screen) in front of you? Does “this” change over the course of time or between two points of time? Does “this” even change between two individuals? Each of us may induce a certain characteristic or identifier on our version of human form, but the animating formless energy is the same regardless of time or place or shape. To be aware that we are aware is like flicking on the switch of our own consciousness. The light that we are suddenly becomes obvious. We do not obtain anything new that we didn’t have before, we simply realize for the first time what was always there all along. Our aliveness or beingness is what characterizes an awakened life in this world.

In the split second of nowness our life expresses itself and then repeats the process again and again in a truly mind-staggering manner. How many of these split seconds occur during the course of a day let alone a life span? If we are alert to the nature of our own being our life opens in each instant. When you compare one of these timeless instants from 200 years ago to the timeless instant right now is there any real difference? In this sense we are not just a continuation of individuals and events that occurred in a particular time and place, we are one in the same. When you touch the timeless instant you touch everything at once. We still operate day to day from our own particular reference point, but our larger awareness includes much more than it did before. In this increased space resides appreciation, amazement and wonder.

Right here and now.     DAVE

Hi all! As our church year draws to a close, I find myself looking back over all that has happened over the past year:
the Flower Communion service and plant sale; the barbecues and outings; cutting down the two big trees out front; the basement leaks, roof replacement, and driveway re-contouring; the coffeehouses; the movie nights; the meditations; the Monday night conversations; the Trustee Meetings; the Uni-tune practices and performances (complete with the falling Christmas Tree;) the Winter Solstice celebration; the Christmas Eve Service; the New Year's Breakfast; Joke Sunday; the preparations for the Cup Cafe; Bill's sharing of the lives of past ministers; Weaving the Maypole; Spring Cleanup; the Spring Concert; the numerous Services led by Rev. Dave and by us; and probably many more things that I can't think of just this moment...

Some seem to think that a small church does not and cannot do much. Yet our church calendar is always full of activities. For us to enjoy all these things together, requires many to make a commitment of love and fellowship. None of this happens in a vacuum. In each case, one or more members of the church have taken on the responsibility to coordinate an activity, research the best answers to the obstacles we face, and share the best of themselves freely with the rest of us. Speaking on behalf of our church family, I thank each and every one of you for the commitments you have made, and for being there to share in our joys and our sorrows together. If even one of you were not here, the rest of our lives would be different, and somehow, less meaningful. This summer we have a full slate of activities again, and I bet that even more activities will come up as the summer progresses. Then this Fall, we will hold a special celebration commemorating the date, 200 years ago, when people of the Houlton area gathered together to establish the very first non-Catholic church in the United States north of Bangor. It will be a day to remember! May your summertime be peaceful, happy and healthy! Come back to us in September all rested up, and ready to share another church year together. Blessed Be!

A CHRONICLE BY BILL WHITE - George Edward Mac Ilwain, minister from 1899 to 1902
Rev. George Edward MacIlwain Rev. Mac Ilwain was born October 24th 1867 in Oxford, Oakland County, Michigan and an only child. His father was John Alexander Mac Ilwain and his mother was Elizabeth Redfield Mac Ilwain. Both of his parents were originally from New York. His father was a Methodist minister and his family moved ten times around Michigan while George Edward Mac Ilwain was growing up. His mother died when he was 21 and at the age of 23 he went East to attend Harvard Divinity School. After graduation his first ministry was in Toledo, Ohio. He moved on after about two years to serve as Universalist Minister in Newark, New Jersey. We have a sermon he gave while he was the minister in Newark, New Jersey. Next he was called to the pulpit in New Britain, Connecticut.

On September 26, 1898, Rev. Joseph A. Chase, then minister at the Houlton Unitarian Society resigned. The Houlton church search committee came up with two possible names to receive a call. First to receive the call was Rev. James Bagley of Wollaston, Massachusetts. Rev. Bagley declined the offer and the call was extended to Rev. George Edward Mac Ilwain, then minister in New Britain, Connecticut. Rev. Mac Ilwain became the minister of the Houlton Unitarian Society on March 1, 1899 at a salary of $1,000. He married Grace L. Bates on August 24th, 1896 and she accompanied him to Houlton. She was a native of Hingham (Plymouth County), Massachusetts.

Rev. George Edward Mac Ilwain was important in our church history because he represents the start of the “modern” period of our church. He became the minister of the Houlton Unitarian Society when the 1900's were just beginning. For us this seems so long ago it is hard to imagine what life was like back then. For certain the invention of a clothes dryer was a few years in the future and you split your own wood for your stove. Just imagine that six rolls of bread cost 5 ˘, three pounds of oatmeal was 10 ˘, and six eggs were 13 ˘. The national newspapers were producing stories about Lizzie Borden and how her father and stepmother were found murdered in their home. Although Thomas A. Edison had finished his first motion picture studio in New Jersey, it would be some time before this form of entertainment would reach Houlton.

One can imagine that Rev. Mac Ilwain was a striking individual when he walked the streets in Houlton. He was six feet two inches tall, blue eyes, bright red hair, and what one would call a very self assured liberal-thinking Unitarian from Harvard. His personal appearance would no doubt be enough to attract attention of Houlton natives.

He was active in the life of the Houlton Unitarian Church and helped to establish a parish that was quite liberal in its thinking. He helped Dr. Harry L. Putnam, the clerk, research the possibility of changing the date of the founding of the Houlton Unitarian Church, from 1835 to 1811, in the Unitarian Year Book; he introduced changes in the Church By-Laws; he published his sermon on “The Year of Nineteen Hundred and One,” on January 6, 1901, in the Aroostook Pioneer {we have a copy of this}; and was the minister on May 17, 1902 when the Unitarian Church burned.

Later in 1902, after the church burned and the Houlton Unitarian Society was developing plans to build a new church {our current building} Rev. Mac Ilwain moved to Middleboro, Massachusetts where he served as their Unitarian Minister. In 1910 was still the minister at the First Unitarian Society, South Main Street, in Middleboro, Massachusetts. In 1909 he began to do part time work with the Babson Statistical Organization in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts. He applied for a U.S. Passport in 1909 and apparently did statistical work in England and France. Shortly after 1910 his wife Grace died suddenly, she was about 40 years old.

George Edward Mac Ilwain gave up the ministry after 1913 and worked full time for the Babson Statistical Organization and the U. S. Department of Labor. In 1914 he married Helen. She was from Constantine, Michigan so I assume he was first acquainted with her while he was growing up in Michigan. One major job he accepted after World War I was to work as a statistician for the Commission of Industrial Reconstruction in Europe.

George Edward Mac Ilwain worked as a statistician for the rest of his life. He continued to live near the community where his first wife was born (Hingham, Massachusetts.) In 1924, a short time before he retired, he and his wife Helen took a six-month tour of England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and France.

In 1934, they moved to Santa Clara, California by ship {the SS President Taft} from New York City to Los Angeles, California. On May 1, 1943, George Edward Mac Ilwain died in Santa Clara, California at age 75 years, five months. His wife, Helen, died April 8, 1960 at age 86 in Santa Clara, California.

At the May meeting of the church's Board of Trustees, Elizabeth Peltier and Betty White agreed to be co-treasurers of the church and the Board voted to appoint them to this shared role. I look forward to working with Betty and Elizabeth during the transition period starting in August-September. It has been an honor to serve as the Society's Treasurer along with Bruce over the years, and we are grateful that the books of the church will be managed by two such capable people as Betty and Liz. Liz was very helpful in clarifying what are the roles of the Treasurer and what needs to be assumed by others in the congregation.

The church's income and expenses have offered no surprises in the past year. Support of the Trust funds provided by our forbears over several decades have once again helped to stabilize our financial present and future. Pledges and donations continue to provide more than half of the money to pay for our minister and other church expenses. And the volunteer work of our members helps us to avoid labor costs and consultation expense. In the best sense, all of us work together to keep this church focused on the our broader community and on the many messages of liberal religion.

Please continue to mail your summer and fall pledge contributions to my address until we announce that the transition is complete: Sue, 652 Back Ridge Rd., Littleton, Me 04730

Have a great summer!
With love and respect, Sue

Here is a report of what the Bi-centennial Building and Grounds committee ( Bill White and John Lloyd with lots of help Dave Hutchinson and other UU members) did this last year:
  • removed two trees in front yard
  • evaluated basement foundation erosion problem and found broken roof drain to be cause
  • had new rubber roof installed over social area next to parlor with drain off West edge to eliminate need for broken drain pipe
  • had basement foundation repaired, new concrete floor installed at basement stair landing and damaged stairs repaired
  • had drive graveled and re-sloped to improve drainage
  • repaired door handle/latch on door from front entry to stair well
  • removed dead tree in back yard

    Things yet to be done this year:

  • repair handicap ramp on East entry
  • repair front door handle/lock
  • rake and clean grounds
  • clean up branches and fire wood in back
  • other paint and repair items (such as East door and security lights) as time and money permit
    Our traditional flower communion service is Sunday, June 5th. Please bring a fresh cut flower to contribute to the communion basket. This Unitarian tradition originated in 1923 in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Dr. Norbert Capek asked his parishioners to bring and receive flowers as a symbol of their shared life as a spiritual community. Please come and join us for this special service. Flashy shirts and/or skirts are also encouraged for the occasion. Our cookout is at Dave & Linda's house in Monticello this year next to the beautiful Meduxnekeag River. Car-pooling, as always, is encouraged. Please bring something to add to the pot-luck and a grill will also be available. There will be swimming, extreme croquet, bocce, and horseshoes for those up to the excitement. Fun for all, but be sure to bring the bug dope!
    Remember! Our plant and seed exchange will take place this Sunday after the service and before heading to Dave and Linda's for the barbecue. Please bring your extra vegetable and flower seeds, seedlings, plant cuttings or thinnings.
    Several events are scheduled to keep us connected during the summer. For questions or more information call Karen or Rev. Dave. There are other possibilities for summer get-togethers which are still in the dreaming stages. As the summer progresses plans may solidify for these events. Please keep your eye on our changing calendar page, make sure that you are on Rev. Dave's email list, join our UU Houlton Community Yahoo group (see below) or otherwise keep in touch for news of last minute planned events.
    Deb Frazier will be offering a once-a-month evening class on alternative spirituality, intuition, basic energy work, tarot reading or other related topics. Dates TBA. If you are interested in sharing your knowledge of a particular area of study, please let her know.
    Leigh Griffith is willing to make it possible for folks to attend, in the Cup Café, a service by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Second Life. She will use her account - all folks have to do is watch the big screen. These services are held at 9:30pm every Thursday and at 2pm every third Saturday of the month. If you are interested please give Leigh a call to make arrangements. If you'd rather do it on your own from your home computer Leigh can help you set up your own account. Call her at 532-2455 (home) or 694-5732 (cell.)
    Please click here for the currently scheduled events.

    An email discussion mailing list is a tool for a group of people to exchange messages via email. Any subscriber to the list can send messages that are received by all the subscribers, creating an email-based group conversation. The UU Houlton Community Yahoo Group has been created for members and friends of the Unitarian Society of Houlton. We currently have 21 members. Please take a look at the webpage.   If you'd find it useful and wish to join just click the "Join This Group" button, or contact Rev. Dave if you have questions or need further instructions.
  • The website of the Unitarian Universalist Association
  • The website of the Northern New England District (NNED)
  • The UUWorld magazine   (You can also sign up for a weekly email update.)