Hello. My name is Nacia Miller and I’ve been a member of First since 2017. I’m currently a member of the Board of Trustees and am on the Capital Campaign team.
My connection to Unitarians actually dates back more than 50 years ago, when my husband and I got married at a Unitarian church in New York City. Neither of us was a Unitarian – I an ex-Roman Catholic, he a secular Jew – but we were told they’re marry us anyway. They weren’t even put off by two hippie kids barely out of their teens thinking they could make such a life-changing decision. They were cool with it! The minister even joined the rest of our guests in wearing the love beads we’d strung by hand. Sorry if you are not old enough to remember such heady times!
Anyway, fast-forward about 45 years, now we’re living in Toronto. I was looking to join a small, well-directed choir when a friend suggested the one at First, led by Dallas. Oh, I said, so then I’d have to attend Sunday services??? The ex-Roman Catholic in me was really not excited by this.
Nevertheless, I did join the choir and prepared myself for what I thought would be the ordeal of sitting through a service every week. BIG surprize. From day one I was hooked and amazed. Week after week Shawn’s sermons were moving, funny, literate, and thought-provoking. The people I met were welcoming, smart, interesting to talk to. The things spoken about from the pulpit and in general at First, were matters I found profoundly meaningful in my life. As the weeks and months went by, I’d find myself looking out at the congregation and wondering, could these be my people?
It took me a while to answer that question in the affirmative. I had to get passed the barriers put up by my strong aversion to organized religion. I had to get passed the gut reaction I had to communal recitation – now speaking the words of our covenant together is not at all like the droning of communal prayers in a Catholic mass, and yet …. It’s still one of my triggers. I’m working on it!
Mostly I had to get passed questions like what am I doing here? Is this something I need in my life? is it something that’s been missing?
After a while, after I found myself getting more deeply involved in the life of the congregation, I just had to decide to get over myself. You belong here because you are here.
And here I am. Now I can no longer imagine my life without all of you in it. I can’t imagine not listening to Shawn’s sermons every week … words that always, always give me something to take away, something to think about. Words that often hit me here, like a shot to the heart.
Being part of First feels like I’m involved with something much bigger than myself, and that’s never been more true than it is now, as we are making such momentous moves. I’m so honoured to travel the bold and daring (and yes, terrifying, uncertain) path we’re all now on. Building a new communal home, becoming part of a new and vibrant community in our wonderful city, figuring out how can we do this? What do we need to make it work? It’s a gift to be able to puzzle all this out with you.
I hope the story of how I got here will inspire you to reflect on how you have arrived here and about what First means to you. And as we watch our plans for our new home at 473 Oakwood take shape, I hope you’ll be moved to become part of it by donating to our Capital Campaign. You knew I was going to get to that, right?
Imagine for a moment how amazing it would be if at the end of this campaign, at the moment we open the doors at 473 and welcome our neighbours and begin to enjoy the fruits of our hard work over these many, many years, how amazing it would be if we could say to the wider world that every one of our members not only gave their time and talent so we could get here, but every one of us also stretched financially so that we could make our home everything we want it to be. Whether it was a cheque for $5 or one for $5 thousand. Every single one of us. How exceptional to be able to say to the wider world, that’s just how awesome First is.
Thank you, my friends.
Oh and after service today I’ll be at the campaign table in the lobby – stop by, make a pledge, and – this is a special one-time-only offer – if you are among the first eight pledgers, you’ll get to sample a world-renowned biscotti, made by that guy I married 52 years ago.
See you there!