The Pastor’s Summer Letter
Dear Wollaston Congregational Church Members and Friends,
The hymn “We’ve Come this Far by Faith” is on my mind, as I look back over this past program year at Wollaston Congregational Church. This is an African American hymn that is often sung as a processional in black churches. The name and the refrain resonates with a verse from our Bible, 1 Samuel 7:12: “then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the LORD has helped us.’” (NRSV). The people of Israel have been through a great ordeal, as they battled against the Philistines, but they have not been overcome. The prophet Samuel recognizes that God has delivered them, so far, on their journey. They mark the moment with a stone set on the road they travel. And yet, they still have a way to go in order to be the kind of people God intends them to be.
Looking back over the past year of pandemic, I think that we too can say “we’ve come this far by faith.” At the beginning of the program year in September, we were optimistic that coronavirus infection levels were going down. We began with some tentative outdoor worship services, with the hope of re-gathering in the sanctuary before winter. But infection levels rose instead of falling, and we remember the sadness of celebrating Thanksgiving and then Christmas separated from loved ones.
But WCC attendees showed up each week on Zoom to observe the changing of the liturgical seasons from Advent to Christmas to Epiphany to Lent. We sang the hymns of our faith and prayed together. We conducted Advent and Lenten programs with good participation. We learned even more about using Zoom for online programs and meetings, and we will continue to use this tool in certain circumstances even after the pandemic.
Attendees of our church began to receive their vaccinations in January. We are incredibly grateful to Kim Kroeger for her work in Public Health and the way in which she got WCC people scheduled for vaccine shots. We hope and pray that we are seeing the end of the pandemic in our community. We also hope and pray that the end will soon come for the rest of the world. During the warmer months we gathered in person again, first outside on our lawn and for the past few weeks in our sanctuary with some restrictions.
Over the past year, the Stewards have continued to research and propose a new building project. We have held a couple of informational meetings for the congregation and, during the Annual Meeting, the congregation voted to make money available to engage an architect to outline plans for a possible redevelopment. We have reached out to the city planning department, with the creation of condominiums on the sanctuary side of the building, and the development of multi-purpose community and worship space on the Parish House side. We will need to work with the city, on issues such as parking and the building’s historic status. We have also reached out to two different architects for their proposals.
We are grateful that our building did not remain unused over the program year, with thanks to Kate Wylie. The Rising Tides Academy, which opened last September, is thriving. Melodrama has run programs and camps all year. This month we are hosting a Youth Group for one week, and various groups are returning to use our space. Over the course of the year we baptized a new attendee, Svana, we celebrated the marriage of our dear pianist, Alice Xu and her beloved husband Miles Fellenberg, and we bid a sad farewell to life-long member, Ellie Cleveland. This past Sunday, we awarded five scholarships to Connor Mui, Hannah Ford, Izzy Doherty, WeMegan Neil and Abby Egan.
I would like to announce the formation of a new committee: the Pastor Parish Relations Committee. The goal of this committee is to provide for clear and transparent communications between the congregation and the minister. Mary Phillips and Mary Treacy will serve on this committee and will meet with me regularly to discuss my function as pastor. They are also available to me for support and will serve as liaison between the congregation and minister as needed. If you have any concerns or questions about this committee, please feel free to reach out to myself or to one of the committee members.
And so my question for you, church member or church friend, is how will you spend this summer? Will you use this time for Sabbath rest, even if it is just one hour on Sunday mornings through Marian’s Music and Meditation offerings? Will you allow yourself to process and to grieve all that has passed over the last year? Will you spend time in reflection on your part in our faith community, your hopes and dreams for our future together? Will you pray and look to scripture and other writings for God’s guidance for your life and the life of our church? If you would like guidance in any of these activities, please reach out to me. I would be glad to talk with you.
Indeed, we have come this far by faith, and we will only continue our journey together by faith.
I will hold you in my heart and in my prayers these summer months,
To participate in Zoom worship or to contact Rev. Liz, email email@example.com or call the church at (617) 773-7432.