Good Morning. My name is Toby Smith Ropeik.
When I first walked into First Parish, 23 years ago, I admit, I came as a skeptic, having been areligious for 25 years. Well, I felt more at home that first Sunday, than at any other religious place I’d ever been associated with or visited. For me, THAT was a miracle. I began attending every week… just WAITING for something to go wrong. Only, it never did. I integrated my children into RE. My husband joined me, FINALLY! But that’s another story. I made wonderful new friends, worked on committees, taught RE. I became part of a new community.
From youth group, my daughter learned the responsibilities that went with leadership. My quiet and reserved son stood right here delivering his Coming of Age credo. All these were little miracles to me. Now, this is not to say I see First Parish as perfect. More like family – which we all know is never easy. I HAVE found myself angry at times. Disappointed in leadership… or other parishioners. And – here comes my confession – I am deeply embarrassed to admit that in some years, I pulled back — stopped attending… EVEN, I’m ashamed to say, reduced my pledge to make a statement about MY… PERSONAL…frustration.
But NEVER again. Because when I served on the ministerial search team, something changed for me. I FINALLY got it! First Parish is about a lot more than me or MY own family. It’s about ALL of us. SO, NOW, if I’m not personally experiencing a miracle this week…or this year, that’s okay. Because others are. And THAT’s what my annual pledge supports. It’s also why my husband and I have doubled our pledge over the last few years. Because WE, as a congregation, DO sow miracles everyday. We should be PROUD of that. Because each one is priceless to someone sitting among us. So, here’s MY hope for First Parish. That when we pledge, I hope each of us keeps in mind the BIG picture. And pledges as generously as possible. For ALL our sakes. You have the opportunity to participate in the Annual Pledge Campaign right now.
You’ll find pledge cards, envelopes, and pens in the pews. Just place your completed card in the offering plate or drop it off at the church office. If you want some guidance, • The Annual Pledge campaign asks anyone who pledged more than $1,000 per household last year — to increase that pledge at least 5% this year. • If you pledged between $500 and $1,000, please pledge at least $1,000 this year, if you can. • And if you pledged between zero and $500, please consider giving at least $500. MOST OF ALL, we want you to participate in the Annual Pledge Campaign— because every pledge matters, no matter the size. I will be at coffee hour if you would like to speak further. (pause) And, just in case I haven’t talked enough about money, YET, the offering for the good work and witness of this church will now be gratefully received.