Why Should I Give?
First Parish Member Testimonials
About 40 years ago I came to First Parish hoping to contribute musically, with the caveat that I wanted to be able to appreciate what I was hearing from the pulpit. I found just that, and so much more.
Over the years the good friends and role models I have continually enjoyed and the shared ventures -- musical, culinary, and organizational -- have made First Parish a central and inspiring community for me.
Many of us believe that making a difference in the world and living our faith are core Unitarian Universalist values. It has attracted us to be part of this First Parish Arlington community. We donate food, we donate blood. We walk for hunger and affordable housing. We contribute to Giving First recipients each month and Renewal House on Christmas Eve.
We also contribute to other organizations close to our hearts. Some of us work for social justice by the careers we have chosen. Others help give our First Parish community programs on diversity, climate change, and economic issues. Each of us is seeking a way to live our values each day.
Bill and Peggy Gardiner
In supporting the capital campaign we honor those who have sustained our congregation since 1739. Now our generation has an opportunity to build on this legacy and make improvements to our building to meet the needs of our time. In doing so we create a path to the future for our religious community.
I Am Here, But Who Is Missing?
To enter the building on one's own, to not get stuck on thresholds or slammed by doors, to be able to use the bathroom without a buddy, to not have stairs prohibit attending meetings, to participate fully in the life of First Parish -- this is what I envision for our improved meetinghouse. It can be a place where equal access is a priority, and where the experience of disability is reduced by enhancing the environment to function for us all.
Transformation of our space will be a tangible expression of our compassion. Building Good Together is an opportunity for social sustainability, to ease the difficulty in being here and show respect for all who gather.
As we say in our mission statement, we will support each other through the changes in our lives. We can make a choice to live our faith by creating a building that can make our community whole.
One of the many things I love and appreciate about First Parish is our wonderfully caring community. As a lay minister, I get to see the Wider Network of Care in action. Parishoners' willingness to help each other in times of need is truly special. I continue to be amazed by the generosity and kindness that is happening behind the scenes at First Parish: folks are cooking, baking, driving, shoveling, visiting, and lifting each others' spirits every week.
This quiet, consistent, and vitally important work happens without fanfare, but with great compassion. What makes this system of support even more special is that as our congregation grows the volunteers often don't know the person or family they have offered to support. The recipients feel cared for and nurtured during their time of grieving, illness, or suffering.
While First Parish strives to help the underserved and under-resourced in our larger world, we are taking care of the needs of our own community. This is what I love about First Parish and why I pledge my support.
I first came to First Parish about 15 years ago. I had no interest in attending church of any kind, and was dragged here by my wife. I had small children and quickly learned that while the Sunday services were interesting and often inspiring, I tended to get fidgety sitting there. Fortunately, Tina Schultz was looking for a volunteer to be a third teacher -- "bouncer" was the term she used -- for a class of wild six-year-olds, mostly boys. I liked contributing in that way and have since grown to feel that for me, the heart of the church is not really in the Sanctuary but 100 feet west in the RE wing. On most Sundays I can be found teaching either in the morning with younger kids or in the evening with the older kids. Tina, Marcie, and volunteers do extraordinary work raising our community of children and young adults.
There are some spiritual communities that make beer; some, honey. I think ours makes fine young people. This is part of the work that we do as a religious community , and your help is needed, whether you have children or not. I like to think this is one way I contribute to the life of the fellowship, but it has been fulfilling for me, as well, and in the ups and downs of life over the years there have been many weeks when the best hour of the week was the one spent teaching RE.
I also really like to cook, and have loved being part of teams cooking several dozen meals for the church community in the kitchen, for the Harvest Moon Fair, for Martas birthday, for a Christmas Eve soup kitchen, for Town Day chili, etc. Some of the peak experiences of my life have been in that kitchen, with five or 10 or 15 other people, making meals.
What we are called to do at church is not to just sit and listen, but to build a spiritual community. We do that by spending Sunday mornings in the sanctuary, singing, greeting, and repeating, but also by raising children together, by cooking together, etc. The cooking and the raising-children pieces resonate with me.
One more area where my family has both received and contributed is through the music program, where all three of my children have had a chance to perform with musicians much more accomplished (and older) and also to be mentored and to shine under that mentoring, and then to give back to the community through beautiful music.
It has been a gift to my three children to be raised by this church community, not just by my wife and I. If you had asked me before I had kids, would they be involved in a church youth group, I would have laughed and said "not a chance."
If you are the parents of young children, wondering if this community is what you want for your kids, I can tell you that it is. I have been thankful on so many occasions that the youth group was were our kids were spending much of their time. I consider it a priviledge to be able to contribute to that effort.
To paraphrase JFK, I would say to ask not only what First Parish can do for you, but what you can do for this fellowship. I really cannot think of a better place to put our resources than into supporting First Parish and the capital campaign