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Message from the Governing Board

Governing Board Retreat and First Parish Stewardship

December 2023

The Governing Board and Interim Minister meet monthly to thoughtfully steward First Parish. The Fall 2023 agenda attention focused on drafting and submitting applications to funders for repair and restoration of the church steeple. Much time was spent by the Building and Grounds Committee seeking estimates, prioritizing steps toward the goal and creating and presenting applications for grants.  The Board attended the New England Universalist Association Board retreat. This offered the opportunity to learn from other boards and UUA leaders. First Parish and many other UU Churches face common challenges building congregations and attracting young families. We are encouraged by the dedication of many First Parish Northborough members who chair and participate in a wide variety of First Parish Committees and activities.

Please view the Committee List on this website in the Members’ Area.

Governing Board Meeting Dates

January 2023

Your Governing Board meets monthly, often on the 3rd Thursday of the month. With the ongoing minister search and the steeple project, we will also be meeting on some Sundays to focus on specific topics. All congregants are welcome and encouraged to attend our meetings.  Governing Board meeting times for the 2022-2023 church year GB have been set. All meetings are at 6:30 PM unless otherwise noted:
January 19
February 16
March 21
April 4 (extra meeting for budget discussions and planning)
April 18
May 2
May 16
The annual meeting will be June 4th.

A congregational call to action

September 7, 2022

A Congregational Call to Action – HELP NEEDED

Greetings from your Governing Board,

As you know, our congregation is in the midst of transition and challenge. We are in a period of introspection as we seek to clarify our goals and enter a settled ministry within a year or two. We are simultaneously facing a fiscal challenge, as our steeple repair project looms.

All of us are stewards of our church, and the Governing Board is reaching out today with a call to action to everyone. Together, we all have a responsibility to maintain the health and vibrancy of our community.

We now have opportunities that require us to tap into new strengths and interests of our membership. Please consider these specific needs and evaluate your ability and bandwidth to pitch in. We are looking to find teams of people whose many hands will make light(er) work.

Settled Minister Search Team:

Are you interested in serving directly on the Settled Minister Search Team? Fill out this application: Minister Search Committee Application  For a paper copy of the application, reach out to Cynthia Bushey at The GB will review applications to put together a balanced team that we feel represents a diverse range of experience and perspectives.

The Interim Ministry Search Team, consisting of Stephanie Sullivan, Celia Brown, Anne Lenault, and Cynthia Bushey, has brought Reverend Abigail and Reverend Misty-Dawn on board for this year. They have passed the baton to the Transition Team, consisting of Janet Ruggieri and Dick Zajchowski, who will work to gather information from the congregation on our goals and future direction.

The Settled Minister Search Team will work to gather our congregational information and put together our packet for potential ministers. This information will reflect our demographics and history, as well as our congregation’s identified needs and goals. As a member of this team, you will work with each other to create and submit this packet, interview candidates, and bring forth a candidate to the congregation. Your work begins where the work of the Transition Team leaves off. They will be able to provide you with information they have gathered about the desires and needs of the congregation for inclusion in our package.

Steeple People:

As you may recall from our discussion at the Annual Meeting, our steeple needs repair! The Governing Board has determined the scope of the steeple repair project goes beyond the work of the Buildings and Grounds Committee.

Members of the Buildings and Grounds Committee have worked tirelessly to gather information and quotes from various contractors and have a wealth of information to share with the Steeple People as they start their work together. The actual direction we take as a congregation, including which contractor recommendations we follow, etc., and determining how we might go about this large project, needs to be the work of a focused team.

We are looking for people who will dedicate themselves to the work of analyzing the options, seeking information and guidance from the UUA on how to undertake a large project, communicating with and gathering information from the congregation. The goal of this team is to arrive at a final steeple plan. The goal of this team is NOT to fundraise for the project. Should the Steeple People determine a need for fundraising, we will be putting out a new call to action to pass the baton. As a community, we need to share this large undertaking.

To apply for this team, please complete this application form:  Steeple People Application The GB is looking to create a balanced team who will bring different strengths and skills to the table for a comprehensive look at this issue. Not only do we need people with knowledge of construction projects, we also need people interested in talking with the congregation about their values, priorities, and areas of compromise.

Fun-Raising Coordinator:

We need a person to organize efforts! Notice we did not say, “We need a person to shoulder the entire burden of fundraising for the entire church year.”

Our congregation is so creative and talented! There exist many opportunities to have fun and raise some funds within our community and the larger community. Our Open Mic nights remain a stellar example of this idea: people sharing what fills their souls and simultaneously raising money for our church. We want everyone to think about what passions you might bring to the table: want to host a chili cookoff? How about hosting an informational hike? Maybe you could offer a knitting night in the community for a fee…the possibilities are endless!

The Fun-Raising Coordinator will be responsible for acting as a sounding board for ideas that bubble up within the congregation and coordinating a calendar of these events to make sure we are not creating conflicting times, etc. With a specific point of contact, we believe individuals and small groups can take some of their amazing and fun ideas and infuse our congregation and the wider community with joy and togetherness!

If this role sounds perfect for you because you love to hear about people’s passions and help them make it happen, please apply here: Fun-raiser Coordinator Application

Thank you for your consideration to serve in one of these specific ways as we work to hold each other up and support our beloved community.

With love,
Cynthia Bushey
Governing Board President

We joyfully welcome Reverend Abigail and Reverend Misty-Dawn

September 2, 2022
We are so blessed to be sharing our next ten months with not one, but two, nurturing, adventurous, and creative spiritual leaders. Reverend Abigail Stockman will be joining us for the start of our church year on Sunday, September 11th, and Reverend Misty-Dawn Shelly is beginning her work coordinating with our DRE, Cynthia Menard, as well as our Pastoral Care team to support the well-being of our congregation and get this year’s RE programming launched.

Reverend Abigail Stockman will serve as a half-time interim minister, primarily responsible for coordinating and leading worship. Our congregation knows Reverend Abigail from her work with us during Reverend Lynda’s sabbatical. Though Abigail resides in Vermont, she plans to travel to Northborough a minimum of two times per month to be here in person with us to lead worship services.

Reverend Misty-Dawn Shelly will serve as a quarter-time interim minister focused primarily on providing pastoral care and supporting the work of the DRE. She resides in Berlin, MA where she is serving as the Berlin FPUU three-quarter-time minister.

Thank you to our beloved community for your patience and understanding this summer as our team worked to finalize contracts with our two interim ministers.
We joyfully welcome Reverend Abigail and Reverend Misty-Dawn into our congregation for this year!

Interim Minister Search Update

May 20, 2022

Our team conducted two candidate interviews and submitted our rankings to the UUA on Monday.

We have heard from the UUA that we have not been matched with an interim minister during round 1.

Round 2 begins this Monday and we are hopeful there may be additional candidates.

About half of the congregations seeking ministers were not matched in round 1, and the UUA is reaching out to retired ministers to gather support for congregations who are not successfully matched in round 2.

We wish we had a more positive report today and will continue to keep you updated as the process continues. Though this news may feel discouraging, please remember the search process is not yet complete.

As always, reach out to Anne Lenault, Celia Brown, Stephanie Sullivan, or Cindy Bushey with questions you may have.

Interim ministerial period

May 10, 2022

The Governing Board, with considerate reflection and consideration of the responsibility of our positions, have unanimously voted to engage in a 2-year interim ministerial period. We had robust conversations about a one versus a two-year interim ministry at our October 2nd meeting. We repeatedly circled back around to various points including timelines, the need for community reflection and imagining, low congregational bandwidth right now (folks are tired!), and the feedback from congregants in the forum and subsequent conversations. We have decided that our congregation needs time.

Reverend Lynda’s May resignation notice, versus the traditional January or February notice, put us behind in the timeline set by the UUA for ministerial searches. If we had intended to complete a settled minister search this year, June would have been the ideal time to identify our settled minister team, and we have yet to name our team.

We have had some applicants for the settled minister team (thank you!), and we are hopeful we can gather a team soon so they can engage in the preliminary work of the settled minister team. With our team not yet convened, however, the requirement for them to complete and submit a congregational review by mid-November of this year would not only be a herculean and unrealistic task, but would also rob our community of the necessary conversations that will prepare us for our next settled ministry.

With our heads still spinning from Lynda’s rapid departure and the late onboarding of our two interim ministers, it is time to take a collective breath and be present together. Our goal is to allow space for the transition team to work with Reverend Abigail to provide opportunities for us to come together in thoughtful discussion and considerate reflection of who we are and who we want to become, while engaging in fun and fellowship along the way.

While it can feel scary, this time offers us a tremendous opportunity for self-reflection and forward thinking. We have lived through a challenging couple of years. We are strong. We are curious. We are resilient. We are brave.
Please bring your thoughts, questions, concerns, hopes, and dreams with you to our next congregational forum being held in the Meeting House and on Zoom immediately following the October 23rd service.

With Peace,
Your Governing Board 

Cynthia Bushey, President
Janet Ruggieri, Vice-president
Rich Morreale, Treasurer
Kathleen Howland, Clerk
Anne Lenault, Member-at-large
Stephanie Sullivan, Member-at-large
Celia Brown, Member-at-large
Dave Sherman, Overseer of Operations

Interim Minister Search Update

May 6, 2022

Our conversations will be guided by community input from the congregational survey we distributed earlier in the week, and by information provided by the UUA.
We are still collecting survey feedback. Follow this link to share your thoughts with the search team!
Fast Facts:
  • 25 congregational survey responses received (submit yours here if you haven’t yet)
  • Candidate Interview Committee selected: Anne Lenault, Celia Brown, Stephanie Sullivan, Cindy Bushey
  • There are 62 congregations seeking interim ministers nationwide this season, and 44 ministers seeking ministries.
  • We expect to hear from the UUA today with the list of potential canditates who have expressed interest in our congregation.
Planned Timeline:
Week of 5/8: 
  • host community forums (Monday at 7 PM and Tuesday at Noon)
  • schedule candidate interviews
  • check references of candidates (UUA recommends this be done prior to interviews)
  • begin conducting candidate interviews
Week of 5/15:
  • continue conducting candidate interviews
  • submit our candidate rankings to the UUA
  • minister matches for round one are made on 5/18
Remember to please reach out to any member of the Board with questions, or join Lunch with Cindy on Monday at noon: 

Rev. Lynda Retirement Announcement

May 2, 2022

Dear Beloved Community,
I write to you today on behalf of the Governing Board. For those of you who were not present for Lynda’s announcement during yesterday’s church service, here is the message she shared:
“My Dear Friends,
After much discernment, I have realized that It is time for me to slow down, and to move closer to my family. So I have made the decision to retire from full time ministry at the end of this church year, which is June 30.
If this sounds rushed, it is, because this has been such a difficult decision for me. I love being your minister, AND, I’m being called to a different stage of life.
Between now and the end of June, we’ll talk more, but for now I just want to say thank you, I love you…You got this!”
With great enthusiasm, we wish to extend our congratulations to Reverend Lynda on her decision to retire and move onto another phase of life, where she will be surrounded by love and togetherness with her family, and we are in full support of her as she crafts this next chapter in her life.
We would also like to express tremendous gratitude for Lynda’s six years of service to First Parish Northboro and the gifts she has shared with us. Her ministerial leadership has seen us through two particularly challenging years during the pandemic and she has worked consistently with the congregation and other UU ministers during that time to help create online spaces and opportunities for us to remain connected and supported.
Members of the Governing Board have been meeting often this past week to discuss our next steps in response to Reverend Lynda’s retirement announcement. This letter serves as the first of many communications with you.
Our goal is to both involve and update you as the process to find an interim minister unfolds. 
As soon as possible, please answer this survey so we can quickly gather folks’ initial input: Congregational Survey #1
As we move into the future as a committed and talented congregation, we will build on the successful work our community has already accomplished, and the members of the Governing Board look forward to working with you in the upcoming months!
Please see the list of FAQs below for current information on the interim minister search.
With love,
Cindy Bushey
Governing Board President, FPUU Northboro
1. Why did the Board start without us?
The interim search process begins for all ministers on May 2nd and each interim minister is allowed to designate a limited number of congregations of interest from those that are in the system. In addition, there are a higher than expected number of congregations seeking an interim minister this spring and there is a finite minister pool.
We cannot be considered if we are not in the system, so we made the application our first priority. There are many opportunities for your input because we are in this for the long game! We wanted to position our congregation in the best possible way to be sure we had access to the largest possible pool of candidates. This was the strong advice given to us by the UUA and was our collective decision as a board.
2. Where are we in the process?
I spoke last Thursday with Keith Kron, transition specialist at the UUA to get details of the process. The Board has begun reviewing the UUA minister transition handbook. Over several meetings, members of the board completed the online application, including a questionnaire that will give potential members information about our congregation. From there, we are hopeful that several ministers will include us in their list of potential congregations.
As part of the application, we had to designate whether we were seeking a one or two-year interim minister. We have chosen to apply for a two-year interim minister. This was the strong recommendation from the UUA, both in the long term and short term, for two distinct reasons:
  1. An equitable process of selecting a well-rounded Settled Minister Search Team will take some time. Once that team is established, they will need ample time to work with the congregation to determine our priorities for our next settled minister. This patience and intentionality on the front end will allow us to work together to identify our future direction and locate a settled minister who will be a good fit for our congregation.
  1. Most candidates are seeking two-year interim ministries and by remaining open to this slightly longer process, we will have access to a larger pool of candidates.
3. What comes next?
Once we have been selected by some potential candidates, we will receive information about each candidate to decide which of them we would like to invite to interview in order to find our “just right” match. This is where we need your help right now. We want to have the best possible sense of what matters to you when we review applicant information. Please complete this survey if you have not already done so because we want to include your perspective in the selection process: Congregational Survey #1
4. How can I be involved in the search for the interim minister?
The Board is seeking input from all church members and will continue to provide opportunities to submit input into the process. Please complete this initial survey, if you have not already done so: Congregational Survey #1.
Keep an eye out for weekly communications in the Perspective regarding both process updates and invitations to participate in community forums and other opportunities to express questions, concerns, and ideas.
5. How can I be involved in the search for the settled minister?
In the upcoming weeks, we will begin sharing information on the settled minister search process. Stay tuned!
6. How do I get my questions answered?
We are very dedicated to a transparent and inclusive process, and we encourage you to reach out with any questions or ideas you would like to discuss in any of the following ways:
  1. Contact members of the Governing Board directly (contact information listed below)
  2. Zoom into “Lunch with Cindy” Mondays at noon using this link: Lunch with Cindy
Cindy Bushey, President ( or 508-826-1453
Janet Ruggieri, Vice President (
Kathleen Howand, Clerk (
Rich Morreale, Treasurer (
Dave Sherman, Overseer of Operations (
Anne Lenault, Member at Large (
Celia Brown, Member at Large (
Stephanie Sullivan, Member at Large (

Our new Director of Religious Education: Cynthia Menard

September 24, 2021

Greetings Beloved Community, 

I write to you today on behalf of the Governing Board. We are excited to share with you our decision to hire Cynthia Menard as our part time Religious Education Director at First Parish Northborough beginning this October. Cynthiaoffers experience, energy, and a tremendous amount of flexibility—all characteristics the Board believes will serve our congregation well in these uncertain times. 

Cynthia brings a depth of experience both with outdoor education and with Unitarian Universalist religious education. She has served as a religious education director since 2018 and is currently participating in coursework through the UUA Religious Education (RE) Credentialing Program. Additionally, she is a credentialed teacher of the Our Whole Lives (OWL) program, and is a certified in youth mental health first aid through the UUA. Many of you have already met Cynthia through her work with the Unitarian Church of Marlboro and Hudson. 

Our community is facing two distinct challenges right now: COVID-19 and dwindling participation in RE programming at First Parish Northborough. While Cynthia’s experience and education alone qualify her for this position, there exist two specific reasons the Board decided she is the right fit for our community at this time: her expertise with outdoor education and her intellectual curiosity and sense of adventure. 

As we begin this church year still unable to safely gather indoors, we were impressed with Cynthia’s ideas for creating outdoor classroom spaces at First Parish Northborough this fall and into the future. Additionally, we feel ready to embrace opportunities to collaborate with area congregations on RE programming and to plan events that will bring youth and families from multiple towns together. In talking with several parents of Northborough youth, it has become clear to me that folks are hungry for opportunities for their children to get connected with other children in a safe, nourishing, and accepting environment. In these times, there is arguably no higher priority. 

It is not only children but also adults who are craving this deeper connection and spiritual exploration. With that in our minds and hearts, we have asked Cynthia to explore adult religious education and enrichment opportunities with our congregation as well. 

As Cynthia gets started in her new role here, we invite your participation on this journey! In order to support Cynthia’s work with FPUU as we envision our future, we are re-establishing an RE Committee. This group will work in an advisory capacity to support Cynthia and Reverend Lynda as they collaborate on worship opportunities and community-building initiatives at First Parish Northborough and in the wider community. If you are interested in serving our congregation in this way, please email me at

Be well and stay healthy,


Sabbatical Time starts January 1

October 29, 2021

It has been some time since First Parish UU Northborough has had a minister take sabbatical leave, and each sabbatical time is different. The Sabbatical Committee has created this guide to help answer some of the most frequently asked questions about sabbatical, and to help the congregation know what to expect during Rev. Lynda’s time away.

  • Who?
Rev. Lynda and the Sabbatical Committee have been working together for a year to plan for this time. The Committee consists of Karen Nelson, Caroline MacDonald, and Anne Lenault. If you have questions or concerns about the sabbatical time, reach out and ask! Questions, comments and ideas are always welcome.
  • When?
Reverend Lynda is taking a three month sabbatical beginning January 1 and ending March 31, 2021. 
  • Why?
The sabbatical leave is a tradition for Unitarian Universalist clergy, as it is for the university. It offers an extended time for study, reflection, rest, and renewal—all ingredients for effective ministry. A sabbatical leave is part of the congregation’s covenant agreement with Lynda as our minister. Just as importantly, the congregation will benefit as Lynda returns refreshed, filled with new ideas and with rekindled energy. Further, it offers the staff and congregation the opportunity to step up to fill some of Rev. Lynda’s responsibilities, trying new things, stretching their leadership muscles, and establishing a deeper sense of ownership of the congregation and its mission and ministry.
  • What happens while Rev. Lynda is away?

Rev. Lynda has three main responsibilities in her role as minister: offering worship, tending to the pastoral needs of the members and leaders, and facilitating the smooth running of the church organization. These three areas are covered in detail in the sections that follow. 

In general, the church will run as it has always run: through the commitment, talent and good ministry of members, staff and a minister – in this case, a sabbatical minister.
  • Sunday Services
While Reverend Lynda is away, our worship services will continue to be online at 10:30. Most of them will be led by Reverend Abigail Stockman, with a few lay led services filling out the schedule.

Reverend Stockman has just retired from her position as Developmental Minister for First Church in Barry, VT. She has also served as an Interim Minister and a consulting minister for various churches in the Northeast.  

She also served as Reverend Lynda’s mentor as she went through her final fellowship process for UU ministry. Reverend Abigail enjoys skiing, cooking and walking in the woods with her dog. She is the harpist with the Vermont Philharmonic (Community) Orchestra.
She will work closely with our current worship team to provide services that are meaningful to our congregation. The rest of the worship team will still provide the technical support to make Sunday services run smoothly.
  • Pastoral Care
During Reverend Lynda’s sabbatical, the Pastoral Care Committee will be the first point of contact for all pastoral care and support needs. Please contact one of the members of the committee listed below with all pastoral care concerns. In person services have been limited in some cases by the Covid virus, but we will respond to each situation individually and make any necessary referrals.
On an on-going basis, our efforts are greatly supported by the loving generosity of our Church community to whom we have frequently reached out. In addition, during the sabbatical we will be able to contact several ministers from Reverend Lynda’s support network or provide a referral to other professionals in the community.
Our First Parish Church buildings will remain closed to weddings, memorial services and child dedications.
Your Pastoral Care Team:
Heather Finlay-Morreale
Caroline MacDonald
Sally Manning
Dave Sherman
Church Operations
The Sabbatical Committee and Reverend Lynda have been working together to assure that the church operations will continue to function smoothly during Reverend Lynda’s absence.
If you have questions about the church office or operations, you can direct questions to the following people:
Administrator—Pam Landry
President—Audrey Kracke-Lambert
Religious Education—Debra Zagaeski
Building and Grounds–David Sherman
Questions? Feel free to ask us!
Together, we’ll have a joyful, supportive, and creative three months, and we’ll have a lot to share with Rev. Lynda when she returns in April.
Your Sabbatical Committee:
Karen Nelson
Caroline MacDonald

Anne Lenault

Pandemic and the Interdependent Web

April 3, 2020

Thanks to the wonders of technology the Governing Board was able to meet this past Sunday via Zoom. We came together to carry on the important matters of First Parish that are the responsibility of the Governing Board. The message that we hope to convey at this time is one of assurance, commitment and interdependence so as to create an environment of confidence and consistency.

Our concern first and foremost is the well being of each of you, your needs at this time of uncertainty and stress. Therefore, a call list is being organized from the First Parish community. A board member will be calling to talk with you, find out your needs and enjoy the connection.

Time was spent discussing our Fiscal responsibility in such areas as the 2020-2021 budget, support of our employee’s, Offertory including the half plate, the Ministers fund for assistance to FP community, and how to move forward regarding fund raising/pledges.

More than ever our level of awareness has been raised by this pandemic as to how much a part we are in “the interdependent web of existence”. Aware of how much we are dependent on each other. The goal that all of us are working towards is keeping an experience of feeling connected whether it is the meaningful, comforting services provided by the Worship Team, the services of Pastoral Care committee, the beautiful words of Poetry from Living by Heart, Music offerings from our musicians and the many other services providing connection and community.

The power of WE is a Gift of Love that keeps giving and when it is strong there is no room for fear.

The following message was shared with me from Karen Bump former FP member. May these words bring comfort and inspiration.

And the people stayed home, and read books, and listened and rested and exercised and made art and played games and learned new ways of being and were still.

And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadow. And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed. And in the absence of people living ignorant, dangerous, mindless and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the days passed and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses and made new choices and dreamed new images and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully. As they had been healed…..

On behalf of the Governing Board, Audrey Kracke-Lambert, President

Coronavirus task force

March 17, 2020

We have suddenly, with little opportunity to prepare, been thrust into a time of curtailed activities, as our community attempts to slow the spread of the current pandemic. The Governing Board met Sunday afternoon with the Coronavirus Task force to look at what changes we must deal with as a result, and begin to formulate an idea of how to pull together, offer mutual support, and fulfill our function as a church community.

This Board considered various aspects of church life, with an eye to fulfilling our individual and communal needs while keeping each of us as safe as possible.

We are working overtime to stay connected! Please feel free to contact us with your thoughts, questions, and feedback as we all learn a re-imagined way of being in community in a time of crisis.

In Faith,
Rev. Lynda and FP Governing Board