, Newburyport, MA

February 4, 2013

First Parish will miss Rev. Nancy

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

The First Parish Church of Newbury sadly regrets that the Rev. Nancy Haverington has ended her tenure as minister. For the past 12 years the congregation, as well as the entire community, has cherished and enjoyed her leadership. Her leaving has created a huge abyss in the church and town. Rev. Nancy was the spark of the church whose teaching, creativity, ingenuity, preaching, industriousness and ability to transcend traditional ways kept a small country church alive and active since her arrival in 2000.

Every Sunday her congregation has enjoyed Biblically-based services of worship that have been uniquely hers, written by her from invocation to benediction and laced with a powerful undercurrent of spirituality and faith. As the masterful teacher and leader, her sermons were always thought-provoking and intellectually challenging.

When the church finances ran low, she had the foresight to suggest the building of a preschool, using it as one of the roots to self-sustainability. Working day and night with her son Jude, they together sawed, hammered and physically built Our Secret Garden, an indoor and outdoor unique environmental learning space for children that continues still as a financial root for the church.

In working toward a turn-around process, Rev. Nancy led repeated congregational prayers and discussions in search of the vision of the church. The result was the prayer-led vision as “Stewards of Earth and Spirit.” She has supported this mission in all of its aspects from outdoor worship services in the summer to the 41 community gardens and the building of the outdoor children’s gardens for the school.

With the appreciations of differing abilities among children and young adults and her desire to increase inclusiveness, she compiled a curriculum for special needs students and taught a Sunday School class for them herself before leading the worship service.

As a lover of music, she encouraged a revered group of a cappella singers knows as Sacred Harp to come to First Parish every month for the enjoyment of all. She also organized a complete music series to which the community was invited.

At the time of the 375th birthday of the town and the church, she organized and led a three-day celebration in the cemetery, the Upper Green and the church, keeping each day unique to the era and wars of the era.

Rev. Nancy conducted annual services on Firemen’s Sunday, marching from the fire station to the cemetery where current firefighters as well as those gone on or before were honored in music and worship.

Rev. Nancy’s multiple talents cannot be adequately enumerated. Her visionary leadership and the sharing of her gifts are as unique as her compassionate self. We look forward to her next creative venture as she continues to make a positive impact in the community.

Jean Garnett