Congratulations to the First Parish in Bedford, Massachusetts, for being the newest UUA Breakthrough Congregation! Each year the UUA’s Office of Growth Strategies recognizes a handful of congregations that have “broken through” barriers to achieve exemplary goals.

First Parish in Bedford is highlighted in the winter edition of the UUWorld, which will be hitting Unitarian Universalist members’ mailboxes at any moment. The following study guide is intended to accompany the article about First Parish in Bedford.  We hope that this enables lively discussions for your congregational leaders.

Questions for Discussion and Deeper Study

Members of First Parish like to say “the church has left the building” when referring to the varied groups and causes that are served by the congregation in the wider community.

Questions for Discussion

  • What are some examples in which First Parish demonstrates this?
  • In what ways does your congregation “leave the building?”
  • Who else could your congregation be serving in the wider world?


First Parish offers “a diverse banquet of opportunities to engage the intellect, the emotions, and a sense of awe and delight.” 

Questions for Discussion

  • What are some of the creative ways in which First Parish offers these opportunities?
  • How does your congregation contribute to a more creative and “awe-inspiring” experience? What could you be doing to be more creative?


At First Parish, the answer to any new idea is “why not?”

Questions for Discussion

  • How does your congregation respond to new ideas?
  • What is the idea you have recently said “no” to?  What ideas can you say “yes” to?


When asked for advice on how other churches can grow, one member of First Parish responded, “When new people show up, show them you’re glad they’re there.  Show them you’re glad you’re there.”

Questions for Discussion

  • How do people in your congregation show visitors you’re glad they’re there?
  • How do people show visitors you’re glad you’re there?
  • In what ways can you do this better?


Please also be sure to look at First Parish in Bedford’s website.  It is exceptional.  The UUA has website resources to help you create an effective and authentic “front door” to your religious community.


This Study Guide creator is Mark Bernstein, Regional Consultant for Growth Development with the Central Eastern Regional Group.  CERG offers many excellent growth resources. Please check them out! Thank you, Mark, for so generously serving our faith.

About the Author
Tandi Rogers

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