It’s September, 2023, and the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Middleboro enters its 134th church year with a mixture of hope and anticipation. From all reports, our summer services were well-attended most weeks and succeeded in advancing the cause of our mission– to provide a sanctuary where people can come together as a community to foster spiritual and personal growth through education and open discussion, offering the opportunity for meditation and worship, and serving as a liberal religious voice in Middleboro. Our “Celebration Sunday” in June recognized the many accomplishments of our church body, from providing quality pastoral care, responsible financial stewardship, engaging worship services, a deeply satisfying musical program, and active involvement in actions for social justice. Our members continue to step up to fill important institutional roles, and when we come together as a community, it is with exuberant welcome and a sense of good fellowship. So, we are justified in fostering hope for another successful church year.
The 2023-24 church year will be my last as your interim minister and certainly, we can expect an aura of anticipation during the course of the year as our ministerial search committee engages in its work. In preparation for call of a settled minister or the hiring of a contract minister (the committee will explain the difference, I’m sure), I anticipate that we will create and adopt a bond of covenant which will state clearly how we pledge to treat one another in good times and hard times and will do the work necessary to sharpen our mission statement, which has not been revised in twenty years. I expect that we will create an organizational chart which will clarify lines of responsibility and discernment in the work we do together as a valued institution and that we will continue to gather in joyful community.
In addition to sharing our joys and responsibilities, a significant task of the year will be to grieve together the loss of church leader and most recent recipient of the Elsie Gaudette Award for distinguished service, Bob Waterman, whose sudden death on July 15 left all of us in shock. As I write this, we still have not received notice of a cause of death and are not yet in a position to create a memorial service. Rest assured that we will honor Bob’s memory and his life of service throughout the year and will do our best to shoulder together the many responsibilities Bob took on in service to the church. I hope that we will dedicate the coming church year to Bob’s memory, honoring him by following his example of love in service.
I look forward to working with you all this year and look forward to our ongoing project of creating and sustaining a loving community.