25+ years ago, I was looking for a congregation my young family could be part of. We first joined the local Conservative shul in Lawrence (it eventually moved to Andover, CBI), made a few friends and started to feel like this would be good for us. Until a temporary Rabbi 's sermon called out to us to make sure our children married only Jewish partners - it was our duty as Jews! This did not seat well with me, as my (ex) wife was (is) not Jewish. Someone told us about the more progressive Havurah. Shabbat, meeting once a month at Christ Church, with itinerant Rabbi's leading services, HiHos at old Town Hall, and a once a week religious school. The welcoming of the people we met was genuine and warm. Eventually, I somehow became the Shabbat coordinator, who, if no Rabbi was hired, orchestrated (I wouldn't say led) services. The more I came, the more the Havurah formed to me and visa versa. I was part of the interviewing team for our (now permanent) Rabbi, Karen Landy. After the 10 years of Steve Cohen's leadership, I was part of the new president search committee. At the committee's first meeting, I was ambushed by Richie, Elliott, and David (maybe Cheryl too?) with their choice of President. I was flabbergasted and honored, and said I couldn't do it without they're support. And here we are today.
I still find the Havurah a close and open community, where I can open my heart to prayer and God, build and maintain heartfelt and genuine friendships, and feel like I belong here in this proud and visible vibrant Jewish congregation.