First Unitarian Church of Worcester

Sermons, Memos and other writings from the newsletter and worship services of the First Unitarian Church of Worcester. The First Unitarian Church is located at 90 Main Street, Worcester, MA 01608. Our phone is 508-757-2708 and our webpage is A audio CD is produced for almost every one of our regular services. Call our office or send a note to the office at our website to request that one be shipped to you.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

“The Billion Dollar Bet” by Rev. Tom Schade

Memo from October 14, 2006 Newsletter

The Boston Globe’s Real Estate Section last Sunday ran a feature story on Worcester’s “Billion Dollar Bet”, the big plans for the redevelopment of downtown Worcester. It’s pretty exciting stuff. Many of the projects include apartments and condos, residential units, which means more people are going to be living in downtown Worcester in the future. This is good news for First Unitarian. Downtown churches are healthiest when there are people living downtown. It also appears that many of the future residents of downtown Worcester are going to be younger adults.

We live in a culture that is increasingly unchurched, especially among the younger people. But the religious impulse is still there, and so at certain points in their lives, many people go “church shopping.” More and more people want to find their spirituality without recourse to organized religion. They do not want a religious institution that offers one pre-packaged worldview for them to accept and learn.

One of the ways that we can help make Worcester’s Billion Dollar Bet succeed is to offer, in downtown Worcester, worship services where people are always welcome no matter where they are in their spiritual journey.

Our goal should be that every person in downtown Worcester, indeed in Central Massachusetts who has the smallest and most evanescent desire to “be more spiritual”, or to “be in touch with my spirituality” will know that 90 Main Street is the place to go.

They should be able to count on these facts:

  • · if they would come, they would find a room where they can sit in serenity;
  • · if they would come, they would hear beautiful and exciting music:
  • · if they would come, they would hear words that would inspire and challenge them;
  • · if they would come, they would have a chance to pray and sit in silence;
  • · if they would come, their children would be nurtured and encouraged;
  • · if they would come, they would find a good cup of coffee and interesting people who were interested in them.

Such a community center of free spiritual exploration would be a blessing to downtown Worcester, and especially, to its future new residents.

This congregation creates and sustains an uplifting and spiritually helpful worship experience every week. It is what this congregation does to meet the deep spiritual hunger that exists among the people of our city, especially among those people who no longer are connected to the churches of their ancestors. It is our joint project. It takes the work, the commitment, the cooperation and the financial support of a very large number of people, living and dead, to do it.

It is the work that we do together, to sustain one of the on-the-ground, grassroots, voluntary, covenantal, community-based, democratic organizations that are fading from our social life. These organizations will be the saving hope of our community and nation.

My question about the future is this: can we summon up the collective commitment to be excellent at what are trying to do?

We do many things well at First Unitarian Church. For example, our music program is excellent. When there is music, the instruments are in tune, the choir is rehearsed, the musical selection is appropriate and wonderful, the technical equipment will all work. We assume excellence in our music offerings. Such excellence, however, doesn’t just happen; it takes professional leadership, it takes money, and it takes committed volunteers. But the result is a gift and a blessing.

Do we do everything else with the same level of excellence? I think that we know the answer to that question.

Excellence is important. Excellence proves to people that you are serious and competent and trustworthy. And for us, excellence in what we do, and in how we do it, is doubly important. Our message to the world is that religious institutions must be democratic and covenantal and voluntary; and we undercut our message when we are so-so or mediocre.

I hope that you will join the entire congregation at the Celebration Luncheon on Sunday after the Commitment Sunday Service. It is the one time each year that the entire congregation gathers to break bread together, and everyone is invited.

At the Commitment Sunday Service, you will have the chance to make your financial pledge to First Unitarian Church for next year’s budget. I am asking you to consider pledging at a level that will enable First Unitarian Church to reach for excellence in everything we do. A First Unitarian Church committed to excellence in worship; programs, music, study and service will be our contribution to the future health of our city.



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