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Thanking Our Sextons

Thanking Our Sextons

by Sarah Stewart on December 18, 2019

A few years ago, a member of our church sent me a photo of the pews in our sanctuary.* The photo was taken from the balcony, looking down into the ground floor pews so that the hymnal racks were visible. In every pew, the hymnals had been arranged neatly and symmetrically, two gray hymnals flanking two red hymnals. "Did Sten and Bob do this?" the photographer asked me. "They make sure our church always looks its best."

For the past five years, Sten Gustavson and Bob Shaw have made sure our church looks its best. They have worked as our Sextons, keeping our building safe, functioning, beautiful and clean. They have advised on furnace repair, shoveled snow, unclogged toilets, polished brass, set up for events, and provided hospitality on Sunday mornings. Their job description says that they "maintain and enhance the physical spaces of the church so that members, friends and staff can safely and comfortably carry out the mission of the church." Their work is mission-critical. Because of them, we have done more and better ministry on Court Hill in Worcester.

After five years of service as our Sextons, Bob and Sten will be retiring at the end of January. This is a moment to thank them for all their good work.

I sat down with Sten and Bob to talk to them about their work. They've both been around the church a long time. For Sten, First Unitarian Church was the church of his childhood; Bob first started coming in 1989. They both had experience in building maintenance and problem solving. Bob is an architect and Sten's career was in electrical engineering. They had helped out as volunteers around the building, and Bob chaired the Buildings and Grounds committee for many years. In 2014, when we needed a new Sexton, they stepped up to share the job.

They're proud of their work upgrading our heating system, helping to reduce the church's energy consumption. They've painted classrooms and offices, and done a major overhaul to the Bancroft Room walls and ceiling. They discovered that keeping our enormous building clean is a labor which is never done. They have taken many small steps to help the church reduce its carbon footprint and more fully carry out its mission.

We are saying goodbye to Sten and Bob in their role as Sextons, but not to their involvement in the church. After a brief hiatus, they plan to stay involved in the work of the Buildings and Grounds committee. Bob's work as an architect will continue. Sten has been performing a lot more music over the past few years, and plans to play and sing even more. We wish them all the best in their pursuits.

Bob and Sten will work as our Sextons through the end of January. We are in the process of fine-tuning the job description and will begin searching for a new Sexton after Christmas.

In faith,
Rev. Sarah C. Stewart

*Recreated here because I can't find the original!

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