Rev. Rob Mark, Pastor
The long days and increased heat of July are upon us. May these days be filling you with God's shining, loving light. I want to share with you my upcoming plans to take a first ever annual Summer Sabbath, July 19-August 16. I am very grateful for this gift of a time to set apart four weeks (two unpaid, two vacation) to be more intentionally focused on being still and knowing that God is God. My goals during this time away from you all that differs from a typical "vacation" will be to slow down, to enjoy the extra time with my family, and enjoy some more hours outside in nature.
During this time, while I plan to slow down, I am grateful that our life of ministry together as a congregation will not slow down. In fact, for Sunday worship, I have organized a 4-week summer preaching series of talented and diverse preacher-alums from Boston University School of Theology. And during this time, our own Rev. Enid Watson has agreed to provide pastoral coverage to support the ongoing and amazing work of our Deacons. I pray this time of intentional sabbath-keeping for me will also stand as a reminder for each of you to try and carve out some moments, hours, days or weeks this summer to also slow down, set the smart-phone and to-do lists aside, and seek God in restful and loving ways.
Just before sending this article off to Evelyn for publishing in Covenant News, we heard the sad news of the passing of our dearly beloved sibling in faith, Elsa Abele. While I won't take the time to say much here - trusting that in the coming days and weeks we will be sure to create multiple spaces to share more as a family about this profound loss - I want to simply name how significant a moment this is for our Covenant community. Elsa has been such a reflection of Christ to us, and we will miss her deeply. We are thankful for all the ways she has shared her full, authentic, and generous spirit with us. And while she has gone too soon, we are grateful she is now free of the burden of illness, and at deep peace in the embrace of our God whom she loves. As we hold Reine and her children in our hearts and prayers, we pray that God's light perpetual would shine, and loving, comforting presence be known and felt for all. I look forward to gathering together in various ways in the coming days and weeks with you as we remember and give thanks for our beloved sibling Elsa.
In peace and much love,
A Letter from Julie
Friends, read below a really nice email update from our sibling in faith and former Associate Pastor and now Chaplain at Emerson College, Rev. Julie Avis Rogers. We have added this artwork entitled "Elizabeth and Mary" by our friend Lauren Wright Pittman, since a framed image of this art was given to Julie by COTC on her last Sunday with us in January, and now hangs from her office wall at Emerson. ~Rob
Dearest Covenant family,
It has somehow only been 4 months since my last Sunday with you-- but based on how intensely I miss you all, it seems like it has been so much longer!! I truly think about you every single day and my heart continues to be so close to you.
I thought it was high-time that I send a greeting and update: After my last Sunday at Covenant, Alyssa and I took a really wonderful 3-week adventure through New Zealand and the next day after returning from our trip, I began my new position at Emerson College! This first semester at Emerson has been exciting, fascinating, and of course, at times overwhelming. I have truly loved this time of getting to know the Emerson community and starting to put into place programming and experiences to nourish the spiritual lives of such a diverse and creative community. Our Kindling Zine leaders used the semester to re-organize themselves so that they are now an official Emerson organization and it has been really exciting to see their momentum and passion for this project that Covenant gave birth to.
Our Center for Spiritual Life has just this week moved to a new building where I can see Covenant's steeple clearly and boldly out the window, right across the Boston Common and it is a daily reminder to me of the ways that the Covenant community continues to shape and impact and inspire me.
With all my love,
In This Issue
Celebrating 35 Years of ONA
By Marnie Warner
rosi olmstead and Marnie Warner attended the 35th Celebration of the passage of ONA (Open and Affirming) in the UCC Massachusetts Conference on June 15. rosi was the minister who submitted the ONA resolution for consideration and Marnie was the lead advocate to bring the resolution to General Synod. Both were invited to briefly speak about their experiences.
As part of the celebration, the Just Peace Players which includes Fran Bogel (the person pictured on the right and former COTC member) presented part of their play on ONA which they do for churches. It was interesting for Marnie and rosi to hear their parts in the ONA journey performed.
Wendy Miller, pictured in her robe, came to COTC when she was at BU School of Theology. Wendy became a field ed student and also had a baby while at COTC. Alex is now a Harvard graduate. Wendy was the "master of ceremony" at the ONA celebration.
The event was held at Plymouth Church in Framingham where Greg Morrissey is Senior Pastor. Greg was one of rosi's last field students.
On the left in the picture is Olivia Masih White, dressed in her purple sari. At the 1985 General Synod, Olivia was chairperson of the committee to which the ONA resolution was referred. On the last day of General Synod, Olivia, who had shepherded the ONA Resolution through the General Synod discernment process, stood on the dais, which was probably eight feet above the 900+ delegates sitting at cafeteria tables, and presented the resolution for a vote. Olivia and Marnie had not seen each other in 35 years.
It was a wonderful, emotional day for everyone.
In This Issue
News from the Pews
Compiled by Linda Pursley
From June 12-20, Barbara Darling visited Ireland for the first time ever! She attended a conference in Cork of the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature, and Culture. While in Ireland she also played tourist and managed to visit the beautiful coast on the southern side of Ireland (the village of Ardmore where St. Declan first brought Christianity to Ireland); the western side of Ireland on the Atlantic Ocean (the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher, see photo); the eastern side of Ireland on the Irish Sea (Dun Laoghaire near Dublin); and the north coast (the spectacular Giant's Causeway.) On the conference's field trip to Ardmore she met a young graduate student who knows Rob! Vicky is an Eco-Steward and has been on the Leadership Team for years!
Cliffs of Moher in Ireland
Gerri Owen is spending the summer in various locations in Europe. She writes, "I am going to Wales where I lived for 15 years. I will visit my son Oren in the south of England and my daughter who lives in Warsaw, Poland. I am planning to return in early September; I don't think I can stay away any longer because I will really miss my church and the wonderful community that I have found! Bless you all and have a wonderful summer."
At the Premier...
Sarah Perreault, Anne Crane, and Kathy Bull
Baptism and New Babies...
On June 23rd the congregation, family, godparents, and friends of
Elena Rose Celli, joined parents
Joe and Meghan Celli to share in the sacrament of baptism. In addition, the congregation got a first glimpse of 5 week old
Shirley, who joined her big sister,
Evelyn and parents
Selom Azuma and
Emily Aaronson. The community is growing!
Rev. Rob, Meghan, Elena Rose, and Joe Celli
Under the Mango Tree
by Tim Groves
Note: This column will be a monthly sharing of stories from our sister church community, Dulce Nombre de Jesus, in northwest Nicaragua.
From Monday, July 1 through Thursday, July 11, Covenant will send a delegation to visit Dulce Nombre de Jesus in Nicaragua. On Sunday, June 23, at Covenant's worship service, Mocky Day, Debbie Howland, Faith Perry and I were commissioned to represent Covenant and to strengthen our 23-year sister relationship. Ann Covert, Byron Sipe, Kathy Bull, Diane Lauber, rosi olmstead and Rob charged us to bring our community's love and to learn more about the impact of this past year's Nicaragua's political conflict and divisions, both in our sister community and in the nation.
We hope to find resilience and steps toward reconciliation in Nicaragua and to ask them for their advice and accompaniment for the work we need to do in our own country. Covenant is sending us to show that we will not abandon our relationship at a time of trouble. As faith communities, we both think that the words and spirit of the Bible need to inform us.
We will spend five days in the village and five days in Managua. Eduardo Valdez, Luis Aguirre and an interpreter will accompany and guide us. Because of our request and their connections with groups across Nicaragua's current political divides, they have set up meetings for us with a government-formed Truth Commission, a UN group critical of the government, a Women's Rights group, a Transexual Rights group, a women leader of a Sandinista labor movement, the British-born leader of a language school where I studied, kicked off by an overview talk from a U.S.-born longtime worker and leader in Nicaragua. What a rich learning experience! If it works with her schedule, we hope also to visit with our former facilitator Elena Hendricks and bring back news from her. We will also spend time with the faith community San Pablo de Apóstol from Managua's Catorce neighborhood.
We delegates will look forward to returning to Covenant to share what we learn. We carry with us one of Covenant's two worship candles. You congregation members blessed it with your love when it passed throughout Sunday's worship. We will ask members of Dulce Nombre to bless it as well with their light so we may bring it back with that light to our sanctuary.
By Phyllis Galt for Council
June Meeting Report
UCC BIENNIAL GATHERING
The UCC will hold their
Biennial nationwide gathering in Milwaukee, WI, June 21-25. They will vote on a number of resolutions, including criminal justice reform, immigration justice, the Green New Deal and climate justice.
: May Pentecost celebration!
Tom Reid was meeting with Presbytery's COM during Council meeting as we met - we prayed for Tom. -
REPORT ON STAFF FROM ROB
The congregational visit to Elsa and Reine was a great success.
rosi is recovering from triple bypass surgery. rosi and Marnie plan to attend an Open and Affirming Celebration in Framingham on Saturday and speak.
-New banners were prepared for Pride Parade and beyond. Thanks to Kathryn Barry for coordinating efforts in the parade.
-Bill Brown's update about Elite Protection Services, including hours and costs, was reviewed. The Council agreed to continue with one patrol per night, unless additional patrols are needed.
-Church Office/ Parish House Reorganization project is continuing. A date for a broader clean-up will be announced.
-Rev. Julie Avis Rogers has offered to provide an email update on Kindling Collective and Emerson ministry via Covenant News.
(post meeting) The Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay (NABB) Homelessness Forum, was held on June 7. About 10-15 COTC members attended. Six speakers from Boston related organizations and government offices gave brief presentations and answered questions.
Rev. Rob's Summer Sabbath July 19-August 16 coverage updates: Rev. Enid Watson will be offering pastoral coverage, preachers are getting lined up. Worship and Music will provide a liaison to cover backup communication and coverage.
SAFE & WELCOMING SPACES TEAM
Due to safety concerns, Rob and Bill are collecting safety protocols and cost estimates from other area churches related to locked doors, signage, alarms, cameras, etc. Bill Brown is preparing a delineated protocol for departure from our own building, as well as investigating costs and services used in the area. Rob clarified backup plan if Fred is not available on Sundays.
Bill is working on writing out Sunday specifics of Fred's work to help show others when he is absent.
STANDING COMMITTEE REPORTS
The Committee is working with the Treasurer on the certification forms sent by the UCC Pensions Board. We will wait to finalize this when there is a decision on hiring a transitional associate pastor.
The Committee is also working with the Treasurer on the Massachusetts PFMLA (Massachusetts new Paid Family and Medical Leave Act) employer requirements. The Commonwealth has now postponed implementation for three months.
Worship and Music Committee:
(Nancy Hollomon) New members Ken Bitner and David McKinney have just joined the committee and bring their extensive experience, which is most welcome.
Rev. Jack Ammerman
was authorized to celebrate communion in the absence of PCUSA/UCC ordained minister during Rob's Summer Sabbath.
The Food Project receives help thanks to Mission and Advocacy:
M&A has decided that the local portion of the PCUSA half of the Pentecost Offering collected on Sunday, June 9, will go to The Food Project. This group works
a thoughtful and productive community of youth and adults from diverse backgrounds who work together to build a sustainable food system." They produce
healthy food for residents of the city and suburbs, provide youth leadership opportunities, and inspire and supports others to create change in their own communities. Over 120 teens and thousands of volunteers to farm on 70 acres in Lincoln, Beverly, Boston, Lynn, and in Wenham, Mass are participating.
SPECIAL COMMITTEE REPORTS
The Pastor Transition Team
has been meeting regularly and has received some applications for the Transitional Associate Pastor position. They have identified three candidates with whom we wish to conduct phone interviews, and are working on collating and analyzing responses to the congregational survey (25 people responded) and the notes from the congregational conversation held on June 2 (32 people participated). Summaries will be distributed to the congregation.
Nancy and others are working on locating and mapping all memorials in the COTC building.
COTC has received an opportunity for a public art artist to use our building to display projection of video on the legacy of immigration. The Council agreed that Rob and Bill Brown should continue conversation with the artist and agent to determine feasibility.
Note: If your July birthday does not appear on this list, please notify Hillary in the church office so we can include you next year!
Anne Crane, Samuel Jewett
most up-to-date church calendar.
About This Issue
July 2019 Covenant News
Editor and Graphics: Evelyn Kimber
Template: Harry Forsdick
Deadline for the August 2019 Covenant News is Wednesday, July 24. Please email your submissions to Evelyn Kimber at