October 2021: Cultivating Relationship

The UUA suggested theme for October is “Cultivating a Relationship”.   As a First Parish Board member, I wondered what I could say about this, since I am not exactly a philosophical thinker (I believe Susan’s term for someone like me is “linear”).
The first thing that might come to mind, in the context of a church, is cultivating our personal relationship with (or understanding of) god, the great spirit, or the deity by whatever name you may use.  For many, but not everyone, in First Parish, this is certainly an essential aspect of participation in the Parish, although for each the interpretation of the spirit varies.  People may search for their connection with the spirit through meditation, song, prayer, reading, yoga, watching a sunrise, or by joining in the services on Sunday mornings.
But I want to think about cultivation of another kind of relationship: the relationship we have with each other and with the broader Stoughton community. 
The First Parish congregation is relatively small, but for such a small group we have a remarkable diversity of ideas and opinions. Just as the hard work of cultivating a garden is critical for that garden to bear an abundant harvest, we all need to work hard on understanding the thoughts and opinions of our fellow parishioners. And we will not always agree, but we need to understand the differences of thought, to respect each other, and wherever possible, provide assistance and encouragement to each other in our spiritual journeys.  It is only by working together we can make the change we want to see in our greater society.
And in our relationship with the town, First Parish should be a voice of the Seven Principles of the UUA, whether it be in providing opportunities for people to hear a diversity of thoughts on religion from the First Parish pulpit through our rotations of guest ministers and speakers (4th Principle: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning), the activities of the social justice committee (2nd Principle: Justice, Equity and Compassion in human relations), providing food and other essentials for the Community Cabinet (1st Principle: the inherent worth and dignity of every person), support for environmental programs in town or for the new Navigators Scouting program (7th Principle: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence), or any of the other activities of First Parish.
And now that we are working out the bugs from our zoom broadcasts of live services from the church, I look forward to reaching an ever-broadening audience with these messages.  Be sure to pass along the zoom link to those you think would be interested in hearing the services on Sunday morning!
I look forward to working with you on meeting the needs of our First Parish members, and the broader community, over the next year.
Mark Racicot, Treasurer,
for the First Parish Board of Trustees