The Pastor’s Pen

“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”


Jeremiah 29:11

         At the risk of sounding shallow as your Pastor, I will tell you that reality television has provided a source of great hope for me this past week. I have watched Ellen’s Design Challenge on HGTV every Monday night without fail through this past series. Before you decide to give me more work, perhaps imagining that I have too much time on my hands, permit me to tell you what brought me to this.

         One of the brilliant young furniture designers crafting his way towards the final episode grew up with my son. Sef Pinney and our son Joshua met as eleven-year-olds at a week-long summer camp for gifted kids held at the local university. Raising Joshua seemed just about impossible at times, as he read philosophy in middle school and thought about things that nobody cared about at that age. In different ways, both Sef and Joshua were odd ducks out.

         Sef’s parents were both artists, his father an animator for film in California, and his mother a designer of hand-crafted lamp shades. He grew up sitting at his mother’s work table, making stuff. My son Joshua grew up playing church, presiding at communion in the backyard for neighbor kids when he was seven.

         By the time they were teenagers, I spent ample time worrying that they would never amount to anything: dreamers, philosophers and creators lost in the imaginations of their respective inner worlds.

They got into their fair share of trouble to be sure.  A 15-year-old girl once tried to comfort me with the words, “Don’t worry. Your son has the worst case of adolescence we’ve ever seen, but he’ll turn out alright, you’ll see.”

         And so they did. This past Monday, Sef appeared on the Ellen show as one of two finalists in the furniture design challenge, creating the most interesting tables, chairs and desks one might imagine. Though he came in second, both young designers clearly won, their imaginative minds creating things that were useful, beautiful and enduring.

         Joshua recently presided at Sef’s wedding in Costa Rica, near the home Sef designed and built for his mother. And Joshua will graduate from Chicago Theological Seminary in May. This gives me great hope. God hears our prayers week in and week out: for our children, our grandchildren, our neighbors and our nation, for refugees and for the healing of our precious and fragile earth.

         Some might say that our country seems to be going through the worst case of adolescence right now, perhaps if not ever, at least in recent memory. We worry like any parent that things won’t turn out. Our hope comes from the Master Designer whose plans for us promise a future with hope. That’s one reality show worth watching.

Prayer: Keep our eyes steady upon you, relying on your wisdom to guide us through an impossible season. May we forever find hope, through you. Amen

God’s grace, mercy and peace,

Pastor Verlee


Pastor Verlee will be away Friday and Saturday with twelve women of the church for the Faith and the Arts Retreat in at the Franciscan Monastery in Kennebunk. She will return for worship on Sunday morning.

What Happens for Children and Youth

After the Upcoming Departure of our Associate Pastor?

You may wonder what’s next for our ministry with children, youth and families now that Pastor Rachel is leaving for her new church on March 20. Please join us for a conversation this coming Sunday, March 13 after worship in Fellowship Hall to participate in a conversation about ministry for children and youth at First Parish Church. Deanna Waldrop has agreed to moderate this conversation, as we share plans about future staffing, and consider your needs, desires and hopes for our church.

Thank you for taking the time to participate in this important conversation. We deeply value your thoughts and your prayers, that we might be faithful and mutually supportive of one another in this transition to a new season in our life together as a church family.