This is a love letter to First Unitarian Church. You are a good church, doing good work in the world. I’m grateful every day for your ongoing ministries of love, spirit, unity, worship and service.
I remember the Sunday a few years ago when an Egyptian immigrant family came into the sanctuary during the service. They had recently arrived in Worcester: a young couple, their toddler, a grandmother and an infant. They needed to light a candle and say a blessing for the baby. A member of the church helped them find our prayer candles at the front of the sanctuary. They lit a candle and the grandmother said a blessing in her own language.
After the service, the father explained that they had seen our sign saying, “Religious Freedom for All - We Support Our Muslim Neighbors.” They were Muslim, he told me. They didn’t know where to find the mosque in this new city, but they knew, from our sign, that our sacred space could be their sacred space while they blessed the new life that had come into their family. I love our church.
I love the care and attention our church shows to our children. Dozens of volunteer teachers, planners, classroom friends, advisors and summer programs leaders work with our dedicated staff to make sure every child is included. They are always looking for better ways to foster the spiritual lives of our young people. This is a ministry of caring and empowerment.
I know you love our church, too. I’ve seen it when you’ve gathered around one of our members whose loved one has died. You’ve brought dinners and sent notes. You’ve visited during illness and given people rides to doctor’s appointments. Sometimes you don’t even know the person you’re helping very well. You do it because our church is like a garden that grows goodwill.
And I’ve seen you do what’s even harder: I’ve seen you receive love and care from others during your own hard times. When you faced a terrifying diagnosis, and felt the world fall away under your feet, you’ve let someone reach out to steady you. When you have known loss, you’ve eaten the food someone brought. You’ve let yourselves be open to care. You have received the gifts of love our church has to offer.
I love our church for the beauty we create in the world. There is a notion in liberal theology that people participate with God in creating the world, and that the goodness and beauty we bring into reality are the divine at work in us. When our choir and organ make beautiful music, when we showcase local art in the Merritt gallery, when we are moved by the simple grace of sunlight streaming through our sanctuary windows, we are creating and witnessing the divine.
I love our church for the good we do in the world. When it’s time to gather at City Hall to protest an anti-immigrant resolution; or when it’s time to take to the streets to protest gun violence in America; or when it’s time to make dinners or lunches for our hungry neighbors, First Unitarian members of all ages are there living out our values. You have so much love you give it away for free. You make the world a better place for everyone.
Our church needs our support. All these ministries: our children’s program, our music, our worship services, our justice work, keeping the doors open and the candles lit, are supported by your generous giving. I hope you’ll show your love through a pledge for 2020.
I love you, First Unitarian Church. I can’t wait to be back with you in December. Thank you for all you do and all you give to create more goodness in the world.
Rev. Sarah Stewart