October 23, 2019
Rev. Estelle Margarones
The Bible is full of stories of triumph over oppression and faith over fear. We must continue to place our hope in God and to press on. Isaiah 40:31 tells us we shall run and not grow weary.
The York Weekly today features an article about the Church/Town Land Agreement, along with letters to the editor, and their own opinion “that this settlement is the best path forward."
I am proud to have seen each of you engage with honesty and integrity. As a faith community, I have seen you truly following the way of Jesus who said, "love your neighbor as yourself".
For the last couple of months, we have had folks from First Parish speaking at meetings of the Board of Selectmen. I've been impressed as people have shared their support, faithfully and factually.
Our Moderator, Jan Jonas points out, that local churches are woven into the fabric of York and they contribute to our community “beyond measure”. This is true!
Over the course of our lifetime, we have seen a vast shift in what we can trust as truth. When we were younger, we had fewer options for learning the facts. We trusted the Encyclopedia Britannica and the TV anchormen (on the three television stations we received). Today, anyone can share information via a website, a mass mailing, and social media posts...whether or not the information is true.
I encourage you know the truth and to continue to share it. As you know, The Town and the Church are aligned in the Land Agreement. We continue to be “Together for York”.
You may have heard that the old town library land and building are part of the Land Agreement. The library building and land were purchased in 2001 and First Parish has a deed.
You may have heard that the church land abuts the Davis Land. The fact is that the land in question does not abut the Davis Property. There is some church land that does and we purchased it in the 1930's. We have a deed.
You may have heard that if the Agreement is voted down then the town keeps the land. The fact is that the town doesn't have a deed to the land. However, it does have a no-cost lease with the church as the lessor. You may have heard that 91% of the land in the Land Agreement goes to the church. The fact is that some of that land is the cemetery and land for future cemetery expansion. Further, the land that the church would give to the town for Town Hall and Old York Historical Society is of far greater value than the parish woodlands behind the cemetery.
Finally, you may have heard that the Attorney General has sent a letter about the Land Agreement. Jeff McConnell says, “the letter is stated in such a way to make it sound as if it is the Town who reached out to the District Attorney's office. That is not so.” Friends, here is a critical sentence in that letter: “IF the fee to the disputed ministerial lands did not vest in the Church, it vested in the inhabitants of the Town because the Town was incorporated before January 1, 1973.” The land DID vest in the church. We received a grant in 1671. In 1723 the land in question was surveyed by the town and 'the boundaries were renewed'.
Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. Let's continue to be hopeful and faithful!
Together, we can bring Christ's word and work to the world.