It is with a sense of loss that the Ministry and Professional Leadership Staff Group informs you of the death of the Reverend Polly Laughland Guild. She died peacefully at home in Weston, MA, on Saturday, November 7, 2009. She was 85.
Rev. Guild was born on September 1, 1924 to James A. Callard and Marjorie C. Bachrach. She graduated with a BA in Biology and Chemistry from Colby College in Waterville, ME, in 1945 and an MRE from Andover Newton Theological School in 1964. She also attended Crane Theological School of Tufts University for one year.
A Unitarian by birth, Rev. Guild entered the church school of the First Unitarian Society of West Newton, MA, as a kindergartener. Her association with that church would continue for the next 50 years. After she graduated from divinity school, Rev. Guild served the church as minister of religious education for many years. In 1972, one year before her acceptance into preliminary fellowship by the Ministerial Fellowship Committee, the congregation ordained her. She shared parish ministry duties at the West Newton church for the next two years.
From 1974 until 1976, Rev. Guild served as interim minister to the UU Society of Wellesley Hills, MA. In 1976, she was called to the Follen Community Church in Lexington, MA, where she served for 16 years. Under her leadership, the Follen Church grew into a strong, effective, and caring community. She was named minister emerita upon her retirement in 1992.
Rev. Guild also provided leadership to Unitarian Universalists around the world. In 1986, during her sabbatical, she served as interim minister in Adelaide, Australia. In the 1980’s she and her husband, Ted Guild, served as volunteer international coordinators for the UUA. She was one of the founders of the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU.) She was also a long-time member of International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF) and attended their triennial congresses in many countries. She organized and led four church-related group trips to Egypt, India, Eastern Europe, and Britain. With her husband, she endowed a Unitarian school in the Khasi Hills of India. She established a micro-lending organization in the Philippines called the Ted Guild Village Bank.
Rev. Guild is survived by her children, Lorna and Bruce Winthrop of Deltona, FL; Linda Laughland and Dan Downing of Lincoln, MA, and Andrew Laughland and Barb Gage of Arlington, MA; Todd and Yasuko Guild of Tokyo; Sylvia Guild of Alaska; Katherine Guild and husband James of Texas; and Lina Guild of the Virgin Islands; her sisters, Harriet Cowdery of Boothbay Harbor, ME, and Margo Callard of Needham, MA; and seven grandchildren. Her husband, Ted, died in 2002.
Two services were held at Follen Community church to honor Reverend Guild. On November 10, there was a Candlelight Service of Loving Memory for her immediate family and everyone from Follen. On November 11, 2009, a memorial service designed by Rev. Guild with her favorite hymns, solo musical pieces, and readings was held.
Gifts to honor Rev. Guild’s memory may be made to the following organizations:
- Follen Community Church, 755 Massachusetts Avenue, Lexington, MA 02420
- International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (Make check payable to ICUU and send to David Shaw, Meadow Hey, Adlington Lane, Grindleford, Hope Valley, Derbyshire, United Kingdom S32 2HT [postage to England is 98 cents]. Please include your name, mailing address and an email address, if available, and David will send acknowledgements personally.)
- Parmenter/Wayside Hospice (Make check payable to Parmenter with hospice program in memo and send to Parmenter Community Health Care, 266 Cochituate Road, Wayland, MA 01778.
Please send messages of condolence to Rev. Guild’s family in care of Linda Laughland, 15 Sunnyside Lane, Lincoln, MA 01773.