Our church had a retirement ceremony and party yesterday for the minister who is retiring after 38 years. I am so glad to have gotten to hear his sermons for about 2 1/2 of those years. His preaching and this church community have opened my eyes to what religious practice can be. It took over 40 years to find a congregation and message from a church or temple that didn't sound like hypocrisy to me. (One might say I had been wandering in a religious desert.) The message here is that everyone is valuable, that our Earth is a gift we need to protect for the future, and that hope and love are here now in this life.
|Ken speaking at his retirement celebration|
The message at church over the last few weeks is that the congregation is this church. While this minister (and our wonderful ministerial intern) are leaving, the community will continue. Over the next two years a very experienced interim minister will guide us in finding a new minister to fit our community. New staff will bring new ideas and fresh talent into our midst, while keeping some lovely traditions like flower Sunday. For that last service of the year, everyone brings a flower and takes another flower home to share the beauty and friendship of our community. Also, everyone writes their favorite church memory of the year on a post-it flower petal, and they are read by the staff to the congregation drawing cheers and applause.
|Ken, Kevin and Lisa Maria read and post this year's petals.|
|Sermons are thoughtful and fun with such engaged ministers|
Many of us are hoping that Kevin, our musical, ministerial intern, will finish school and return to us. He has been such a gentle, thoughtful presence. One of the highlights of this church year was a musical celebration he organized in May. I have been amazed by all the great musical talent in this church since I started attending, but this evening brought out the best in everyone: Will and Beth on guitar, Jennie on the violin, Kevin, Lisa Maria and Polly on piano, Becky on flute, the amazing vocal talents of Samantha and Maddie. Kevin also joined us in the bell choir that evening and included us in a piece with violin, piano, bells and the voices of the audience performing Blue Boat Home. The whole evening was magical. That evening and many Sunday church services truly fill my heart.
|Polly the music director introduces the choir at Ken's celebration|
|Bells in sinc at our final performance of the year|
The postlude to the service right before the party was our bell choir performance of Ashokan Farewell, The Civil War anthem. It had a tenderness that we'd been trying to get in practice for weeks. But it took the moment of farewell and the tender hearts of the full sanctuary to bring it out.