Photograph of Charlyn Bethell and Guy UrbanHappy fall and welcome back to First Parish!  I am looking forward to seeing you at our church in the coming month!  In anticipation of the church year, I have a few questions and few answers to share. A foundation to my questions fall into the ideas of themes for the year.  The concept of “themes” is still relatively new to me.  1) Rev. Sophia’s overall plan for the year is:  Sowing the Seeds. 2)  The theme for the month from Soul Matters is:  Belonging.  3)  If I have a theme for music at First Parish, it would be:  Transformation.  How do we bring these all together? 

Before we can be transformed, we need to feel safe.  We need to know that we belong, with trust for those with us and trust in ourselves.  How can sow seeds together?  How do we share our ministries?  Do we notice personal transformation before we sow our seeds together or are we sowing the seeds together and thus being transformed?

Meeting with other UU music directors in the area, I hear that they are all struggling with the idea of, “what is Normal”?  If “Normal” is what we left in March 2020, then we are creating a new “Normal”.  This is energizing to some but it leaves others with grieving the loss of the pre-pandemic church.  Each of us does this differently. 

I would like to bring all these questions together into the idea that the “new Normal” is taking what we loved from pre-pandemic days, using our shared ministries to widen our paths to include each other, as we expand our horizons to sow our seeds.  For me, transformation is looking around and including others with myself.  Transformation is a moment-to-moment experience that deepens who I am but can surprise me when I notice that I have been changed for the better.

How do I and we do this?  Together, belonging.  By staying open.  By taking time to reflect.  For me:  sharing music with all of you because you transform me.  Let’s raise each other up!

So grateful to here!

Music for September at First Parish:

Music for Installation Sunday, September 25th:
First Parish choir, band members and special members will be playing/singing:
A Classical piece by the composer, Jacques Ibert, one of his Two Interludes for Flute, Violin, and Piano, Home by Phillip Phillips, We Rise by Batya Levine, Attics of My Life by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter, Light of the World from the musical, Godspell.


Charlyn Bethell
Music Director | + posts

Charlyn’s professional training has followed two paths: as a professional oboist and as a music teacher and conductor. As Music Director at First Parish, she joins these two paths of her musical life, conducting the choir, coordinating guest musicians, and performing on oboe.