By Tiffany Vail
Associate for Communication
A memorial garden in memory of former Associate Conference Minister Susan Dickerman took shape at the Massachusetts Conference's Framingham property last week, thanks to generous donations made in Ms. Dickerman's honor.
Sue's Circle fills the space created by the circular driveway in front of the Edwards House Meeting and Retreat Center, and includes a path leading from the Conference offices in "the barn" to the front door of Edwards House, a trip Ms. Dickerman made countless times in her 26 years of ministry. Two benches are being ordered to be added to the garden, and a dedication service is being planned.
As for the design of the garden, Chris Braudaway Bauman, one of the garden's planners, explained: "Sue was fond of pointing out that the United Church of Christ is a church of 'soft verbs' ... 'recommend, suggest, discern, persuade.' And yet Sue was also known as someone who got things done." So while 'Sue’s Circle' is a garden with soft edges, 'The Dickerman Way' path moves through the center in a clear and sure direction.
At a worship service in celebration of Ms. Dickerman's ministry in April, participants were asked to write prayers or memories on colorful pieces of origami paper. That paper was shredded, and last week it was sprinkled into the planting holes for the two trees in the garden by Conference Minister and President Jim Antal and garden designer Joanne Paul, a member of First Church in Cambridge.
Recent large contributions by a number of donors who wished to remain anonymous made it possible to get the garden planted this season. In total, $9,234 in donations have come in for the garden, and another $4,000 has been pledged. In addition, Ms. Dickerman's sons agreed to contribute $1,500 that had been donated for her retirement purse. Another $2,500 was taken from the Conference's capital budget for the work. Donations are still being sought to add spring bulbs to the garden, and can be made here.
Susan Dickerman passed away in February after serving on the Massachusetts Conference staff for 26 years. She had left the Conference in December for a calling as co-director of the new, nationwide Pastoral Excellence Network. She had only begun that work when she was overcome by a return of the cancer she had defeated several years earlier.
Plans unveiled for garden in memory of Susan Dickerman, April 9, 2013