“…my cup runneth over…” Psalm 23:5 KJV

The clearest sign the Holy Spirit is at work in a Church is that there is a vitalSpirit of Generosity’ which pervades the congregation,” the Northeast Ecumenical Stewardship Council reported in March. “Clearly Generosity’s greatest gift is the value received by the givers – – their self-worth and sense of gratitude in making a difference in the lives of others allows their hearts to ‘runneth over’.

The Seminar recommended churches celebrate 3 seasons each year:  First, the Season of Advent, the gift of Jesus Christ coming into the world. Second, the Season of Lent, the gift of Jesus Christ redeeming the world to everlasting life. Finally, the Season of Generosity, the gift of Jesus Christ’s love permeating our world.

The first five Sundays of fall is the Season of Generosity when First Parish Church, Congregational will recognize the gifts which transform lives, families, communities, and the world.  You will notice from the September Worship Schedule, each Sunday’s theme celebrates ‘Generosity: “Where is Jesus’ Compassion?”, “Feed Others and Feed Yourself”, “What’s the Best Thing Parents Do”, and “How Generosity Binds Us Together”.  The “Season” will culminate on Sunday, October 4th with a celebration of 35 years of joint ministry between First Parish Church, Congregational, the community of Manchester-by-the-Sea, and the Reverend John G. Hughes.

Recent research, (Lifeway Research), suggests the average clergy tenure in a local church is 3.6 years (Dennis Cook, July 18, 2011).  There are studies suggesting that for effective leadership to develop 11.2 to 21.6 years are needed; many churches and denominations find themselves in unhealthy situations or with ministries that have no lasting effect.

When a church maintains a healthy pastoral relationship over time, there are benefits, according to researcher Bill Easum. He recommends it is essential for a pastor to, “Lead as if you’ll be there forever”.  The Barma Research Group agrees, suggesting the lasting effects of ministry do not happen until a pastor has been with a church for at least 15 years, at which time, ministers show their capacity to persevere, dedication to a life time of learning, commitment to personal retreat and renewal, giving purpose to the past while providing a vision for the future, and a true, lasting dedication to the people they serve.

We have much to celebrate at First Parish Church

A Season of Generosity is a wonderful way to express our thankfulness.

Yours through Grace, Rev. John G. Hughes