THE MEETINGHOUSE NEWS
First Parish in Cambridge, Unitarian Universalist
June 2015
Reflections - Rev. Fred Small, Senior Minister
Six years ago, in my first year at First Parish, I preached a sermon titled
“Restoring Justice.” In the sermon I told the story of Fred Clay, whom I’ve been
visiting in prison since 1998.
In 1979, when he was 16 years old, Fred was arrested as the shooter in the fatal
robbery of a taxi driver, Jeffrey Boyajian. Tried and convicted as an adult, Fred
was sentenced to life without parole. He’s now 51.
An African American, Fred was convicted solely on eyewitness testimony,
notoriously unreliable. He has always maintained his innocence.
The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts recently ruled that sentencing juveniles to life without parole
is unconstitutional. On May 21, Fred Clay finally got a hearing before a parole board.
I testified on Fred’s behalf, along with First Parish in Cambridge member Carol Agate and Jacki and Doran
Dibble, former Littleton congregants, who have all been visiting Fred for years. Fred’s great aunt Maggie
Tubbs also testified.
“I believe Fred Clay is innocent,” I told the board. “But you don’t have to. He’s been incarcerated for 35
years—over two-thirds of his life. If Fred is innocent, his imprisonment is a tragedy. If he’s guilty of a
crime committed when he was 16, his continued imprisonment is a waste of a human life.”
Doran Dibble testified how close Fred has become to the Dibble family, including their now grown children.
“I was so sad that Fred couldn’t attend my daughter’s wedding,” Doran said, his voice cracking. “I hope
he can attend my son’s college graduation.”
Following our testimony on Fred’s behalf, the victim’s brother testified on behalf of his family.
Mr. Boyajian began by saying how moved he had been by Fred Clay’s testimony and ours. He couldn’t
know for sure, he admitted, whether Fred was the person who killed his brother.
If Fred Clay was guilty, Mr. Boyajian continued, he had taken power over the victim’s life he had no right
to take. Asked to advise the board whether to grant Fred parole, the Boyajian family felt they had no
right to take that same power over Fred’s life. If the board felt Fred deserved parole, Mr. Boyajian
concluded, the family would not oppose it.
We were stunned and elated by the grace, compassion, and wisdom shown by the Boyajian family.
It’s impossible to predict the parole board’s ruling, which won’t be issued for weeks. But several members
appeared sympathetic. The chair even seemed to hold back tears during our testimony.
Ministry is so often subjective and unmeasurable. Did my pastoral counseling really help that congregant?
Did my sermon really change anyone’s mind?
But if Fred Clay is released from prison, I’ll know my ministry made a difference. And when I look back at
my life, it will be one of the best things I’ve ever done.
Blessings,
Fred
The Meetinghouse News
June 2015
Upcoming Worship Services
June 7
Flower Communion
Bring a flower (or we’ll provide one) to participate in
this annual tradition, created in 1923 by Norbert
Capek, founder of the Unitarian church in
Czechoslovakia, and introduced to First Parish in 1940
by his wife, Maja V. Capek. We’ll honor the First Parish
Choir and all our volunteers. Multigenerational service.
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ANNUAL FUND DRIVE UPDATE
Rev. Fred Small preaches.
The annual fund drive at First Parish
supports the operating budget for July,
2015 through June, 2016. For the first
time in First Parish history, we have
broken the $300,000 mark in pledges.
As of May 29, pledges are $315,726.
Thank you!
June 14
Religious Education Sunday
Join us for a festive celebration of Our Seven
Principles! The children have spent a year creating
giant puppets - one animal to represent each
principle. Come see our Puppet Parade and learn why
a yellow unicorn and a green wolf are symbols of our
faith. This worship honors our RE teachers. Please
stay for Sundaes sponsored by our RE Committee,
served during coffee hour after this multigenerational
celebration.
In this upcoming year, we will continue
to build for the future through exciting
new ministries and programs such as:
small ministry groups for adults;
involvement with the Greater Boston
Interfaith Organization; the youth
homeless shelter in our auditorium,
and a revamped staffing model to
better support our volunteers and grow
our congregation.
June 21
Praise What? Thank Whom? Rejoice Why?
Gospel Sunday! The First Parish Gospel Choir returns
under the inspiring direction of Linda Brown-San
Martin. When Unitarian Universalists sing gospel or
praise music, what or whom are we praising, thanking,
or rejoicing in? If we surrender to religious ecstasy,
are we giving up on reason?
Rev. Fred Small preaches.
June 28
Guest Minister, Rev. Colin Bossen preaches.
Memorial Flowers
Help beautify the sanctuary on Sunday mornings
by donating flowers in honor or memory of a
loved one or friend. Flowers are available every
Sunday throughout the year and through a
generous agreement with Brattle Square Florist
we can get gorgeous bouquets for just $35. They
make the sanctuary look beautiful and then you
can take the flowers home or we can ensure they
get to a shut-in. To place an order, please
contact Carol Lewis at 617-876-7772 or
[email protected]
Your pledge helps First Parish plan its
annual budget, make salary and
expense commitments, and in general
make good decisions. If you would still
like to pledge, please consider doing it
today. Your pledge supports the annual
budget that will be considered at the
June 7 annual meeting. You need not
be a member to pledge; if you find
value in this community and wish to
help sustain it, your financial
commitment is much appreciated!
There are several ways to make a
pledge:
 Pledge online at
firstparishcambridge.org/pledge
 Call or email Carol Lewis at the
church office: 617-876-7772
[email protected]
 Contact anyone on the
Stewardship Committee or
email us:
[email protected]
Thank you,
Don Tucker,
Chair, Stewardship Committee
Steve Hanna
Karin Lin
Susan Shepherd
Linda West
The Meetinghouse News
June 2015
3
RELIGIOUS EDUCATION CORNER by Mandy Neff
Now that our weather has gotten beautiful and there are opportunities to be outside with your family, try to
take advantage of them! Summer invites those of us with children into a different way of being. Camps,
beach time, and simple outdoor play all have a different rhythm from the school year.
These modes have different lessons for our children - they teach through play and wonder. Whether we are
building sandcastles on retreat at Ferry Beach; playing a giant xylophone at the Ecotarium; or splashing in a
puddle or a pool, the sensory delights of summer can open us up to a whole new way of being.
The Mud Puddle School of learning encourages us to value these "immersive" experiences. It is not about
building knowledge – a way of learning that has been likened to pouring water into the empty vessel of a
child’s mind – but rather about experience.
What do I mean by “immersion?”
I mean the experience of being so deeply absorbed in an activity that you don't notice time passing.
Mihaly Czikszentmihaly refers to this as “Flow.”
You can plan or accidentally encounter one of these opportunities. These immersive experiences do require
you to set aside a block of time, because you won't know how long you need until you're in it. And they
require you to set aside your electronic devices, and fully engage with what is physically around you.
These immersion experiences benefit our minds and spirits. They help us make connections across the
usual boundaries and categories we use to think, help us integrate knowledge into experience. Over time,
if we have enough of these delightful times, we might even create new neural pathways. We can get into
a habit of being in the flow, rather than fractured or scattered or multi-tasking. And we can encourage
our children to make time and space in their lives for these moments as well.
So go enjoy summer!
In faith,
Mandy
Join us for a parade on RE Sunday!
The puppets are getting their finishing touches
as the children prepare them for you! Here, our red
butterfly and orange penguin get their eyes,
decorations and support rods.
On Sunday, June 14 during worship, see all seven
animals, our giant Principles Puppets, on parade.
We'll hear what the children have explored this year
and honor our many volunteer teachers from the
year in RE. Then, join us for Sundaes at coffee hour
and learn about next year's programs! We hope to
see you at our final 2014-15 RE event of the year.
The Meetinghouse News
June 2015
4
Spring Semi-Annual Meeting – June 7
Middle East Education Group Event
Our Spring semi-annual meeting will be held at
Noon on Sunday, June 7 in the Meetinghouse.
This is an important meeting since the budget for
FY15-16 will be approved, Task Forces for the
next church year will be chosen, and officers for
FY15-16 will be elected.
Event on Wednesday, June 3 from 6:30 8:30 PM in the Helverson Parlor.
The Middle East Education Group will sponsor a
benefit presentation for the Palestinian House of
Friendship and Smiling Faces Summer Camp in
Nablus, West Bank, Palestine. Learn about life
under occupation and creative responses from
Mohammed Sawalha, Director. He is an
educator, peacemaker, and organizer who will
talk about their programs for children and
adults. Students from Berklee College of Music
will perform Middle Eastern music and Middle
Eastern refreshments will be available. Free and
open to the public. Donations will be gratefully
received. Co-sponsored by the Palestine Israel
Task Team at First Church in Cambridge ,
Congregational UCC.
Everyone is welcome to attend this meeting and
participate in discussion. Only members in good
standing can receive voting cards. In order to
be in good standing, a member must have made
a financial contribution of record within the past
12 months. If you are uncertain of your
membership status, please contact Carol Lewis
by June 4.
Walk for Hunger Wrap Up
Thanks to the generosity of First Parish Cambridge
and the efforts of the youth group, we raised over
$360 dollars for Project Bread through a
combination of fundraiser chocolate sales and
direct donations, both in person and online.
Our group of six joined with over 40,000 to raise
over three million dollars to support Project
Bread's programs to address the issue of hunger
and food insecurity in our communities.
Our own Tuesday Meals program is a beneficiary
of Project Bread. Thank you for your generosity!
Women’s Book Group
The Women’s Book Group meets on the first
Tuesday of every month from 7:00 pm to 9:00
pm in the Chapel. The group is open to women
of all ages who are friends or members of First
Parish. We are a friendly low-stress group. You
don’t have to read every book, just come when
you can! Many participants bring a snack or
dessert to share. If you have specific questions
or want to join our email listserv, email
[email protected]
June 2 at 7:00 pm
Black Walden: Slavery and its Aftermath in
Concord, Massachusetts by Elsie Lemier
Circle Dance Meditation
Thursdays, June 4 and June 18
7:45 PM – 9:00 PM in the Barn Room
Circle Dance is a moving meditation done to
beautiful world music in a supportive circle of
community. Moving in unison with others creates a
visceral experience of Oneness. The dances are
fairly simple and straightforward, often involving
just a few steps, and are taught anew every time.
When the body is engaged in these simple,
repetitive motions and resonating to powerful
music, the mind slips into a meditative state, stress
falls away, and peace and joy well up effortlessly.
CDM is a free offering. Please arrive early and bring
water. It's best to dance barWefoot, but clean
street shoes may be used. Questions to Kaeza:
[email protected]
Next Gospel Sunday – June 21
Please do consider joining the choir for this joyful
musical experience, led by renowned guest
conductor, Linda Brown-San Martin. Participants
should plan to attend rehearsal on either
Wednesday or Thursday evening, June 17 or June
18, and the mandatory dress rehearsal on
Saturday afternoon, June 20. For more
information, please contact Jonathan Barnhart,
FP Music Director, at
[email protected] or Irene Merwin
at [email protected]
The Meetinghouse News
June 2015
5
June Shared Offering
The Shared Offering recipient for the month of June is LivableStreets Alliance. The group was nominated
by the Social Justice Council in memory of long-time member Bill Dotson who was killed while crossing a
street in Arlington in March. LivableStreets Alliance is a non-profit organization that believes urban
transportation has the power to make Metro Boston more connected — and more livable. For 10 years we
have been challenging people to think differently and to demand a system that balances transit, walking,
and biking with automobiles. We promote safe, convenient, and affordable transportation for all users in
metro Boston. More information is available at liveablestreets.info. A representative from the group will
also be in worship on Sunday, June 14 so you can hear more about their work.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAINE SENIOR SERVICES!
Elizabeth Aguilo, LICSW
Paine Senior Services is 110 this year! On February 27, 1905 with the bequest of Jeannie Warren Paine,
the “Paine Fund” was born. The fund was overseen by the Committee named by First Parish. The
Committee hired an “Agent”—Annie Chesley to advise and direct them as they reviewed requests for
financial aid from residents of Cambridge.
In her 20th Annual report for First Parish, Ms. Chesley wrote:
“Once we thought that to give sympathetic understanding, personal suggestions backed by
cooperative plans, and some financial relief when necessary covered in a general way the
requirements. Now we see that this did not go far enough. We should also definitely aim to
develop or to maintain one of the greatest secrets of happiness—self-respect.”
With this goal, the Paine Fund quickly evolved from an organization whose sole function was to give
financial relief to an agency whose function was to help Cambridge citizens develop their own sense of
agency--the capacity to act. In this way, “the Paine Fund” was re-born and became “Paine Social
Services”, which in turn became “Paine Senior Services” in 2005, the agency’s 100th birthday.
In the many years since Paine Senior Services’ (PSS) birth, thousands of individual Cambridge citizens
have been helped to find and maintain affordable housing, get needed medical attention, and fulfill their
basic needs for food, heat, and income. These needs remain and in the face of the ever-changing social,
political, and economic changes over the decades, PSS endures, not only changing individual lives, but
also working with the community for the good of the community.
On Tuesday, October 6, PSS will celebrate 110 years of service. If you would like to take part in the
celebration or would like more information about Paine Senior Services, contact Elizabeth Aguilo, LICSW,
Executive Director, at (617) 864-2580.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world;
indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”
Margaret Mead
Annual Reports Due June 30
A reminder that Annual Reports for 2014-2015 are due to the office by close of business on Tuesday, June
30. All Committee Chairpersons, Task Force leaders and Program Group leaders are required to submit a
written report. Please submit the reports in MSWord format as an attachment to
[email protected] Also, please title the report with your committee or program group
name rather than just “annual report”. If you have any questions, please contact Congregational
Administrator, Carol Lewis, at 617-876-7772 or by email at [email protected]
The Meetinghouse News
June 2015
6
Building and Grounds and Sustainability Committees Report a Terrific Turnout
for Refresh First Parish Work Party!
The Spring Work Party, Refresh First Parish, held on Saturday. May 30th was an extraordinary success with
25 participants including 7 new members who pitched in the day before they were welcomed into our
congregation!
It was very rewarding to hear the perspectives on the morning’s accomplishments shared by all over pizza
at lunch. Many were inspired by working together to see the spiritual side of making the Meetinghouse
more attractive both inside with spring cleaning and outside digging in the dirt to brighten our gardens
with new native plantings and annuals.
Nearly all of the pews were thoroughly cleaned and cushions vacuumed. Some 20 pencils & pens were
reclaimed, a few stray crayons, and while we hoped for more treasures, just 11 cents will be added to the
Sunday plate! Some additional building maintenance projects got underway with the help of a few
intrepid ladder climbers. Please take a look at the refreshed gardens on the South side and the front of
the church.
You can help us keep our plants watered this summer! While the Sustainability Committee has chosen
native plants for their low water use and importance in supporting local birds and bees, our plantings do
need regular watering particularly in hot weather. New lightweight hoses now make the watering task
easier. If you would like to be involved in maintaining First Parish garden plants and flowers, please
contact Linda Clark @ [email protected] A sign-up form for those willing to take on a week of
watering will soon be posted near the office.
The Sustainability Committee and Buildings & Grounds Committee, co-sponsors of our work parties, thank
all of our volunteers and team leaders for their hard work, teamwork and creativity in getting so many
tasks completed in such a short time!
Pastoral Prayer
Congregants may request to have their personal joys and sorrows named and lifted up in Sunday’s
Pastoral Prayers by emailing [email protected] by noon on Friday.
If this deadline can’t be met, you may fill out a Pastoral Prayer Request Form and leave it in the Pastoral
Prayer Box by 10:30 am. on Sunday mornings. (Forms and the box are in the Mass. Ave. foyer.) If you
would like your message in our announcements and monthly newsletter, please send details to the
Pastoral Associates at [email protected]
Pastoral Care (Circle of Care)
The Pastoral Associates, supported by Circle of Care volunteers, help to provide care to First Parish
members and friends during times of need by providing meals, rides, and other help.
The Pastoral Associate in June is David Light.
You can contact him at [email protected]
The Meetinghouse News
June 2015
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2015 Slate of Candidates
The Nominating and Leadership Committee is proud to present our 2015-16 Slate of Candidates to run for
open seats on the Standing Committee, Leadership Development Team (formerly Nominating Committee),
and among the Deacons. The names of our nominees and their candidate statements appear below.
Elections will take place at the Spring Semi-Annual Meeting on Sunday, June 7, 2015. Please come to the
meeting to vote!
The Leadership Development Team (formerly Nominating Committee) called for nominations and selfnominations during the months of February and March, and received numerous suggestions from the
congregation. In this process, we worked to develop a slate that would foster diversity and broad
representation from our membership. We met with finalists for elected positions to ascertain that all
candidates were fully informed of the duties of the position and able to commit to service. The Nominating
and Leadership Committee then collected basic biographical information each candidate's previous volunteer
experience at First Parish. The Standing Committee was notified of the proposed slate on April 21st.
The Nominating Committee is pleased to present a dedicated slate of candidates who share our passion
for the mission of First Parish. Candidate statements are included.
STANDING COMMITTEE - The Standing Committee is the governing board of First Parish.
Chair (1 year term) Peggy Kraft
Vice Chair (1 year term) Sylvia Wheeler
Clerk (1 year term) Linda West
Treasurer (1 year term) Ernie Sabine
Member at Large (3 year term) Devon Kinkead
DEACONS - Deacons organize and coordinate key aspects of the Sunday worship experience.
Deacon (2 year term) Ian Agranat
LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT TEAM (formerly Nominating Committee)
The Leadership Development Team promotes participation in the activities and governance of First Parish
and recommends members for elected positions, mindful of the congregation’s commitment to
multiculturalism
Member Joanna Fink
Member Shelby Meyeroff
Member Shaun Paul
Please remember to vote on June 7th at the Spring Semi-Annual Meeting. We look forward to seeing you
at the meeting!
Leadership Development Team members: Gwen Cranmore, Loring Brinkerhoff, Andrew Drane, David Light,
Beth Reagan, Chair.
The Meetinghouse News
June 2015
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Candidate Statements
Standing Committee
Peggy Kraft (1-year term as Chair)
It was such a relief when I first came to First Parish in 2006 and heard words of welcome, peace, love,
and hope. I was new to Unitarian Universalism and quickly realized that I had finally found a spiritual
community. Sitting in the pews, I cherish the right and responsibility Unitarian Universalism allows to
seek my own personal connection to the divine. I have learned, however, that in addition to worship,
working on committees and participating in groups deepens my commitment to First Parish as well as
my own sense of spirituality. I have served as Clerk as well as Vice Chair of Standing Committee and
am now seeking election to the Chair position. Over the past two years, I have coordinated the Sunday
testimonials as well as been a member of the Strategic Planning Team and Access and Abilities
Committee. In addition, I helped with some Membership activities and acted as a Visiting Steward this
year. I designed and developed the new First Parish website to give it a fresh look that is accessible to
people with disabilities and works well on mobile phones and tablets. Looking ahead to next year, I see
that we have so much potential for transformation and growth.
I am lucky to live near many First Parish members in North Cambridge.
In my free time, I enjoy a number of hobbies including sewing and crafting, photography, and movies
among many other interests. I work at the Executive Office of Education in Malden, MA where I am
responsible for developing a large education Portal for state government.
Since coming to First Parish, I have come to understand just how much First Parish is “our” church. Who
we are and who we become is up to us. There are so many amazing people at First Parish committed to
living our mission. Serving as your Chair next year would be an honor and a privilege.
Sylvia Wheeler (1-year term as Vice Chair)
I am excited to take on the challenges of the position of Vice Chair and feel privileged to have the
opportunity to learn and grow in the work that we choose to undertake as a congregation. When I
joined First Parish four years ago, I was looking to find ways to make a meaningful contribution
adapting my experience in business and organizational development to the special opportunities that a
spiritual community offers. I have found that there is a reservoir of energy, knowledge and
determination among the members and friends of this congregation that can produce incredible results.
We have only to find the paths of commitment that can lead us ahead.
My professional career has been in both the public and private sector having spent 23 years as an
owner/partner of an environmental engineering firm where I lead marketing and strategic planning
efforts and, earlier, as an environmental planner for a regional planning agency. I am now a partner
with my husband, Steve, in a Cambridge-based real estate development company that concentrates on
historic preservation and sustainable design.
Since joining First Parish I have been Co-chair of the Sustainability Committee and Co-chair of the
Leadership Development Team. Most recently, I have participated with the negotiating team that has
worked to finalize leasing and financial arrangements for Y2Y Harvard Square that will be located in
our Stebbins Auditorium space. It has been a rewarding experience that offers great opportunities
for First Parish to play a more visible and effective role in addressing homelessness in our city.
I look forward to continuing to find creative ways with others in our amazing community to source our
combined strength and to reach out beyond our historic meetinghouse to embrace the rich diversity
that is our community here in First Parish and beyond.
The Meetinghouse News
May 2015
9
Linda West (1-year term as Clerk)
I have enjoyed the privilege of serving First Parish as Clerk for two years and am eager to continue
for another term. Serving on the Standing Committee and participating in deliberations such as those
that culminated in congregational support of the youth housing shelter (Y2Y) have been both
enlightening and gratifying. I want to use my energy and skill set to support further growth and wellbeing for our church and congregation. I have been a First Parish member seven years and have
served on a number of committees and program groups, gaining a relatively broad view of our
ministry and programs. Most recently, I have been involved once again in the Stewardship
Committee, helping to organize this year's outreach program. It was a great way to reconnect with
individual members, hear their hopes and dreams for our community, and appreciate their continued
support. I live in Arlington with my dog, Abby.
Ernie Sabine (1-year term as Treasurer)
I have been a member of First Parish for 14 years. I am a life-long UU (so far) and have sung in a UU
choir since I was ten, including a stint at First Parish in the 1960’s. I’ve participated in a variety of
activities at First Parish – leading the Annual Fund, project manager for the elevator installation and
dicing peppers for Tuesday Meals. I have been the Treasurer for several years and also serve as
Treasurer for Paine Senior Services as well as a member of the Standing, Investment and Finance
Committees. I grew up in a multicultural UU community and am enthusiastic about our congregation’s
mission to create a multicultural, spirit-filled, justice-seeking community. To that end I invite
diversification of our leadership by a broad representation from our congregation and encourage
everyone to join our choir. Outside of First Parish, I serve on the boards of a few non-profit
organizations and a variety of committees at MIT and participate in funding and managing emerging
technology companies. My wife, Zigrida, and I live in East Arlington.
Devon Kinkead (3-year term as Member-at-large)
I came to First Parish in March 2013 with my wife, Anita Kinkead, following our move to Cambridge
from Holliston, MA. I was raised Unitarian with both my parents actively involved in the church. I
have 2 children, Mason and Laura — who we have raised in the Unitarian Church. I have served as a
church board member, social action committee chair, and religious education teacher. The causes
that matter most to me are homelessness and LGBT issues — and I am an advisor to HomeStart, a
real estate agent for the homeless in Boston and Cambridge. As the proud husband of a Cape
Verdean wife, proud father of a gay child, and serial entrepreneur, I’m not afraid of taking risks and
overcoming obstacles to align my actions with my beliefs. I am both honored and humbled to serve
the church in any way I can.
Deacons
Ian Agranat (2-year term as Deacon)
I surprised myself in the fall of 2000 when I stepped through the doors of First Parish Cambridge for
the very first time. Indeed, that was the first time I set foot in a place of worship of any kind except
for the occasional wedding, funeral or bat mitzvah. I was brought up as a radical “none of the above”
by my Protestant/Jewish –turned-Agnostic/Atheist parents who shunned organized religion after being
criticized for their mixed marriage, and taught me to shun religion as well.
In the next 14 years, First Parish has become my spiritual home and beloved community where I have
made many friends and continue to grow spiritually.
I live in Concord, Massachusetts with my partner Carol Hani (who volunteers for the Religious
Education program) and our son Sam who recently turned eight.
Professionally, I am an experienced entrepreneur and engineer and serve as the CEO of Wildlife
Acoustics, Inc., a company based in Maynard that develops and sells audio and ultrasonic recorders
and analysis software to biologists in government agencies, research institutions and environmental
consulting firms to study and monitor vocal wildlife such as birds, frogs, bats, and whales with
customers in over 75 countries around the world. I have also previously served on non-profit boards
of directors including People Making a Difference, a volunteer organization in Boston, and REACH, a
domestic violence shelter and support organization based in Waltham.
The Meetinghouse News
May 2015
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Leadership Development Team
Joanna Fink (Member)
When my son, Noah, was 1 ½ years old, I decided we both needed a church. Having been raised without any
particular religious foundation myself, I was feeling a tug to explore becoming a part of a spiritual community,
and to offer Noah something I didn’t have growing up. (Neither my Jewish father nor my Methodist mother
cared much for “organized religion.”) I became a member of First Parish about six months from the first time
I came through the door, and now my son is fifteen, so there’s the math!
Without a doubt, my involvement with First Parish has been transformative. Being in community with people
who come from such diverse religious backgrounds has expanded my own sense of spirituality, and I celebrate
the increasing diversity of our church. My religious “practice” continues to grow and develop and it has, for
the most part, been a joyful journey.
I have served First Parish in a variety of ways over the years. These have included leading a class on
“Spirituality in Art” in the Adult Spiritual Education program, serving on two ministerial internship committees,
Fred’s inauguration committee and, most recently, the Membership Committee. Both my son and I have
volunteered for Tuesday Meals (and Noah was quite a regular there for a while). However, the major focus of
my service has been teaching in the RE program, which I have been doing each fall for about eight years with
my co-teacher, Anne-Marie Fitzgerald. I have had the privilege of spending extended time with many of our
youth, some of whom I have taught over a period of years, and have found it both challenging and
extraordinarily fulfilling. I only hope that I have taught my students as much as I have learned from them.
Shelby Meyerhoff (Member)
I have been an active participant in First Parish Cambridge since the summer of 2001, when I was a junior in
college. My young adult years have been profoundly shaped by this faith community, which has supported me
all along my spiritual journey and through major life transitions over the past nearly fourteen years.
Communities of spiritual practice at First Parish, including the prayer group, the young adult group, and the
women's sacred circle, have nurtured my spiritual life. First Parish's commitment to social justice has inspired
me. Activities like the women's book group have brought together members of our community for
conversation and intellectual exploration. As a religious education teacher, I have enjoyed getting to know the
children, youth, and parents in our congregation, and sharing learning experiences with our young people. And
I have found good friends here. It is a unique and remarkable community that offers such a holistic experience
for its members, and I want to continue contributing to this community.
Lay leadership is crucial to sustaining First Parish. Leadership in our community can be a joyful experience.
And at times it is challenging, as leadership in any community can be. I am enthusiastic about serving as a
source of support for people who feel called to serve our community in leadership, and as a source of
encouragement for those who may be open to discerning how they can contribute to First Parish.
Shaun Paul(Member)
Ondina and I began attending First Parish about 3 years ago, both of us new to UU. It’s our first shared house of
worship that seems to work for me as a secular Jew and Ondina as a Latina Pentecostal. We have appreciated
First Pariksh becoming a community for us and have enjoyed exposing our two children, Max and Maya to First
Parish in support of their exploring their spiritual identity. I have previously served on the Stewardship
Committee as well as assisted with furthering the current strategic plan.
I have 25 years of professional and leadership experience in philanthropy, impact investing and international
rural development. I have been a persistent and effective advocate to improve the role and status of
Indigenous Peoples and sustainable well-being. I am co-founder and 20-year leader of the EcoLogic
Development Fund to provide grants and training to empower rural and Indigenous Peoples integrating
community-led development and conservation. Guided the launch and seven-year incubation of Root Capital, a
loan fund for small and growing business, and the founding of Reinventure Capital, a venture impact fund,
reinventing investing for intergenerational well-being. More about my professional background is at
http://shaunpaul.branded.me/
I am happy to lend my experience in organizational development and leadership to support First Parish by
serving on the Leadership Development Committee and sharing my experience with human resource
development, board development, volunteer management, leadership training, strategic and operational
planning.
The Meetinghouse News
May 2015
11
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June 2015 MHN - First Parish in Cambridge