The first word in the name of our church denomination, the United Church of Christ, inspires the motto of the church. It is taken from John 17:21: “That they may all be one.” The motto, as it is explained by the denomination, reflects the spirit of unity on which the UCC is based and points toward future efforts to heal the divisions in the body of Christ. Thus, we are a uniting church as well as a united church.
This respect for Christian unity without uniformity and an openness to other paths drew me into the UCC. I was raised in a Catholic tradition. I received my undergraduate degree from Brandeis University, which was founded as a non-sectarian Jewish college. While at Brandeis, I attended the Roman Catholic Chapel. After graduation, I entered the seminary and was then Ordained in 1985. I served as the Assistant Pastor of a Cathedral parish in Scranton, PA before being transferred to serve as the pastor of a church in South Deerfield, MA. During this nearly 30-year tenure, I earned my Master’s Degree from Smith College in Northampton, a women’s college that is co-ed at the graduate level. My two primary instructors were Rev. Bruce Dahlberg, a professor and Baptist minister, and Rev. Karl Donfried, a professor and Lutheran minister.
I have shared a spiritual formation journey with Catholics and Protestants. I prepared for the seminary while attending a majority-Jewish college, and once ordained into an all-male priesthood I furthered my education at a woman’s college. These diverse learning experiences have helped to shape my faith in ways I more appreciate with each passing year. They have offered me unexpected insights and shown me that the presence of God is much less limited than some of the followers of God often want to believe. This has made me humbly respectful of differences.
At the beginning of worship Services, I have often noted that I am happy and proud to say, “Whoever you are, you are welcome here – and we mean it.” At a time of increasing separation in our world, it is uplifting to be a part of a church that takes great pride in its identity as a united and uniting church. I have been serving as the pastor of the First Congregational Church of Hatfield, UCC since November 12, 2017. It is a rewarding ministry. I enjoy the small part I am able to play in the congregation that has been rooted in this town since it was incorporated in 1670, and I truly appreciate this church’s continuing mission to bring people together and to respect each other and our differences.