A community to fill the “holes”

Hello  I am Joanie Pratt, and I have been a member of FUUSE for 10 years now.  I grew up with a positive experience in another kind of church, including one in Exeter when I moved here in 1966 with my husband, Charlie, and our two then very small children. Then in the 1980s our family moved four short miles west to an apple orchard in Brentwood, still known as Apple Annie. Our two kids were now in college and this (we later realized ) was to be our “empty nest” move.
At that point, Church, as in being attached to one church, kind of disappeared for me.  Somehow the gently sloping hillside, the twisted old apple trees in their neat parallel rows, the wide open garden spaces, the quiet country road and birdsong everywhere brought me into the world of nature and consumed my thoughts and energies, although I was still teaching part time at UNH.
Growing  food for ourselves and apples and apple products for the community provided new challenges of all kinds,  but mostly those relating to the changing climate that we were experiencing in agriculture ourselves as farmers even back in the 1980’s and 90’s, and, of course, ever since.
This is the background for my joining FUUSE. After 27 years of farming, in 2011 we sold the orchard to Wayne and Laurie Loosigian, good friends in Exeter and Unitarians as well. As we were working through a 5-year transition to new ownership we probed them about the Unitarian faith and the Exeter church.  We were also aware that we already knew a number of members of the church, even Kendra and John, and concluded on our own that something must be working well there!
Charlie had never been a church goer, but we agreed that in our retirement we would “ try this out”. Unfortunately cancer suddenly intervened and he never got to join me here, but after his death I joined this church  and have never looked back.
At  FUUSE I found a new community to fill the “holes” I would experience both as a widow and in retirement. (Sure, my family, now grown kids, their spouses and five grandkids all now in their 20’s do fill the family void, but they are all busy with their lives and are all over the place). The FUUSE community has amply filled my volunteer time and provided so many new relationships….I mean the Caring Committee, Outreach, doing meals for Seacoast Family Promise, Social Justice Committee, which brings together Social Justice, Racial Justice, and Climate Justice all with a goal of focusing on certain issues that affect us all and being impactful with respect to them. I am looking forward to our new settled minister and trust that the selection committee will represent us well in making their choice. I personally found Kendra’s ways of exploring spirituality in nature and community inspiring and have widened my own practices of yoga and meditation thanks to the workshops provided by Joanna Macy and her friend Colleen several years ago.
I  see how important it is to revive our wonderful music program and also The RE program….Music and children enrich every service and will both attract new members, as will the whole renovated church as we get to spend more time in it. I hope more groups will take advantage of the Ingeborg Locke grant which can make  money available for speakers or workshops on issues important to our living though these difficult years together. I personally have felt this year, as we emerge from COVID, albeit tentatively, that I will search deep, DEEP in my pockets to support this church that I feel so grateful to have become a member of and that has supported me so completely over the last ten years.