Rev. Ellen's Reflections, Febuary 2018

Wow, we did it. And we are going to do it. We are going to move forward with making our building more handicap accessible and more welcoming. I want to take a moment to pause to say thank-you: to this congregation for your generosity of donations and of spirit; to Tom Coffey, Dee Halzack, Leslie Yauckoes, Ron Cook, Ron Deschenes, Chris Sweetnam, Don Hayden, and everyone else who has served on the Building Task Force—meeting with architects, contractors, town boards and members of the congregation; to Dave Kaffine and Doug Snow for creating and presenting a clear and thoughtful financial plan; to Jim Curley and John Schneider and everyone who worked on the capital campaign; to the Board of Investment members who have thoughtfully guided us to use our financial resources wisely; and to the Standing Committee, under Sarah Manning’s steady leadership, who have kept the process moving along and communicated clearly in voters’ guides. I appreciate the deepening of covenantal relationship that I have witnessed as we have walked together as a congregation toward making our building reflective of our values. I appreciate the trust you are offering one another and the commitment you are making. It is not easy work.

This past Sunday, I preached about faith formation. I shared these words by Judy Frediani, written for the introduction to Full Circle: Fifteen Ways to Grow Lifelong UUs (by Kate Tweedie Erslev): “...the entire course of a church’s life is its curriculum—that everything a church says and does, and does not do, ‘teaches’ what that religious community is all about...every person and every activity in the congregation can contribute to individual faith development and congregational growth and development.” With this understanding of congregational life, all we do is “faith formation”. This building project has certainly been an example of that. We have explored questions about our values and ethics with regard to our building. We have discussed the importance of stewardship and setting priorities. We have considered who can and cannot get in for worship and community. We have considered the legacy, both as gift and burden, for our children and youth and the generations to come after them. We have made the big decisions as a congregation and given a lot of time and treasure. We have empowered and trusted those among us who have stepped into leadership to make the day-to-day decisions and to educate and update us as needed. As I said my in sermon, Dolores and I talk all the time about how all the things we are doing in worship, religious education, leadership, committee work, pastoral care, social outreach and justice and building community serve as our “curriculum”: what are we embodying ethically, spiritually, and religiously about Unitarian Universalism? What are our children and youth learning from us? And what are we learning from them, as they come at our Unitarian Universalist faith with fresh eyes and ears?

This church year, only half way through, has been filled with challenge, change, loss, accomplishment, and celebration. I sense that while there have been difficult moments, there is also a lot of healthy energy and spiritual growth as we demonstrate our deepening commitment to the well-being of one another and thoughtful stewardship of our congregation and our Unitarian Universalist faith.

In faith,
Rev. Ellen

Contact Info

First Parish Church
2 Westford St
Chelmsford MA 01824

978-256-5133