The First Parish in Bedford is a community of individuals and families, adults and children, committed to independent spiritual paths and a shared religious journey. We recognize that growth occurs by listening and quiet reflection, through dialogue and action. Among our values are love, honesty, humility, individual responsibility, and respect for mystery.
These values are essential to our understanding, appreciating, and changing our lives. We want every aspect of congregational life to express our values. Therefore we seek to harmonize our practices with our values in the conduct of worship, in religious education, in meetings and socializing, and in our corporate life. We encourage democratic participation in all aspects of parish life, and we seek a diversity of ages, abilities and energies. We regard both work and play as ways to foster mutuality, acceptance, and companionship. Together we face the challenges of existence within a context of belonging. Three practices help us to live our values:
- personal inquiry
- common worship
- public responsibility
The practice of Personal Inquiry
Whatever the form of one’s personal spiritual practice – be it meditation, prayer, rigorous thinking, mystical communion, or some other – for encourage one another to attend to those practical efforts that sustain meaning in our private lives. We provide opportunities for learning and deepening these practices.
The practice of Common Worship
Worship, meaning literally “to shape that which is of worth,” is the center of our congregational life. We gather together to shape meaning, to know reality, and to nourish hope. In Sunday services and rites of passage, we acknowledge, honor, and explore the common experiences of our living. We recognize our connectedness to one another and to life. Believing worship to be the shared responsibility of all members, we affirm the leadership of both laity and the called ministry. All can teach and all can learn. We seek creative worship that appeals to our minds, hearts, and senses. Respectful of tradition and desirous of innovation, we support a liturgy that is rich in music, art, drama, silence, and the spoken word.
The practice of Public Responsibility
Our neighbor is our self, and we accept our responsibility to one another and to our larger community. We affirm an active spirituality that does not withdraw us from the world but engages us more fully. Proud of our historic location on the Bedford Town Common, we pledge to be a good neighbor and an active participant in public life within and beyond Bedford. Due to opportunities of our comparative privilege and homogeneity, we seek to learn from others in face-to-face encounter. We create opportunities for service, we initiate compassionate actions for social justice, and we join with others who are already engaged. Inspired by our vision of community, local and global, we aspire to shape our culture and enlarge common ground.