Each of us feels overwhelmingly blessed to have been asked to serve this special community as members of your Search Committee; our time listening to you and each other leaves us more confident than ever in the capacity of First Parish in Brookline to be the loving, inspiring and justice-seeking faith community we—and our world—so need, now more than ever!
And, we are so very excited to introduce Lisa Perry-Wood, a minister whose skills, talents and passions we believe are a wonderful match for what our beloved faith community has told us we most value moving forward. We want to share here some of what we have grown to appreciate about Lisa as we have gotten to know her through the search process.
Lisa has many personal qualities that set her apart. She exudes a grounded, caring, and engaged spirit that set each of us at ease from the start. As one of her references told us—and we witnessed ourselves—she possesses “qualities that are hard to teach,” including empathy, listening, a collaborative approach to leadership and management, and abundant curiosity, versatility and flexibility. We are so excited for the moment we can introduce her to you in person!
For now, you can get to know Lisa better by reading her letter on this page and exploring her website, which includes links to many of her sermons.
Your Ministerial Search Committee
Ellie Boynton (Chair), Karla Baehr, Steve Peterson Davis, Susan Larrabee, Laura Walters, and Ron Wilkinson
You can reach us at .
Letter from Lisa Perry-Wood
April 3, 2018
To the Members and Friends of the First Parish in Brookline,
I am absolutely delighted that your Ministerial Search Committee has asked me to be your Ministerial Candidate. When I first read your Ministerial Record, I felt that our dreams, hopes and ambitions for what we mean by “church” were totally aligned. When I finally met your Ministerial Search Committee, first online and then in person, I quickly felt we had both found a match that seemed almost too good to be true. Echoing what one of your committee members said, when we met, we really “get” each other. That is a feeling both all too rare and also way too good to pass up.
I have long felt a call to do ministry with a group of people whose dreams and vision echo (and amplify!) my own. Ministry that deepens our shared commitment to making this world a more just, peace-filled and joyful place for all of its people. I look forward to the hard work that this commitment will entail, as well as the inspiration, creativity, experimentation and collaboration that all new growth requires. To this end, I promise you my whole heart and the full dedication of my love for our shared faith. I will gladly, with humility and gratitude honor this pledge, if you vote to call me as your settled Senior Minister. I eagerly anticipate our conversations about our shared vision during Candidating Week from April 29th - May 6th.
I’d like you to know a little more about me and my family. I grew up in Dover and Dedham, Mass., then spent 12 years in California and Oregon, before returning to settle in Lexington, Mass. I was raised Episcopal, learning to love the elements of worship in a big stone church, somewhat similar to your beautiful First Parish. While I loved the music and ritual of my childhood religion, as a young parent I was drawn to the social justice message of Unitarian Universalism. At Follen Church in Lexington I found a spiritual home for myself and my three children, now adults themselves (ages 42, 38 and 34.) Later, when I remarried, my wife, Zoe, and I joined First Parish in Lexington, where I first heard my “call” to ministry in 2012.
In the past three years I have served UU churches in Winchester and Lexington as their Summer Minister, spent a year working as a hospice chaplain and, in January, was appointed Acting Parish Minister at First Parish in Bedford, where I will stay until the end of June. On June 3rd, I will also be ordained at First Parish in Lexington – a long-awaited event! You can learn more about me, my work and my vision for ministry at my website.
Zoe and I are very excited to meet you all later this month! Until then, keep envisioning the world and church you dream about…and be sure to give extra love and gratitude to your dedicated Ministerial Search Committee. They deserve it! I look forward to meeting you in person and imagining together what we will learn, create, and build in the years to come.
From the First Parish in Bedford: March Newsletter in reaction to the Parkland shootings
Like many of you, I was overcome by a mixture of shock, horror, heartbreak and anger when I heard about the Parkland shooting two weeks ago. “How could this be happening again?” we ask. Some of us don’t even recognize our own country when this kind of violence erupts and the lack of coherent and urgent response from our leaders and lawmakers – well, the silence is deafening. And at some point many of us realize that the horror of gun violence and mass shootings is not going to be solved at the federal level, at least not soon, and not without a lot of pressure from the grassroots.
Then I read an inspiring story about a teacher who decided, after the Columbine massacre in 1999, to ask her elementary school students every Friday to write on a piece of paper 4 students they’d like to sit with the next week and one who should be nominated as an exceptional classroom citizen. The teacher then studies those papers, looking for patterns: Who is not getting requested by anyone else? Who can’t think of anyone to request? Who never gets noticed enough to be nominated? Who had a million friends last week and none this week? She looks for the lonely ones, the ones who are struggling to connect. And she gets a sense of who’s being bullied and who’s doing the bullying. The patterns of love and loneliness are a key to connecting with the kids who need help connecting with others. (See https://www.rd.com/advice/parenting/stop-bullying-strategy/)
What that teacher is doing is a kind of inoculation against bullying. And we need these kinds of hopeful strategies now, more than ever. If the gun violence problem in this country is, as I believe, directly related to the sheer number of firearms in this country – 400-600 million legal weapons – that’s a pretty daunting statistic. There’s little hope of getting guns out of the hands of criminals with that many available. Improved background checks would be a good start, but the federal government and most states have shown little appetite for pursuing this route. More funding for mental health facilities and services would always be welcome in this country, but let’s not wait for that to happen.
So, what can we do? One common aspect of the mass shooters in recent years is their social isolation. Even if some people knew that these (almost entirely) young, white men were “disturbed” or “angry,” making threats and/or stockpiling weapons, even though they had “reported to the authorities” their concerns, it seems that they were not really known to their neighbors. One idea surfaced this week at the Bedford Clergy Network – to find a way to get neighbors to reach out to neighbors. What if we could break through the isolation and fear of the other, reach out with love and warmth to someone new or unknown in our own neighborhood? It’s possible that we might inoculate our community from this kind of event in the future. And, even if it’s not guaranteed to do that, we’d be meeting new people, welcoming them into our midst and uplifting several of our UU principles. If you like this idea, let’s talk more about it. —Lisa Perry-Wood