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Quabbin memorial concert tradition continues following months of scrutiny

NEW SALEM — Members of The First Universalist Parish of North Dana are overjoyed that they will be able to continue providing concerts in area churches in memory of the drowned Quabbin towns.

The parish’s concert series was in jeopardy due to a review of its trust by the Unitarian Universalist Association, which had taken control of the parish’s funds several decades ago. According to Dana M. Tandy, the treasurer for the First Universalist Parish of North Dana, also known as the Dana Vespers, the funds that had been withheld have been released and the concert tradition is continuing to provide music to churches, at no cost, once again.

North Dana was one of the four towns flooded in creation of the reservoir, and the Vespers is a surviving piece of that history.

The trouble began in October of last year when Tandy received a letter from the UUA’s endowment accountant stating that Tandy’s parish was defunct and therefore the trust money would be re-assigned to the UUA’s “general missionary work.” As a response to the letter, Tandy was quoted back in March saying, “Clearly we don’t have a (church) building. But a parish is people, not a building.” His words reflected the use of the Mason-Hale Trust Fund that was established to enable the parish to provide a regular series of vesper services. The parish had been doing this since the vespers became a tradition at the North Dana church in 1929.

Tandy says he understands the UUA’s fiduciary responsibility to review the parish funds and was cooperative in getting them the information they requested. The process having taken about nine months to complete will now become routine for Tandy and the parish, but will no longer cause a delay in their programs.

“It’s no longer an issue,” Tandy says.

He says now that the UUA has told him what it needs for tracking the funds. The required information will be forwarded on a regular basis.

The musical director for the parish, Maureen Riendeau, says, “As far as First Universalist Parish of North Dana, I am glad that the UUA has decided that we are, in fact, doing what we were called to do when the trust funds were set up around 1930, and have been doing ever since.”

Sunday, July 20

Vesper service Number 756 will take place at 3 p.m. Sunday, July 20, at Swift River Valley Historical Society. Service 757 will be in Petersham in September. Three or four services have been requested for December, according to Riendeau.

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