We are geraing up for a planned pilgrimage to Transylvania in August! Are you interested in joining us? Click here for more information.
In 2009-2010, a Working Group for a Partnership Church formed to explore the possibility of partnering with an overseas Unitarian church. From extensive discussions with other UU churches with partnerships and with the Unitarian-Universalist Partnership Church Council (UUPCC), members of the group concluded that a partnership relationship would enrich our congregational life by connecting us directly with Unitarians in cultures different from our own. In January 2010, First Parish officially joined the Partnership Church Council, which has a well-developed infrastructure for supporting partnerships with Transylvanian churches in particular.
The partnership idea quickly gained momentum after information sessions and other events. From the original working group of three people, the group quickly grew to 11 people, including liaisons who represent different groups within the church. The roster included John Burt, Jo Anne Preston, Michelle Deakin, Carol Chamberlain, John Chamberlain, Sue Cross, Ellen Leigh, and Susan Marsh. Liaison members were Dawn Albright (R.E. Committee), Dorothy May (choir), Gwen Hooper (The Alliance).
On 16 May 2010 First Parish unanimously approved partnership with the Unitarian church in Gagy, Transylvania, Romania. The Gagy church was recommended by the UUPCC. It is headed by an energetic and creative minister, Zoltan Gal, who is proficient in English. With this vote, the Partnership Church Working Group formally became the Partnership Church Committee.
The Partnership Church Committee (PCC) fosters an ongoing relationship with the Gagy congregation by developing a joint vision of a shared sustainable partnership. Regular communications with Rev. Gal and several other church members were established via email and other correspondence. With the help of the UUPCC, plans for organizing and funding travel to Transylvania, as well as raising money and applying for grants to bring Rev. Gal and his wife here were started.
A First Trip to Our Partner Church -- July, 2011
The fundraising efforts were successful, and with the encouragement of Rev. Gal, planning started for a trip of Arlington pilgrims to travel to Hungary and Romania in late June 2011. A group of seven intrepid pilgrims from Arlington traveled for 14 days in Hungary and Romania that summer, culminating in 4 days visiting with our Gagy brothers and sisters. The pilgrims were Rev. Marta Flanagan, Michael Friedman, Jo Anne Preston, John Burt, Denisa Burt, Mary Young, and Carol Orme-Johnson (who joined us Azerbaijan, where she was serving in the Peace Corps). A travel blog of their adventures can be found here and you may read travelers' reflections presented during an October 23rd church service.
The PCC is looking forward to more wonderful exchanges with our Gagy partner congregation and encourages all who are interested to join us in future endeavors, including helping to arrange for Rev. Gal and his wife to visit Arlington. If you are interested, please contact one of the committee members or email partnerchurch @ firstparish.info. The current committee includes Jo Anne Preston, John Burt, John and Carol Chamberlain, Michael Friedman, Ellen Leigh, Carol Orme-Johnson, and Mary Young.