by Rev. Peter Connolly

Has it really been two years already?  When I think back on the 3-day drive from Bowling Green, Kentucky, to Middleboro, that certainly seems ages ago.  But when I think back on the first time I stepped into my office, the first time I met Val and Kelly and Susan, that doesn’t seem so long ago at all.  I made arrangements to meet Val at the church to pick up my key, but I did not know who she was or what she looked like, so when I heard noises coming from the sanctuary, I went up to introduce myself to a very nice and lively woman.  Only several minutes into the conversation did I realize that I was speaking not with Church Administrator Val Ortelt, but with Music Director Susan Hotchkiss.  And so the potentially awkward process of finding my way began.  Staff and church members ensured that it went as smoothly as possible, though.

I remember looking through the latest edition of our church directory and counting up the names I recognized from twenty years earlier– no less than fifty!  That told me two things– that this church had a stable membership and that we were getting, well, long in the tooth.  Bob Waterman gave me a tour of the church.  It seemed that every few feet, he would say, “This is storage and this is storage and this is storage.”  A church with a 133-year history has a lot of things to store!  Bob was the perfect person to introduce me to the church, not only because he knew it so intimately, but because his manner was so open, thoughtful, and friendly.  One of the great shocks of my life was receiving the call from Sue Curtiss telling me that Bob had died. It felt like a deep personal loss to me; I could only imagine what the church family was feeling.  And, truth to tell, I wondered if we could find a way to get through it together.  In some way, the grieving service we pulled together a few days after receiving the news marked a new stage in the life of the church.  I was so pleased with the quality of the tributes and the deep sense of community that was clearly present.  I still didn’t know how well we would get through this loss, but my confidence in the health of the church community was bolstered.

We accomplished a good many things together.  We adopted a new mission statement, the first one in twenty years– and we’ve integrated it into the life of the church in several ways.  We’ve drafted a church covenant statement, which I hope we will adopt at the upcoming congregational meeting.  It reminds us of our duties to one another when we say it together at each Sunday worship service.  We have resurrected a Public Relations Team, which I expect will become even more effective under the capable leadership of Bet Giddings in the new church year.  Our Pastoral Care Team has provided a spiritual anchor.  We have done our best to see that the congregation feels well cared for when in time of need, whether a congregant lives in Middleboro or one of the surrounding communities (50% of us do).  We are working on our sixth (!) draft of an organizational chart which we hope to have in place for September.  I could go on, but I’m in danger of recreating an annual report.

Returning to Middleboro as your interim minister twenty years after my parish ministerial career started here as your first student intern minister has been a blessing.  I hope you all feel that way, too.  We still have a month to be together– plenty of time to offer gratitude and to celebrate community.

Peaceful days,

Rev. Peter

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