Posted in Serving Others

Serving WCUC

On January 12th, we heard three members reflect on why they do what they do at WCUC.

From Ellie Garvey:

My father used to tell me I had an affliction, like my mother. He called it “the rising arm syndrome.” It manifests itself when I hear the words, “Would anyone be willing to…?” or “Could someone…? And my volunteer arm rises up. I don’t consider this an affliction. Helping and volunteering are part of who I am, and I like it that way.

West Concord Union Church has no shortage of volunteer opportunities, and I have thrown myself into the community with abandon. In addition to singing and ringing in the senior and bell choirs, I hold an elected position on the Worship and Welcome Ministry. I have served on this ministry for 6 years, and that means my time is up. In accordance with the church’s constitution, I have to step down. While I am a bit sad about that, it does give me the opportunity to tell you about everything that I love about serving on this ministry.

Most of what you see up here in the sanctuary on Sunday mornings is under the auspices of the Worship and Welcome Ministry. We guide the ushers and greeters, we prepare and serve communion, we assist with Joys and Concerns, and we review Sunday worship services to improve on our dedication to making them welcoming and inclusive. In the summer, we coordinate the outdoor services, and we are in charge of hospitality and fellowship, from coffee hour to funeral receptions.  And I love all of that. My favorite parts are serving communion and helping with fellowship events. And the best part of the Ministry is the team of leaders that I have had the privilege of working with.

The first time I set up the communion table was way back when I was on the board of Deacons, the precursor to Worship and Welcome. As I laid out the bread and juice, it occurred to me that I was setting Jesus’ table. And that was a pretty cool thing to be doing!  For those of you who are wondering if you could serve on Worship and Welcome in the future, the answer is yes! Please speak to me after worship today and I will be happy to fill you in on the details of this vital service to the church. 

It has been a privilege to serve WCUC in this capacity for six years, and I thank God for this community of volunteers. I’ll take a year off, and then we’ll see where my rising arm takes me next. 

From John Fossett:

I joined WCUC in 1988, after being introduced by one Maynard Forbes. What I found here was a vibrant church, teeming with vitality and activity, and it has been, and surely will continue to be, a congregation that is a living affirmation of God’s call to service, providing innumerable opportunities for each of us to serve the church in some way. Some such roles require an ongoing commitment throughout the year, while others are those I call one-off or time limited commitments. Over the past several years, I have focused my efforts on the latter, serving as a member and Chair of the Investment Committee, as a greeter, usher, and coffee host, and helping with outside grounds cleanup and periodic setup for special events.  One of my most favorite “roles” has been to provide rides to church for Annie and Fran, not easily able to get themselves here otherwise.

Over the years, service to church has given me pause to contemplate my formative days at the Wellesley Village Church, and how my late mother, Jane Fossett, taught me the power of individuals to help others through a helping hand or other simple acts of kindness. Her work was quite similar to what I see here: A quiet, yet abiding concern for the well-being of others, answering His call.  Jane would be so pleased to know that I had re-established a faith connection with a place that shares her values and that pursues God’s call for us to serve others.

One of the major reasons I pursue volunteer activities at WCUC is the satisfaction I derive from the joy of strengthening personal connections with others, not only while greeting or ushering or hosting coffee hour, but also during the enjoyable rides to church with Annie and Fran. Any of these time-limited roles may be perfect for those of you unable to take on longer term or ongoing commitments, but wanting to serve the church in some way.

From Joanna Swain:

I’ve been participating in our Sunday Fellowship ministry for adults of all abilities since our family moved to Concord – more than 12 years now. In fact, the SF program is one of the key reasons we visited this church, and also why we never visited another! My involvement in Sunday Fellowship has ebbed and flowed through the years as my other commitments have come and gone. Sometimes I just go to a biweekly worship services and help with whatever job needs doing, like collating music sheets, writing down joys and concerns, or passing out name tags. Other times, I have helped to organize a specific event, like a dance complete with DJ and a photo booth.  Recently, I’ve been sitting on the SF Team, along with several others from within our church and some from other faith communities. The SF team meets every couple of months to review past events, plan for new initiatives, and generally serve as a sounding board to Melissa Tustin, who is our paid and incredibly qualified SF Director.

Why is SF so important to me?  To tell the truth, most of us here at WCUC are pretty good at presenting the best of ourselves on a Sunday morning. We are buttoned down and pretty self-contained, am I right?. But SF worship services are different. They are really “come as you are”. You can’t sing on key?  Who cares! Did you have a fight with someone you live with?  Who hasn’t! The services are rambunctious and sweet, with big emotions, and God’s love is palpable. I praise God for our Sunday Fellowship program, and the opportunity to participate and help make it happen.

Book Sale for Esperanza – Hope for the Children

  • November 8, 2019

Last weekend, WCUC hosted a book sale to support children in Honduras who need medical, financial, and educational assistance. We raised over $600.00 and had a great time doing it! To read more about Emily and Tom Collins’ non-profit organization click here.

A huge thank you to all of the volunteers from WCUC that helped to make this possible – those who donated or bought books, helped with set up, the sale itself, and clean up! The left over books were donated to More Than Words, a local non-profit book store that is managed and operated by foster care youth and young adults. A special shout out to those who helped box up all of the books after the sale ended on Sunday – a great joint effort by the Youth, Sunday Fellowship and other WCUC adults.

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

  • June 3, 2019

Fun times with the Miracle League of Massachusetts baseball organization! Spirits were high, smiles were plentiful, and the sun was shining brightly on this fabulous afternoon. Not sure who had more fun…the players or the youth group buddies? We are so thankful for this opportunity which has now become a favorite youth group tradition!

Taking Care of God’s Good Earth: Youth and Parents Participate in “Concord Clean Up Day”

  • April 10, 2019

On Saturday, WCUC Youth and Parents joined hands with many other people around town to help clean up Concord. Our route covered Commonwealth, Highland St. and Lawsbrook Rd. It was a beautiful day to be outside …. great company, great exercise, and great cause! After we finished, we rewarded ourselves with a trip to Reasons to Be Cheerful for an ice cream treat. The old adage “many hands make light work” rang true for us on this day.

Youth in Action for Advent

  • December 5, 2018

The youth were busy on Sunday!  After worship, some helped to host a card making table for Concord Prison Outreach’s holiday bags while others learned a new song that they will sing in worship on December 16th.   Later in the afternoon, many returned to church to join with Sunday Fellowship in marking the beginning of Advent with songs, scripture, prayers, craft activities, and labyrinth walking.  Finally, we ended the day with a well deserved pizza party/game night in North Hall.  Feeling grateful for the many ways we can serve, sing, and celebrate during this holy season!

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.

Let’s Play Ball: Youth @ Miracle League of Massachusetts

  • October 22, 2018

What a great day for a ballgame!  The youth traveled to Nara Park in Acton on Saturday to serve as buddies to the baseball players in the Miracle League of Massachusetts.  Fun was had by all as these pictures can attest…

 

 

Let’s Play Ball!

  • June 2, 2018

The youth group had a great afternoon volunteering as “buddies” for athletes who participate in the Miracle League Baseball program.

From the website:  http://www.miracleleagueofma.com …

“The Miracle League of Massachusetts is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to helping children with physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral disabilities to develop and achieve their full potential: mentally, socially and physically. We accomplish this through America’s favorite pastime – baseball – providing an opportunity for children with disabilities to play baseball as part of a team in an organized, non-competitive league.

But it’s really so much more…

The benefits of participating in the Miracle League extend beyond the baseball field and impact everyone involved – players, parents, sponsors, buddies, volunteers and fans.”

Sometimes pictures are better than words….