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First Church Congregational

United Church of Christ

26 Pleasant Street

Methuen, MA 01844-3119

TEL: 978-687-1240

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"Getting Parsonal" - October 2018

By: Rev. William D. Ingraham


This year’s Welcome Sunday cookout could hardly have been nicer! After two years of needing to hold the event inside, we finally had a beautiful day for a picnic on the church lawn. The food was delicious, and the friendship and conversations shared across our property was a delight. Many, many people offered their time and skills before, during and after the cookout. Heartfelt thanks go to everyone who helped to make the event a success! And also, to everyone who was able to attend.


Before the cookout, we dedicated our new church sign. Have you seen it yet? It sits in the main garden in front of the sanctuary. Like the previous sign (that served us well for a long time!), this sign is two-sided, and can be read either from Pleasant Street or Stevens Street. The sign itself is a beautiful, black stone (basalt, perhaps?), with engraved, gold-painted lettering. The posts are granite that matches the stone of the church building. We owe special thanks both to Michael and Maureen Pollard, and also to Steve and Judi Boyko, the two families who paid for the sign and its installation. It represents us well and helps to define who we are to everyone who passes.


Worship was special on Welcome Sunday, too. The Diaconate unveiled new coffee mugs that will be used as “thank you” gifts for first time visitors to our church. It’ll take a while for us to get the rhythm of this! But the intention is for visitors to be given the mugs during the announcement time before worship. This will be your cue, as a worshiper in the congregation, to spot who is new among us and make sure you greet them after worship. You don’t have to do much. Just sake their hand and say “hello.” Introduce yourself and thank them for coming. Or simply say, “Please come again!” Mugs are available to members and friends of the church for a small donation.


Also, on Welcome Sunday, pocket crosses distributed during the sermon. The scripture passage that day included Jesus’ words, “If anyone would be my disciple, they should deny themselves, pick up their cross and follow me.” Josh Ferry has been making pocket crosses for several months, preparing them as a gift to our church and the broader community. The idea is to carry one with you wherever you go, but also to be watching for someone else who may need it. The crosses are offered as a sign of God’s love and compassion (each is imprinted with a small heart), but also as a reminder that God never, ever abandons us. It’s also a way to remember our common mission: Seeking God. Caring for each other. Improving our community.


Welcome Sunday 2018 has come and gone, but the spirit of welcome it portends continues on. We seek to offer an extravagant welcome to everyone who ever comes through our doors — whether they are here for the first time or have come every Sunday for decades on end. And beyond welcoming them into our sanctuary, we welcome them into our very lives, that they might join us in offering God’s love and compassion both in our church, and throughout the world.

See you in church…


~Bill