January 13 Congregational Meeting
At our congregational meeting on Sunday, January 13, we voted 159 to 10 in favor of launching a $2.1 million campaign. Attendance at the meeting was the highest since we called Marta as our minister.
Since our building was designed, we have grown from about 250 members to nearly 400. Our Religious Education classes, with 275 children enrolled, are overflowing their rooms, our 80-member Youth Group meets in a moldy, airless basement, and groups looking to meet sometimes convene in closets!
In our current building, we at not living up to our commitment to accessibility. Many areas are unavailable to those who cannot climb stairs. We cannot claim to value the inherent worth and dignity of every person without being fully, actively accessible.
Nor are we living up to our commitment to become a Green Sanctuary in our current building. We can get a lot better use out of our current footprint, waste less energy, and replace less healthy materials.
“Each generation of our congregation since 1732 has cared for the meetinghouse,” said Anne Goodwin, Chair of the Parish Committee, in remarks at the meeting. “Thirty years ago some folks in our midst stepped up and built our current church, the fifth meetinghouse. It is now our responsibility to step up.”
Some have raised the question of why we should use our resources to benefit ourselves when there is so much need elsewhere. Anne’s response: “I believe that First Parish right now, right here, is making this a better world. Standing as a liberal church in the town of Arlington is a valuable thing to do. Educating our children to be kind and open-minded, empowering our youth to be responsible members of the world community, and engaging the community in issues around race, class, environmental justice, and religious understanding — these are not self-indulgent pursuits. We must have a meetinghouse that accommodates all these good works, and the others yet to come. This is the corner we have to tend, and we have a responsibility to tend it.”