It is with a heavy heart that I write to let you know that I have made the difficult decision to leave my role as Senior Minister of First Parish in Brookline. I have loved being your minister and love all of you dearly, but in recent months it became evident that some people in the congregation felt critical of my ministry, with a segment of those feeling the need for a new minister. After considerable deliberation, I elected to step away rather than cause a potential division in the congregation.
This decision was not made lightly and came only after considerable soul-searching, discussion and consultation with the parish board, as well as close colleagues, friends and family. My resignation takes effect at 5:00pm today and my last day at First Parish will be April 14, 2023. My plan is to seek another ministry position to begin in the Fall; leaving in April will allow me adequate time to prepare for that job search.
The job of a solo/senior minister is not easy and has been especially challenging during the last 3 years of the pandemic. I have made mistakes and the learning curve has been steep over these years. I could have done better; probably we all could have done better. At the end of the day, I feel proud of the work I have done here, though I am also very saddened to be leaving you.
In the coming weeks we’ll have time, individually and in gathered spaces, to talk, listen and support each other over this difficult time of transition. Rest assured that there will be ministerial support for the congregation for the balance of the program year; you’ll be hearing from the board about that very soon. And please know that I will have ample support for my own healing and transition over this time as well.
I am so very grateful for the love and support I have felt from this congregation over the past 4 ½ years. My intention is to leave with love and kindness, to honor all that we have accomplished in our years of shared ministry, and to make this a good ending. I look forward to finding ways for us to celebrate our time together.
Beloveds, leaving you feels very hard, but it also has the potential to open up paths for new growth for all of us. I welcome you to reach out to me to meet or talk, as you are moved.
With love, gratitude and blessings,
Rev. Lisa Perry-Wood, Senior Minister
January 17, 2023
The Board acknowledges Reverend Lisa’s departure announcement and accepts this momentous decision that she has made for herself and for the First Parish congregation. We are so grateful for Reverend Lisa’s dedication and effort in serving First Parish over these past 4-plus years.
As she says in her announcement her term has been particularly challenging, especially as it was capped by a pandemic. These years have also presented challenges to the congregation in its growth toward a more vibrant and loving community.
The Board understands how challenging this change will naturally be for the congregation and we want to assure you that this decision was mutually agreed upon and, as Reverend Lisa states, given careful and “considerable deliberation” by both she and the Board. This included wise counsel from fellow ministers and the UUA.
We wholeheartedly share in the intention to embrace this transition, together as a congregation, with love and kindness and, most definitely, with a celebration of her ministry.
We are foremost motivated to insure that First Parish is a place of spiritual growth and community—now and in the future. There will be opportunities during the transitional 3-month period, and beyond, for the congregation to hold gatherings, such as listening circles, to foster healing and growth and mutual respect within the whole.
— The First Parish Board
Alfred Brownell (Chair)
Margaret Williams (Treasurer)
Nancy Clark (Clerk)