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‘Let your work be manifest to your people’

Following is the invocation that was given by Rev. Arthur Lavoie at the steeple-raising at First Parish Church on Meetinghouse Hill on Aug. 6:

“One hundred sixteen years ago, on May 6 1897, this building was dedicated. One of the readings used for that dedication was excerpts from Psalm 90. We begin this morning with part of that excerpt:

O God, you have been our dwelling place
in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.
Let your work be manifest to your people,
and your glorious power to their children.
Let the beauty and favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and may you establish the work of our hands.
Yea, the work of our hands, establish it upon the earth.

Spirit of Life, God of Love, O Holy One of Many Names, we gather this morning to raise the steeple of First Parish Dorchester. We raise this steeple to its perch at the top of our meetinghouse so that it may once again be a beacon of hope and welcoming for the people of Dorchester and all who see it.

You have blessed us with many hands to accomplish this great task and we are grateful to you and to all who have helped and supported us to reach this day. We are grateful to our forebears whose generous gifts of silver have made this possible. We are grateful to church members and all who have given of their time and resources over the last several years, all who have worked tirelessly to save this building and make this a viable and healthy religious home, especially Michael Pratt and Michael Baldwin who have led the restoration efforts here.

We are grateful for our contractors and crew, for Murphy Specialties who were here when the steeple came down and are here with us for its raising; Jillian Adams, of Building Legacy, who helped us create the vision and capacity to accomplish this great work; our wonderful architects at McGinley Kalsow and Associates; the students and staff from the North Bennet Street School for their amazing work and dedication restoring the steeple and windows without which today would not be possible; the donation of the crane from Marr Crane and Rigging, the subcontractors who have worked with us over the years, and the political leaders who have supported us. Thank you for bringing all of them into our lives.

Help us to remember that the work of our hands is not yet done. The raising of the steeple does not complete this restoration and there are many hands and much money needed to finish our task. Help us also to remember that the restoration of this building is not the only ministry that you call us to accomplish. May we always know that this building is only a tool to carry forward the mission and ministry of this congregation. Since 1630 we have been called to serve the people of Dorchester, the community that this congregation founded. Give us the grace and the strength to carry forward this mission and ministry well into the future.

O Holy One, O Spirit of Life, you are our dwelling place. May we always look to your presence and your grace to guide and support us. May we be instruments of your love so that others may also know the peace and comfort and challenge of dwelling in your presence, of living in the heart of God. Amen.”