October was a busy month getting back into the swing of things and planning for the rest of the year. One of the most exciting pieces of news is that we’ve hired a new staff person! Cynthia Menard is joining our team to lead our religious education programming. Our congregation has hired Cynthia in partnership with the UU congregations in Northborough and Marlborough-Hudson. Continuing with the partnership we created with Circle Sundays, we are calling this the Circle RE Cooperative. We’re experimenting with this idea that we are more together than we are on our own: more able to provide engaging programming for kids and youth, more able to hire skilled staff people, and more able to foster connection beyond our own town. More information to come!
This month we also had our annual Board retreat and came up with some big guiding questions for the year. I led worship and a group processing activity in the morning and then we had a brainstorming session with Rev. Erica Baron in the afternoon (many of you met her last spring during our social justice workshops). The Board chose two big questions for the year:
- How do we create boundaries that foster a sense of belonging?
- How do we engage in ways that are life-giving, not just obligatory?
Along with this there are three priorities – areas of work that can help in attending to these questions and serving our mission.
- Policy creation and review with congregational buy in
- Lifespan faith formation
- Reimagining and reconfiguring physical space
I want to end by honoring the challenges and complexity of pandemic life. Last week, we had the sad honor of holding a memorial service for Sylvia Sirignano, a long-time beloved congregant who died far sooner than anyone hoped. This service was the both the first time we’ve been back in the building this year and the first time we held a hybrid service. It is still a strange time to hold space for collective grieving.
From the Covid survey we just did, we know that some of you are frustrated that we’re not doing Sunday mornings in person, while others are thankful and relieved. In a lot of ways, last year was easier because it was clearer. I remember reading an article months ago, that talked to Arctic scientists and submarine crews and the like, which said that the last quarter of isolation is the hardest. It’s when everyone is the most exhausted, all novelty is gone, and the feeling that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel creates an immense sense of impatience. It’s not easy, but we will find our way together.