Dear First Parishers,
As May draws to an end, the warmer weather finally decided to arrive. I have tried to be outside as much as possible, as have many of my neighbors. It has been nice to engage in some in-person conversations, even if we are standing six feet apart, wearing masks. As is often the case two conflicting things are true at the same time: this is very hard and isolating AND we human beings are creative and adaptable.
I have been meeting pretty regularly, via Zoom, with my UU and interfaith colleagues, as we all exchange ideas and offer each other support. Rev. Lisa Bruget-Cass, the minister at Aldersgate United Methodist, shared something I found very helpful. She talks with her community about practicing physical distancing and social connection, as opposed to social distancing. As she notes, the purpose of holding worship online, and avoiding in person gatherings, or wearing masks and standing six feet apart when in person is to keep one another safe and healthy physically so we can maintain our social relationships. Now, more than ever, we need to nurture and strengthen our social connections within our congregations and between them. So we actually need to emphasize staying socially connected in community when we cannot be together physically. Language is important and I found this distinction helpful.
Of course, virtual community can never fully replace in-person. I know that some parishioners are not comfortable with online services or meetings and I understand. If that describes you, know that we are here and will be very happy to see you again when we can meet in person. If you would like someone to check in with you from our Pastoral Care Team or Caring Connection, please let me know: [email protected] Meanwhile, I appreciate the ways many of you have been showing up for one another and for First Parish as a whole. I continue to be deeply moved and grateful for the consistent offerings of time, talent and treasure. We are finding our way—physically distanced for sure but connected in our covenant to sustain and nurture our beloved First Parish community.
Rev. EllenJoin the "Virtual Choir"
What I miss most about in-person Church is hearing the congregation singing hymns. I’ve always been moved by your beautiful mix of voices. And I’ve always cherished your enthusiasm and joy as you join your voices into that amazing ensemble.
Well, there are other ways to sing together in this time when we can’t yet make music together live again. I can email you a recording of a hymn (Let’s start with Spirit of Life) and you can record your voice at home and send it to me to mix with other voices. It’s an easy process; you’ll just need your computer, headphones and one other device.
Email me (Steve) at [email protected] and I can send you the accompaniment and simple step by step instructions.its really fun. We can combine as many voices as we want, and I can mix them together so it sounds just like we are singing live, in the Sanctuary.
No pressure, I know many of you are busier than ever. But it will be so wonderful to hear everyone together again.
First Parish ChelmsfordHealing ConversationsIn keeping with the commitment in our First Parish covenant to care and be present to one another in our joys and sorrows, Rev. Ellen and the Pastoral Care Team offer this grief and loss group on the second and fourth Mondays of the month for virtual check-ins via Zoom to nurture and hold a sacred space to share stories, experiences, and emotions around love, loss and grief in a spirit of mutual care and deep listening. This is an ongoing group that folks in our First Parish community can join during the year, while maintaining it as a confidential and supportive space. The Zoom session will last only as long as needed for people to check in and get support if needed.
If you are interested on joining, please contact Rev. Ellen