|First Parish Church, Chelmsford|
It was 10 years ago this week that we walked through those doors. We had stopped looking seriously for a religious home for a while. Kathy was drawn to First Parish for many reasons including a friend’s happy involvement in her Unitarian Universalist church and a deep need to just “be” once a week. So when Kathy decided to try First Parish one Sunday, I decided to come along.
We felt at home immediately here. Everyone was warm, welcoming, and very genuine. Ellen’s sermon was thoughtful and uplifting. We talked about our experience here all that first week and couldn’t wait to return the following Sunday.
We remember those first few weeks like they were yesterday. It felt like Christmas morning every Sunday with new gifts opening for us in every corner.
It didn’t take long for us to jump into committee work. We easily found the right fits for us: Activities committee, membership, worship, house management. Our focus started with the “easy” stuff and eventually moved to places where we had to stretch ourselves. One of those places was small group ministry where we intentionally carved time out of our hectic schedules to talk about the important questions in life.
We not only served on committees, but started to chair them. Then we accepted and chaired committees where we served in elected positions. A lot of hours and some stress but it was important work that we felt we should do for the church we loved so much.
We stretched ourselves in other areas after that. Namely, RE. Years ago we said we could never see a time where we would be involved with the kids because we just didn’t think that was our forte given we don’t have children.
That changed when we were asked to be mentors to high schoolers in Coming of Age. There we discovered a joy that we never thought would exist for us. My involvement with the high school group for the past few years of Sunday mornings is one of the greatest joys of my life.
Our connection to individuals here grew along with our connection to the church. There are members here who have celebrated with us during happy times like our vow renewal service 5 years ago, birthday dance parties, and general silliness at social hour and times in between. These same people held us and mourned with us through job loss, family illnesses and deaths. And then there’s Ellen. Here for us as a steady and accepting presence that makes us feel like everything will be okay.
We don’t know how this story will end. How many more decade anniversaries we will celebrate in our life at First Parish. But we do know this: no matter what comes our way, we will continue to love and be loved here. Hold and be held. Laugh, cry, celebrate, ponder.
And no matter what we face in life, we will face it as members of a community that understands its important place in the lives and hearts of its fellow members.
We thank you ALL for a magical 10 years and light the chalice in your honor.