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Pastor’s Message

Pastor Cheryl’s September Message

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:26-27)

 We are an institution in a volatile place.  We have spent the past year(s) opening ourselves up in vulnerability, going deeper and deeper, telling and listening to our stories, and uniting in a common vision.  And then, just as we took that courageous step into unity that is committed relationship and community, a place of defenselessness and humility, we were hit with the bombshell of cancer… and the loss of leadership and planning and organization that inevitably comes with it.

Together in prayer we asked, “What now?”  Individually in quiet corners we questioned, “Was all of this for nothing?”

And so we planned what we could plan and then, with confidence in one another and faith in God’s love and loyalty to our community… we stepped back.

I’ve been watching your good and faithful work this summer.  I’ve seen how the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, has lead our leadership to take the reigns of this church and it’s organizational needs.  I’ve seen how this divine spirit called so many of you again and again to Show Up on Sundays, for mid-July meetings about plumbing, interim pastors, and the crisis of death.  I watched you show up for each other, generously sharing the divine within yourselves through compassion and mercy and presence.

I’ve been watching and, in doing so, have witnessed the presence of God in you.

On September 8th, this year’s Rally Sunday, I look forward to returning to the pulpit and to leadership.  I can’t wait to share with you all some of what I’ve been researching in my downtime this summer. I’m excited to step back into a place of leadership among you and alongside our interim, Rev. Wayne Earl.

However, I will not lead at the expense of the beautiful Spirit of humble leadership that has evolved these past months.  Instead, I will be listening to both your minds and your hearts. I will be giving space to the leadership of our many ministries to explore what has been learned by this holy presence.  And I will be calling us to a place of peace. Peace because when we allow for The Advocate – The Holy Spirit – to lead us in the way of God’s call, we can be assured that we will live!

Thank you all for leaning into your faith, taking up responsibility for leadership, and for Showing Up this summer.  I can’t wait to discover what the Spirit has in store for us this fall!

Peace,Cheryl

A NOTE:

Let’s talk logistics!  As mentioned above, I will be returning at ½ time (25 or so hours a week) beginning Tues, September 3rd. W

Wayne and I will hold office hours Tuesday mornings

Cuppa Faith Formation will resume EVERY OTHER WEDNESDAY beginning Wednesday, September 11th.

Sunday school and nursery care will continue to be held every Sunday with the exception of intergenerational Sundays (will be advertised 2 weeks prior.)

Confirmation (if your child is of age for this program you have already been contacted) will begin in November.  Communications to follow…

½ time is a challenging schedule to hold for a minister!  I will do my best to attend to the priorities of both the church and each of you, but please tell me if there is something you need from me!  And do not hesitate to tell me if I missed an opportunity to care for you at a time when you needed me. These are opportunities for me to grow and improve the work I do for and with you.

If you are a chair of one of our many ministries I would like to hear what you are up to!  Send me a note or give me a call. I’m looking forward to thanking you for your dedicated work while celebrating your vision for your ministry!

Celebrating FAITH INTO WORKS at the Allin Church, UCC -Summer19

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?…For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead. (James 2:14-16, 26)

 The good news is that the Allin Church is an example of the works that come from our faith.  There are so many of you who, after receiving God’s blessings of grace, peace, and understanding on Sunday morning, share these blessings beyond the walls of this church through service,

This month, we get to hear from church member, Jo-Ann McDonagh.

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Celebrating FAITH INTO WORKS at the Allin Church, UCC – June19

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?…For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead. (James 2:14-16, 26)

 The good news is that the Allin Church is an example of the works that come from our faith.  There are so many of you who, after receiving God’s blessings of grace, peace, and understanding on Sunday morning, share these blessings beyond the walls of this church through service, benevolence, and work.  While The World does not always make space for our efforts in faith, it does not realize that our faith that is of Jesus Christ cannot be stopped, because faithful practice is the byproduct of our own worship and prayerful self care.

This month, we get to hear from church member, Nancy Finkel.

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Celebrating FAITH INTO WORKS at the Allin Church, UCC

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?…For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead. (James 2:14-16, 26)

 The good news is that the Allin Church is an example of the works that come from our faith.  There are so many of you who, after receiving God’s blessings of grace, peace, and understanding on Sunday morning, share these blessings beyond the walls of this church through service, benevolence, and work.  While The World does not always make space for our efforts in faith, it does not realize that our faith that is of Jesus Christ cannot be stopped, because faithful practice is the byproduct of our own worship and prayerful self care.

This month, we get to hear from church member, Kevin Mawe.

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Celebrating FAITH INTO WORKS at The Allin Church, UCC

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?…For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead. (James 2:14-16, 26)

The good news is that the Allin Church is an example of the works that come from our faith.  There are so many of you who, after receiving God’s blessings of grace, peace, and understanding on Sunday morning, share these blessings beyond the walls of this church through service, benevolence, and work.  While The World does not always make space for our efforts in faith, it does not realize that our faith that is of Jesus Christ cannot be stopped, because faithful practice is the byproduct of our own worship and prayerful self care.

This month, we begin with church member/friend, Lisa Dwyer.

How long have you been involved with the Allin Church and in what capacity?

I started attending Allin Church about 10 years ago.  I wanted to have a community based church experience for myself and for my children.  Over the years, I helped out with Sunday school and I have been on and off the missions ministry/committee several times.  Even when I was not on the missions committee, I continued to manage the Dedham Food Pantry volunteer process and I have run the Angel Tree Prison Ministry for 5 years.  Another joy has been helping out with the Greens committee for the snowflake fair.

What faith informed work do you do outside of the church?  In what capacity?

I feel like the idea of doing God’s work comes in many forms.  Over the years, I have enjoyed different types of volunteer work that helped to impact those less fortunate than me, including volunteering at the Fisher House and working with the Dedham Junior Women’s Club to raise money for local charities.  Most recently, I started working a full-time job in a behavioral health care company.  Our program supports some of the most vulnerable people in our state.  Little things like having a kind voice and a listening ear when people call our program tells them “you matter”.

Doing many behind-the-scenes tasks to support our team of care coordinators provides space for them to make a big difference with our members directly.  Taking the time to publicly acknowledge hard work and celebrating the success of co-workers brings light and joy to a job that can sometimes be very dark and frustrating.  I feel like this period in my life is filled with lots of small acts of kindness.

 What is your favorite part of the work you do?  Bringing a smile to someone’s face.

What is the hardest part?  In general, my greatest challenge is to quiet my self-judging inner voice.  Luckily going to church is a grounding reprieve and reminder to practice patience and forgiveness of myself and others.

What of your faith (scripture, practice) informs the work you do?  What is the passion that makes this work important to you? 

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.  I honestly get a lot of joy in being a support system to a team.  Teamwork makes the dreamwork!

My thoughts on Lisa’s faith and practice:

It is my experience knowing Lisa both inside and outside of the church that she is far too humble to fully detail all of the work she does in the name of her faith in the power and practice of love.  Indeed, Lisa exudes love – so much so that we both know we much find each other every Sunday (and some days in-between!) for “our hug.”  Lisa’s love of life and creation clearly dictates all of her life, how she chooses to live, and what she offers of herself to those with whom she has contact.

As mentioned, for years, Lisa has run our Angel Tree program every Advent.  Through this program she offers members and friends of the church an opportunity to buy gifts for families with at least one incarcerated parent/guardian.  She is our contact and communication into the national organization, Prison Fellowship, organizes and then creates a beautiful “Christmas Tree” display of requested gifts, insures that all gifts are accounted for, and then collects, wraps, and delivers these gifts to the families.  Those of us who have helped with the delivery understand the impact this program has on these families and their sense of worth and well being.

In addition, Lisa has been our go-to contact with the Dedham Food Pantry.  For many years Allin Church has had a prominent presence among the volunteers of irreplaceable local organization, loving our neighbors in real, hands on, life giving ways.

I imagine that, if Jesus were living among us today, we would certainly find him actively engaging in ministry and miracle-making with both of these organizations.

Lisa is a gift of divine grace to our congregation simply by her presence.  That she quietly and humbly leads us in service and love is a gift of ministry far beyond anything I could say on Sunday morning! Peace,

Pastor Cheryl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating FAITH INTO WORKS at The Allin Church, UCC

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?…For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead. (James 2:14-16, 26)

The good news is that the Allin Church is an example of the works that come from our faith.  There are so many of you who, after receiving God’s blessings of grace, peace, and understanding on Sunday morning, share these blessings beyond the walls of this church through service, benevolence, and work.  While The World does not always make space for our efforts in faith, it does not realize that our faith, that is of Jesus Christ, cannot be stopped because faithful practice is the byproduct of our own worship and prayerful self care.

This month, we begin with church member/friend, Judy Raymond.

How long have you been involved with the Allin Church and in what capacity?

Having been a Congregationalist all my life and moving from the South Shore to be near my daughter and new grand-daughter we joined Allin Church, UCC about 14 years ago.  I’ve served as an usher, on the flower ministry, as a knitter, house ministry, acolyte coordinator, deacon ministries, mission ministries, Snowflake Fair and nursery attendant over these past years.

What faith informed work do you do outside of the church?  Through what organization?  Tell us about this organization.

I joined the UCC Immigration, Refugee and Asylum Task Team of the UCC MA Conference. This small body of both lay and clergy members works to educate our church community in Massachusetts about the issues related to immigration, to provide information and materials so that churches can educate their own congregations and their communities, to look for ways to help those who are or have immigrated to this country, and to watch and affect policies that relate to immigration, refugees and asylum.

**For more information here is the website address:     https://www.macucc.org/immigration

I was then guided to The Dedham Refugee Resettlement Collaborative,  consisting of Allin Congregational Church, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and Saint Susanna Catholic Parish which is composed of it’s clergy, church and community volunteers.  These communities have joined together to welcome a refuge family in finding a home in Dedham and give support in their relocation and beginning their new life in a new country, as well as aiding other towns with their refugee families.

**For more details, here is the website address    http://www.saintsusanna.org/refugee_family.shtml

What of your faith (scripture, practice) informs the work you do?  What is the passion that makes this work important to you? 

There is a Scripture phrase that has deeply felt meaning for me, “I heard a voice in the wilderness”, when I realized that the “wilderness” meant our human societies, my heart said…. act, and find a place to fight injustice, especially for children.  Not to be any kind of hero but to just be helpful.

Why do I do this ?  It’s simple, I believe it is exactly what Jesus calls us all to do.  Finding time is the hard part.  Maybe you’ve noticed, I display a bumper sticker on the rear window of my car.  For me, it sums it up.

“If you want Peace,  Work for Justice”

My thoughts on Judy’s faith and practice:

I remember the morning Judy told me about her call to immigration reform.  The news about massive numbers of children crossing the border alone, being “arrested” by border patrol and then held in large warehouse facilities had just hit the major news networks.  Thousands of children sleeping on cots stacked next to each other.  Churches opening their fellowship halls because there simply was not enough room or resources for so many unattended immigrant children.  Judy’s heart had been broken and, as Leonard Cohen would say, through that crack entered the light of God and God’s call.

I could not be prouder of Judy’s bold, imaginative, relentless, and faithful action for immigration reform (big picture) and in supporting struggling immigrants (small picture).  And that she offers her gifts of compassion and companionship through the Allin Church so that we might jump on her Peace Train, is an example of how divine grace cannot be held and must be shared outwardly.

With deep gratitude for your humble, faithful service, thank you, Judy.  God has called you to justice. May your courage and faith precede you always!

Peace,  Pastor Cheryl

From the Pastor February 2019

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?…For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead. (James 2:14-16, 26)

The good news is that the Allin Church is an example of the works that come from our faith.  There are so many of you who, after receiving God’s blessings of grace, peace, and understanding on Sunday morning, share these blessings beyond the walls of this church through service, benevolence, and work.  While The World does not always make space for our efforts in faith, it does not realize that our faith that is of Jesus Christ cannot be stopped. It is the byproduct of our own worship and prayerful self care.

This month, we begin with church member/friend, Joseph Borsellino.

How long have you been involved with the Allin Church and in what capacity?

I have been a member of Allin Church for approximately 10 years.  When I first joined, I co-lead the Allin Youth Group with Sarah Drummond.  Presently, I am chair of the Pastoral Relations Committee.

What faith informed work do you do outside of the church? Through what organization? Tell us about this organization.

Outside of the church, I am a human rights advocate.  I have been so since I was a young person conscious of racism and oppression of those without access to wealth.  Soon after being sworn as a lawyer in Massachusetts, I volunteered at the Boston NAACP Legal Redress, and became the Attorney Supervisor there for 5 years.  Thereafter, I lead a pro bono legal clinic in Roxbury for 5 additional years which served the Roxbury, Mattapan and Dorchester communities. For approximately 25 years, I have provided legal advocacy in civil rights cases in Massachusetts.  During those years, I have mentored and supervised internships for approximately 25 law students, guiding many in human rights advocacy. In many of those same years, I have provided mentorship and scholarship to inner city youths through their journeys through elementary, high school, and college educations.  Presently, I am the chair of the Human Rights Commission in Dedham, a Commission which I helped to found by co-authoring the Warrant for its creation which was passed at Dedham Town Meeting in 2017. My work is guided by the axiom that God created and loves all people equal and that it is our responsibility to mirror that love and to see that all people have the same opportunity to live that truth.

What is your favorite part of the work you do?  What is the hardest part?

My favorite part of my work is to see lives transformed and touching the best that is within us.  The hardest part of my work is to see resistance to human rights and patterns of injustice endure.

What of your faith (scripture, practice) informs the work you do?  What is the passion that makes this work important to you?

The love of Jesus and his message of hope to all humanity which transcends tradition, narrow political interests, race, culture, religious dogma, power relationships, disparity of wealth and self-interest.  My passion is informed by experiencing the beauty of life when love, sharing and understanding are achieved and by the pain in life when they are not.

My thoughts on Joe’s faith and practice:

In his humble and quiet way, Joe serves as an example of faith put into practice through work and life.  Even in his athletic coaching (yes, in and between his commitments to advocacy, this church, and his family, Joe coaches his daughter’s basketball team too!) Joe shares his love of “the beauty of life” – a love encouraged and cultivated by Allin Church’s community and worship.  Working with Joe on Pastoral Relations has been a delight and wonderfully efficient. Over the past year he offered his innate compassion in leading the rewriting of my Call Agreement, successfully and appropriately combining justice, the needs and resources of the church, and care for the Pastor with his detail oriented “lawyer skills.”

Joe, we appreciate your faithful participation in this church and your sharing in God’s grace through your life’s work.  I thank God for the blessing that you are!

Peace,

Pastor Cheryl

Happy New Year from our Pastor

Sometimes we wonder what our faith does beyond our commitment to the church.  In worship we have space to cultivate our relationship with the holy, something that calls us to define our values, relate with others per those values, celebrate compassion for and with others, and recognize injustice when we are in its midst.  Often, though, we spend Sunday morning resting in the loving presence of God, renewing ourselves for the world, but then, once actually in that world, struggle to connect that love with our passions and relationships.

Every one of us has some form of a relationship and/or passion (financial, familial, participatory, to name a few) outside of church that exists as a result of our deep faith.

Mine is with the organization Girls on the Run International, and, more directly, Girls on the Run, Greater Boston.  I want to share this relationship with you because everything I have done for and with this incredible group is because of my relationship with God, developed and refined through God’s presence here at Allin.

Girls on the Run (GOTR) is a physical activity-based positive youth development program (PA-PYD) that inspires 3rd through 8th grade girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.  GOTR envisions a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams.

Having coached more than a half dozen seasons at my kids’ school here in Dedham, I have seen this program change young girls’ lives.  At the end of the season I’ve held crying parents who are grateful beyond words for what the program has offered their tender daughter.  I’ve seen young girls work through confidence issues that, if unattended, could have become self defining as they mature. I have witnessed young girls who begin the season afraid, angry, and shy, end it having learned that they are so much more than what they thought they were.

My passion for this organization called me to introduce the program to Dedham elementary schools in the fall of 2014, encourage its growth to include teams at each of the 4 elementary schools AND our middle school, serve on the board of directors for the Greater Boston district and help hire their current director, Olivia Matthews.

And in April I will run the 123rd Boston Marathon for these incredible girls and in honor of this life changing organization.

All of this because my relationship with God, cultivated through the work of the church, insists that I encourage young girls to be all that God made them to be.  My faith requires that I share my energy and love with young people for whom it is fuel that drives them to be strong, confident, and generous with themselves.

My faith dictates my passions.

What then are your passions?  What do you do in your life that is founded in the faith we encourage you to build here at Allin?  Where do you share your love and energy in an effort to build up God’s creation?

I want to hear your stories and I want us tell each other our stories.  If you are passionately and faithfully connected into an organization, community, or group outside of this church would you consider sharing your story with us in this space in forthcoming newsletters?

My hope is that, by sharing we can begin to understand the connection of our faith to our work in this world and, through this, how valuable our faith practice and divine relationship is to this community and to others all over the world.

Peace, Pastor Cheryl

 

Pastor’s Christmas Message

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (1Corinthians 15:52)

In his poem, “Song of Myself,” Walt Whitman wrote,

…the little child that peeped in at the door and then drew back and was never seen again…

How quickly, in the scheme of time, did Jesus come into the world and then leave?  I realize Whitman was not talking about Jesus when he wrote this, but it got me thinking about the astoundingly short period of time that God was living with us, among us, human like us, a gift to us and with us; observing and participating, watching and wondering, experiencing and feeling life.

And then he was gone.  They say he lived 32 years but I’m only going to count the 2 or so that he was actively ministering, healing, preaching, and learning about what it is to love, hope, suffer and die.

… and yet, in that “blink of an eye” everything changed.

It’s like when a baby is born in the night.  We are one person just as the sun retreats below the horizon.  As that same sun finds its way around the earth and back up the other side, giving light to our world and our experience, once more we see that everything has changed, like a new lens has slid before our eyes (or maybe a skin has fallen off?)  Even that slightly burnt toast and too dark mug of coffee now look different in the presence of this new life just born.

… a babe who will be called the prophet of the Most High; for [he] will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness of their sins. (Luke 1:76-77)

I wonder if the people of Bethlehem – of Jerusalem and of all the world! – woke that morning feeling as if something had changed over night.  I wonder if something felt different.  The status quo they had settled so comfortably into, the injustices they had justified, the suffering they had accepted as “life,” was suddenly highlighted, visible, and maybe even unacceptable.

I wonder if, as that same sun that had been setting and rising since the beginning of time suddenly, on that new morning, brought with it a new hope for “peace on earth and good will for all.”

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  The dead will all be raised and we will all be changed.

This Advent, as we await that once and forever day into night into day, when everything has changed and nothing will ever be the same again;  as we prepare for our hope restored and for new life to emerge from death; as we live into God’s love through which even the most impossible is possible…

Let us believe.  Let us prepare for a New World that is ours by the grace of God, given in the instant of new life.

Peace, Cheryl

September message from our Pastor

One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ 29Jesus answered, ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” 31The second is this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ (Matt 12:28-31)

Again and again we ask this question:  what does it mean to “love God?” How do we love something so completely when we cannot see it, cannot interact with it, and often do not get feedback or appreciation from it for our efforts?  And, per Jewish law, it is not enough to just love God. We are called to love God with ALL of our heart, ALL of our soul, ALL of our mind, and with ALL of our strength. In short, to love God is to give ourselves completely to God by our faith and actions.

But what does THAT look like?  Certainly we are not all called to be monks or clergy.  Jesus gives us a hint to what this means in his second command: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Loving God doesn’t mean loving something that is up in the sky- a human construct – an old Gandolf with a white beard.

Loving God means stepping back from our own experience and ourselves, and loving creation.  It means seeing all of creation as God sees it and applying our love into it.  Loving God is an action.  It’s not an adjective. Not a noun. Loving God is a verb. When we are loving God we are actively stepping back from our own truncated world, that tiny world where, often, more important than anything else is that which causes us personal offense, and seeing that every member of creation has its own story, its own needs, its own suffering, and its own reasons for its choices and behavior.

Loving God is stepping back and realizing that this life is not about you.  It’s not about me and it’s not about you. It is about how we see and then love the divine in each other and in all of God’s creation.

Loving God and loving our neighbor as we love ourselves means stepping out of ourselves, stepping back from the situation or the world and seeing things as a whole.  Just before this scripture Jesus is asked “by a lawyer” a very tricky question about resurrection involving a woman who marries brother after brother until all have died.  The lawyer wants to know which of these brothers will be her husband in the resurrection.

Jesus’ response invites the lawyer and others listening to open their perspective to something much greater than human perspective.  He invites them to see life and death and resurrection from the perspective of God: “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is God not of the dead, but of the living.’”

Similarly, as faithful people of God we are called to love God by opening our perspective beyond ourselves.  We are called to imagine something greater for community; for the nation; for the world. We are called to love God by seeing the beauty, the possibility, and creation in all people.  We are called to step back from ourselves and see ourselves as just one player on a much larger team.

This is what we will be doing as a church this program year:  stepping back from our own individual needs and imagining something much greater – within which each of us is a vital player.  This year, the Allin Church will be entering a “Visioning Process.” What this means is that, working with a coach, we will come together and imagine how we can serve this community as a church – as a people of Christ – as people of love.  We will take a good look at all that we love about this church and then look forward a few years and wonder where we can take this love further. We are going to ask the questions: Who are we as a church and what is the purpose of these gifts – for Dedham and for the world – but mostly for God.

Because that’s how we love God.  It’s how we love our neighbor. It’s how we love the Allin Church.

Peace, Cheryl