2024 Pledge Campaign – Suzie Weaver

I am honored to be here today and to share with you a little bit about what First Parish means to me.

I first stepped foot into First Parish in October or November 1991, a few months after moving to Concord.  It seems so long ago, yet it also seems like just yesterday.  I was expecting a baby in just a few weeks, so as you can imagine, I sort of stood out as a newcomer.  Or at least my belly did.

After the service, Jan Lipcon came up to us to ask if we had questions and to show us around.  I remember having absolutely no idea what Unitarian Universalism was, but we had heard there was a good religious education program, and we were looking to meet people.  Fast forward, Chloe was born, and we obviously came back to church. We felt so welcomed at church and met quite a few people quickly and we stayed.

We stayed for when my 2nd child Cam was born in 1994.  When I brought Cam to First Parish with me when Cam was just 6 days old, I sat in the back of the sanctuary in case I needed to make a quick getaway.  Gary Smith, the minister at the time, spotted me and walked down from the pulpit to give me the rose which was on the front table in honor of Cam’s birth.  We felt so held by Gary and by the entire congregation.

We stayed for stayed for Gary Smith’s spiritual autobiography weekend at Senexet house.  Stayed for my first Women’s Retreat and Ferry Beach experiences sometime around 1996.  Stayed long enough have served on and chaired several committees, served on the Standing Committee, attended auctions, dinners, plays, concerts, picnics, speakers, worship services, marches, rallies, parades, and so much more.

My kids stayed too – from the time they were babies through Gospel Choir, plays with the Becks, Neighboring Faiths, youth group, Coming of Age, writing their credos.  Trips to Transylvania.  If memory serves, they both referenced the church and their Coming of Age experience in some of their college essays.

There were some really good times, good friends, and good memories made for all of us over the past 30+ years.  There were also major life changes – some really good, some really awful.  And a need for lots of support and community.  Some of you were truly my guardian angels, and others of you uplifted my kids during those darkest times.  In the midst of all the change, including several local moves, there was one thing that was constant.  And that was First Parish.

During the pledge campaign, we are asked to reflect on what First Parish means to us as we consider our pledge for the coming year.  For me, there were times when I was in various states of transition when I couldn’t make a financial pledge at the level I would have liked.  And even times when I relied on First Parish for some help, such as a scholarship to the Women’s Retreat.  Fortunately, I am in a better place now and I can pledge more generously.  First Parish needs me, needs us, in order to continue to offer to me and to all of you everything that we come here for.  But I also need First Parish, because First Parish is truly my community and my spiritual home.  Thank you.