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.

One area I see that is malleable is our summer worship services. I believe it is important that we have summer services, that we offer worship year-round, as worship is part of our core mission. Traditionally, summer services have been lay-led, with the Worship Committee organizing and supporting them. For the last two summers, they have been online only and last summer, we had a very hard time finding enough people to lead them. This summer, we will return to holding the services in the chapel and will livestream them for those who wish to attend from home. Meanwhile, though, the Worship Committee is one of those committees that has suffered attrition from the pandemic and does not have the personnel to run the summer services. Here is, then, an opportunity to try a different way. I would like to recruit a summer service coordination team to work with me on putting together a plan for this summer. You do not have to lead a service nor do you have to be available every Sunday. If you are interested, please let me know by May 1: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Our Soul Matters Theme for May is “Nurturing Beauty”, very appropriate for this spring weather that is slowly unfolding. A quick reminder about joys and sorrows. If you would like me to share a joy or sorrow with the congregation during worship, please email me by 9 am that Sunday: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. While I am often made aware of losses, illnesses, birthdays, etc., I can’t share them unless you request me specifically to do so, as our services are broadcast publicly.

-Rev. Ellen

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