Like many of you, I was a young IU student who came to First United Church – for me it was the fall of 1974, and I was looking for a temporary church home while in college. I never imagined my time here would last for almost 50 years and is still going! As we all know, living in a college town there’s always many turnovers — ministers, choir directors, college students and church members do come & go – and I thought I’d be like many of them after a few years.
Now as I reflect back on some of the terrific programs I’ve seen church members work on over the past half century, it’s quite a list. I taught Sunday School with Dawna, Vacation Bible School with Malissa, served Board of Education with Maxine, worked Board of Outreach with Sam. I also chaired a few search committees for new staff, once helped organize a youth group spaghetti supper, even sang & tap danced at a church talent show!
Was pleased to plan coffee houses, joined so many of you in working winter shelter shifts, especially at 6 am, drove the support van for the weeklong summer bike trip, helped with countless food drives, directed a Christmas pageant with Patty, helped lead a Lenten drama series for six weeks, and now kept our feminist book club going for a decade through covid. And of course, singing in our church choir with directors like Graham, Ed, Rob, David, Vini, Sam and now Eric. (I was briefly the church secretary after a layoff from teaching at MCCSC. Tip: avoid being the secretary in the same church you attend, it’s harder behind the scenes and you’re privy to people’s business.)
So, what’s my point? Well as the pandemic swept over us all, and ministers and choir directors came and went, did you find it hard to stay connected to our church? I sure did, especially as favored in-person activities fell by the wayside.
Sure, I made it to zoom church for a while, then I didn’t stick with it (zoom burnout from all my IU meetings?), I knew I did better with in-person church. I then went with friends to a few other local churches who were having in person services when we were still zoom only. Those visits helped, but they weren’t First United, and I missed my community of faith big time.
Then last winter my mother back in Boston became ill and needed more of my help. And during her illness and this summer after her passing – this church family of mine rallied!
The countless cards, notes, calls, care packages sent to me in Boston by people from First United made me realize this was still by church home and the support I needed was there in abundance.
I soon realized that even though I wasn’t giving much time to church, they were still there and giving to me! I can’t thank you all enough… really!
My wife and I cleaned out my late mother’s belongings this summer, and a few weeks ago we went back to New England to sign the papers and sold her house, my childhood home.
Now life is simpler, and I’ve been able to return to giving more time, talent & treasure to my church again. I feel blessed to rejoin the choir with our talented new director, I’m serving on a fall committee, planning some events at church with Pastor Jessica for this winter and recommitted myself to First United Church more fully than ever!
I can only pray those of you reading this far who also felt a disconnect in the past couple of years can see how this church community is still here every day and is willing to nourish each of you in whatever ways you need. And to quote Pastor Jessica “Allelu, Allelu, Allelu, Alleluia, Praise be to God!”