First Parish in Needham Logo

23 Dedham Avenue
Needham, MA 02492

Dear First Parish community.  I am very excited to begin our interim journey together.  I have spent my study time considering specifically how your congregation would most benefit from the interim process and deepening my leadership skills working with a variety programs at Ferry Beach.  More on my lessons learned this summer at Ferry Beach in a future blog, but the biggest aha moment I discover every year is that I still have more to learn.  Despite doing this work since 2003, I still am constantly inspired by the talents and gifts of those I meet.  As an individual person and as a professional leader, everyone has something to teach me.  I wonder what you will teach me?

The volunteers I have met so far at First Parish have been truly incredible.  In just a few weeks, I already know that First Parish has unbelievably dedicated and talented volunteers.  Wow!  I can’t believe how much you do on behalf of the congregation, and it shows in the feeling I get when I walk though the church doors or attend a committee meeting.  I look forward to meeting and working with more of you.  

For those of you not familiar with the interim process or who want a quick refresher, a professional “interim” period is an intentional time to reflect, appreciate, explore, and vision after a change in staff (or other significant transition).  There are specific developmental tasks I look forward to guiding you though (including honoring your history, naming your identity, developing leadership, connecting with resources, and visioning your future), but it’s the overall message of being intentional that I believe to be most important.  I took the training for interim professionals in 2014 and I was pleasantly surprised to realize how much the lessons I learned informed my personal life as well.  One of my biggest “aha moments” was learning that every word and action has a rippling impact on the whole community.  When ever we travel through change, may we do so carefully and considering how any choices will impact our past, present, and future – individually and collectively.  Whether it is during the interim process or not, a big lesson I’ve learned is that people (of all ages) most often come to (and stay at) our churches because of how we make them feel (more than what we do).  So in all that we do here during this coming year, may we start and continue with a spirit of love.

One of the fun parts of the interim process is the freedom to try new things.  While we remain intentional and careful about any big changes, it can be enjoyable, rejuvenating, and inspiring to try some easy programs that will be guaranteed successes.  In the spirit of Nike (who I’m much more willing to quote after their most recent campaign), “just do it”.  What program would you like to see us “just do”?    Feel free to reach out and let me know your hopes and dreams for the community (and any ways you are feeling inspired to help).  You can connect with me through email at or by cell at 508-808-3535 or at church on Sunday.  

Peace and love,
Roberta Altamari 
your interim Director of Lifespan Religious Exploration