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What’s New at First Parish?
On Sunday evening, October 26, 2014, during a joyful service in a full Sanctuary, the Rev. Dr. Stephanie May was formally installed as the 32nd settled minister at The First Parish in Wayland. (See many wonderful photos here.)
The Rev. Ken Sawyer, our Minister Emeritus, opened the service with an invocation, and a succession of guest ministers followed to offer greetings and messages for the community and for Stephanie. A celebratory trumpet concerto opened and closed the service, and the Choir sang a new anthem with a special guest in the tenor section: the composer himself.
The Rev. Galen Guengerich, senior minister at The Unitarian Church of All Souls in New York City, delivered the sermon at Stephanie’s invitation. He emphasized the importance of religious communities and rituals to make meaning in our lives. Community minister the Rev. John Gibb Millspaugh, invited to issue the charge to the minister, used jumper cables to illustrate his advice to Stephanie.
Stephanie’s mentor during her two-year ministerial internship at the UU church in Sherborn, the Rev. Nathan Detering, charged the congregation to recognize that ours is a partnership with our new minister.
Both First Parish Affiliate Ministers participated in the service. The Rev. Dr. Deborah Pope-Lance lit the chalice, and the Rev. Maddie Sifantus sang a setting of “I thank you god for most this amazing day” by e.e. cummings. The Rev. Erin Splaine served as Marshal for the procession of more than 20 robed minis- ters, and the Rev. Phyllis O’Connell, ordained at First Parish in 1994, presented the offering. Lisa Maria Steinberg, our Director of Lifespan Religious Education and Spiritual Development, and several children from the congregation offered a creative welcome from all of First Parish’s children and youth. With help from composer Karl Henning, the Choir sang “Love Is The Spirit” and “For the Beauty of the Earth.”
During the service Stephanie was presented with a minister’s stole designed and sewn by her mother, and with a handmade glass bowl, gifts from the congregation. The Rev. Clyde Grubbs, co-minister of the First Universalist Society in Salem, Mass., led a closing ceremony of connection in which everyone in the Sanctuary placed a hand on a neighbor’s shoulder, with Stephanie in the center, connected to all, in a variation of the ancient ritual of the laying on of hands.
The service was followed by a celebratory reception in the Vestry, featuring plenty of food and drink and a wide assortment of pies, a sweet tribute to Stephanie’s paternal grandmother Virginia May.
Many, many thanks go to Stephanie for a beautiful service, to her august colleagues for their inspiring presence, to her family for their warm support, to Polly Oliver for the marvelous music, to the congregation for its loving witness, and to our remarkable Installation Committee, which made it all possible.
November 2, 2014: Please join us this Sunday at 10:00 a.m. when the Rev. Dr. Stephanie May will deliver a sermon titled “Religion, Politics, and the Lines Between Them.” As Election Day approaches, she will explore how religious beliefs, ethical values and political action may — or may not — connect within our lives. The sermon will touch on the Unitarian Universalist Association “Common Read” book for 2014: Reclaiming Prophetic Witness: Liberal Religion in the Public Square, by Paul Rasor (2012).
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We are a Unitarian Universalist congregation that affirms human dignity, community action, freedom of religious thought, and the power of love.
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