Transition Reflections

April 15, Week 2

Connection to Our Denomination

Reflections from Kathleen Hepler

spiral of rainbow colored heartsFirst Parish is not alone in its religious endeavor! You are part of the New England Region and the Unitarian Universalist Association. In my 11 years here, I have been proud of all of you who have taken the time and effort to reach out to other UUs to both learn and teach. The congregation has benefited greatly because of it. For instance, former member Janice Knapp-Cordes was on the Board of UU Mass Action (state wide legislative UU advocacy) and currently member Alejandra Duarte is doing the same. Some of you attend their yearly legislative action day. i hope you have pride about the various ways you have been diligent supporters of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee. They serve fragile communities international. You send one half of the Christmas Eve offering to them every year, and support fundraising for them through “Guest at Your table” most years.

Through its connection to the UUA, First Parish will find both an interim minister and a more permanent called minister. The UUA credentials new ministers and provides a process within which congregations and ministers choose each other. The UU Minister’s Association care for ethical standards and collegiality among its members. For five years I served my colleagues as a “Good Officer,” offering consultation and support during difficult professional situations.

Over the years, First Parish members have attended many UUA workshops, connected with another congregation to consider growth strategies (Leap of Faith), and received consultation on long range planning (Vision 20/20). Finally our congregation is recognized as an excellent place for aspiring ministers to do their ministerial internships, In my time, there have been three: Michelle LaGrave, Michael Hall and Johanna Murphy. We ordained both Michelle and Michael here, and Johanna’s ordination is on June 16th.

In these, and so many other ways, you live the truth that “Together, UUs are stronger!”

Reflections from Janice Knapp-Cordes

To be a minister is to undertake serious responsibility to care for the spiritual lives on their congregants, and the congregation as a whole. For Unitarian Universalists, part of this includes contributing to and learning from the larger denomination. Over the years, Kathleen has kept us in touch with the New England Region and the UUA in Boston. She invited Teresa Cooley and Sue Philips from the region  to conduct workshops and discernment session for us, helping individuals to grow and helping our leaders to envision our future.

Kathleen had many forward-looking ideas that just needed a bit of funding which couldn’t be squeezed out of the budget, so she applied for grants from the Chalice Lighters. I particularly remember the Leap of Faith program, where Kathleen led a First Parish delegation to St. Paul to meet with UUA staff and partner with a congregation in Fairfax, Virginia that had successfully adopted policy governance. First Parish lay leaders learned  a great deal from the members in Fairfax and there was sharing going the other way too.

In recent years, First parish has built a particularly strong connection with UU Urban Ministry, committed to social justice and community outreach in Boston. Kathleen was always supportive of this work. UU Mass Action, the statewide network of UUs working for social justice, also always received Kathleen’s support. Finally, there is that grand finale to the church year, the UU General Assembly, to which Kathleen traveled many times. First parish members, including our youth, have also traveled to GA in recent years. The experience offers not only personal renewal, but also insight and ideas that are relevant for First Parish as a whole. Ministers are consummate and dedicated professional, committed to their holy work, and First Parish has been blessed to have had Kathleen Hepler as our minister.