My family and I found First Parish while church shopping almost 6 years ago. I was raised in a church, and although my feelings about it were a bit complicated, I knew that I wanted my children to have a spiritual home. I wanted my children to be called to be their best selves. I also wanted to show them a community beyond our demographic; to show them there is a whole world, even within own town, that does not revolve around school and soccer and music together.
I approached church warily; hoping I could find something to provide my children with the religious basis I appreciate without too much religious baggage. Prior to coming to First Parish, I had never heard of Unitarian Universalism; but my kids were drawn to this place and would share interesting tidbits from their time in RE. That seemed like a good start. As a parent, the hour of peace, accompanied by Gary’s “greatest hits” was thoroughly enjoyable.
After only a few visits, the impact of this choice became apparent. Mark and I were having an ideological debate at the dinner table, expressing our contrasting views as a Baptist and a Catholic. My then-kindergartener interrupted… “But Mommy and Daddy- we are Unitarian Universalists with minds that think, hearts that love and hands that are ready to serve”. I was stunned. It was the first time I had heard those words. What may have been the most shocking to me was that it was a recipe for a spiritual life that we all could agree upon. Now, our whole family knows about living by the seven principles.
To me, it is a small miracle that we found a place to nourish our whole family, not only our children. This place and this movement was something I didn’t even know I needed, but I did.
This sentiment is why I am so excited that we are committed to eliminating RE fees this year. I am excited that when a new family crosses our threshold, they will be invited to engage in this community, rather than simply enroll their children. This shift underscores how religious education is different than the myriad of other enriching activities available to our children in the community. It also emphasizes that what we offer is for all ages and it demonstrates that our congregation values children and religious education.
This year, my family increased our pledge by more than 5% that was requested, in anticipation that we will no longer be asked for registration fees. First Parish is important to myself and my family and our pledge reflects that. You also have an opportunity to participate in the Annual Pledge Campaign this morning.
There are pledge cards, envelopes, and pens in the pews. You may place your pledge card in the offering plate or bring it to the church office after the service. I will be at coffee hour if you would like to speak further. The Annual Pledge campaign asks people who pledged more than $1,000 per household last year to increase their pledge at least 5% this year. People who pledged between $500 and $1,000 are asked to give at least $1,000 this year, if they can.
And people who pledged between zero and $500 are asked to give at least $500, if they are able. Mostly we want you to participate in the Annual Pledge Campaign—because every pledge matters, no matter the size.