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  • Bringing The Contemplative Summer Season Indoors: The Ripley Chapel Renovation Has the Power To Do It!

    For many of us, the summer is a respite from the weather, schedules, responsibilities and layers of clothing our New England life entails. Yes, jobs continue, responsibilities don’t go away, children and families have to be fed, joy and sorrow continues in its inevitable arc, but somehow the Summer brings a different rhythm. We spend time outdoors and reflect more, as committee meetings go on sabbatical, vacations and family reunions happen, and the heat slows us down. This season of our weather and our soul often allows us to encounter the Spirit in nature. When answering the question, “Where do you encounter God?” many people answer, “the ocean, the mountains, my walk.” Many say in stillness. Our innate contemplative nature, is supported during the Summer by all these circumstances. As we move back into the Fall schedule, it can be challenging to maintain a grounded feeling. Many forces bombard our stillness and it gets dark so much earlier!

    Of course we engage in contemplative and faithful practices during the rest of the year, both as a church community and individually. But I can’t help wondering at this time of year, what it would be like to bring some of the summer qualities of contemplation and Spirit inside with us. This is why I am so moved and enthusiastic about the plans for the Ripley Chapel.

    The planned work will transform the Chapel into a flexible, sacred space that can be used for both traditional worship and services, and also innovative and creative experiences. It is our hope to have some clear glass windows that bring in nature. It will be a beautiful, modernized setting for spiritual practices, art and music gatherings and much more. It will be a relevant wide open welcome to our neighbors. We will invite the Summer energy we feel so strongly, into our lives year round, as beauty that feeds the soul. Already, the pews have been removed and it is being used in new ways.

    The congregation voted to complete the fundraising for Ripley at the end of September. There will be no extensions. Our fundraising total will dictate the scope of work that can be accomplished. So please prayerfully contemplate a contribution and help bring the outdoors in.

    Wishing you stillness within the storm,

    —Debbie Johnston for the Ripley Chapel Working Group, with Taylor Tresselt, Laurie Roby, Carolyn Plosky, Bruce Alexander, Rev. Will Burhans, Rev. Judy Arnold, & Jane Ring Frank

    Can You Support Ripley Chapel?

    Donations can be made by check sent care of the Treasurer, First Congregational Church, 21 Church Street, or dropped off directly with Sarah in the church office. Donations may also be made via electronic funds transfer using PayPal or directly from a charitable or brokerage account such as Fidelity Secure. Please be sure to specify on the check or electronic form that the donation is for the Ripley Chapel project. Gifts of appreciated stock are also welcome.  Sarah can provide details on how to make stock transfers to the church.

    Questions? Visit the Ripley Chapel project page

    or contact Taylor Tresselt (617-538-1755,) or Debbie Johnston (781-956-7928).