Florence Congregational Church
Thursday, February 20, 2020
A Place to Connect

August News from the Pastor

 A Journey Recalled

Wow, it's hard to believe that August marks eight years since Brenda and I began to pack up our home in Rockland in preparation for our move here.  Some of you were here at FCC during my interview process that began in June of 2005.  Shortly after Labor Day, we arrived to take up home in the parsonage.  Several of you had labored tirelessly at painting out the front hall and living rooms.  While you were painting and cleaning, Don Dupes was ripping apart the kitchen...yes, ripping out the cabinets, drywall and floor in preparation for our arrival when I would begin to renovate the space into a delightful spacious new kitchen.  Brenda and I spent our first three "honeymoon" months cooking with a microwave, hot plate and electric skillet in the dining room.  We finished the new kitchen just in time to host our first Christmas Open House in December of 2005. 
As I thought back to our journey together, I literally shivered from head to foot.  We have shared in a lot of ministry endeavors.  We have had inspiring youth prepare worship services, Sunday school children visiting and singing to nursing home residents, ongoing Bible studies and intriguing book studies in addition to our regular fellowship activities.  The Bylaws were reviewed and rewritten to reflect contemporary language shifts and a new style of governance featuring a Board of Directors (Cabinet) consisting of representatives from each Church board.  Three years ago we entered into a covenant relationship with Beit Ahavah agreeing to the build-out of two offices for Rabbi Riqi and her administrative assistant, Leah Chava Reiner.  During this time, forty-three people have joined the church while sadly losing fifty-two to death.
Most recently, beginning in August 2010, I began a Doctor of Ministry journey with a team of twelve members of the church called the FCC site team.  This three-year extensive degree program pushed all of us to examine our walk with Christ.  Not only did we discover many things about our personal faith journeys, but we also learned a great deal about each other and the church, both its history and current position in the rapidly changing community of Florence.  I concluded my studies in May of this year, submitting a project report reflecting our work, discoveries, and conclusions.  Bangor Theological Seminary accepted this report.  I graduated on June 22nd, 2013 with a degree of Doctor of Ministry. 
In some ways, our move here seems only like yesterday.  You have welcomed us with open arms, loving and nurturing us.  We feel blessed in sharing in he Lord's work with you.  Renovating the parsonage, settling into the fellowship of a new church, and completing my doctoral work had been incredible.  I am privileged to have Brenda at my side as the church office manager keeping track of church activities and the many rentals that subsidize the church budget.  She has a pastoral heart too that compliments my call... So I appreciate her devotion.  Brenda and I hope to continue this work with you in years to come.  I hope to see the work, discoveries and discussions of the Site Team engaged and acted upon over the next three to five years.  It has been an incredible journey of great love, soul searching, and evaluation of the shifting cultural identity of Western Massachusetts.  I (We) really want to be here to guide the development of new ministries, creative worship and youth programing that we believe needs to occur over the coming years.
Shifting gears....
I am sure each of you have events you recall as significant moments in your journey.  Some unhappy ones: family issues, the loss of a loved one, or perhaps the breakup of a family.  Yet other events are marked as happy ones: the births of children, birthday parties, or family reunions.  These events become part of our life's journey and we must be attentive if we are to know their true affect in our lives.  We must be in tune listening, watching, touching and sensing life's blessings absorbing the wonder, love and joy within our hearts, for this helps encourage our faith.
How we live our lives is totally representative of our interpretation of what life is all about.  We must ask ourselves, what does our faith call is to do in the passage of our shirt time here on earth?  As Christians, our faith and beliefs enable us to evaluate and interpret life in its complexity and wonder. 
One basic understanding is that there is always hope.  Christians can approach life's greatest struggles with hope.  God promises to walk with us and to be with us through thick and thin.  Yet, we know that trials and tribulations are part of life and we must meet them head on.  Out hope gives us assurance that because Jesus Christ brought to us the new covenant, we can be confident that God is steadfast in his promise to live us, strengthen us and encourage us in out time of need.  God is with us every day offering us guidance and support.
A second understanding of the Christian Faith is that God continues to reveal his purpose in out lives as we mature in faith.  Along with out growth as God's children come additional responsibilities to engage in God's plan for his creation.  This means we are contributing to our church and world with our talents, time and blessings of treasure.  We all have purposes: for some teaching, others preaching, care giving, and singing.  What ever our purpose or assignment, we are to be carriers of the Good News that God loves us and is steadfast in his promises.
Lastly, we understand that in all things God is with us. God provides for our needs that sustain us.  God is not only our creator, redeemer, but also our sustainer.  This is evident in the physical world-the earth providing our food, water and air necessary for human existence.  God provides is opportunities for emotional and spiritual nourishment too, through friendships that provide love, joy and support.  And of course, Scripture reveals God's truth, promises and love that are steadfast and eternal. 
It is with this hope that we are able to act.  We are able to approach God in fulfilling our purpose because we know that God is going to provide the nourishment, the support, encouragement, and love necessary to accomplish the goals set before us.  It is with this hope that we can lead joyous and satisfying lives that honor and glorify our Creator.  Over the next few months, the Cabinet will examine, review and evaluate our work as the Florence Congregational Church.  Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the leadership of Moderator, Phyllis Maggiolino, and the Cabinet members, you will be asked to consider and make decisions regarding the future ministries of the church as Christ's apostles.  Get involved in the work of the Church; be prepared to engage in the discussion and dialogue regarding the path to be chosen.
Pastor Irv

Florence Congregational Church • 130 Pine Street, Florence, Massachusetts 01062 • 413.584.1325


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