Transition Reflections Week 5: Lay Leadership

Reflections from Reverend Kathleen Hepler

spiral of rainbow colored heartsLay Leaders are the hub of congregational health and evolution. I have learned more from my relationships with lay leaders in my 11 years here than from anything else. Those who have been most joyful about their service to First Parish are those who understand leadership as a spiritual practice. My deep appreciation goes to all these people who have blessed my life.

In 2007, a group of First Parish leaders wanted to open an extension of the Sudbury Free Medical Program here. They met and discussed how it might unfold. They hatched a plan and included the congregation in conversation about it. Since 2008, over 2,000 people who are under-insured have received medical care.

That same year, another group of First Parish leaders led us through the process of becoming a site for Family Promise MetroWest. This work is still going strong! I could point to all the outreach programs here and behind their strength and goodness are lay leaders.

I have worked side-by-side with ten board chairs over the years and about 33 different board members. They have crafted budgets, championed a visioning process, dealt with conflict, made learning a habit, crafted policies given up so much personal time, and supported the many programs and happenings here. They lived their faith by taking a turn at being a leader. Nothing humbles me more about church life than these people.

Lay people have led two big capital drives in the past 11 years. I thank them for leading our generous congregation to sustain our beautiful buildings. Likewise, I thank those who have led our Auction and Pies on the Common and other fundraising efforts these many years.

I have had the great privilege of working with many people on the Worship and Arts Council over the years. They have secured guest speakers, discussed worship elements and their effectiveness, and so much more

I have not named names. This list of contributions is partial. You now who you are. I won’t forget you.

Reflections from Greg Wells

I first came to First Parish in 1985 because I wanted a place to belong. I had an empty place in my life that I was looking to fill, and my initial experience here was like coming home. I first liked Sunday sermons and the friendship share at coffee hour, and soon I started participating with the idea of doing my share.  My first year, I approached the canvass leaser and pledged the amount that if everyone pledged , the budget would be met. Since I was so grateful for the ability to work with competent people and accomplish real goals, I was walking with giants, learning things and doing things unavailable to me before. Soon Fist parish was my church, the members here, my congregation.

Participation opportunities come in different ways. In 2010, Kathleen asked me to be part of the 20/20 team, imagining the next five years at First Parish, which led to facilitating a Journey Group. This was my first experience where the only purpose was to share and learn about each other on a personal level. Sometimes I was asked to participate, to fill an opening like the role of Moderator. Sometime I would simply inquire and volunteer. There are so many things to do here at First parish. You do not need to be the committee chair or to speak in front of the congregation, but you can do these things is you choose. A lay leader is someone who loves the church and works to keep it as the oasis we first found and that kept us coming back,.

As a youth leader, I learned that the best group was where everyone was a leader. I see that ever time I come to church. A task needs someone, and someone steps forward. I have been a member for over thirty years, Most of the people who first inspired me are no longer here, but others have stepped up and I am inspired again. It takes many hands to build a community like First Parish. I found what I was looking for back in 1985. I learned what “belonging to” means. Be involved, participate, add your voice. Give your support and accomplish something that takes many hands to accomplish. Everyone can be a leader.