Our ground is blessed and broken. For those who were not among the 70 people there, the skies were dark, and there was a light drizzle, but it did not dampen spirits.
We walked in to Barbara Miller’s drumbeat, followed by a flute solo by Jessi April. Two hawks and some blue jays added to the beginning sounds. The four directions were blessed by Theresa McReynolds; she also paid tribute to the spirit trees who would be giving their lives for our building.
Paul Utts introduced our guests from the community. The president of Stockton College sent Dr. Thomasa Gonzalez, the Dean of Students, to represent him with a welcome from the college. Paul then spoke of what having our own home will mean to the congregation. Jon Luoma followed, describing the green features that are planned for the building.
For our most symbolic moment, shovels, decorated with multi colored ribbon by Margaret Rea, were handed to eight representatives of our group. These shovels were not shiny newly-bought shovels, but used working shovels, in keeping with our green values. Our “shovelers” all were stand-ins for larger groups within our community: Jean Wiant, representing those who founded us; Jesse Connor, the Board and the entire congregation; John Searight, all the financial donors; Richard Grzywinski, the Home Team, and all the time they are donating; Robert and Paige Sturts, our newest members and harbingers of our future growth; Emmalee H., our children and future; and Rev .Dr Speck, the larger faith community of which we are a part.
Dr. Speck gave the last speech, which eloquently stated what the values and the presence of the Unitarian Universalist faith will mean to the community. After the rousing closing song of “Come and Go With Me to That Land,” we ended with sampling a “gift from the vineyard.” Lots of us then took a shovel and broke a little ground, providing lots of photo ops.
After the last folks had gone and were in their cars, the light drizzle turned to heavy rain.
Both Jim Gentile and Mariann Maene were our photographers, but many more cameras were on the scene. Steve Fiedler offered the services of his brother, Martin, who is a professional videographer, to film both the 10:00 service, and the groundbreaking. So, those who missed will have a chance to see it all.
Another aspect of this ceremony was the number of people who were involved in the details, and how smoothly everything went. Debbi Dagavarian had arranged for Stockton Police to assist us in crossing busy Pomona Road from the Stockton parking lot. TJ Jannsch and Helene Gentile made sure that folks knew where they could park. Peg and Bob Felix handed out the programs, Pam Hendrick directed us to standing in the right places, and Jack Miller made sure those who needed chairs got them. We could hear very well, thanks to Michael Cluff’s expert setup of the sound equipment at the site. Through Ronda Cluff’s efforts, a Press reporter and photographer were there. The Groundbreaking Planning Committee, consisting of Ronda Cluff, Mariann Maene, Barbara Miller, Paul Utts, and Betsy Searight, had planned well.
The ten o’clock Service preceding the groundbreaking ceremony is also an important part of our history. Eight five people attended. Of this number, four were from the Wilmington Growth Committee (Karel Toll, Joan Priest, Dave Sheppard, and Nancy Pinson), a group that helped to start and sustain us. We also had Frank and June MacArtor, supporters from the UU Society of Mill Creek, Delaware. Jean Wiant, and her husband Fred, were very welcome visitors. Jean was key in the actual starting of our congregation, and our first RE Director. Colby Tippins provided home hospitality, and Marsha Hannah hosted a dinner on Saturday evening for Jean and those who knew her from the early years.
Rev. Dr. Richard Speck in his message advised us that there would be mistakes made in the plans and construction of the building, and to be forgiving of those mistakes. We would have differences of opinion arising from the use of the building. But the ability to compromise and demonstrate right relationships with each other will demonstrate the essence of us as a community.
A luncheon, coordinated by Evelyn Benton and others from the FUUN committee, and well supplied by the congregation, was much appreciated.
-- submitted by Betsy Searight