Upham's Corner Online

Tina Chery - First Parish Church Ground Breaking

Posted: August 2, 2011     Nancy J Conrad

Thank you very much.  This is so exciting.  There is a bumper sticker that says:  "Dorchester a great place to live and work."  It is so true.  I live in Dorchester .  I have lived here for 30 years and I work in Dorchester right at the Lenane Building.  

I remember when I met Rev. Lavoie at Pilgrim Church where Rev. John Odams is the pastor.  They were having a meeting.  I entered and found myself sitting with a group of ministers.  

I was the only person who looked like me.  I realized:  "Okay, something is wrong with this picture.  We are in Upham's corner and I'm the only one here in this meeting that looks like me."  Over time what I have found was that my relationship with the group was a great relationship.  But it was also a great opportunity to acknowledge and recognize that we - all of us - we were all contributing.  

It doesn't matter how we look, where we worship or where we live.  The commitment of this community and the people of this community is happening on a day-to-day basis.  Sometimes we get mislead.  It's always the same people in the newspaper, so we get the impression that these are the people who are doing all of the work. 

But for those of us who know we are doing God's work, our work is never on the front page.

First Parish Church is one of the churches I can say that is really going back to its mission, a church that is for the people, by the people. I am not a member of this church. I'm a member of St Ambrose's parish but my mother is a member of this church.  She is truly committed to this church so therefore, whether I like it or not, I am a member. 

First Parish is making an important commitment to the community by having its doors open on the weekdays.  We meet here once a month, the first Tuesday of the month to have a provider's breakfast.  Providers from across the state of Massachusetts come here.  Doug opens this church for us and provides fresh coffee.  

I can tell you:  "This is that place where all barriers cease to exist."  There are no turf issues.  There is no "I'm greater than you."  There is one sole purpose: Come in, break down barriers and get to know one another so the work we are all committed to can be fulfilled. 

First Parish has provided space for healing.  You do not have to belong to the church in order to go to the church.  It is important that the community can say: "We want to be able to come here freely.  We want to be able to feel peace.  We want to find a space where families can come and talk about problems." 

First Parish Church Ground BreakingLast year a young man, a sibling survivor, attending the Boston Arts Academy, wanted to host an event, his school project, that he entitled "Think Peace." 

First Parish allowed this event to happen.  Families from Roxbury and Mattapan came to the church and realized something important: "Oh, that white church on the hill, they do allow people who look like us to come in here." 

We must continue to break down those barriers, the myths.  This is one of my goals that I will continue to work on, not just with First Parish but with the other churches in our community as well. 

To understand this better, go back to what the church used to be - a sanctuary, where the doors were always open, not just Sunday but everyday.

So what does that mean to us, to the community? 

What it means is this:   In the greatest time of need,
  • We can just pull the doors of the church open
  • We can sit and be still
  • We can be available to regain a sense of wholeness, a sense of purpose. 
That will give us the strength to go back and deal with what the community has in store for us. 

We are truly appreciative of this church.  

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