D: We moved to Concord in 1996 because we fell in love with First Parish. And we immediately made supporting First Parish part of our household budget.
R: We’re both self-employed, and financially that means we’ve been up and we’ve been down.
D: Up is better.
R: There were years when we were able to pledge a lot of money to the annual campaign.
D: And years when we couldn’t afford anything more than a few dollars in the plate.
R: But whatever the amount of our contribution, First Parish was here for us.
D: About 2009, we quietly told Melissa Gallo that, because of financial reversals, we had to delay our pledge to the reconstruction of the organ. She said, “that’s okay, you do what you can.”
R: We managed to fulfill that pledge two years later, just 10 days before the final deadline.
D: Many of you know we had a tough time adopting and raising three severely traumatized children. In 2011, we sold our beloved farmhouse on Fairhaven Road. We told most people we were downsizing because the kids were grown. But that was a face-saving story.
R: The truth is, we sold our house to pay off $300,000 in debt we had incurred to therapeutic schools and doctors and lawyers. In 2011 we suspended most of our contributions. But the First Parish Community didn’t suspend its friendship, patience and support for us. And in the seven years since 2011, we’ve worked our way back to financial health, and back to contributing more.
D: First Parish was there for us because you were there for First Parish. You, and people who are no longer here. Betty King. Val Holt. Gene Brown. Jenny Rankin. Gary Smith. So many others. And years from now, people who haven’t yet walked through those doors will sustain First Parish, so it can be a source of support, education, justice and joy for future generations.
R: So we repeat to you the message we have always heard here at First Parish: Give what you can, and no matter what you give, we will be here for you.
D: And we ask you on Celebration Sunday to think of giving just a little more.
R: Five percent more.
D: Because to the left and right of you today are people who this year can’t give as much. And in front and in back of you are people who can give more. If we all give what we can – what we REALLY can afford – First Parish will be here for us all, and for generations to come.