September 2017

Summer is fading, and for most of us the pace of life will once again accelerate. It’s hard to ignore the evidence - sunlight at a blinding angle when heading west near suppertime, back-to-school shopping ads, fall fashion flyers clogging the mailbox.

I hope your summer has given you a chance to recharge your batteries. I have taken some time for planning – elsewhere in this Pioneer you can read about a new program of monthly themes that we’ll use across worship, RE and small group ministry.

I have also had some downtime, and done a bit of traveling. I was in New Orleans in late June, where at Unitarian Universalist ministers’ meetings and General Assembly we were charged with taking seriously our practices and legacy of institutional racism.

Joan O’Brien and I had fun taking our visitors from Transylvania on a whirlwind tour of Boston. Booker and I have traveled close to home – a week at Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire with our son Dan and his family, and time in the Berkshires. We’ll be with Dan again over Labor Day weekend, this time in Tennessee. And then the new year will begin in earnest.

Looking back to last September, it seems we lived in a different world. A year ago I wrote about a new effort led by Catholic Charities of Springfield to welcome fifty-one refugees to Northampton. Hundreds of people came together asking how they could help. Members of this congregation formed one of the caring circles, small groups ready to work closely with each new family as its members adjust to life in their strange new home.

Fewer than twenty of the fifty-one refugees have arrived, and our circle is still hoping for “its” family. The future of the program is uncertain. It is dependent on the priorities, and subject to the xenophobic proclivities, of Washington decision-makers.

We do not know what the current year will bring. We do know our witness and voices and financial contributions are needed on the larger stage. We know too that there will be changes here in the congregation, as we welcome new staff and prepare to bid farewell to Greg in June. Our September theme is “Prophetic Imperative.” Civil rights attorney and UU Adam Gerhardstein wrote, “Prophetic churches minister to the community as it is while reminding the community of what it could be.” — a state- ment that contains both wisdom and challenge.

I look forward to the new year with you. I am blessed to be your minister.Janets signature