Wednesday in Boston

Wednesday in Boston

Wednesday in Boston

 The sun rises earlier in the East – too early!   Especially after a late night.   Regardless, every member of the group was at breakfast at 7:30 a.m.    They may not have been real chatty, but they were there.

A frustrating hotel computer – way outdated – slowed our morning, but we were out the day walking to the subway and caught a train around 9:20.   Which meant we arrived promptly at 10 a.m. at the Pledge of Allegiance Building on Berkley in Boston.    This is where, Room to Grow is housed – on the third floor of a very old, but nicely refurbished, office building.

Room to Grow works with parents of newborns.   Their goal is to build a strong foundation for babies born into poverty.   They typically work with pregnant moms from their third trimester till the child turns three.    Families are referred through various agencies; this is not a walk in center.

A family comes in every three months for a two hour visit.   The first hour they meet one on one with a social worker (Room to Grow has two full time social workers).   Here they can ask any questions they have and discuss any issues they want.    The second hour the family gets to shop.  

Room to Grow has at least three rooms devoted to shopping – and it looks like a real store.   Check out the South Haven First Cong. Church Youth Group page for photos.  Each family, at each visit, is able to choose 10 books, five toys, clothes, and many other items like strollers, high chairs, bottles, blankets, etc…    That means a total of 130 books and 65 toys during the three years.   Amazing.

We met with Jen, the Volunteer Coordinator and Jen, the Amazing Intern.   They shared the story of the program and  gave us the tour.   They serve on an average 400 babies each year in Boston.  They gave out 1,700 pieces of clothing in May.   Room to Grow tries to meet the emotional and physical needs of the families involved.

Jen and Jen then brought us to the work room.  Here we were sorting donated clothing.   Room to Grow is fussy and particular.   They want families to receive nice clothing, clean and in good condition.   As our group was sorting, we were informed to watch for items needing repair, items with stains, etc..    We also were to pull any items with wording that was not from a New England state and especially for items featuring sports teams not from Boston.    Thus, no Red Wing or Tiger stuff.

While Bostonian’s are sports crazy, the practical reason is that parents won’t be asked questions like, “Oh, when did you go to Niagara Falls?”   or “Why are cheering for the Yankees?”   Questions that could lead to people knowing the clothes were donated.   Room to Grow doesn’t want to put parents  put in an uncomfortable place.

We sorted clothing for one and a half hours.   Wonderful  to see the quantity and quality of the donated items.    This is a well-run program and truly helps to lift families up. 

Boston Marathon Site

Our walk from Room to Grow took to Old South Church, meant we would walk right past the Boston Marathon Starting line.   We stopped to pause and view the large memorial set up to the victims of the bombing this past spring.   Very powerful to see all the running shoes that people wore that were left with messages to the families.   Runner’s numbers, shirts, hates, etc.   Posters to sign and more.   The bombing took place right by the Old South Church and we were reminded of this at our visit.   To see the wide open space, the hustle and bustle all around.   The beautiful Boston Library and Old South Church and to realize the trauma of that moment, hard to comprehend.   This was truly a moment for prayer and reflection.



Lunch was a bit more subdue as we ate at another food court – which gave great selection to the group.    Many ate Cheese Box (specialty grilled cheese sandwiches) or ate Chinese.   I ate at Boston Chowda and had Clam Chowda again.   Very good.

Old South Church

We then visited Old South Church and received a tour.   We met in a lovely chapel that is almost as large as our sanctuary.   They hold 3 worship services a week in the chapel, a Jazz Service on Thursday evenings, a 9 a.m. service on Sundays and a Sunday evening service that is more quiet and reflective.   The 11 a.m. service is held in the huge sanctuary.   It is beautiful, lots of wood and stained glass windows.    It is an excellent example of Northern Italian Gothic architecture and was built in 1875.   You can check out their website for more info.

Old South was the third Congregational Church in Boston.  Organized in 1669 it is now 344 years old!    It broke off from First Church over baptism of is a brief excerpt from their website:

Both the First and the Second Church in Boston were headed by ministers who opposed the “Halfway Covenant” of 1662. These ministers required that baptized adults have a regeneration experience of God (a born again experience) before they could have their own children baptized.

Twenty-eight lay members of the First Church seceded and founded this congregation in the belief, consistent with the Halfway Covenant, that childhood baptism should assure young adults that they would be full members and could baptize their children, who in turn should automatically be members as adults.

The founders of Old South understood themselves to be a priesthood of all believers, related to God solely through Christ and justified by grace through faith.

There histoy is one of including all people wherever they are on their journey in faith.   Old South is a member of the UCC and one of the early Open and Affirming Churches in our denomination.

Samuel Adams was a member of Old South Church and Benjamin Franklin was baptized here.  

 The church’s most recent controversy revolves around one of two copies of a very old book (I believe it is the Bay Psalm Book).  This was the first book published in the US.  The church has agreed to sell one copy and that auction will take place this fall.

Today they are open seven days a week and are used by many groups and individuals.  Many stop in to sit and pray, take naps or whatever.   The church doors are open in the city to all.   They have an urban garden that serves a women’s lunch program and are very active.    The recent bombing meant the church was closed for two weeks.     A beautiful church with a beautiful mission.


And then 

Our afternoon included a scavenger hunt around Boston.  We broke into three teams and traveled all around, ending up at the Frog Pond and Tadpole Playground in the Boston Common, where it is still lawful to graze your cow, if the cow lives in the city.     

The youth wanted to do some shopping for souvenirs and we then ended up at Cheers at Quincy Market for supper.   While waiting for our meal, two card games broke out (these kids come prepared).    Thomas won an award for finishing the Norm Burger, and everyone had a good meal.

Back at the hotel, card games, laundry and watching a hockey game, made for a relazing evening.