We Commit Ourselves and Our Resources to Nurture the Spirit, 
Grow in Community and Help Heal the World.
STONE SOUP NEWSLETTER
Summer 2018

An ancient folktale tells of the power of gathering
our individual gifts to create community. 
Young at Heart

You know us as professional adults. Can you imagine us as children? For a little summer levity, try to identify your First Parish Staff in the baby/kid photos below. Answers listed at the end of this newsletter.
1
2
3
4
5
6
Rev. Christina washes the feet of our homeless neighbors
at Preble Street's Maundy Thursday event before Easter. 
Letter from the
Minister
Dear Members and Friends of First Parish,

Happy Summer! I feel good about First Parish. We had a successful year of shared ministry with great leaders. We have a great staff team who support one another and are dedicated to the success of First Parish. Through the work of standing committees, we are in a solid place financially and structurally and are becoming more organized. Our congregation is bustling with new people, energy, passion and creativity. We are looking look back into our history and unpacking it as we move forward reflecting on our whiteness and our privilege. We are partnering with other faith traditions and organizations that are committed to creating love and justice in the world. Our congregation is truly multi-generational with people from diverse economic and class backgrounds. We are working towards becoming accessible for all bodies.

I am proud of us. I love us!
Policy Governance 101
Janet Robinson, President of the Governing Board
This year, the Governing Board plunged head-first into completing the conversion of our governance structure to Policy governance, a process initiated by congregational vote in 2014. In this governance model, the Board writes policies that guide and bound the work of the Minister and the operational side of the church (collectively referred to as “Ministry”), and then closely monitors performance in accord with these policies. Authority to make decisions that formerly were made the Board is transferred to Ministry, through the office of the Minister, and choices are made in accordance with these over-arching policies. This year, we developed the bulk of the policies that support this effort, and these policies will be rolled out in draft form to leadership in the fall.
A New Calling for Carolyn Barschow
First Parish member Carolyn Barschow will begin a Master's of Divinity program at Union Theological Seminary this fall. This degree is a requirement towards her goal of becoming ordained as a Unitarian Universalist minister. Union is a progressive, non-denominational Christian seminary in New York City with a strong emphasis on social justice.

Carolyn has been involved in professional and lay leadership in Portland's UU congregations since relocating to Maine in 2010. She currently works as Director of Religious Education at Allen Ave UU Church and served on the Governing Board and Committee on Ministry at First Parish. Carolyn's ministry focuses on fostering belonging and shared purpose to build compassionate community. She has been active in social justice work at First Parish including the 2012 marriage equality campaign and the Black Lives Matter team.

Carolyn is excited for her studies, as well as the move back to her home state of New York, but will greatly miss the warm community of First Parish. She extends her gratitude to the entire congregation for inspiration towards following a call to ordained ministry and to Rev. Christina for her support and encouragement to answer the call. Please keep in touch: cbt207@gmail.com
Stewardship Wrap-up
Bill Adams,
Chair of the Stewardship Team
This year we set a goal of $200,000 in pledges. As of this writing we have collected $206,654 from 190 households for 103.3% of our goal. I believe this is the first time we have ever exceeded $200,000. This is truly an outstanding accomplishment of which we should all be proud! Highlights of this year’s campaign include:

  • Pledges rose from $195,791 last year to $206,654 this year
  • The number of households who pledged rose from 182 last year to 190 this year – 4.4% increase – giving us an average pledge of $1088.
  • We had an 90% response rate from households who received a pledge packet in the mail.
  • 25 new households pledged this year.
  • We streamlined our new online pledge system this year and over 70 households used it to make their pledge.
  • Our Telethon efforts generated $23,035 and we collected and an additional $20,740 at the Thank You Brunch.
  • On Stewardship Sunday, we collected over $90,000 in pledges - which jump started the campaign for us.
  • We kicked off the campaign on Sunday March 4th and closed it on Sunday, March 18th – keeping our promise to shorten the campaign!
  • On Sunday, March 25th, we held our Stewardship “Thank You Brunch” celebrating the official wrap-up of this year’s Stewardship campaign. 

Thank you to all who helped make this year’s campaign a huge success!

And special thanks to the following members of the Stewardship Team
for all their hard work: Bill Adams, Matt Caston, Arne Gronningsater,
Greg Dorsey, Stephanie Desrochers, Chris & Ellie Speh, Tom Crane, Marlies Reppenhagen, Emily Bolt, Jennifer Bell Taylor and Cliff & Jane Hoover
Staff Poetry Selections & Reflections

We hope you get to know each of us a little better through the poems we chose.
The Beat of Children
by Toben Cooney-Callnan,
Director of Religious Exploration

Small, soft bodies folded together like prayer hands
Little laughs boldly freeing; talking is too complicated
to dance to.
She is leading now, her pink pointed toes weightless
He follows, rounded shoulders heaving and dropping
Rhythmically.
He names his elbows yellow and his knees orange
Her belly magenta and her fingers grass green
They dance rainbows around the living room
Forest they claimed home with Lego forts
And clementine peels.

About this poem: I have always loved poetry and photography. A few years ago I began writing what I dubbed “still life poetry”. I use words to try to recreate and explore a particular image. This poem is about watching a brother and sister entering their own imaginary world together as they played in the family living room. I chose to share it with Stone Soup because a large part of my job here pertains to the sacredness of children and what is more sacred than creating a world together?  
Peonies
by Mary Oliver

chosen by Sheila Sullivan,
Congregational Administrator

This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready
to break my heart
as the sun rises,
as the sun strokes them with his old, buttery fingers

and they open —
pools of lace,
white and pink —
and all day the black ants climb over them,

boring their deep and mysterious holes
into the curls,
craving the sweet sap,
taking it away

to their dark, underground cities —
and all day
under the shifty wind,
as in a dance to the great wedding,
That Music Always Round Me
by Walt Whitman

chosen by Scott Wheatley, Music Director
That music always round me, unceasing, unbeginning, yet long
untaught I did not hear,
But now the chorus I hear and am elated,
A tenor, strong, ascending with power and health, with glad notes
of daybreak I hear,
A soprano at intervals sailing buoyantly over the tops of immense
waves,
A transparent base shuddering lusciously under and through the
universe,
The triumphant tutti, the funeral wailings with sweet flutes and
violins, all of these I fill myself with,
I hear not the volumes of sound merely, I am moved by the
exquisite meanings,
I listen to the different voices winding in and out, striving,
contending with fiery vehemence to excel each other in
emotion;
I do not think the performers know themselves—but now I think I
begin to know them.

I’ve been a professional singer for my whole life. Many of my colleagues prefer the adulation and isolation received by solo singing, but I’ve always loved the camaraderie, challenge and pure joy from singing with other people. Whether it’s a duet with one other person or being in the middle of a 250 voice chorus, there’s nothing quite like turning a single voice, with it’s own unique characteristics, into something, at once, magical and collaborative. I liken my time at First Parish in a similar way. We are a wonderful group of unique individuals who come together to do amazing, magical things.
Old vs. New:
Reflections on the Passing of Time at First Parish
Moe Blanchard, Sexton
Past

Coal Heat
Outhouses
Gas Lights
Male Ministers
Present

Oild & Gas Heat
Indoor Flush Toilets & Running Water
Electric Lights
Female Minister
Rain Light
by W.S. Merwin

chosen by Rev. Christina Sillari, Minister

All day the stars watch from long ago
my mother said I am going now
when you are alone you will be all right
whether or not you know you will know
look at the old house in the dawn rain
all the flowers are forms of water
the sun reminds them through a white cloud
touches the patchwork spread on the hill
the washed colors of the afterlife
that lived there long before you were born
see how they wake without a question
even though the whole world is burning

Rain Light reminds me of the mystery and my need for wonder amidst the chaos of busyness and bad news. The simple act of being present to the rain fills my mind and heart with a soothing so deep, I forget myself. In the quiet grief of releasing, each little death prepares me. As I begin to let go of my daughter who is about to turn 18 and graduate from high school. As I reflect on my aging parents and how they may slip away more quickly than I know. As I try and ignore my hair thinning and the power of gravity taking over my face. As I say goodbye to people I love as they leave this world. I become transparent. So I am compelled to cherish each day and each person no matter who appears before me, no matter if the sun is shining or if grayness covers the city. I prefer the rain, because it soothes the burning of my heart. And I long to weep, for tears melt away disconnection from what I do not quite know. I am humbled by you in your strength and vulnerability doing cartwheels inside. You teach me how to be human but I want to learn how to be a spirit so I can fly between heaven and earth bringing magnificent blue light that feeds us all. Because you remind me of all that is good and true in this world, I bow to you. I wish we could communicate through color like the flowers do because then we would all see who we really are and our shyness and loneliness, resentment and fear would melt away forever. So I purchase large ceramic pots and fill them with pansies to remind me that everything is beautiful in its essence. And I wonder who I am if I let go of being a daughter, a mother, a minister, a friend. Who am I when my beauty fades and my mind is no longer interested in complicated things or saving the world? Who am I when my heart has cried all the tears it will ever cry or when it is free of all hatred? Perhaps, it is really time to simply be nothing for a while where everything that is real abides.

All my gratitude and blessings of love and light to you,
Christina
Racial Justice Team Meetings
July 10th & August 14 th | 7pm
in the K-1 Classroom (upstairs in the Parish House)
The Racial Justice Team will be meeting on the second Tuesday each month. At the July meeting, we will review the team’s mission and to hear Marcy Makinen describe the Poor Peoples Campaign moral revival in DC. In August, we will plan the series of congregational workshops in racial justice for 2018-19.
Please join us! 
Call for Revisions to
Declaration of Conscience
September 1 st Deadline
Special Meeting | September 9 th | 11:20am| Meeting House
At last week's annual meeting, the congregation voted to hold a special meeting in September to consider a revised First Parish Declaration of Conscience. Many members wanted the opportunity to further consider the wording; some raised questions about several marginalized or oppressed groups that the document did not mention specifically. Any First Parish member is invited to propose revised wording or additions, but  all proposed revisions must be received in writing   by September 1.   The special meeting will be held September 9 after service. The proposed revisions will be made available to church members to consider in this eNewsletter on September 7th. Click the link below to read the Declaration:
Back in Action:
Mark Your Calendar for these
Upcoming Events at First Parish
August Worship Services

August 5 | 10am
Lammas: A
Communion Celebration
Rev. Christina Sillari

August 12 | 10am
Hawaiian Way
Sally Waite

August 19 | 10am
Rev. Christina Sillari

August 26 | 10am
Climate Change
Angus Ferguson & Allen Armstrong
Meetings & Events

The Marriage of Figaro:
Open Rehearsa l
July 6| 6pm | Meeting House

Racial Justice Team Meeting
July 10 & August 14 | 7pm
K-1 Classroom

FP Book Group
August 27 | 7pm | Parish Hall

Call for Revisions to
Declaration of Conscience
September 1 Deadline
Special Meeting | September 9 | 11:20am| Meeting House


First Parish
Summer Schedule & Office Notes
There are no Sunday services at First Parish in July. Services will resume on August 5th at 10am

Rev. Christina is on her study leave/vacation from 6/29-7/31. The Pastoral Care Team will be available for emergencies during this time, and can be reached through the First Parish Office at 773-5747. 

The First Parish Office will be open Tuesday through Thursday from 9am-4pm throughout the summer, or by appointment. The Office will be closed from July 16-20. Happy summer! 

August Bulletin & eNews Announcements: We will be printing one Bulletin for all services in the month of August. Bulletin & eNews Announcements for August and early September are due by noon on August 1st.
Young at Heart

Check your guesses to the Staff Baby Photo quiz
with the correct answers below:
1
Moe Blanchard
2
Toben Cooney-Callnan
3
Christina Sillari
4
Sheila Sullivan
5
Tina Smith
6
Scott Wheatley
Rev. Christina takes a selfie with one of our youngest members. 
425 Congress Street Portland, Maine 04101   207-773-5747  

 Nurture the Spirit, Grow in Community 
and Help Heal the World