The plans for a Memorial Garden in honor of Susan Dickerman, who passed away in February after serving on the Massachusetts Conference staff for 26 years, were unveiled Saturday at a celebration worship service held to honor her ministry.
Donations are being accepted to transform the circle of grass between the Edwards House Meeting & Retreat Center and the Massachusetts Conference office building (the barn) in Framingham into a garden with dogwood trees, shrubs, ornamental grasses and perennials.
Chris Braudaway-Bauman said the planning committee which developed the idea for "Sue's Circle" felt it would be a "lasting reminder of the ministry of Susan Dickerman ... and the ways she helped us all to grow in faith."
A pea stone path lined in cobblestones will lead through the garden, and be flanked by benches in the center.
"Sue was fond of pointing out that the United Church of Christ is a church of 'soft verbs' ... 'recommend, suggest, discern, persuade,'" she said. "And yet Sue was also known as someone who got things done. So while 'Sue’s Circle' will be a garden with soft edges, 'The Dickerman Way' will move straight through the center in a clear and sure direction."
Suggested donations range from $10 for a perennial to $400 for a bench. Donations can be made online here, or checks may be marked Sue's Circle, made out to MACUCC and sent to 1 Badger Road, Framingham, MA 01702.
More than 250 people attended the service at Plymouth Church in Framingham on Saturday to honor Dickerman's legacy. The event had been planned prior to her death to mark her moving on from her Massachusetts Conference ministry to a new calling developing the nationwide Pastoral Excellence Network as co-director with Braudaway-Bauman. Sadly, she had only begun that work when she was overcome by a return of the cancer she had defeated several years earlier.
Those who attended the services wrote down prayers or memories of Dickerman on colorful pieces of paper, which will be turned into mulch to nourish the new garden.
|View a Photo Gallery from the April 6 worship service in celebration of the ministry of Susan Dickerman|
"Perhaps, like me, some of you might feel like small plants who had the opportunity to be nurtured by Sue. I was just a 22 year old bud myself when I met Sue, fresh off the plane from Tennessee, and starting to pursue ministry in a denomination I had never encountered down South," said Anastasia Kidd, Director of Admissions and College Relations at Boston University's School of Theology, during the service.
"In the midst of all my naïve greenness, Sue invited me to be nurtured in the soil of the Massachusetts Conference. She gave me leadership opportunities, and instinctively knew to call me and to encourage me when I was reluctant to take them on. Just like a stubborn bulb in her garden, Sue never gave up on a person in whom she saw potential; she just kept nourishing and planting seeds of hope, seeds of confidence, seeds of love. I owe a huge debt of gratitude for her investment in me. And I know I’m not alone in feeling this way."
"I ask all of you to think to yourselves: in what ways did Sue nurture you? In what ways did she plant seeds in your life? In what ways did she help grow your ministry? Think about those questions – about all the memories hovering above us in this moment, a cloud of testimony to Sue Dickerman, the gardener of seeds and souls."
Download a PDF showing the detailed garden plan.