In the Unitarian Universalist tradition, congregations call their own ministers after a yearlong search process. An installation service the following year seals the bond between the minister and the congregation, much like a wedding after an engagement. The community is invited to the hourlong service, followed by a reception in the Parish Hall.
Reflecting on her year here, the Rev. Person says the congregation’s strong commitment to one another and the wider community continues to amaze her. “People step up and show up, with meals, visits, whatever help is needed. It’s not just sending cards,” she says. “There is such an outpouring of support for people who have lost someone or are just having hard times.”
Each month the church gives away the cash collected in it offering plate to a community organization or the minister’s discretionary fund. “That’s so unusual for a church this size,” she says. “This church has been incredibly generous. Letting me help families not just in the church but outside its walls with utilities, rent, and food is something we see as part of our mission.”
She remembers on her first Sunday, when an elder church leader went forward to lead a hymn, one of the littlest members dashed to the front to lead with him. “That’s one of the many examples I’ve seen of the strong relationship between the generations. There’s a real commitment to our children and teens.”
This year each Sunday has begun by welcoming everyone to “a church that puts love at the heart of our lives together.” That sums up First Unitarian Universalist Society’s spirit, she says. “I do believe this church understands how much they have to offer and how much what they offer is needed. And they want to share that with more people in our community.”
At the installation service, the sermon will be delivered by the Rev. Jan Nielsen, senior minister of the Universalist Church of West Hartford, Connecticut, where the Rev. Person served as associate minister before coming to Middleborough. The Rev. Daniel King of the First Congregation Parish in Kingston and the Rev. Christana Wille McKnight of the First Parish Church in Taunton will also participate.
Music director Susan Hotchkiss and Patty Simon will perform from “Suite Antique” for flute and piano by John Rutter, and the Chalice Choir will sing the spiritual “There Is More Love Somewhere,” arranged by Clif Hardin.
The First Unitarian Universalist Society of Middleborough affirms and promotes the full participation of all persons in its activities, welcoming everyone without regard to race, color, gender, physical or mental challenge, age, class, national origin or sexual orientation. Sunday services begin at 10:30 a.m. in the sanctuary at 25 South Main Street, next to the Town Hall, and church activities are held throughout each week. For more information, see www.uumiddleboro.org.