21 Nov Stewardship Moment: What Pilgrim Church means to her
On Nov. 18, as part of this year’s Stewardship campaign, longtime church member Patti MacLennan as asked to tell the congregation why Pilgrim Church is important to her. Here is what she said.
By Patti MacLennan
Good Morning to my wonderful church family. It’s so great to see so many familiar and so many new faces.
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Patti MacLennan. My husband Bill and our family have been part of this fabulous church for many manyyears. (Thank you Janet Ritch for bringing us here such a long time ago.) Bill and I both have served in many capacities here ranging from Christian Education, Trustees, Deacons, Youth group and Church Council to name just a few. I have been honored to be chair of the Board of Deacons …twice. (The most recent was during our difficult transitional time.) Our four children grew up in the Sunday school program, were part of numerous Christmas pageants, sang and performed, were in God Sound, went on mission trips, went to and then eventually taught at VBS (Vacation Bible School). The list goes on.
I have been asked to speak to you today and to answer the question that many have already been asked: What does Pilgrim Church mean to me? Specifically, I have been asked to focus a bit on our youth program. Well, that’s an easy one. But before I can answer that question, you need to know where my connection with youth began.
When I was a little girl growing up in South Weymouth, I played school daily with my best friend Susanne. Interestingly enough, I was always the teacher and she was always the student. (Hmm…now in my 36thyear as a third-grade teacher here at Alden School, wonder why?)
When we were in junior high school, Susanne joined the Youth Group at her church: Old South Union Congregational Church in Columbian Square. I was so jealous. I wanted to join with her but my mother wanted me to attend my own church’s Catholic Youth Organization. I tried that CYO but alas, St. Francis Xavier’s version of youth group didn’t thrill me. After wearing my mother down, I was allowed to join Old South’s youth group. And so it began. It was the bomb! Led by the cool hip young minister, Terry Martinson, I was part of a youth program that began with only about a dozen kids. (Currently they have over 500 active members.) We met every single Sunday and had activities ranging from serious discussions about timely youth issues, all night dance-a-thons to raise money for local charities, playing trust building games like “Sardines”. (Ask me about it later.) Youth group was absolutely the highlight of my week.
Once in high school, that youth program grew. We continued with more great activities but also began spending time on retreats, on mission trips like the Heifer project, and on other opportunities where we learned to give back and that it is “better to give than receive”. These retreats and mission trips most definitely helped build my faith while offeringmethe chance to serve. These youth group opportunities gave me the chance to meet new people and be in a safe environment where everyone is accepted and everyone could be himself or herself: no judgment. My strongest relationships began with people I met in the Old South Union youth group. In fact, as many of you know, that’s where the Rev. Bill Ferguson and I had our start … over 40 years ago!
Now you might ask, what does any of this have to do with Pilgrim Church and why would any of this help our stewardship campaign? Well, that is simple. Having grown up in a church environment where the youth program was a major part of my life, I knew that was what I wanted for my own children. Here at Pilgrim Church, I had the opportunity to work closely with our beloved Rev. Eloise Parks on many youth mission trips to Jackson, Mississippi. Watching our youth working closely in a very underprivileged community with many poverty-ridden families was eye opening. Our youth were amazing. Our youth wanted to save the world. It was such a privilege to see God working in our youth. When Eloise had to abruptly leave us in March of 2012, I worked closely with other members of our church to try to get something to replace that trip for the upcoming summer. It was on very short notice, three months to be exact. We decided rather that try to recreate the “Mass To Mississippi” trips; we would work this time to help our teens bond as a group. We took the high schoolers to a beautiful campground on Lake Winnipesaukee called Geneva Point Center. This was truly a God moment for me. For you see: back to my youth group days in the late 1970s, the absolute highlight of the year was always our annual trip to Camp Winni which was held on that very same site on Lake Winnipesaukee.
That one week each summer was when our church shared one of the most glorious settings on earth with members of other youth groups from neighboring towns such as Quincy and Braintree. In fact, when I heard that our church was calling the Rev. Ferguson as our senior minister, I had a flashback to Camp Winni. Could he possibly be the same “Bill Ferguson” I knew from my summers in the late 1970s? The answer is yes! (And, for a price maybe I’ll share some old pix with you someday!) And Bill, for a price I’ll keep them secret. There’s the stewardship moment!
From that week in 2012 when I was serving our youth, I knew I needed to continue my work here to ensure more kids could experience what I had growing up. I came back from camp totally charged. With the loving support of the Rev. Emily Kellar and so many others here, we held Sunday youth group meetings with enthusiastic kids. We continued to have youth mission trips branching out to New Orleans. Seeing and being with the youth of our church on those mission trips, those youth group meetings, those car washes, led me back to my days of finding myself and knowing what is important in life. Having the chance to do for this generation of youth what I was given back in my high school days is one of the many blessings Pilgrim Church has given to me. I hope everyone understands how truly blessed we are to have Pilgrim Church of Duxbury as our church and to have the members of Pilgrim Church as our church family. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.