2021 Pledge Testimonial – Lillian Anderson

Good morning.  I’m so glad to be with you today to share some of the memories of this place that I love so much, First Parish in Concord.  You know, I’m sure if each of you were asked, you would remember the first time you walked into the Parish Hall or into the Sanctuary, and you knew that this was a place that you would return to.  I can remember in the fall of 1973, when I was newly pregnant with my daughter Sarah, and we were asked to come to be at First Parish with our next door neighbors.  When I walked into the Parish Hall, I looked around, didn’t know anyone, and all of a sudden I realized I was being greeted.  Someone was walking toward me, an older woman, her name was Amy Verrill.  And she came up to me and asked me who I was and was I pregnant, because I looked pregnant.  She just enveloped me and embraced me and took me around the Parish Hall, introduced me to people.  Then when my daughter was born in March of 1974, she came to the hospital. 

Now, to me, that was extraordinary, it was over and above what you would think of as welcoming.  But it made such a difference in my life.  It meant to me that this was a group of people who cared and who showed their caring.  And I’m sure that during your time here at First Parish, you have moments just like that.

The other thing that I feel so strongly about, is that First Parish, it’s not only about getting, it’s about giving, it’s about giving back.  And also that there are opportunities for spiritual growth and to take risk in leadership.  What I mean by that is that I was approached when I was just newly there to take leadership positions, with really no background or skill in doing it, but with the trust that I was in a safe place and that I had the opportunity to try something that I might not be able to anywhere else.  Whether it’s on a committee or in a show, it really doesn’t matter, it’s all about building trust and working together as a community. 

So, that was the past.  I want to talk a little bit about the present and the future.  We’re here now in a moment of time when we have an extraordinary group of lay leaders.  I see it everywhere I look.  I see it in the Standing Committee, I see it in the Social Action groups that have formed, and the Youth Group, and this newly formed Congregational Life Committee.  This is an opportunity for all of us to change ourselves and to shape this institution that we love. 

This institution has been around for a long time.  But the only way that it will continue is if we continue to place our faith and trust in ourselves and in the institution.  So, think about what you can do to give back to this place that nurtures and strengthens all of us.  I think we are here right now, we are here together.  And even though we are in this moment of pandemic when we can’t be with one another, what we can do is we can dream about the future together.  We can think about what it will be like to be in the Parish Hall together to greet each other again, look around and see each other, and know that we will be there for each other.  Thank you.