For the first thirty- odd years of our Unitarian existence in Peterborough, we were wanderers. We met weekly in places and spaces all across town, from school libraries to a former billiards hall. The first and only building we owned and was a decommissioned Salvation Army church on Chamberlain Street. We weren’t there long before it became evident that space was tight for a growing congregation. Years on we found ourselves at the door step of 775 Weller, at the time it was considered temporary until something else came along. That was around 2004.
While we settled-in and got comfortable, we started asking that question again – where is home? Where is the place that would fit us just right and we could feel grounded and secure? Subsequent years yielded innumerable surveys, market research, and building tours, and now, more than a decade later at Beth Israel, rather than wondering where to go, we’re asking what it would take to consider staying where we are, long term.
While it may appear as if it’s taken us an inordinate amount of time to arrive at this point of departure, I can assure you it didn’t pop up last week, and nor was it only our community that was curious about the possibilities. Beth Israel Congregation has been wondering the same. They’ve been assessing their own needs and resources and are asking what the future holds for their religious community.
Because our two organizations have been building relationship for more than a decade and we’ve grown attached to the facility, we can’t help but ask those awkward and difficult questions; What are the possibilities in co-managing the property?, Why couldn’t we consider co-ownership?, How can we move toward sharing resources? Many questions arise as soon as you open the gate.
On Saturday, May 12, our two communities, UFP & BIC, are co-hosting a community conversation about creating a shared sense of belonging and ownership. Please plan to attend. The invitation is here.
Now is an exciting time as the conversation is emergent and exploratory, ripe with possibilities. It’s also important to maintain a critical perspective on our resources and what we might stand to lose. That’s why it’s important for everyone to attend. We need diversity of viewpoint.
Of course none of this commits us to anything. It’s about asking questions, maintaining an open mind and being curious. There are all things I believe we hold as Unitarians, so we are good candidates to enter into this dialogue and explore possibilities for a new phase of our congregational journey. I encourage you to come along for the ride.
— Your in Fellowship. Scott Donovan
p.s. Attached is a document for your perusal. It’s a summary of a workshop held February 10, hosted by Kendra Fry, attended by six UU’s and seven members of the Jewish community. We tossed around ideas, shared stories, and responded to prompts from our host, Kendra. It was a preamble to the upcoming May 12 event. Please have a look. It’s a good primer for that community conversation.