A Note from Eliza
One of the things that I love about the United Church of Christ is the idea of the priesthood of all believers. It's an idea that we share with several other protestant denominations, that we are all ministers of the gospel, whether or not we are ordained. As your pastor, I have received special training - in theology, in preaching, in pastoral care - that helps me to serve you. I have made a covenant with you and with God, to do the work of ministry and to be guided by the Holy Spirit.
We are all made in God's image, and blessed with gifts of the Spirit. We are all doing our best on this path of discipleship, guiding and encouraging one another. My ordination does not provide me with any specialized access to God - God is listening to you just as closely as to any pastor, and your prayers are just as valid, just as important, as mine are.
My trust extends to each and every one of you, during this time, and especially to our Deacons, who are arranging for coverage on Sunday mornings. Over the course of six weeks, you will be ministered to by our New Hampshire Conference Minister, the Rev. Gary Schulte; the Director of Campus Ministry at UNH (and a familiar presence to many at First Church) the Rev. Larry Brickner-Wood, one of our resident retired clergy, Rev. Ellen Lankhorst; and our Students-in-Discernment, Maureen Steer and Celeste McQuarrie. Should any member or friend of the church be in need of pastoral care during my absence, the Deacons are ready to assist, and the Rev. Mark Rideout from First Parish in Somersworth, the Rev. Mike Bennett from First Parish in Dover, and the Rev. Maren Tirabassi from Union Church in Madbury will each cover two weeks of my leave. If you are in need of their assistance, please contact your Deacon.
And, of course, I know that my family and I will be well comforted by your prayers, both during my surgery and hospitalization, and during my recovery. We will have family in town to help out and tend to our physical needs, but it is a tremendous blessing to know that we will be in your prayers during this time.
My leave will begin on Monday, January 6th, and I should be back in the office on Tuesday, February 18th. If you have any questions or concerns before this time, please do not hesitate to call, email, or come in to talk to me.
Yours in Christ, Eliza
Eliza was raised in Acton, Massachusetts. She earned a BA with honors (French and Spanish, Magna cum Laude from the University of Pittsburgh in 1999, and a MA (French Studies) from New York University in 2001. She graduated from Harvard Divinity School with a M.Div. in 2009.
Following graduation Eliza served as Youth Coordinator at First Congregational Church in Sharon, Massachusetts.
She is the first woman to serve as Pastor of First Church in its 282 year history. Eliza is married to Marcey Buchakjian-Tweedy, and they have two sons, Asa and Elias. They currently live in Rochester.
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