After a year of Strategic thinking and planning Rev. Marjorie helps the revived Council Team to celebrate the transition to Strategic Action!
On Saturday, March 14th Rev. Marjorie and Della Hughes led the Council Team to share their plans for the 2015-2016 year. “We are ready to take it to the next level!” explains Rev. Marjorie as she shares the plan and budget for the Communications Task Team with the Council Team and members of the congregation. As part of her presentation, she expanded on her thoughts with the following statement and the question: “What sets First Parish apart from other communities religious and secular?”
We are an engaged congregation of individuals who want to change the world. We believe that in order to change the world that change begins in our own hearts and minds. We hold and affirm values that are welcoming of all people and we do our utmost to walk the talk and do this best in a diverse community of thought and practice. We are inspired to share our values in the world to help frame a possible solution to the challenges that humankind faces. We do not believe that we hold the truth but we have a commitment to working in community with all people to uncover our collective wisdom and expansive truth. We are Unitarian Universalists…
The meeting turned into a celebration when lunch replete with a strategic action cake was served!
On other news from the Communications Task Team a mailing went out to new residents in Sudbury and Maynard last week which converted into three new visitors this week. We welcome those newcomers to spend some time and to get involved with our community through ushering, greeting or many of our social action events!
Photo by Tom Arnold
From Rev. Dr. Marjorie Matty
When I wrote my Connector article for January I never imagined that the light snow that was falling that day would turn into a month of record snowfall, worship and meeting cancellations and sharing a discussion between clergy about the Golden Rule on Google+. It is incredible to think that we can never really know what the future will bring albeit those weatherpersons have been pretty accurate so far this winter. So you might imagine that I write this March Connector article with some trepidation as I think about the month ahead.
The worship theme for this month is “Stewardship” which makes sense considering that this month historically is the time of year when your congregational leaders encourage us, dear member/friend, to recommit to our Unitarian Universalist values, recommit to being an agent for change, to sharing your emotional currency, volunteer time and to share generously as a mean to sustain abundance at First Parish. You can expect to hear from the stewardship team in the coming weeks and I ask you to please consider increasing your pledge this year. You will hear more about this from the stewardship team, however, I want to let you know about and thank the incredible generosity of one of our members. This member believes in First Parish and considers this community their home. They believe in our commitment to do the right thing, they believe in our place in history and our impact on the world so much that they have committed to match any increase that any member or friend makes in their pledge.Talk about walking the talk…This has the potential to be huge for our congregation, enabling us to secure our future and to engage in some amazing initiatives to better represent First Parish and our UU values to the larger Metrowest community. Please consider being and supporting the change as well! Also, remember that there is a policy in place to secure your pledge so if you decide to be radically generous and your financial circumstances change you are covered.
As part of my administrative work this year I have committed myself and the congregation to becoming better communicators. To help me to do this I have called on Fran Sharp, Lois Schiappa and Jan Hardenbergh, as the webmaster, to work with me to address communication issues internally and externally. This team of individuals I have affectionately begun to call the Communications Task Team (“CTT”). Our work together began with making some significant changes to our website and to the First Parish Village – a HUGE thank you to Tom Yelton who helped us to make this happen. Tom Yelton spoke to me in September and shared that he wanted to transition out of the position of webmaster. I am not even sure how long Tom has been our webmaster extraordinaire, but it has been a long time and he has really set the standard for our external presence. Thank you so much, Tom! Being of the mindset that no one should serve more than six years in one volunteer position, I did not beg Tom to continue on as the webmaster although I did debate it in my mind for a bit. Seeing a volunteer need, Jan Hardenbergh decided to step up and take the reins of webmaster, thus I say to him “may we live long and prosper, Jan!” Jan, in the role of webmaster, is now participating as a member of CTT.
We have high hopes and lots of plans for CTT and our internal communication as well as our outreach into the Metrowest community. If you are interested in hearing more about CTT’s project plan and strategic action feel free to attend the “council” meeting on March 14th from 10-1. We will begin our time together discussing what we have learned in the last year and a half about First Parish and where we might consider expending some energy and resources in the short and long term, questions will be welcome. I could go on and on with all of the amazing news, but instead I will save it for when I see you next, which will hopefully be soon!
Peace and Love Rev. Marjorie
In thinking about my New Year’s resolution, “build core strength and maintain balance in mind, body and spirit” I turned to an article in Lifehack, an online news source that offered three steps to help one develop a strategy to follow through on one’s resolution. The first step begins with making attainable and specific goals, maybe even break each goal up into stages for easier completion. Secondly, share the resolution and goals with others which may be a bit more motivational knowing that a friend or loved one is watching and helping us toward success. And my favorite step, reward one’s self when she or he reach a specific stage en route to the goal. Well, I got the “sharing my resolution” part done. Is it time for a reward yet?
I have several goals with regard to First Parish. One is two-fold: First, engage members in sharing their “spiritual” journeys with one another.
In an article I recently read these words rang true, “Our liberation is completely entwined with everyone else’s liberation. Everybody needs to be in the room for all of us to wake up together. It’s not about helping anybody. It’s about us waking up together…” Why do we need to wake up to one another’s presence, humanity, need, hurt, and joy? I believe that waking up to a world of compassion rather than disrespect and violence should be our primary commitment. You may wonder if it isn’t much easier to remain insulated and isolated from the needs of the world? Many would say “yes” and so the epidemic of silo-ism rages on. This is my concern: If we do not care for one another the discontent and incivility of the world/community/neighborhood will make its way to our doorstep, and by that point it will have gained such momentum that we, as individuals, and as a community, will be unable to have significant impact.
Last Friday, at the high school several teens stood up in solidarity, as an act of defiance, over the decision not to indict the police officer who fatally shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson. The action in the high school got heated
Denny Donaldson, a longtime member who died last year, maintained a “List of 10.” On her list she shared, for example, in the “number 1 spot” was that she was a happy wife and mother – of course that makes perfect sense. I am sure that many of us could make such a list but what surprised and challenged me about Denny’s list were entries number 7 and 8: “Each season is my favorite and each month is my favorite.” Initially I thought, “how can this be?” I mean of course I love the summer the most with its warmer days, sun, and the luxury of time spread out in front of me, but as the leaves turn color and bedazzle my eyes, the coolness offers some relief and the bugs recede a bit, I am starting to think that maybe Denny had some real insight to share because now fall seems to also be my favorite season. What if like Denny I/we are able to love something about all seasons or all months. I am not rushing through fall but honestly I love that first snowfall. Maybe there are endearing and important qualities the whole year through? What would be on your list of 10?
In the spirit of lists I have some thoughts and news to share with you:
1) This Saturday begins our “Seeker Potlucks” which are an evening of multi-media, live music and musings about the monthly worship theme. These incredible events will be held the first Saturday of every month so please plan on attending, bring some food to share as we gather in community, think about the worship theme of the month (this month: radical hospitality) and to be serenaded by the tones and tunes of featured artists. This month it will be Edj and Buren Andrews and their friend Taylor. Mark it on your calendar this Saturday night October 4th, beginning at 5:30 in the Commons, and don’t forget to bring a friend!
2) You may have noticed that we have changed the format for the Connector. It is now shorter and published weekly as “The Weekly Connector.” I would be interested to hear what you think about this new “connector” format so please let Leslie Silva our Congregational Administrator or myself know.
3) I wanted to update you on my weekly schedule. With the help of the Board of Trustees and the Committee on Ministry, I have committed to take off one day a week, Mondays. I will not be available from Sunday evening through Monday via email, phone or to meet except for emergencies. If you do have an emergency please call me on my mobile phone, 617-838-2022. It is truly the best way to contact me.
4) Another question that I get asked quite often is what is my weekly schedule and if I keep regular and open office hours? Any of the days that I am in the office, which tend to be Tuesday or Wednesday, are usually filled with meetings. However, if you would like to meet with me, I would love to meet right back with you. I would suggest that you reach out to me via e-mail or on my mobile phone so that we can set a time to meet in my study or talk over the phone. Here is my basic daily schedule:
Monday OFF except the first Monday of the month during the evening which is reserved for the Board of Trustees meeting.
Tuesday 10 – 9 meetings offsite and at FPS, planning for worship and writing.
Wednesday 10 – 9 meetings offsite and at FPS, reading.
Thursday 10 – 9 research and writing sermon.
Friday 10 – 6 more research and writing sermon.
Saturday 10 – 9 rituals (weddings and funerals), meetings, gatherings and events (such as the Seeker Potluck, Harvest Fair, annual auction…)
Sunday 8 – 5 worship, events and meetings
* with this schedule in mind there are hours of responding to email, doing ministerial and management tasks, as well as engaging in social media review and response.
5) As far as correspondence please do not hesitate to e-mail me multiple times, call me, ask me on Sunday after worship, or remind me of anything that might be of concern to you. I try to remember absolutely everything, but at times I do forget. I do not get upset when reminded.
6) It is hard when I find out after the fact that you have had some injury, loss, or surgery. I sincerely want to know what is happening with you so I can help.You may tell some of our lay leaders, but there is no certainty that I will find out. I have fairly good intuition but, unfortunately, I’m not a mind reader. I ask that if you have a pastoral concern (about you or a loved one or another member or friend at FPS), please let me know. You can also reach out to a member of the Pastoral Associates Group (PAG) or our Congregational Administrator Leslie Silva, who can help you connect you with the right person.
7) Another topic that has been in my heart and on my mind is Adult Spiritual/Religious Experiences. A friend of mine, Annie Weatherwax recently had a book published called, “All We Had” about homelessness. I will be offering a book discussion in November; I am trying to get my friend, Annie to participate. Here is the conundrum: Annie’s book has been really successful and optioned for a movie and has been selected by Oprah to be one of her books (http://www.oprah.com/book/All-We-Had?editors_pick_id=46876
), so Annie is traveling all over doing readings and signings. If you are interested in participating in the book discussion, read the book and stay tuned for the date in November – – there also may be some online component to this discussion if you are interested but cannot participate at FPS. I am also planning to offer a series of dates to discuss the over arching tenets of the world’s religions complete with field trips. Stay tuned beginning in January.
8) I would like to schedule a meeting before December to meet with the men and the women who bid on, and won, the two sermons I offered in the auction. Maybe we could meet separately one Sunday in the next few weeks after worship to discuss possible topics.
9) Beginning in October, in celebration of our 375th anniversary, the Memorial Congregational Church in town (MCC) and FPS, will gather on several occasions to honor our history and to better understand how we can work together to build the beloved community. On October 19th the members, friends and children of MCC will gather at FPS for worship and fellowship. The Rev. Tom O’Brien and I will discuss our collective and separate histories and imagine the various ways that we can work together to create civility in Sudbury and beyond. Maybe even learn to play and have some fun together in the coming year.
10) As the days continue to evolve from summer into fall and fall into winter let us be mindful of all the beauty and blessings that surround us. I look forward in the coming months to traveling with you on a mission of sorts to cultivate a practice of mindfulness that may just help us be present in our lives and in community with one another.
I look forward to the exciting months ahead and yet I am not willing to rush a moment of this seasonal transformation. Join me in reveling in the right now.
Peace and Love, Rev. Marjorie
Okay, I admit it my feet are slightly sore after walking through Boston, Newton and Cambridge on Sunday, May 4th. However, it was well worth the effort as First Parish of Sudbury was the 8th largest fundraising team to participate in the Walk for Hunger! Last year a few stalwart souls walked but on Sunday we were 40+ people strong walking and volunteering. I wouldn’t say that it was hard work but it was work that required one step in front of the other to get where we needed to go. In many ways the effort we put forth this last Sunday is a metaphor for the effort that so many of the members and friends have offered throughout this year. Having just completed my annual report I was amazed at all that we have begun and accomplished. It takes all of us to make it happen. I believe that one of the biggest accomplishments thus far is that the shortfall in the budget this last year never really arrived and we have come away from the budgeting process with the goal of a balanced budget and it looks like we are going to achieve that goal. My friends, I told you this year that you were financially not that far off and that First Parish of Sudbury was in good shape. We worked hard this year, especially the Stewardship Team, to bridge the gap and we have succeeded and that is good news indeed!
There is so much more to be done! To begin with we have two staff members transitioning Donna and Roberta and I would like us to celebrate their leave-taking with gratefulness. Roberta Altamari will be staying on with us but in a different role so we will not be seeing her on Sundays and I for one will miss her. Donna Scalcione will be transitioning from staff back into the congregation, she has worked hard for the congregation for the last six years and I know that it has been much appreciated! We are still sorting out our “shift in roles” party so stay tuned for more information. Over the next several weeks we will be seeking two new staff members a Congregational Administrator, a role which we have filled and will be sharing more information about in the very near future and a Director of Religious Education which we are interviewing candidates for presently. Your leadership is working hard to bring it all together for you the members and friends of First Parish.
I know that I promised that we would slow down a bit and in May for the most part we will but here are a few highlights over the next several weeks to get on your calendars: appreciation Sunday will be on May 18th all are encouraged to attend with a special treat after worship (well at least I hope it will be a treat) I will be making pancakes, our annual meeting will be take place after worship on June 1st, flower communion will take place on June 8th, we will be working on the Habitat for Humanity build in Wayland on June 14th, and attending the Unitarian Universalist Associations General Assembly in Rhode Island at the end of June. All of these events will be fun to participate in and offer opportunities to get to know one another and broaden our community. What an incredible way to begin summer services!
I have to say as we move into May and the flowers are starting the bloom and the bees are a buzzing it is mind boggling how fast time has flown. It was just a year ago last week that we first met and that it was clear that we would begin a journey together. I feel blessed that I am with you at FPS and I hope that you feel something similar. This congregation of individuals is what makes this meetinghouse come alive and the work that we choose to do in the world makes it a little bit better for all. I am so proud of what we have done together this year this congregation rocks in the best way possible.
Thank you for being you and for all that you do every single day!