|Arthur Lavoie, minister of First
Parish Church, served as the Master of
Ceremonies for the Phase I Restoration Project ground breaking held
August 2, 2011. Distinguished guests included Mayor Thomas M.
keynote speaker, State Senator Jack Hart, Tina Chery from the Louis D.
Brown Peace Institute, Jeff Gonyeau from Historic Boston and Carol
Johnson from the Henderson Foundation.
The weather was spectacular with bright sun illuminating the morning's
events and Rev. Lavoie began with prayer:
"In the spirit of life, God
of many names, we have gathered here today to continue the work begun
in 1630 when our ancestors first landed here and founded this community
of Dorchester. We continue this legacy today by moving to restore
renovate this grand building that will continue to serve the community
What is the scope of the restoration work being done? Read this detailed article about the four-phase $5 million project
|Mayor Menino delighted the crowd with
war stories from 1993 when
he first ran in the Mayoral race, when the first debates were held in
First Parish social hall. He also could not bypass mentioning the
famous "meatloaf" dinners held annually as part of the Dorchester Day
"This church has a rich past and a brighter future. First Parish
is not just the oldest congregation in Boston. The church also
as a place for meetings and events, and it is an important historical
treasure of the City of Boston. As Mayor, I am committed to maintaining
Boston's historic and cultural sites."
Mayor Menino asked the crowd
for a continuing commitment to the restoration work. "We can't just
leave here and say what a great event we had. We need to stay
involved. We need to help find out where the resources are to
sure we are able to raise the funds to do the restoration as we go
Sentor Jack Hart praised Mayor Menino for his total commitment to the
City of Boston and thanked the members of First Parish for their
efforts. "If we work together with the aid of city, state and
grants and some local fund raising, we can accomplish this task.
willing to help to do that along the way."
He reminded the group of a bumper sticker that read: "Boston -
it all Began" and suggested that it read "Dorchester - It all began on
"It is our responsibility," Sen. Hart said, "as citizens, as
parishioners and as a government to see that historic places such as
this magnificent church are preserved in perpetuity."
|The next speaker was Carol Johnson, Chair of the Board of Designators
at the Henderson Foundation, which recently contributed $100,000
towards Phase I of the project.
"The Henderson foundation focuses on the preservation of the visual
quality and character in the City of Boston, as was Mr. Henderson's
wish in his will. What better place could we put Mr.
Henderson's money to work than this one?"
Rev. Lavoie introduced Jeffrey Gonyeau, Senior Program Manager of
Historic Boston and thanked HBI for their continued help.
Boston was instrumental in helping us do the early phase of this work -
removing and restoring the bell tower which was threatening to fall
into the building."
Mr. Gonyeau emphasized the multi-faceted character of First Parish's
contributions to Dorchester - the architectural quality of the
building, worship service on Sunday, important social services and
community programming, all of which makes First Parish valuable to the
Rev. Lavoie introduced the final speaker: Tina Chery, Executive
Director of the Lewis D Brown Peace Institute. "When I first
Dorchester about six years ago, I was deeply inspired by her work with
families who have been torn apart by violence in our community, by her
commitment to peace and peacemaking. We have developed a
partnership over these several years. I am privileged and honored
to have her appear with us this morning."
[Tina Chery's address covered separately]
Ground breaking ceremonies are important, but not because any ground
will be broken. Yet everyone looks forward to this moment.
- six shovels - posing for photos. And for the record, one last
mega-photo of everyone in attendance on the church steps. Thus
the inauguration of work towards the completion of Phase I of the