First Parish in Concord has been part of my life story for as long as I can remember. It is a tradition that dates back to the 1940s when both sets of grandparents moved to Concord and became part of the First Parish family. My parents were both raised in this church.
Many of the RE programs we have today look like programs we had when I was a child. Volunteer parents taught the RE classes. We had “the church across the street” that was similar to Neighboring Faiths. Our version of OWL was called AYS – About Your Sexuality. I will never forget the Sunday afternoon when my Dad, who was my AYS teacher, illustrated one birth control method by slipping a condom onto a cucumber. We even had LRY on Sunday nights – “Liberal Religious Youth” which felt a lot like our youth group programs do today.
Fast forward to 1997, when Johanna and I moved back to Concord with our growing family. Johanna came from a staunch Episcopalian background that felt a lot different than RE done UU style. I had an obvious preference for where our children should get their religious education, and when Johanna sat through her first COA service, witnessing (and crying) as an amazing class of 9th graders shared their personal credos, she was sold.
As a child I was unaware of the role First Parish families played in providing the financial fuel that made First Parish run – non-carbon based and socially responsible, of course. But now I do. And that’s why we put First Parish at the top of our annual giving list.
There are so many “good causes” out there, so many good organizations doing all manner of good work. What distinguishes First Parish is that this community is actually building character and shaping lives. It is forming children into people who make the world a better place.
When it comes to finances, we need to remember First Parish is wholly self-sufficient. There is no secret pool of money to bridge the gap when we fall short of our goals. Johanna and I are grateful for this church, for this staff, for these programs, and for this community. We increased our pledge by 11% this year and encourage you to do the same. There are few charitable organizations where your money will make a bigger impact. Let’s make sure this community has the resources it needs to keep building character and shaping lives. There is no more important work.