The First Congregational Church of Walpole, UCC has called Richard Malmberg to be our new settled pastor.  He has served congregations in New England and the Midwest since his ordination in 1993.  The call brings him back to New Hampshire, where he has previously worked at the Concord Monitor and served as associate pastor of South Congregational Church. 

     Pastor Richard enjoys parish ministry for its variety of challenges and depth of relationships.  He finds the pastoral office calls clergy to stand on sacred ground at some of the most important moments in people's lives.  Whether a wedding, baptism, funeral, emotional crisis or a hospital bedside, when someone invites a minister into a sacred moment in their life, the only answer is the biblical one: "Here I am."

      An enthusiastic cook, Richard is convinced that church potluck suppers are generally the best meal in town whenever and wherever they are.  He also feels that the potluck supper is an excellent metaphor for a healthy congregation.  He looks forward to the chicken barbeque and pie baking First Congregational Church is known for.  

     Richard lives in the parsonage with wife, Jane, a librarian by profession.  Their two grown sons, Max and Oscar, live and work in Boston.  Richard collects toys, enjoys fishing, reading, films, and taking long walks around Walpole.  


Pastor Richard Malmberg  

July / August 2021 - Message From The Pastor: 

I propose a church-wide summer read: Don’t Label Me: How to Do Diversity Without Inflaming the Culture Wars, by Irshad Manji. She is the founder of the Moral Courage Project. She lectures with Oxford University’s Initiative for Global Ethics and Human Rights. Her book is a brilliant effort to build constructive communication and repair divisions laid bare by our overheated public discourse. I think it will be an excellent summer read for First Congregational Church of Walpole, UCC.

I discovered Manji while watching Firing Line with Margaret Hoover on PBS. Hoover is the host of an iconic show created by a legendary conservative, William F. Buckley. Manji is a progressive, queer, Muslim. What I saw was an animated, mutually-respectful discussion between two highly intelligent women with strong views, giving off more light than heat. See for yourself. Originally aired on 5/21/21, the episode is available on YouTube. Could their example guide Americans to healthier public discourse? My hope is yes.

Don’t Label Me was written before the 2020 election, and Manji is candid about her opposition to Donald Trump. At the same time, she openly criticizes progressives for their part in our dysfunctional predicament. She writes: “More and more of us in the diversity crowd label people as ignorant and insidious if they hold opinions that diverge from our script. We rally for diversity of appearance but we flake on diversity of viewpoint.”

Manji cited a 2018 Harris poll that indicated one of the uniting characteristics Americans share is an openness to “alternative viewpoints.” Sadly, beneath that hopeful finding, she concludes, “…the deflating reality is, people generally mean that other people should be open to their viewpoints.” But for Manji, this is a starting place. She counsels that we all need to listen and ask why people hold the views they do. This is the only way to build the trust necessary for what she calls, “Honest diversity.”

Nobody wants to be labeled. We are all more than the labels others give us. We are all more interesting and more complicated. Human beings are infinitely dynamic. Labels are reductive at best, generally limiting, and usually inaccurate. Everybody loses. I hope to expand this conversation to include as many in the Walpole community as would like to participate. I have submitted a piece to the Clarion to extend the invitation. You have two months to read the book. The book is widely available. I ordered my copy through a local independent bookseller. I will announce a date for the discussion in the September Parish Visitor. Until then, enjoy your summer.

    - In Christ, Richard Malmberg

Who is UCC

The United Church of Christ (UCC) is a distinct and diverse community of Christians that come together as one church to join faith and action.  With over 5,000 churches and nearly one million members across the U.S., the UCC serves God in the co-creation of a just and sustainable world.  The UCC is a church of firsts, a church of extravagant welcome, and a church where "…they may all be one" (John 17:21).

The Church of Firsts

Since 1957, the United Church of Christ has been the church of firsts, weaving God’s message of hope and extravagant welcome with action for justice and peace. Together, we live out our faith in ways that effect change in our communities.  The UCC's many "firsts" mean that we have inherited a tradition of acting upon the demands of our faith.  When we read in Galatians: "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus" — a demand is made upon us. And so we were the first historically white denomination to ordain an African-American, the first to ordain a woman, the first to ordain an openly gay man, and the first Christian church to affirm the right of same-gender couples to marry. We were in the forefront of the anti-slavery movement and the Civil Rights movement.  Our response to the demands of our faith is woven into the history of our country.

A Church of Extravagant Welcome

Today, we continue to change lives throughout the world. We work alongside more than 200 mission partners. We labor ceaselessly to fight injustice in the United States and abroad. We instill our vision into our youth and young adults, forging leaders who will imagine new dreams. And we sustain and develop church leaders, pastors, and our local churches to live their faith in exciting new ways.  We believe in a God that is still speaking, a God that is all-loving and inclusive.  We are a church that welcomes and accepts everyone as they are, where your mind is nourished as much as your soul.

We are a church where Jesus the healer meets Jesus the revolutionary, and where together, we grow a just and peaceful world.



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Our Congregational Covenant

We seek to create and nurture a caring, safe, and supportive atmosphere that facilitates the growth of a strong Christian community.  These covenants are promises to each other, not rules, but descriptions of expected behavior, not changes of personality.

Covenants are ways of being in community at church, but also a model we can take home with us and out into the world.  These promises guide us in sharing information with each other, setting priorities, making decisions, addressing complaints and resolving conflicts.

With this our Covenant, we commit ourselves to:

  •          Support and love one another, as Jesus commanded. “Just as I have loved you, you should love one another.”  (John 13: 34)
  •          Forgive one another again and again.  (Matthew 18: 21-22)
  •          Seek resolution to conflict by first addressing the person directly with whom there is a problem, then if necessary involving witnesses, and third going to the congregation’s leaders.  (Matthew 18: 15-17)
  •         Interrupt gossip, neither accepting nor sharing rumors, even when such is masked as a concern.
  •          Always assume in others the best possible intentions and motivations, not the worst.
  •          Treat others as you wish to be treated.
  •         Seek what is best for the whole congregation, not only our immediate circle.
  •         Agree to disagree with love and respect.

Covenant:  a contract or agreement. In the Bible, an agreement between God and his people, in which God makes promises to his people and, usually, requires certain conduct from them. In the Old Testament, God made agreements with Noah, Abraham, and Moses.