“We, the inhabitants of Houlton, being members of the Church of Christ of New Salem, considering that God, in His providence, hath removed us from the stated means of Grace and cast our lots together in the wilderness, where we hope again to enjoy the smiles of His countenance and His presence in communion, do unitedly agree to embody ourselves, with such others as may be pleased to unite with us in covenant.”
History of Houlton; Chapter Four
Here we are at year two hundred as a religious organization in the town of Houlton. Since a moment like this only comes along once every two hundred years I feel like I should write something profound for this issue’s minister’s column, but what might that be? As your minister you’ve already heard me repeat myself more than once, so why not one more time? Important ideas or themes in our life are worth repeating so I can’t think of a better time to do so than during our two hundred year celebration.
Many things have changed since those early days of limited transportation, challenging economics and unpredictable weather, but one thing that continues to remain is a shared value of community and supporting each other in our search for happiness and meaning. During the town of Houlton’s sesquicentennial in 1957 the Houlton Pioneer Times reprinted a portion of Joshua Kendall's History of Houlton as it first appeared in the Aroostook Pioneer on June 8, 1858. Joshua Kendall was one of the original signers of The First Church of Houlton covenant whose introduction is printed above. Although the specific content of the covenant has changed over the past two hundred years, the basic premise of mutual commitment and personal integrity remains a constant. These things don’t just happen. There is never a guarantee that an organization will continue over a course of time, but when it does, it is an indication of certain values retained. Each individual of the community might recognize particular qualities most relevant to them, but overall, the shared values upheld by the group is what keeps it going and keeps it viable. Our joint Bicentennial Service with the Houlton Congregational Church in the Unitarian Church sanctuary on October 16th will be a celebration and recognition of the historic roots that have connected the two congregations of First Church of Houlton for two hundred years.
Our theme for this year is “Our Spiritual Journeys; Paths and Practices.” Each of us are at some point along our spiritual journey going at exactly the right speed for us. We are also on a journey together as a congregation and none of us knows exactly where that may lead. Repeating the words of our early documents, we invite “such others as may be pleased to unite with us in covenant.”
So here we are. As the journey continues, year two hundred and one lies ahead. Embrace the moment.
Welcome back to our new church year!
As we come together for worship and fellowship we will celebrate, along with our friends from the Congregational Church, the two hundredth anniversary of the founding of First Church of Houlton in 1811. First Church of Houlton spawned both the Unitarian Church of Houlton and the Congregational Church of Houlton. Over the years each church has in its own way, provided residents of the Houlton area with spiritual paths which stand for the principles of justice, respect and compassion for others.
These are difficult principles to follow in this day and age. The politicalization of religion in this country has led to the trampling of basic human rights, as well as the lack of respect and compassion for those of other faiths. In such a world, churches such as ours offer a safe haven: a place of free and open inquiry where individuals can be themselves; a place where beliefs of all kinds can be explored and learned from. The safe haven found in our church comes from our practice of covenant and a common adherence, not to a specific creed, but to principles regarding how we act toward ourselves and others.
We seek something greater than ourselves. We search together toward a fuller understanding of what it means to be human, and how to reach for that which we call the Spiritual. Because of this process, we find substance from various religious texts, we seek significance from the paradoxes of life's experiences, and we share as a community of mutual support to keep a light shining, even in the darkest of times.
With love, Fred
ANOTHER MINISTER FROM OUR PAST - Rev. Edwin Smith Elder
Researched and written By Bill White
Rev. Edwin Smith Elder was the fifth settled minister of the Houlton First Church Unitarian Society. One hundred and forty year ago Rev Elder held his services in the Old Meeting House located on North Street in Houlton.
Edwin Elder was born on December 12, 1837 at Milton, New Hampshire and shortly after became an orphan. At six years of age he was adopted by Peter and Ada Elder in South Windham, Maine. Edwin was a bright young boy and enthusiastically attended the district school in South Windham. At 18 he became a teacher. Over the next ten years he taught in local schools and nearby towns. He established his own large flourishing school and taught the higher levels of students in the local area. He also served on school boards and held various public offices during the years he was a teacher. This experience in education was a benefit to Houlton schools while he served as minister at the Unitarian Church.
Under the influence of Rev. A. D. Wheeler, a Unitarian missionary in Maine, Edwin decided to enroll as a student of theology at Harvard in Cambridge. He completed his studies in 1869 and chose Houlton, Maine as his first pastorate. Comments made about Edwin at that time was that his joy of conviction and straight forward humanness was well suited to the citizens of Houlton. He said that the shaggy seriousness of the great woods was akin to his own nature and Houlton made it a fit place for his secluded novitiate. On July 1870, he was the first minister to be ordained at the Houlton Unitarian Church. He followed the practice of previous Unitarian ministers in Houlton, and augmented his meager ministerial salary by teaching in the local Houlton schools.
Rev. Elder, his wife, and three children had three happy years in Houlton. He captivated his church members as well as the Houlton community as a valued speaker. The Elder family remained in Houlton until October 1873 when he accepted his second pastorate at the little octagon Unitarian Church at East Lexington, Massachusetts. He later served Unitarian churches in Keokuk, Iowa and Franklin, New Hampshire. Rev. Elder died in October 1906 after suffering from crippling rheumatism. Elders’s friends in Houlton and elsewhere said of him he revealed a love of ideals, strong hearted endeavors, endurance, and a singing patience.
MINDFUL MINUTE #41
Do things you love with people you like to be around - you'll receive so much more!!
BOOK REVIEW “Buddha Standard Time” by Lama Surya Das (2011) - Published by Harper One
Reviewed by revdav
One of the most common complaints I’ve heard lately is “I’m so busy I don’t have time for anything...” In fact, I’ve been so busy I barely had time to read Lama Surya Das’ latest book on time management to write this review! Once again, Surya Das comes through with a practical and readable book using eastern and western wisdom to share insights with his readers. “Buddha Standard Time” is a phrase roughly the equivalent of Paul Tillich’s “The Eternal Now” or Ekhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now.” It explores the timelessness aspect of the here and now and how we apply that timelessness to our everyday scheduled lives. Here is an excerpt from the book:
We’re all given the same twenty-four hours a day. We can spend our time feeling hurried and harried, overwhelmed by chores and demands, distracted and burned out...or we can awaken to Buddha Standard Time, the realm of timelessness where every choice, every action, and every breath can be one of renewal and infinite possibilities.
The author also includes a “Mindful Moment” exercise and a “Time Out” meditation in each chapter for the reader to test-drive each of his time changing concepts. This book is an excellent companion for our theme this year, "Our Spiritual Journeys; Paths and Practices." Try it out. The book will be available this Fall in our society library for your perusal. If you’d like to see Lama Surya Das discussing his latest book you can find it on Youtube under “Buddha Standard Time.”
Lama Surya Das is one of the foremost American Buddhist teachers and scholars and is known affectionately to His Holiness the Dalai Lama as “The American Lama.” Surya Das is the author of “Awakening the Buddha Within” and is founder and director of the Dzogchen Foundation. His website is www.surya.org
INGATHERING SERVICE AND WATER CEREMONY
Our first service of the new church year is on September 11th. Please bring a small bottle of water you have collected from special places nearby or far away during your summer adventures. We individually pour waters into our collective basin and reflect upon our life as a spiritual community. Water seeks the form of the container into which it is placed and no matter how many different waters are added it all becomes one thing. The four elements will be represented on the altar as we explore our relatedness to each other and the world around us.
Please click here for the currently scheduled events.
E-MAIL/INTERNET DISCUSSION LIST: UU HOULTON COMMUNITY
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. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/uuhoultoncommunity/ 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.
OTHER UU ONLINE RESOURCES