|New to First Parish?|
We were all new once, and we remember what it's like to visit a new church. We'd love for you to come visit us at a Sunday service, so here's some information that might make things easier.
We're on the historic Lexington Green at 7 Harrington Road. Here are detailed directions. Our church is wheelchair accessible, via a ramp at the rear entrance and an elevator serving the main floors.
Our organist, Jeffrey Jubenville, begins playing at about 10:20 a.m., so if you're interested in hearing our wonderful Hutchings organ before the service starts, you'll want to be in the sanctuary by then. You're welcome to walk in any time prior to 10:30. If you're arriving later than 10:30, a greeter might ask you to wait to enter the sanctuary until an opportune moment in the service. It shouldn't be more than a minute or two.
Our parking lot is behind the church. To access it, follow the driveway just to the left of the church building. If you find that our lot is full, you can usually find parking along Massachusetts Avenue or one of its side streets. If even those are full, there are municipal lots in the town center.
If you park behind the church, you'll be coming in through the back door. Proceed up the stairs, where you'll find a Greeter who will give you an order of service and answer any questions you might have. If you want an escort to a seat or to nursery care, they'll help with that, too. Make sure you make yourself a name tag and then walk straight through Parish Hall (the large room just ahead of you) and then through either door at the far end. Both lead to the sanctuary.
Alternatively, if you enter through the front door of the church, you'll be in a foyer that leads straight into the sanctuary.
Our clergy tend to dress up a bit, but in the pews you'll see people wearing a range of styles, from jeans and sneakers to skirts and business suits.
Our Sunday services begin at 10:30 a.m. and run slightly over one hour. Unless an area is roped off for a special occasion, feel free to sit in any pew. We don't have assigned seats and we are a friendly group.
Check out this template of our order of service to get an idea of what to expect. If you're visiting us for the first time, you might not be familiar with some aspects of our service. "Candles of Joy and Concern" are candles lit by individuals to recognize the important things in their lives. Anyone can light a candle, but no one has to. Also, please let the offering basket pass you by when you first visit...you're our guest. After the service, feel free to stop by and greet the minister or service leader on your way to Social Hour. We love talking with newcomers!
Immediately following the service, we gather in Parish Hall for coffee, tea and snacks. If you have children in our religious education program, they'll be involved through the beginning of social hour - you can pick them up and enjoy some juice and made-for-kids refreshments. You might want to make a stop at our Welcome Booth to pick up some information, ask for a more permanent name tag, and ask any questions you might have about the service. Most people should be wearing name tags, so you won't stand out if you have one.
We often have Newcomer Drop In circles during Social Hour in the Parlor, the pink room through the left door out of the sanctuary. These discussions are generally led by our minister specifically to welcome newcomers and answer any questions they might have.
Social Hour might feel a little intimidating if you don't know anyone in the room. Please know that we're delighted to have you with us, and we'd love to chat with you. We're generally a pretty friendly bunch, so introduce yourself!
Infants and toddlers are welcome in the nursery (see below), or they can stay with their parents throughout the service. Older children and youth begin in the sanctuary at 10:30 am. After about 15 minutes, they gather at the front of the room with our minister for a "Moment for All Ages," and then proceed to Sunday School classes or activities, led by our Director of Religious Education Lynne Weygint, our paid professional teachers, and adult volunteers. The congregation sings the children on their way ("Go Now in Peace.") Visiting children are invited to participate in all of our Sunday morning children's activities, but are also welcome to stay with their families in the pews for the duration of the service.
Children in the Nursery through the 4th grade, and the 7th and 8th graders, all meet in the classrooms of the church located on our lower level. 5th and 6th Graders meet in the Common Room, which is on the same level as the sanctuary, adjacent to Parish Hall. First time visitors should plan to accompany their children to classes, as the labyrinthine lower level can be confusing at first!
Parents are welcome to stay in class with a child until he/she feels comfortable with the setting. Classroom teachers and our Director of Religious Education are accustomed to welcoming new children, and will help to ensure a smooth transition.
Classes end promptly at noon, and children in the Nursery (infants and toddlers), preschool, kindergarten, and first grade must be picked up from class at that time by the same caregiver who dropped them off. Older children and youth (2nd-8th graders) are allowed to leave their classes on their own, and most head upstairs to Parish Hall for a snack. If visiting for the first time, you may want to arrange with your child and his/her teacher to pick him/her up at noon, as Parish Hall is a lively place, and it may be hard to find each other there.
Nursery care for infants and toddlers (newborn - age 2) is available each week in the Nursery (under the sanctuary) with a professional caregiver and former nanny. Parents of infants and toddlers will need to complete a brief questionnaire about their child that includes a parent's cell phone number. Parents of infants and toddlers will be asked to sit toward the rear of the sanctuary, and to leave their cell phone on vibrate so that the Nursery caregiver can find or make contact with you easily if your child needs you. A diaper bag that includes a change of clothes, diapers, a bottle, a warm sweater, and comfort toys should be left in the Nursery with your child. Nursery drop-off begins at 9:00 am for any parents who would like to sing in the choir or attend a before-church meeting. Nursery pick-up is at noon.
Junior and Senior High Youth Groups meet in the church from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday nights. There is no specific Sunday morning programming for Senior High youth. They're welcome to attend the adult service.
Some things you don't need to worry about:
We hope you'll come visit. If you'd like to get to know First Parish better, sign one of our guest books by either entrance, or fill out a pew card.
We hope we've demystified First Parish a bit, but if you still have questions, don't hesitate to drop us a line.