Transition Team: November 2019 News

Continuing to lay the groundwork for a successful search for a new settled minister, the Transition Team will be asking the congregation to participate in two surveys during the next six months.  The first one in November will address who we are as individuals in our various beliefs, while the second one to occur next April will focus more on our congregational identity and what First Parish needs from a future ministry.

We anticipate the responses from the first survey in November will help us to create a “family portrait” of who we are as individuals, each on our own spiritual journeys despite, or in addition to, our affiliation with the two denominations. In it, this survey will ask several questions about one’s own spirituality, as well as their spiritual growth and wellbeing, and of course, all responses will be strictly confidential. 

As of Sunday, November 3rd, the survey will be available online as well as in paper format. In the interest of painting as accurate a picture of the breadth of religious diversity and backgrounds as we may have, it is important to have broad participation by as many parishioners as possible.  Ministerial candidates will need and want to know who we are as a spiritual community, and it will also be very helpful to the new Search Committee in finding the right match in a new settled minister.
We encourage everyone to participate, and if anyone has questions or needs help in accessing the survey, either online or on paper, please reach out to any member of the Transition Team, and we will be glad to help.

Respectfully submitted for the Transition Team,

Ken Hurd

History & Roots: An FPL Timeline Board As part of First Parish Lincoln’s exploration of its own history, the Transition Team will invite all parishioners to contribute to an FPL Timeline Board between November 3-24. Its purpose is to support us in telling our story and will serve to:

  • remember and reflect on the past
  • honor our history
  • recognize painful events
  • celebrate joyful moments
  • tell truths about our history 
  • make what may be invisible to many visible

The Timeline Board will be in the Stearns Room, and you will have the opportunity to contribute at any time, but especially following the Sunday service. Postings can be on note cards provided in the pews, stickies provided at the board, or copies of photos, articles, postcards, etc. depending on the memory or event – whatever is meaningful to you! There will also be table space for objects from the Religious Education program and for any other physical items that cannot be posted on the board (articles, books, artwork, etc). 

Several markers will already be on the board, including our early formation as a church and ministers’ tenures. More recent markers will include events that the Shared Ministry Review and Transition Team have organized over the past two years. These will show the work FPL has already done to purposefully remember and process the past as we work towards our future.  

In addition, the Transition Team will host Teas in November for seniors who live at residential communities and who have difficulty getting to FPL. (We’ll be reaching out to individuals with specific dates.) We will encourage them to contribute as well to the Timeline by sending us their memories.  

This promises to be a rich and engaging activity and will surely reveal some surprises! What will you post?? We look forward to seeing what you come up with, and many thanks in advance.

Transition Team: October 2019 News

The Transition Team met the last two Wednesdays, September 11th and 25th, in an effort to set goals and plan our activities for the coming church year.  The primary objective is to lead parishioners in the self-reflective work necessary to articulate who we are as a congregation, who we consider our neighbors to be, and what we believe we are called to do as a spiritual community.  By reaffirming the vision and mission of First Parish, it will allow us to prepare a foundational document for use by the Search Committee to be convened in May of 2020. It will also serve to convey who we are to candidates seeking to become our next settled minister.

The following is a rough outline of activities that we currently anticipate taking place throughout the year.  

This Fall, to better understand where we came from and who we are today, we have already begun to review the history and roots of our two denominations with sermons by Rev. Jenny Rankin and Wendy Van der Hart of the UCC.  Jenny will continue to refresh our memories from the pulpit on how transcendentalism affected the UUA as well as what brought our two churches together in 1942.

Later this Fall, we are planning to conduct a survey of our thoughts on our individual spirituality to further understand how First Parish addresses what we each seek from this community for our spiritual journeys together.

During the winter months, we plan to shift our focus to our identity as a congregation with discussions around core values.  Possibly using the model of last year’s Listening Circles, we hope that sharing thoughts through conversations will lead to reaffirming or redefining our vision and mission as a spiritual community.

In the Spring, we will sponsor a congregational survey to garner feedback on what emerges from our work during the winter.  This, together with the information gathered in the Fall, will form the basis of a congregational profile that will help a new Search Committee in their work to find the best candidate to walk with us as our next settled minister.  Again, as Jenny Rankin has expressed so well, any ministerial candidate will want to know, “who we are, who are we being called by the divine to become, and who is our neighbor that we wish to serve?”

Respectfully submitted for the Transition Team,

  • Ken Hurd

Transition Team: May 2019 News

The Transition Team has had a busy seven months since being appointed by the Parish Committee in November 2018.

Our charge is to lead a parish-wide effort of self-reflection, including a review of the church’s history and re-affirmation or transformation of our identity as an institution.

This introspection and exploration will help the congregation prepare to meet new ministerial leadership with a clear vision and renewed energy. The product of this congregational effort will be an honest profile of who we are as a community of faith for use by a Search Committee that will be formed in the Spring of 2020.

An Interim Period typically includes an introspection and refresh of the areas shown in the diagram shown above.

The Transition Team has focused most of its time and efforts these past seven months on healing of the congregation.

Some highlights of our efforts include:

  • Leading 120 parishioners in Listening Circles to help parishioners reflect on and share their experience with our former minister, the Rev. Manish Mishra-Marzetti and their reaction to his departure.
  • Report-out to the congregation about what was heard in the Listening Circles
  • Organizing and sponsoring a Church Leadership Retreat to determine priorities for the year.
  • Hosting a parish-wide gathering of over 100 participants to provide the opportunity to discuss reactions to a video made by Rev. Mishra-Marzetti.
  • Hosting two additional small group gatherings that enabled participants to more deeply express their reactions to the video.
  • Training in an advanced technique of facilitating difficult conversations known as Reflective Structured Dialogue or RSD. This process is designed to allow for listening, feedback and exchange of views among participants with a goal of building greater trust and understanding of each other through respectful dialogue.
  • Piloting the RSD technique in May by leading “Can We Talk” sessions, small group gatherings focused on spirituality.

The Transition Team would like to thank Rev. Rankin for her excellent guidance and support.  With her continued direction, we look forward to leading a parish wide effort to contemplate question such as:

  • Who are we?
    • Spiritually
    • As a church community
    • Demographically
  • Why do we do this thing called “church”. What’s the goal/mission?
  • What are the core values that guide our decision making?
  • What’s the ONE thing we want the church to be known for above all else?
  • What connections beyond the congregation do we want to strengthen?

Together, the congregation of First Parish in Lincoln will discover and articulate our identity as a spiritual community. We have much to understand and appreciate about our history. Leadership and governance will continue to be a focus. Relationships outside of our church will be considered. We still have a great deal to reflect upon and share. There is still much to explore and learn.

The Transition Team’s full report can be found here:

Thank you for this opportunity.

Gina Halsted & R.L. Smith – Co-Chairs

Chris Hamilton

Kathy Huber

Ken Hurd

Elizabeth Kelly

Liz Wilkinson

The Transition Team

We want to make sure the congregation knows who has been appointed by the Parish Committee to serve on The Transition Team through the spring of 2021.

Gina Halsted and R.L. Smith serve as co-chairs

The other members are:
Chris Hamilton
Kathy Huber
Ken Hurd
Liz Wilkinson

Elizabeth Robbat Kelly was also appointed, but she has stepped down and is now serving as the Transition Teams liaison to the Youth Programs Committee

“Can We Talk…About Spirituality”?.

Throughout the month of May, the Transition Team will be facilitating group discussions related to spiritually…how you first started to understand the spiritual realm, why you came to First Parish and what might First Parish do in months and years to come to make the church more spiritually inviting to YOU.

As of this posting there a six (6) sessions left to sign up for…space is limited…only eight people max per session. To sign up go to

Sign Up for April’s Manish Follow Up Discussions

Two identical sessions (April 14 from 3:00-5:00PM and April 22 from 7:00-9:00PM) will offer attendees the opportunity to converse openly and frankly about Manish’s ministry at First Parish and his “Passport” video. These will be facilitated conversations, with both structured and unstructured time that will allow people time to voice their views and hear others.

PARENTS NEEDING CHILDCARE ON APRIL 14….please leave a Doodle Note giving your name and the names and ages of your children needing childcare. Thank you.

Click here to sign up for this discussion on the Transition Team’s Scheduling Doodle

The Transition Timeline

The Transition Team, both for the edification of the church as well as for itself has developed a first cut at a plan for the next 12 months or so. Nothing here is carved in stone; we all know how quickly things can change putting a monkey wrench in the best of plans. The Transition Team is committed to openness, honestly and transparency throughout its duration.

Spring 2019

Structured small group conversations have proven to be a popular and effective way to strengthen relationships, understanding and a sense of community. To build the congregation’s capacity for ongoing dialogue on weighty subjects, 15 people from the Transition Team, Parish Committee, Deacons, and other interested parties have been trained in the use of Reflective Structured Dialogue, a powerful process for facilitating conversations.

In response to feedback from some parishioners, this April the Transition Team will host two identical sessions offering attendees the opportunity to converse openly and frankly about both Manish’s ministry at First Parish and his “Passport” video. These will be a largely unstructured events, allowing people time to voice their views and hear others.

Urged by several of the Deacons and others the Transition Team will continue to offer opportunities for discussion this spring. A new program called “Can We Talk …?” will be offered throughout May and will focus on sharing of spiritual journeys. In these small group sessions of up to 8 people, participants can share personal stories and spiritual perspectives that inform why they attend church and The First Parish in Lincoln.

Summer 2019

Planning for the fall and winter will occur over the summer, as the Transition Team develops ideas for small and large group discussions that we be offered in the fall and winter of 2019-2020.

Fall 2019

The fall is a time of renewed energy and excitement. It is when many of us come back together again after being away for the summer. The fall is also when the Transition Team will begin leading the congregation through an exploration of identity. As a congregation, we will become better acquainted with our history and our roots. We’ll consider our strengths…those things we are most proud of where we showed our best selves, and our weaknesses things that may have hurt us individually or as a church body. We will consider deeply our current wants and needs. We’ll explore our core values, revisit, articulate and document both our vision and our mission. Lastly, we’ll discuss the relationships and connections that First Parish has and could/should build outside of itself…in Lincoln, in neighboring communities, in Boston and its suburbs and exurbs, within Massachusetts and the in the world.

Winter 2019/Spring 2020

The work of self-reflection and exploration in the fall and winter will help the congregation to be better able to make some important decisions. Additionally, a survey in the winter will provide the quantitative data needed to inform the creation by the Transition Team of a church profile. The profile, which is a necessary requirement by our two denominations to embark on a ministerial search will be reviewed and discussed with the congregation. The survey results, along with what has been heard in all the conversations, dialogues, and identify work over the past 12 months the will help guide the next Search Committee as they begin the search and selection process.

May/June 2020

The Search Committee will be named May or June of 2020. The Parish Committee is charged with determining the size of the committee as well as developing and sharing the process of exactly how the members will be selected.  A fully detailed compensation package showing ranges for all salary and benefit considerations will be voted on by the congregation before the search starts in earnest.


The Transition Team will stay intact through June of 2021 when (hopefully) our new mister will be called by the congregation. Through it all, the focus by be on the revitalization of First Parish in Lincoln, so our new minister can be welcomed with enthusiasm and zest.

Five Focus Points of an Interim Period

As we travel through our interim period, we will be discussing and reflecting on all five areas represented above. Until we have a firm grasp of the answers to these questions, it would be unwise to undertake a search process. Finding the answers to these searching questions is one of the reasons we have chosen to have our interim period span three years.