Well, winter has decided to come after all! I hope everyone has stayed safe and warm during the snow, ice and cold. Or enjoyed your time away in warmer climes! I do hope that spring comes soon.

Those of you who have been part of First Parish for a while know that as part of my letter of call (the ministerial version of a contract), I earn one month of sabbatical time for each year served for up to six months, to use every seven years or so. My last sabbatical was in 2016 so it is getting to be time again. The Standing Committee has approved me taking a four-month sabbatical beginning in early 2024 (I haven’t worked out the exact dates yet).

The purpose of sabbatical is two-fold. First, it offers me a chance for pause and renewal. I love serving as your minister and part of the reason I have been able to do for two decades is because you have given me this time to breathe, to slow down, and make room to grieve our losses and discern what season of ministry we are in and how best I can serve you. I am grateful for this gift.

Second, sabbatical also offers you time and space for discernment as well. As I talked about in my sermon on Sunday, the congregation
belongs to you and you to the congregation. I am clear that in calling me as your minister, you are not my congregation but the people
whom and with whom I serve. I do provide the professional spiritual, pastoral and ministerial leadership and I am the one who thinks about
and holds the congregation 24/7. But I strive to do so in relationship with you. Sabbatical provides a time for you to step into the full
ministry of the congregation for a manageable period of time and experience more deeply this belonging.

This will be my third sabbatical since I started in August of 2002 so we have been through this together twice already. I will put together a sabbatical team to help plan coverage in my time away, both from within and beyond the congregation. I believe we are in good place for this While we are still dealing with the ramifications of the pandemic, we are out of crisis mode. We have a strong Standing Committee, a strong Pastoral Care and Service Team, and a strong staff team. This is about a year away, so I don’t have more specific information than this but I wanted everyone to know as I start the planning process. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 978 256-5555.

In faith,
Rev. Ellen

Faith in Action Grant Report

On January 22nd , I requested a faith in action grant for $1,200 to cover the cost of offering a three hour yoga worship focused on anti-racism entitled, “Making Room for Discomfort”, led by Coach Justice Williams, a trans Black community activist and fitness coach. I followed the process outlined by the Standing Committee and presented the grant request at social hour, where it was approved by the people present. As part of the faith in action process, it is expected that the Standing Committee and congregation will receive a report.

The workshop was held on February 11 from 11 am to 2 pm in our vestry. We had 16 people in attendance. Coach Justice presented materials on socialization, the roots of separation and the 4 “I”s of oppression at the heart of racism, homophobia and other forms of oppression. His partner, Coach Michelle, led us through yoga poses as we learned the material. Coach Justice and Coach Michelle also led us in paired
and small group conversations.

This workshop just scratched the surface and Coach Justice and I are in conversation about how we might continue this work. I will also be talking with the First Parish people who attended to gauge their interest in continuing with this.

In gratitude and respectfully submitted,
Rev. Ellen Rowse Spero

In faith,
Rev. Ellen

Previous Reflections