Pastor’s Pen

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who maintains covenant loyalty with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations…” Deuteronomy 7:9 (NRSV)

Twenty years ago, one of my colleagues tried to explain his life-long loyalty to Detroit Red Wings hockey. You see, his children couldn’t understand why he stuck with a losing team. The Red Wings at that time hadn’t won the Stanley Cup for forty years, since 1955 in fact, when that pastor was just a toddler. Fast-forward to 1995, when his children endured yet another grueling season in front of the television set, only to cheer the team to yet another loss in the finals.

I can still hear him speaking to his young daughters, patiently reminding them that hockey is a lot like our life of faith. “We’re Christian,” he said, “We’re not like other people.” What he meant was that we don’t sway with the prevailing winds, changing our loyalties willy-nilly in order to be popular or to side with this year’s winning team. We don’t yell at the coach or criticize the team players when they’re having a tough time. We stand by them, we encourage their strengths, we rejoice at every win. We don’t go somewhere else or change the color of our jersey just because the team has had another challenging year. We don’t blame the fans. Instead, we show up and cheer the team because we’re loyal.

As God’s beloved church, we pledge our loyalty to God and to one another as followers of the way of Jesus no matter what. This is non-negotiable. Like any coach, player or fan, this gives us great hope. We don’t have to despair when we go through a challenging season, even one as dry as the Red Wing’s forty years without a season victory. The Red Wings went on to bring the Stanley Cup home to Detroit in 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008. By the grace of God, we will too.

Prayer: Gracious and loving God, owner of the team for a thousand generations, even to the end of time, we thank you for standing by us through every season. We thank you that as this new season begins, we look to you with eager anticipation for your plans before us, and with hope for what will yet be. Amen

God’s grace, mercy and peace,

Pastor Verlee

First Parish Church, York, Maine

Affirms Governance Revisions And Incorporation


First Parish Church voted unanimously to affirm incorporation as a 501 C (3) entity and support the recommendation of the Governance Committee to affirm the proposed By Laws. This historic moment for First Parish Church at the Annual Meetings on February 28 signaled more than a revision in governance.

The process of coming to the vote helped us model ways to listen and respond deeply to one another in our similarities and differences as a community of faith. We compromised and revised significantly, and in places we agreed to disagree. On some matters, we agreed to try it out for a year, with the promise to review how it’s going in the event that we want to tweak our plan at next year’s Annual Meeting.

Thank you congregation, for your willingness to respectfully and faithfully engage this process. Thank you Governance Committee led by Andy Noel and supported by Don Gough, for your many hours of preparation and prayer leading to the recommendation and vote. Thank you committees and ministries of First Parish for your input and direction in completing the final draft.

What comes next? The new Executive Committee of Pepi Upton, chair of Deacons, Dennis Wierzba, chair of Assessors, Ray Hamlin, Treasurer, Jeff McConnell, Moderator, and Verlee Copeland, Pastor, will meet to discuss issues and a direction process for the church. The first Church Council meeting will take place on Tuesday evening, March 22 at 7 p.m. in the Parish House with newly elected Board Chairs, officers of the church, elected at-large members of the Church Council, and the Treasurer and Pastor, ex officio. Minutes of all meetings of the church will be made available to the whole church through a process to be announced, so that our communications with one another will be open and transparent.