Posted in Our Stories

Praying with our Neighbors

  • November 6, 2018

This past Friday night, folks from WCUC gathered along with members of many local faith communities and other friends to light the way into Shabbat services for our Jewish neighbors at Kerem Shalom.  Some folks provided candles to share; others, including Jim, helped lead us in music. We held signs and witnessed to the light of hope together.  The Kerem Shalom community graciously welcomed us in to participate in the Shabbat service.  This beautiful worship experience included songs and prayers in Hebrew and English, a special remembrance of those who died in Pittsburgh at the Tree of Life Synagogue, and words from Rabbi Darby Leigh. Rabbi Darby invited us to consider last week’s tragedy in the wider context of intolerance and violence, and encouraged us to continue to build local connections that will nurture love and understanding in our communities. The folks at Kerem Shalom provided a wonderful reception and warm fellowship for all who were there. It was truly a blessing to be there!

Please read below for Pastor Hannah’s brief remarks during the service:

I give thanks to Rabbi Darby and this congregation for your hospitality in welcoming those of us who are your neighbors, to share this tender time with you.

This Sunday, many Christians will be studying a text from the book of Ruth, a text that is holy in both Jewish and Christian traditions. In this story, we meet a woman named Naomi who is grieving the loss of her husband and both of her sons. Naomi tries to send her daughters-in-law away from her, back to their parents. She has nothing to give them; no way to protect them. But her daughter-in-law, Ruth, says: “Where you go, I will go; where you stay, I will stay.  Your people shall be my people, and your God my God…Not even death will part me from you.”  So Naomi and Ruth journey on together, and together they make a new life.

As we witness hateful speech and action around us, we must condemn the wrong that is done.  As a Christian pastor, I especially grieve that violent anti-Semitism has been justified by Christians and by Christian scriptures. Jesus himself was a faithful Jew; and Judaism is both an honored ancestor and a beloved sibling to the Christian faith. We share sacred texts and holy values. We both follow a call to love God with all that we are, to honor one another, to care for the most vulnerable among us.

I pray that all of us, from many traditions, religious or not, will respond to the tragedies around us today not only by grieving, but also by growing in our practice of the kind of love that Ruth models. Let us go with one another; let us stay with one another; let us understand ourselves to be one people, bound together. May it be so.

True Story Theater Brings Down the House

  • March 21, 2018

 

True Story Theater brought down the house on March 18th when a intergenerational audience of over 60 people came together to share stories about learning. Trained in the art of “playback theater,” six actors expertly used colorful scarves, musical instruments along with their bodies and voices to create evocative, multi-sensory interpretations of the stories shared by the audience. Camp chairs, coloring pages and construction toys were carefully placed to ensure that everyone could participate as they felt comfortable.

True Story’s director and co-founder, Christoper Ellinger, deftly created a safe space for personal sharing by inviting each actor to open Sunday’s performance with a story from their own experience. Children and adults were rapt with attention as the actors shared and then acted out their struggles with 
dyslexia, mastering a foreign language after failing to learn it in an academic context and a deep affection for a teacher who encouraged children to move in her classroom

A child talked about a favorite teacher who is silly and “looks like me” and adult with a hearing-impairment used a combination of sign language and voice to express her uncanny ability to share her joy with everyone regardless of communication style.Brave adults and children described the scary but ultimately beneficial decision to change schools when meet their needs were not being met. Everyone could relate to the difficult journey of learning healthier eating habits!

 

As more and more of us shared our stories and experienced the healing balm of being lovingly heard, the more connected we felt. It was as though the final words of the Hokey Pokey, one of the songs we used to open the gathering, were being acted out through all of us:

You put your whole self in,

You take your whole self out.

You put your whole self in and you shake it all about.

You do the Hokey Pokey and you turn yourself around.

That’s what it’s all about!

 

And really, isn’t that what Life should “be all about?”

Special thanks to all who attended, to Children’s Ministries, the WCUC Youth Group and to the members of the Sunday Fellowship Planning Team (Julie Beyer, Sue and Jack Faasse, Pat and Jane Fleming, Mary Jane Hall,  and Joanna Swain) for all of your work to make Sunday’s gathering possible.

 

 

Happy 35th Anniversary Sunday Fellowship!

  • February 12, 2018

It was awesome to see so many people at the 35th Anniversary of Sunday Fellowship. There was standing room only in our sanctuary! I counted at least 50 SF members as well as many MMArc staff, past SF leaders, and lots of friends and family members! 

Everyone did a great job helping to lead the service. Here are a few of the comments we’ve received so far:

“Still basking in the glow and spirit of this morning. What a great service! So spirit filled, so fun, so energetic.”
 
“What a great service today! There were so many folks there. A great celebration of the heart of the congregation.”
 
“Everything came out great and Pastor John’s sermon was great.”
 
“Such an amazing service this morning! I like SF songs.”

Many thanks to MMArc residential director, Andrew Forti and all of the MMArc house managers for working with us to facilitate transportation. Special thanks to the MMArc staff who came in early for the 9am shift to make it possible for people to arrive before worship. 

Thank you junior and senior choir members, Jim Barcovic, Susan Davies, Chris Porth, Pete DeRosa, Julie Beyer and Jeff Tustin for working with us to make beautiful music yesterday.

I’d also  like to thank Andrew Southcott and the Hospitality Committee for providing all of the healthy snacks we enjoyed after worship as well as our guest preacher Rev. John Hudson. John told some stories about his experiences with Sunday Fellowship back in the day when he was senior pastor at WCUC. And David Swain took over 300 photos. Here are some of them! Thank you all!

Kindness Rocks at WCUC!

  • October 26, 2017

If you see some brightly colored rocks in the Welcome Garden next to West Concord Union Church, you’ve just discovered WCUC Sunday School’s “Kindness Rocks Project.” This simple yet powerful way of sharing messages of hope originated in the mind and heart of Megan Murphy, a mother of three from the Cape going through a life transition.

Each day she would walk on the beach looking for signs that closing her business and going back to school was the right decision. One day in 2013, she was inspired to decorate five ordinary beach rocks with messages of encouragement and return them to the beach. The next night, knowing nothing about their origin, one of Murphy’s close friends texted her a photograph of a rock she’d found on the beach with the message, “You’ve Got This!” It was just the sign Murphy needed to continue on her path. Just four years later, there are kindness rocks being made all over the world from the Cape to New Zealand!

The WCUC Sunday School decided to adopt this Kindness Rocks Project as a way of resisting hate and spreading hope within our community. Come on by the Welcome Garden and check out the messages our children have created. Feel free to take a rock with you or add one of your own. But you might want to come over soon! Kindness rocks have a way of finding new homes quickly! For more information about the Kindness Rocks Project and how to make your own rocks go to:  http://thekindessrocksproject.com

Celebrating the Life of Dennis Lin

  • October 10, 2017

 

 

On October 8, scores of Dennis Lin’s family and friends gathered to celebrate his life. Dennis grew up locally and graduated from Concord Carlisle High School where he met many of his friends. After high school, Dennis achieved his goal of living independently and resided in West Concord for the past three years.

Dennis died on September 25 after a life-long battle with Prader Willi Syndrome. The love-filled memorial service was hosted by Sunday Fellowship, a ministry for people of all abilities at West Concord Union Church (WCUC), both of which Dennis was an enthusiastic participant. In addition to his many friends at WCUC and Sunday Fellowship, the service was attended by Dennis’s mother, Woahyih Lin, his father, George Chia-En Lin, his brother, Samuel and his aunt, Jenny. Many of Dennis’ former classmates and teachers at Concord-Carlisle High School, gathered with friends he made at local businesses, among Concord’s first responders and on the commuter rail to remember Dennis’ enthusiasm, his love of dancing and his inexhaustible friendliness.

Members of Sunday Fellowship led the congregation in a reading of Psalm 139 affirming that we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made” by God regardless of how our bodies move, communicate or think. Samuel read the story of the Good Samaritan, a scripture Dennis referenced in his testimony. George spoke gratefully of several notes he found among Dennis’ papers in which Dennis expressed deep love and faith. As the coordinator of Sunday Fellowship for the past three and a half years, I couldn’t help but think that Dennis would have LOVED the idea of his friends all meeting each other, especially at a Sunday Fellowship gathering. While I and so many others will always wish we could have had more time with Dennis, we are comforted to know that his time was so very full of love and joy. We love you Dennis!

 

Renovation Update: August 30th

Take a look at some of the progress that has happened in the past few weeks. This is only what we managed to capture in pictures!