Photos from the life at the Memorial Church of Harvard University during the 2021 Fall Term. Photos video by Jeffrey Blackwell/Memorial Church Communications.
I write to you in the early days of a new year, but one that already feels sadly familiar. Once again a wave of the pandemic is causing worry and fear and disruption. Once again we are scrambling to alter our plans and to meet the needs of our community in creative ways. Once again I must thank you for your patience and flexibility while asking you to be patient and flexible some more.
But one thing, at least, is different this January. Today I can look back upon a fall term of fellowship, worship, love, and community within the walls of the Memorial Church, a term that has nourished and heartened me to face the weeks and months ahead. I hope we have nourished and heartened you as you have done us. We are facing another pandemic wave. But we will return to Church this term, taking every necessary precaution, and gathering in fellowship and faith in order to strengthen one another for the year to come.
We plan to offer new programming for students this spring, when and as the latest wave of the pandemic allows us. Afterschool snack at Sparks House last term was a great success, and my family and I look forward to welcoming students back into our home for good conversation and good food soon. Our Student Program Coordinator, Anna Burnham, will begin facilitating a queer-affirming Bible study this term, in cooperation with Harvard’s Office of BGLTQ Student Life. Our Assistant Minister, the Rev. Calvon Jones, will also be starting a new ministry of worship and gathering at the church, the Love United Black Fellowship. And I will be hosting a weekly communion service for students, with milkshakes to follow, in the late evenings. Stay tuned for more details on all of these ministries.
One of the great joys of my first term serving the Memorial Church was getting to know the wonderful members of the University Choir, not only through the beautiful music they offer in worship each week, but also through their faithful weekly visits to Sparks House for snacks before rehearsal! In addition to the gift of their music in our church services, the University Choir, along with the Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra, will be performing Bach’s St. John’s Passion on Sunday, April 3 at 4 p.m. This promises to be a truly wonderful event, especially appropriate in the weeks leading to Easter. Also, we are pleased to note that the Choral Fellows who sing each day at Morning Prayers have been renamed in honor of John Raymond Ferris, University Organist and Choirmaster, 1958-1990, and are now named the Ferris Choral Fellows. May their daily sung prayer remain a lasting tribute to John’s service to the Church.
Though the Memorial Church pulpit has become more familiar to me in the last months, the sense of privilege I feel in preaching from it has only grown with familiarity. It is a privilege I’m glad to share with others. This term, in addition to the voices of our own ministerial staff, you will hear preaching from local ministers who are doing transformative work in our community, like the Rev. Brenda Brown of Mass. Ave. Baptist Church here in Cambridge and the Rev. Edgar Gutiérrez-Duarte of St-Luke’s-San Lucas Episcopal Church in Chelsea. Professor Cornell Brooks from the Kennedy School of Government will also join us this term to preach, as will our affiliated minister Kevin Bryant, recently retired from the Harvard University Police Department, and Rabbi Jonah Steinberg from Harvard Hillel. Also, please note the dates and times of our Lent and Holy Week observances this spring, including special services on Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and two services on Easter Sunday.
Finally, as I enter the second term of my first year as your minister, let me express my deepest thanks for the welcome you have extended to me and my family these last months. Ours was a dramatic transition, but we feel truly at home here and look forward to our lives with and among you in joy and anticipation. When I knelt among you at my installation on December 12, I was overwhelmed by the gifts of this ministry, which is to say, by the knowledge of your love and support. I bear that knowledge still, and continue to hold it close to my heart.
With thanks and in faith,
The Rev. Matthew Ichihashi Potts
Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church of Harvard University
Plummer Professor of Christian Morals
Faculty of Divinity