WellesleyWeston Magazine


Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

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Page 87 of 211

teacher and coach in various independent schools. She taught in places as distant as Kodaikanal International School in Tamil Nadu, South India, and as close and familiar as Cushing Academy. "I finally heeded a call to ministry later in life," Durkee said of her decision to attend Andover Newton Theological Seminary in her late thirties. "Allowing for some life experience and greater maturity made the seminary experience that much more valuable," Durkee said. She earned her Master of Divinity and was ordained in the United Church of Christ (UCC) in 2007. For the previous nine years, she was pastor of the First Congregational Church in West Brookfield, a position she loved and had not been actively looking to leave. But when the Rev. Dr. Philip Joseph Mayher announced his retirement after 20 years leading Weston's UCC, she decided to apply. "He has planted all the right seeds," Durkee said, for a vibrant, engaged congregation. Under Mayher's leadership, the congregation voted unanimously to become Open and Affirming. This is an official designation for bodies within the United Church of Christ that make a public covenant of welcome to persons of all sexual orientation, gender identities, and gender expressions. The Rev. Laura Biddle served as interim minister as more than 150 applications were reviewed and close to 80 candidates were interviewed. The church's website described Durkee's sermon last October as "energetic and inspiring. We had a big turnout and, when the service was over, the congregation unanimously approved calling Lisa to be our next pastor! A big celebration with lots of hugs and clapping ensued!" Durkee said she wants to build on what the congregation is already doing so well – envisioning, and embodying, what it means to be a "community ministry" in the 21st cen- tury. She acknowledges that people have very busy lives and that Sunday mornings are not always set aside for worship. New connec- tions and forms of outreach are needed. Teenagers, in particular, may need their own sacred time and space in which to come together, perhaps through music. Music has always been one of Durkee's passions. She plays piano and guitar and has performed in rock and blues bands as well as solo gigs with just her guitar. She said the UCC's choir is wonderful, and the music ministry is a rich source of vibrancy in the church. She hopes to build on the success her West Brookfield congregation enjoyed host- ing benefit concerts to raise money for differ- ent causes, but that she'll be mindful to not try to do too much, too soon. "This is a very healthy congregation. I will spend time listening and learning," Durkee Our Religous Leaders 86 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | s p r i n g 2 0 1 6

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