by the Rev. Jennifer Nordstrom
Welcome in to the 2017-18 church year! In reflecting on “welcome,” I learned the root of the word dates back to Old English words linking “pleasure” and “guest.” It originally meant “to receive someone with pleasure.” I like thinking about welcome as an expression of pleasure at another’s presence, so that to be truly welcoming is to be glad the other person is here, delighted the church year is beginning again, happy to see all the new and returning faces. This year, we have the pleasure of welcoming four new staff members: Assistant Sabbatical Minister Reverend Sara Goodman; Membership Development Coordinator Lynne Jacoby; Facilities Manager Tom Schroeder; and Religious Education Administrative Assistant Lillian Schley. We are also joyfully welcoming the return of Minister Emeritus the Reverend Drew Kennedy and his wife Lois Wesener.
I am grateful to be returning to our community myself after an unwinding July, ready to begin our second year together. I am especially thankful to be back with you in light of Charlottesville and the rise in publicly visible and organized white supremacists. In these times we need one another. We need community to ground us in our values and remind us to return again to love. You, First Church, are such a community. You care about your members and your neighbors and are willing to stand up for them. I will be standing with you.
This church year we will do important discerning about our future. The Board will lead a process this fall to listen to you about what you love most about First Church, and who you want to become as a people. Then the Board will take your dreams and create “Ends Statements”; short, visionary statements about who you want to be in 3-5 years (see Board President Julie Bock’s Chanticleer article to learn more about this and how you can participate.) The congregation’s Sanctuary Discernment Team will also have a listening process this fall, to hear from you about whether you want First Church to become a sanctuary congregation and I will be putting together a team who will discern how to use Lu Krug’s wildly generous bequest to further the mission of First Church. This fall we will listen deeply to our hearts, to each other, and discern our journey forward together as a people. I welcome that journey.