New Beginnings History

 

As a sign of the times, New Beginnings began out of a need for support by the growing number of newly single members of the United Church of Christ in Norwell.  Liz Wells, a member of the church, had started to realize in the spring of 1986, that many of their outreach programs were relevant only to families.   She also became aware that she was part of a church whose pastor and parishioners would be receptive to change, especially one that would make existing and possible future single parishioners more a part of the church.  She arranged a meeting with a small group of members and with the Mission and Outreach board.   They then talked about the possibility of sponsoring a ministry to single adults, focusing on single, widowed, divorced and separated parishioners.  The board granted seed money to support the new mission for a period of six months.  That spring in 1986, postcards were sent to about 125 parishioners and friends.

It said simply – “Come Share Coffee and Ideas with Other Adults – Formerly Married – Always Single – All Ages.”  About 60 people gathered in the fellowship area on May 22nd at 7:30pm for the first meeting.

The program that first evening was a panel discussion with John Mattos, Larry Hybertson, Ph.D. (a Psychologist who worked with the core committee), Liz Wells and Dan DeWeese.  The group listened to the ideas that came from that panel discussion.  From that show of interest, the board hired Rev. Dan DeWeese as its first Director.

 

On Monday, September 8, 1986, Liz, Rev. Dan DeWeese, Larry Hybertson and a small group of people met in room 9.  Larry Hybertson taught the attendees how to facilitate a group and especially how to listen and not give advice.  Sue Robinson suggested the name “New Beginnings.”  The group decided to hold meetings 52 weeks a year on Monday evenings.   A smorgasbord of programs was started with an intention to balance the attendees' need for spiritual, social, emotional and educational growth.  New Beginnings became a place to share joys and sorrows – a place to talk – a place to cry – a source of healing and strength for those who found themselves single or single again through fate rather than choice.  Programs were offered to nurture body, mind and spirit.  Social programs emphasizing activities done as a group emerged, with special emphasis on Pot Luck meals, physical activities and excursions to local places of interest.  Every meeting included an invitation to worship on Sunday, the Lord’s Prayer, hand in hand, and a chance to come together in fellowship. It was a place to find friends, to give and receive encouragement for daily living, and to learn to live as a unique and whole individual. 

 

Ecumenical in nature, New Beginnings had become a fully-supported mission of the United Church of Christ.

 

Since that time, New Beginnings has sprouted up in a few other communities around the state of MA, all modeling themselves from this original “chapter.”

On September 22, 2003, New Beginnings, while maintaining strong ties to the UCC Church, became an independent organization under the leadership of the then president, Paul Phillips, and changed its name to New Beginnings Singles Support Group, Norwell, Inc.  At about the same time, it also applied for and received recognition from the Commonwealth of MA as a 501c3 non-profit organization and hired Peggy Loud, its long-term administrator, as its Director.

After becoming independent of the UCC Church, New Beginnings, in 2005, hired as its Chaplain, Deb Spratley, Pastoral Resident of the UCC Church.  This allowed New Beginnings to both honor the church which gave it its beginnings, and insure that, while independent, New Beginnings will remain true to much of its original intent, to serve those distressed or isolated after the loss of a significant life’s partner.

 

On January 12, 2009, under the then president, Cheryl Pimental, New Beginnings council changed its name to New Beginnings Singles Support Group, Inc., to show that the reach it has obtained is more than the local town the former name inferred.  Immediately thereafter, the organization filed for 501(c) (3) status with the IRS, raising its level of tax exempt status to include federal tax deductions of donations from both individuals and corporations.  This was done with the belief and hope that this change would help insure its viability for years to come.

 

New Beginnings has served more than 10,000 single members from communities reaching as far away as 25 miles in most directions.  It has become one of the most important support organizations for single, separated, divorced and widowed adults in the southeast part of MA.  Since its separation from being a mission of the UCC Church, New Beginnings has also become non-sectarian, welcoming Christians, non-Christians and those of all faiths and beliefs.  Our only criterion is that a prospective member is single, separated, widowed or divorced.  We will always welcome the opportunity to play a part in one’s spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual growth, while offering a safe environment that promotes healing.