I want to take an opportunity to remind you all that this Sunday is our Flower Communion, and that if you have a chance you could send a picture of yourself and/or your family with a flower for a slideshow that will be part of our service, and also that you should remember to bring a flower or flowers to the service this week. I also want to remind you that the First Parish Band has been preparing not one but two musical numbers, featuring about 10 First Parish members & friends, and artfully produced by Tom Ostfeld. This is a Sunday not to be missed, and although we staff will be around this summer more than perhaps usual, it is our last staff-led service until September. The Worship Committee has been hard at work organizing lay-led services for you for most of July and August. Religious Education classes will continue this summer but may be at a different time.
Today I had a strange experience. I sat here at my desk, writing my monthly newsletter column, while attending and fully participating in my professional organization’s annual meeting at the same time. I was able to do this because the whole meeting was online. For me this is a blessing more than not, because it is usually held in person at General Assembly, during the days before GA, called Professional Days. I was planning to go to GA this year in person, since it would have been in Providence, RI, but going to Professional Days is often just a bunch of extra: extra nights in a hotel, extra time away from my family, extra money from professional or personal funds… and so though I can vote remotely, this is the very first time I have attended, and I most likely wouldn’t have been there in person. I’ll attend Professional Days next week and then attend GA remotely. It’s a blessing as well as a sadness: I was looking forward to in-person hugs, to meeting folks in real life who I’ve only known online, and to spending some time in Providence.
Attending our faith’s General Assembly is one of the ways I affirm my faith. I know we don’t always have a strong showing at GA, but since the meeting is virtual and the cost is only $150, I would love to recommend that people try to attend. It’s not too late to join in the fun. And even if you can’t attend the full conference, I hope you’ll attend Sunday morning worship at 10:00am EST on June 28. GA Worship Services are available at the livestream page daily, along with all the general sessions, Thursday’s Service of the Living Tradition (I suspect we will get to honor a certain retired minister that day!) and the Synergy Bridging service on Friday night, where we bridge and honor youth and young adults.
If you choose to register, you can also attend the Sophia Lyon Fahs Lecture, which is put on by LREDA, my professional organization, which features two experts on Indigenous peoples “Reflecting on Teachings about Indigenous Peoples.” I am currently seeking clarity about the date of this lecture – one organization has it scheduled for Thursday and the other for Friday. Other offerings include Saturday night’s Ware Lecture, featuring syndicated columnist and author Naomi Klein.
And for the first time, I’m serving as a delegate – I just received my credentials. You all may remember that First Parish sponsored a bill two years ago allowing Credentialed Religious Educators who are members in good standing of LREDA and serving a congregation to serve as delegates without taking a vote away from the congregation, just as ministers do. I’m sure that attending general plenary sessions doesn’t sound totally fascinating, but actually, watching the governance work of our faith in action is kind of geekily satisfying. I believe that so far only one congregation member is attending GA as a delegate. I heartily encourage you to step up to that role if you have the time and energy contact the church office or Sue Twombly if you’re interested. Our congregation deserves its voice in our denomination.
So, my dears, see you around the internet, and maybe as things go forward we will even get to see each other ‘in 3-D’ as a member of the RE Committee eloquently put it. Thank you all for your kind words to me about the Youth Service – and don’t forget to tell the youth too, because they were the ones who actually did most of the work. Especial thanks to Rowan for his masterful editing skills on our skit. Thank goodness for those who were born in this digital environment!
All my love,