Well, that day finally arrived today.
For the Rev. Wendy Fitting, it’s the first day of the rest of your life.
And for the rest of us, it’s the first day without her guiding hand in a key Gloucester pulpit.
Nearly 25 years after taking the helm at Gloucester’s Independent Unitarian Universalist Church on Middle street, Rev. Wendy is retiring.
Ronald Reagan was preparing to leave the Presidency, the USSR still existed but cell phones didn’t; Bill & Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama weren’t heard of, either, Bill Belichick was still coaching in New York and Larry Bird had just retired when Ms. Fitting was installed in Gloucester at the U/U.
For those of you who don’t know, Gloucester is the First Parish for Universalists in the entire country. John Murray founded the church from here — which basically said that “everyone can be saved”, not just the rich (hence universalism) — even before the American Revolution was over. He also established the separation of church and state in a lawsuit that freed Gloucester citizens from paying required taxes to the Church of England, which set the precedent for the national ruling that would follow.
That’s a heavy legacy to carry forward. But Wendy Fitting has done so with grace, humor, conviction, and a scholarly mix of influences and sources to illustrate her weekly lessons to the flock.
Her sermons and attitude packed the place and yet, as she always said, “We don’t take attendance here” with that typical twinkle in her eye. She only wanted you there if you wanted to be there — for the community, the fellowship and the dialogue.
When Wendy first began, the church had a modest turnout every week
But she rapidly established that she was foremost a defender of justice and a teller of certain truths that needed to be aired.