Laura Lawson Tucker’s Pathway

By taking stock of my relationship to the West Village Meeting House, it has become clear to me that a host of key events during many periods of my adulthood are intimately connected to the West Village Meeting House.

I was in my late teens when I first entered the West Village Meeting House to attend Brattleboro Music Center (BMC) concerts.  I was a student of Marlboro College at the time.  It was the mid 1970’s. I was so enamored with the setting and the experience of hearing music in the building that for many different seasons I was an usher for the BMC for their yearly concert series.

It was around 1982 when “Tucker” (my husband) and I first entered the building together to attend a Brother Blue storytelling service in the Chapel. It was an engaging and powerful service.  I can see the beautiful stone of the outside wall in the Chapel that made a dramatic backdrop for Brother Blue’s stories told with such flair. That experience in the Chapel was my entry into the life of becoming an active church member, (this is true for Tucker as well).

In 1984 we held our wedding at West Village Meeting House.  The ceremony was in the Chapel replete with beautiful young trees placed throughout the room that Peter Denny, the minister at the time, had set in the Chapel for a service he had led earlier that month

Ben (Benji), our son, was born soon thereafter and the building holds a clear memory of having our first outing with Benji when he was two weeks old to a Sunday service.  A bit off topic, but I recall it took us two hours to get Benji ready to go out into the very cold January morning!

A year later in 1986, when Benji was one year old, we held a Welcoming Service for him in the Parlor.  It was a classic Vermont winter morning—snow, freezing rain, and ice!  However, we tallied forth and held the service in an intimate setting—the Parlor—with only a few people in attendance. Benji was toddling about, very happy to be receiving so much attention from the small group.  I can imagine the picture window in the Parlor with freezing rain dripping down on the outside and can see the wind whipping through the pine trees beyond.

Tucker and I hosted two extended family Thanksgiving gatherings in 1989 and 1994 to honor our 5th and 10th anniversaries there at West Village Meeting house.  It was important to us to bring our families back together in the space where we were married.

Often having a child inspires becoming involved in ways that one might not have imagined before parenthood.  Before I knew it, I was helping to design children’s programming for the congregation.  And then, over time, I became the Director of Religious Education for All Souls Church. I held that position for about ten years. 

Fond West Village Meeting House memories during my tenure leading the Sunday School program include: creating a Haunted House fundraiser in the downstairs two classrooms for the congregation; being part of an Elves Workshop during the Christmas Bazaar in a downstairs classroom; rehearsing stories in the upstairs classrooms for the Christmas Eve service and then presenting those pageants in a beautifully decorated Main Hall on Christmas Eve; making hordes of valentines with art materials scattered over many tables in the Foyer; dying eggs in the Kitchen and then hunting for Easter/Spring eggs among the pine trees surrounding the building; gathering groups of children together in the upstairs West Wing of the building for classes; presenting children’s stories during services in the Chapel and in the Main Hall; and being with the children out in the Courtyard for programming as well as for a few Sunday services led outdoors.

And finally, comes a whole new chapter of my relationship with West Village Meeting House—which leads us to the present as well.  In the fall of 2012 the inclusive theater program that I created with my colleague Darlene Jenson, Theatre Adventure, became a happy tenant of the West Village Meeting House.

 And now we are entering our ninth year calling the building our home and seeing ourselves as partners with All Souls Church.  More than thirty-five students and twenty-five Support Professionals, and a teaching team of five create inclusive theater in the Main Hall throughout the year. We have a bit of an off-season from the building right now through the current pandemic while Theatre Adventure is online.  However, some of our costumes remain hanging on their racks and some of scenery is leaning against a storage wall all waiting for the return of live theater.

Many personal blessings that represent many eras of my life are represented here in my story about my relationship with the West Village Meeting House from  my college years right up to my current time of helping to lead a theater program for youth and adults with disabilities. 

With Gratitude, Laura

Laura coaching Theatre Adventure actors  in the Main Hall.

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