Rev. Dr. Anita Farber-Robertson
First Parish Church Unitarian Universalist of Northborough MA
40 Church Street
Northborough, Ma 01532
May 9th, 2016
Re: Professional Reference for Rev. Anita Farber-Robertson
To whom it may concern:
I am Richard Rehberg and I served as president on the governing board (formerly known as the Standing Committee) of First Parish UU of Northborough for the 2015-2016 church year. During this period Rev. Anita Farber-Robertson was our Interim Minister. I recommend her to you if you are seeking an Interim Minister. Rev. Anita has many skills and qualifications to bring to Interim Ministry!
One of her great strengths was the ability to develop very good services and consistently strong sermons. I am quite impressed at her creativity in both the writing and the delivering of sermons. Rev. Anita often worked into the sermons a very personal connection with her life and at the same time seamlessly wove in significant UU principles and events! She selected readings that were both interesting in themselves and also supported the sermon’s messages. She read poetry very well as part of the service! Frequently she would tie in important things going on in our church life. It is clear she put a lot of thought, hard work and care into the sermons!
During this period Rev. Anita participated in the meetings of the governing board and provided insights into the topics based on her direct experience with other congregations. Rev. Anita listened carefully to the discussion and provided comments regarding her experience without trying to guide the discussion to a specific decision rather she took the lead from the congregation’s representatives and provided very valuable information regarding their decision and the decision process being used! It was very good to have her presence for the meetings.
Rev. Anita has been an active participant on many of our church’s committees. Her work on pastoral care has been very good. Here are a couple of examples: We had a member who was dying of cancer and Rev. Anita met with her and her husband many times. She also met several times with other family members, the result of which was that they requested she perform the funeral ceremony. She did a really good job bringing a spiritual feeling to the ceremony and she really connected with the family members and their expectations! I admire how she was able to do this. Another example is: We have a young adult member who is challenged in both intellectual and social interactions. Rev. Anita has interacted extremely well with her and as a result she feels both supported and connected to and by the church!
“Our mission as First Parish is to be a welcoming and beloved community that inspires spiritual growth and social action.” Rev. Anita has considerable UU leadership experience in working on several Social Justice projects and she is currently active in this arena. Her activism and understanding has encouraged and supported our own Social Justice committee. She is a great asset in this area!
Rick Rehberg, President
First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church—Bridgewater, MA
April 22, 2013
RE: Reference for Rev. Anita Farber-Robertson
I am writing to recommend Rev Anita enthusiastically to any congregation that is seeking advice about the development and direction of its church—and that is open to new ideas. My term as Parish Committee President began in July last year with the search for an interim minister. The search committee’s first meeting with Rev. Anita ran late into the evening with what for me, I confess, was a spellbinding recounting of experiences, good and bad, with various settled and interim ministry assignments over the years. It was apparent to each of the members of our search committee that Anita would bring valuable insight to an interim ministry—and that from all indications she would enjoy doing it.
Ministers have the daunting task of being educators, spiritual leaders, managers, consolers, critics, diplomats, cheerleaders, and change agents. I would give Rev. Anita high marks in each of these categories. Granted her interim ministry with First Parish Bridgewater is part-time and is only in its 10th month. However, a remarkable amount has been accomplished in that time. For example she has:
· Developed an excellent working relationship with church staff, which is also asked to do a lot on a part-time basis.
· Worked closely with the Parish Committee to identify challenges and celebrate successes.
· Run interesting New U classes, which drew prospective and existing members (six new members joined this spring.
· Provided encouragement to a reconstituted Stewardship Committee, which is embarking on expanded fund raising for operations and additional space (possibly a modular unit).
· Promoted a “culture of giving” through the sharing of the weekly plate collection with a designated charity.
· Nurtured a long delayed plan for creating a temporary stage in the front of the sanctuary, which was used for the Christmas pageant.
· Guided an interim ministry transition team through the process of organizing and conducting church wide “house meetings” to identify common hopes, fears, and aspirations for the church.
Needless to say, we recently voted to renew Anita’s agreement for an additional year of interim ministry, although, regretfully, on a half-time basis. We are looking forward to what that second year of working with Anita Farber-Robertson will produce.
Bob Messing, Parish Committee President
From Joe Schmidl, Parish committee chair of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Franklin, NH
March 4th, 2014
To whom it may concern; I am writing to attest to the abilities and performance of Rev. Anita Farber-Robertson. She served our church, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Franklin, New Hampshire from September 2012 through June 2013 as a quarter-time minister. During that same period, I served as Parish Committee Chairperson. Anita managed her limited time with us wisely, and maximized her time and effectiveness with our parish community. All were satisfied that she provided more than adequate time to us, despite her simultaneous service to another church in Massachusetts. She juggled these paired responsibilities professionally and effectively. Anita served our small church wonderfully. She is wise and experienced, and helped us deal with at least one difficult situation professionally and effectively. Her simple approach to resolving the matter had eluded all of us, and she pointed us right to it. Her experience working with churches in transition was invaluable to our small church, as she helped us find our strengths and work around our shortcomings. She helped us plan a path forward to growth in our church, which we continue along. We have experienced continued growth since her departure. The thing that I most appreciated in working with Anita was that she always managed to show us the silver lining that we were unable to see for ourselves. Any time she worked with the Parish Committee, she was always able to find something to praise us for. As a small church with a fairly long history together, her fresh perspective and appreciation of what each of us was contributing really helped build us up, both personally and as a group. Her knowledge and connections with the Unitarian Universalist Association also provided us valuable resources that helped our church. I highly recommend Rev. Anita Farber-Robertson as a transitional minister, or in any other capacity.
Sincerely, Joseph Schmidl --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
April 24, 2013
To Whom It May Concern:
The Reverend Anita Farber-Robertson has asked me to write a letter of reference for her and I am pleased to do so. I met Rev. Anita about a year ago when she interviewed for the interim minister position at First Parish Church in Bridgewater, MA. She was my clear favorite among the candidates, primarily because of her extensive experience as an interim minister.
My first opportunity to work closely with Rev. Anita was on the construction of a stage in the sanctuary, to be used for the RE Christmas pageant, and for the weekly “Children’s Time”. Her suggestion to build the stage on top of the pews to the side of the pulpit struck me as un-workable, and besides, we had no money to do this. She convinced me (and the other members of the Facilities Committee, and the Parish Committee) that it was, in fact, doable, and for much less money than I had imagined. The stage was built on a Saturday, and was in service the next day. Building this stage served as an example of what we could do if we gave up the mentality of “oh, we can’t afford that” and adopted more of an “abundance” view of our congregation. The project brought together a large number of people who accomplished the task, provided the congregation with a valuable resource, and taught us how we might think differently about ourselves. I credit Rev. Anita with the leadership that made this possible.
Rev. Anita organized a series of House Meetings, allowing members of the congregation (and “friends” of the church) to speak about what they like about First Parish, and what areas we need to work on. The results from these House Meetings have been invaluable in helping the congregation understand itself, and to set a course for knowing what qualities we will look for when we begin our search for a settled minister.
My second opportunity to work directly with Rev. Anita was as Chair of the Stewardship Team, responsible for the Annual Budget Drive for next year. She met regularly with the Team, offering useful advice and encouragement. We have set a very ambitious goal for the Drive, and are well within range of completing it successfully. Rev. Anita’s work here at First Parish has provided members of the congregation with the confidence necessary to significantly increase their level of giving over previous years.
Based on my experience with Rev. Anita, any congregation would find her a valuable interim minister and an effective leader. I recommend her without reservation.
316 South Street
Bridgewater, MA 02324
May 23, 2012
To whom it may concern;
Rev. Anita Farber-Robertson has served First Parish in Cohasset as its Interim Parish Minister for the last 2 years. During the first of those years, I served as chair of our parish committee, the governing body of our church. I worked very closely with Rev. Anita, and have continued to work with her during her second year in several capacities As a member of our church choir, I regularly attend Sunday services conducted by Rev. Anita. Based on my experience, I recommend Rev. Anita as an interim minister or as a settled minister, without reservation.
Rev. Anita is an experienced and accomplished interim minister, a role which she relishes. The job encompasses all the work of a settled minister as well as the work of transition. Rev. Anita does both jobs extremely well.
She came to our congregation during a difficult time of transitions and quickly acknowledged the pain that numerous ministerial changes had caused. Recognizing the need for reflection and healing, she worked with the leadership and the congregation as a whole to come to terms with the past and begin to prepare for a future. She also made it very clear from day one, to the entire congregation, and very thoughtfully to the children, as well, that she would only be staying until we called a new settled minister. The congregation quickly grew to love her, and without that firm caution at the start, many would have begun to pin hopes on her, rather than begin the process of finding a new minister. Rev. Anita helped form and then worked closely with our transition team in guiding the congregation through a series of house meetings to come to a closer understanding of our past and a clear consensus of our hopes and expectations for our future and a new minister. She also helped with a process to form a ministerial search committee which encouraged everyone to serve while assuring that the diversity of the congregation would be well represented. She also provided invaluable assistance to the search committee in helping them with the ministerial record and practice interviews, not to mention support and encouragement.
As our minister, Rev. Anita has done it all with grace, good humor, compassion, and sensitivity. She has worked closely with our parish administrator to oversee the day-to-day operation of the church. She has provided thoughtful and caring pastoral service to many of our parishioners going through difficult times. She works very closely with our director of religious education to provide contiguity between what happens for the adults during Sunday service, and what the children are learning across the street. She began a program though which both children and adults explored the same subject for 6 weeks during the winter months. She also began what we all hope will be a new tradition at First Parish -- the “No Rehearsal Christmas Pageant,” with participation for all and a deeper appreciation of the meaning of the nativity. Recognizing the fundamental importance of music to our congregation, Rev. Anita works closely with our music director and music and worship committee to integrate music fully into the worship service.
Attendance is up significantly on Sunday mornings, both in the meeting house for worship and across the street for Sunday School. This is a testament to Rev. Anita, who has made the services spiritual, moving, thoughtful, and joyful, Sermons are approachable, thought provoking, occasionally controversial, sometimes amusing, generally very personal. They begin a conversation that often continues at coffee hour and during the week. Being a Unitarian Universalist minister requires a tremendous sensitivity and diplomacy to navigate the absolute certainty of wildly varying beliefs; Rev. Anita does it masterfully, while standing firmly to her own set of beliefs.
Rev. Anita believes that committee work should be fun, and I can attest that our Parish Committee meetings were indeed fun; hard work, yes, but always fun. She attended meetings regularly, always came prepared, listened respectfully, and provided wise counsel. She sent out a written minister’s report in advance of each meeting in a very positive format which first recognized the positive happenings in the prior month, as well as the challenges to be faced. Rev. Anita also helped us successfully reinstitute the all church council, which had become inactive.
Rev. Anita has led adult education classes, participated in fundraisers, worked with the stewardship committee, conducted new member orientations, participated in interfaith activities, and generally engaged in the entire life of our church. Her participation is always welcome and appreciated.
Above all, the two years that Rev. Anita has been with us have changed the congregation from one of tension, sadness, and faint hope for the future, to one of enthusiasm, excitement, energy, and hopeful eagerness to welcome the new minister. All of this comes as the direct result of the positive attitude, leadership, and guidance that Rev. Anita has so willingly shared with us.
Dear Rev. Anita:
I know that it is early for either farewells or valedictories. But the announcement of candidating week today brings us closer to a time when the focus of our community will be on the new leader not the interim leader. You would be the first to note that this is as it should be, that life--like a river--takes its course.
I wanted to take a moment today to let you know how much your service to First Parish has meant to me and, I am sure, to the congregation. There will be plenty of time for thank yous and best wishes, but I thought you might appreciate a note now while your interim ministry is still bringing so much grace to the community and to individuals like myself. This is a response in the here and now of everyday life, not at the ceremonial end of a (brief) era.
To borrow your sermon analogy, you have brought us not just one letter of the alphabet but the gift of several letters--from the heart, mind and sensitive soul of hard working individual. Your efforts have led us to a place of greater meaning.
I can't pretend to know all the challenges that confront an interim minister. I am not close to the internal stresses or strains that might be part of this transitional period. What I do know is that your professional and personal qualities have made an indelible impression on me and others that I have met. A couple of weeks ago, Nancy Erdmann, another long time UU, and I were musing on the variety and quality of your sermons. We both have extensive experience listening to ministers! We appreciate your intellectual breadth, spiritual questing, ethical commitments, and personal reflections.
Nancy and I felt similarly that you tap personal experience in a way that is deep and vital rather than gratutious or ingratiating. And the places you have taken us! I recall fondly the spiritual journeys on Sundays from British abolition of the slave trade, to Darwinism, to the challenges of loss in "Afraid So" to the need for service and connection this morning. During your year and a half of ministry, I have been compelled to examine my life afresh, while also feeling exhilirated at the prospect of growing deeper as well as older. You have a way of speaking that is not "handed down" from the pulpit but rather "fanning out" as an embrace, reminding us that we each follow a path alone and, paradoxically, together. You have brought your full self to the ministry. We are fortunate to have had your example in front of us as we try to discern the future of the parish. Yours is a high standard, no less in terms of character than the ability to speak inspiringly on so many Sundays.
Sermons, committee work (I have enjoyed getting to know you in this setting), standing at the Peace Commission table for the parade, Membership Recognition, the opportunity to deliver opening words in the 19th century meeting house...and your whispered kind words as I returned to my seat. These are a few of my contributions to the collective memory book of the parish. I will write your name on a future "wall of history' when the next opportunity comes around! In the meantime, I am proud to know the minister who also happens to be the first woman senior minister stenciled on the list of historic succession for as long as the church building stands.
One last thought. I felt a bit sad this morning as Marcia Hams outlined the spring events leading to selection of a new senior minister. In my view,it would be nice to see you continue for years at First Parish! But then I quickly realized that you have tried very hard to illuminate two vital aspects of life: our journey as individuals and our journey as a community. The minister is not the indispensable guide and seer. The work of living spiritually and compassionately belongs to us all. No matter what I think of the new senior minister I will try to remember what Rev. Anita Farber-Robertson was all about: seeking the truth about the individual, the community, the world and the ties that bind us. I will apply myself to the life of the parish in this spirit.
There is no need to take the time to respond to this letter. Sometimes we defer saying something, with all good intentions of doing it later. I wanted to say it today so that you would know.
April 20, 2014
To Whom It May Concern:
This letter is offered as a strong endorsement and recommendation of Reverend Anita Farber-Robertson. I’ve known Anita since September 2012, when my family (wife, son and myself) moved to Bridgewater and started attending the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church of Bridgewater (FPUU). As a lifelong UU, born into a multi-generational UU family, I looked forward to finding a dynamic UU community and did. This was, in large part, because the church was now in the hands of a caring, welcoming and very capable preacher and facilitator.
The dynamic aspects of FPUU are multi-dimensional. Reverend Farber-Robertson also started September 2012 as interim minister, coming into a church that has experienced a decade or more of rapid turn-around of ministers, some significant division and a congregation in need of recovering its sense of community. I learned a great deal about First Parish’s long and near term history as a member of the Ministerial Search Committee active in 2013 and 2014.
Anita was able to navigate all of the challenges deftly, building a new sense of commitment and cohesiveness by example and tactful nudge. Finding those in the congregation ready to move forward positively, she coalesced our efforts with an infectious optimism and determination that spread throughout the congregation. While some still live in a difficult past, most members are now excited about the church’s future.
Aside from an appealing and heartfelt style in the pulpit, FPUU has been spoiled by the commitment and energy Anita has brought to the many demanding requirements of rebuilding. She has guided a congregation-wide reassessment of goals and priorities in a series of “House Meetings.” She has been a trusted advisor to all committees including the search committee and given clear focus and structure to our part-time staff.
The church needed and received a major dose of capable management and excellent communications at all levels, spiritually and organizationally. Yet, with all the tasks needed, Reverend Anita also maintained an amazing schedule of parish outreach to the sick, the grieving, those celebrating milestones and reaffirmation to those who do so much for the church. One on one, she is warm and engaging, which translates in the pulpit and the classroom. At times, when needed, Anita does not hesitate, with a balanced hand, to assert and clarify.
After two years of Reverend Anita’s experienced and skillful caring and guidance, First Parish is well on its way to healthy growth and community. Contributions have increased both years. She will be missed by all. There is much still to do and any new minister will have big shoes to fill, but the congregation is in a much stronger position to build on all the elements Reverend Anita has put into motion.
Thank You Reverend Anita Faber-Robertson.
With sincere regards,
David C. Wilson
46 Beebe Road
Bridgewater, MA 02324