I miss being together with you all!
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Leah Russell and I grew up in the UU tradition. Several years ago, when it was time to find my UU church for my family, I knew it wouldn’t be easy to find a place that was as naturally comfortable for me as the one I grew up in. After all, that church had surrounded me since before I could remember. I also knew, that I would not be considering First Parish in Concord! It was too big. There were too many people for an introvert like me to find connection. So, with that in mind, I went about spending time with some of the smaller UU congregations in the area. But none of them were really the right place for me. So, I decided to broaden my search and, one day, a little over five years ago, I came to check out First Parish in Concord…knowing it wasn’t right for me, mind you…but so I could at least check it off the list.
Well, here I am. So, obviously my instincts were wrong. The stars were aligned, I was smitten, and this community has been nourishing my soul every Sunday (and the days in between) since then.
This past year has been so hard for all of us. Adding to the difficulties of the pandemic last year, my family also dealt with a months-long health struggle which sent my already-upside down pandemic world spinning further out of control.
But, we got through it. Thanks in part to you. To this community. In-person sure would have been a lot better, but Zoom church on Sundays always helped me find the strength for the week. And members of this congregation supported me as well. I am so grateful you have been there for me. Thank you.
But let’s get back to the purpose at hand…pledging. Harkening back to my first months at First Parish five years ago. One Sunday was “Celebration Sunday”. And THAT sounded like fun. Little did I know, it was the Sunday we pledge to the Annual Campaign, which was probably a good thing. I am usually very cautious with money and rarely make spur of the moment decisions about spending. So there I was, pledge card in hand without a plan. And then, I did the most un-Leah-like thing ever. I filled it in with a dollar amount that was out of my comfort zone and handed it in before I could change my mind.
That worked! And it has been my pledging philosophy ever since. To push my pledge amount to a place that feels a little uncomfortable. So far, the execution has been painless. The fact is, finances adjust accordingly. Once the money is pledged, it’s gone and I still find ways to do the things I need to.
I pledge for the joy of being part of this supportive and vibrant community. I pledge for the countless social action initiatives that are so necessary for the future of our world. I pledge for each child who is shaped by our R.E. program. As long as I can, I will continue to increase my pledge each year to a place that is a little out of my comfort zone, and this year, in particular I am planning to pledge more than I might have, knowing that some in our congregation may have to cut back as a result of the pandemic. I hope those of you that can, will join me in pledging just a little more than is comfortable, so that First Parish not only survives, but that it thrives.