Remember when we worshipped outside in solidarity with people in Puerto Rico who could not worship in their churches because of destruction from the hurricane? This was also the first Sunday in our month long ministry theme on Whiteness.
As we transition into our final months with our Interim Senior Minister, the Rev. Rebecca Bryan, we want to be sure and “remember when." We are doing this to remember and celebrate our learnings during this interim time, to acknowledge when we made mistakes or might have done things differently, and to lift up the gifts of our shared ministry. We will be including a memory in each week’s Weekly Update from February 8th through June 28th – meaning that we will have 21 written memories of our time together.
Please feel free to email your memory to Rev. Rebecca. Depending on the response rate, not all memories may be able to be shared in our Weekly Update, however they may appear here on the website. If we have a sufficient number, we will post them in Lyon Chapel. For the purpose of inclusiveness, we will not repeat themes or memories.
Remember when an anonymous donor contributed the funds necessary to restore our grand piano. This restoration work was the first time that this had been done in its 100+ year life! We have been the beneficiaries of several concerts this year as well as well as extraordinary playing every Sunday!
Remember when Alisa Joyce and Laci Adams joined our staff team as our new Parish Administrator and Coordinator of Religious Exploration? They both came on with aplomb and grace. They bring so many gifts and skills to this congregation. Everyone loves Alisa’s friendly voice and competence in technology. Likewise, we all appreciate Laci’s commitment to integrating racial justice into the RE program and her infectious sense of humor.
Remember when we celebrated the 300th anniversary of First Parish in Brookline! We lit 300 tea candles representing the 300 years of history and 300 years to come in the future. There were three historical services during which we lifted up aspects of the congregation’s history. This reminded us that the life of this congregation is long and deep, and that we are the keepers and creators of its future.
Remember when we started experimenting and using different rituals in our worship services? We fed each other rice puffs and said, “I love you” for intergenerational communion. We looked into one another’s eyes and said, “I see you.” We entered the sanctuary barefoot. We held the service outside and we ran long and none of the adults seemed to notice. From all of this, we learned that we are creative, we enjoy ritual and we find meaning in many kinds of worship.
Remember when we started ringing the church bells again on Sunday mornings? This practice had stopped out of concern for the integrity of the tower. When a committed congregant investigated further, we learned that it is completely safe, with a slight adjustment to how the bell is rung. Once again, the bells ring each Sunday welcoming everyone. People regularly remark on how happy this simple gesture makes them feel.
Remember when we first discussed and then voted to bring in consultants to support our work in growing multicultural community? This was a major step in moving our mission statement forward and demonstrated our commitment to racial justice.
Remember when the Transition Team put out a survey and 176 of us responded to it! What we all shared in that survey set the course for a lot of our work together since then. This includes our commitment to financial sustainability (and exceeding our pledge goal!), an affirmation of the importance of worship for our congregation, and a continuation of transparency and congregational collaboration in decision making.
Remember when we started following the Guidelines for Effective Cross Cultural Dialogue © as written by Visions, Inc.? Rev. Rebecca preached about these, and we all became much more conscious of many things including using the word “and” instead of "but.” This really stuck, and we still catch ourselves today saying “but” and changing it to “and”!
Remember when Reverend Doctor María Cristina Vlassidis Burgoa accepted the call to serve as the Senior Minister at Star King Unitarian Universalist Church in Hayward, CA? We were sad to see her go, and we celebrated the many gifts that she brought to us during her time as our Assistant Minister. We held the complexity of feelings associated with this change including grief, confusion, and happiness for her continued journey. This taught us that the congregation stays together and that truth telling and compassion are paramount to maintaining our covenant of beloved community.
Remember when we began to make the experience of the offering more uplifting. We added in the sentence about newcomers feeling free to let the basket pass them by, and offering thanks for the offering and everything we do. One congregant shares that this “completely changed the feeling I had, and it made me feel thanked for other things that I do for church.”
Remember when Rev. Rebecca asked us in one of her first sermons: "What if we fall in love with each other?" Hasn't that been the truth, and look what Love did over our time together. From this we remembered that we are a community that "delights for love to abide in our midst" and is "Called by Love."