I would like to begin with gratitudes: gratitude to Brenda Rogers, Sue and Barry Jefferson, Beth Benoit, Aggie Brennan, Dave Kaffine, Cheryl Wilson and Jim Curley for leading and organizing a great auction. Gratitude to Doug Aker and Frans Janssen for leading another successful stewardship drive. And gratitude to all of you who have stepped up to support First Parish, financially and with time and talent. The pandemic has impacted our congregation as it has all areas of our lives. We are a smaller community than three years ago. Some people have drifted away, others have intentionally moved on, and, of course, we suffered losses of those we love. Meanwhile, it has been hard to integrate new people into the congregation with the limitations that the pandemic put on us. That we managed to reach 95% of our stewardship goal for next year’s budget is a real testament to all of you and your generosity. Thank you for nurturing and sustaining our beloved community.
I attended a retreat earlier in the month in Sewanee, Tennessee. It was a reunion with the group I got to know during my last sabbatical through the Center for Courage and Renewal. One fantastic question that one of my fellow-retreaters shared was “what is malleable right now?”. She has been asking this all over in the university where she works in leadership development as they figure out how to adapt with their students and faculty to a new landscape. I have been asking that same question as I work with the Standing Committee (our governing board), staff, and other leaders and members of the congregation as we figure out what it means to be First Parish, to be a covenantal community gathered for worship, mutual care, faith formation, and service to the common good. That we can’t do things the way we have always done them presents both loss and opportunity. We need to be intentional about recognizing both.