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Faith-filled holidays

Brooksby’s interfaith community celebrates the season

Created date

December 16th, 2014
Brooksby resident Audrey Hale, chair of the community’s Protestant Council, and Rev. Chad Kidd, pastoral ministries manager, say the chapel is a gathering place for the interfaith community.
Brooksby resident Audrey Hale, chair of the commun

Audrey Hale was raised a Methodist, but she feels free to worship alongside believers from a number of faith traditions at Brooksby, the Erickson Living community in Peabody, Mass., where she lives.

“It’s a unique situation here,” says Audrey. “Where else can you find Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish communities sharing the same chapel?”

Brooksby’s vibrant interfaith programs allow residents from diverse spiritual backgrounds to maintain their own faith traditions while learning about others.

“It’s an example of how people who hold different beliefs can come together, share programs and ideas, and be richer for the experience,” says Audrey, who serves on Brooksby’s Interfaith Council and chairs the Protestant Council.

Abundant offerings

The suite of pastoral ministry offices at Brooksby speaks to the community’s religious diversity. 

“We have Protestant, Jewish, and Catholic pastoral associates with offices next to each other,” says Rev. Chad Kidd, pastoral ministries manager. “They oversee the activities within each faith community, but they also work together on various interfaith programs throughout the year.”

Kidd says there’s something for everyone at Brooksby, from the skeptic to retired clergy.

“We have a weekly Protestant service and a weekly Catholic service,” says Kidd. “Our Jewish community gathers for Shabbat every other Friday. We offer Bible studies, prayer time, and spiritual education courses. On any given day, there’s something to engage residents spiritually.”

Education is key

For Audrey, who’s seen the community’s religious offerings grow exponentially, education is a vital component of pastoral ministries.

“I moved to Brooksby in 2001,” she says. “At the time, there were a few residents who gathered for a weekly service in the Greentree Café. Now we have several clergy on staff and a chapel for our worship services.”

After she moved to Brooksby, Audrey maintained her membership at Lexington United Methodist Church, where she had been attending. When the pastor at Lexington UMC moved to Holy Trinity United Methodist Church in Danvers, Audrey transferred her membership there.

“I didn’t start attending chapel service at Brooksby until the pastor at Holy Trinity retired,” says Audrey, who worked for Tufts University for 47 years and retired as assistant provost. “That’s when I really became active in pastoral ministries here.”

Audrey says the educational component of Brooksby’s pastoral ministries was initially a Protestant initiative that grew into something larger.

“We had a speaker who would address a different topic each month,” says Audrey. “One time the topic was Islam, and we had people from all different faith backgrounds pouring into the room. They simply wanted to learn more. Now our educational program is open to all faiths.”

The dialogue and sharing between residents “is extraordinary,” says Rev. Dr. Jessica McArdle, Protestant pastoral associate. “It’s a model for interfaith partnership.” 

Holiday celebrations

As thoughts turn to faith and family this holiday season, Brooksby residents will have ample opportunity to gather for meaningful celebrations.

“We’ll have a Catholic Christmas Mass, a Hanukkah party, and a Protestant Christmas Eve service,” says Kidd. “We’ll also have advent celebrations, lighting of the Menorah, and caroling. It’s a wonderful time of year at Brooksby.”