Our Ministers and Staff
Rev. Howard N. Dana has been the Senior Minister at First Parish in Concord, Massachusetts (Unitarian Universalist) since August 2013. In his time with the church the congregation has seen its commitment to Religious Education and Social Justice grow. It has also increased its budget and cared for its historic property. Prior to his settlement in Concord, Rev. Dana was minister at the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for 13 years.
Originally from a family-run cattle ranch in Montana, Rev. Dana found his way to Unitarian Universalism after college when he moved to Portland, Oregon. His experience at First Unitarian Church of Portland rekindled a long-felt call to ministry, sending him to seminary at Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, California, in 1995.
Rev. Dana is currently President of the Senior Ministers of Large UU Congregations (SMOLUUC) and a member of the national board of the UU Partner Church Council (UUPCC). In his off hours, Rev. Dana likes to kayak, contra dance, bike, travel, garden, and cook.
Rev. Amy Freedman is a lifelong Unitarian Universalist with a depth of experience in religious education, shared ministry, and creative arts. She comes to us after serving as the Consulting Minister of First Church in Boston where religious education, worship, and leadership development were part of her portfolio. She has served UU congregations as a Director of Religious Education, Consultant, Interim, and Parish Minister since 1996. For ten years, she served as the Senior Minister of Channing Memorial Church in Newport, RI.
Rev. Liz Weber has a heart for pastoral care and building community. She came to First Parish in 2019 after serving as a chaplain resident at Mass. General Hospital. Prior to that, she was the intern minister in Reading, MA. Liz is an alumna of Andover Newton Theological School. In addition to her M.Div., she holds certificates in pastoral care and in religion and conflict transformation. Before seminary, Liz was a lay leader for over fifteen years. She sees church as a place where we can bring our whole selves, brokenness and all, and where we can practice being our best selves. Liz’s first career was as an American Sign Language interpreter. Her hobbies include hiking, woodworking, and singing with friends.
Jade Sylvan will be our Ministerial Intern for church year 2020-2021. Jade Sylvan has a background in writing, theater, and yoga, and is currently finishing up their Master of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School, where they have been a Ministry Fellow for the past three years. Jade won the Harvard Billings Preaching Prize in 2019 with their sermon, “Joseph and the Amazing Pretty Princess Dress,” and their essay, “What the Gospels Share with Fanfiction” was published in the Harvard Divinity Bulletin in 2018. They are the creator of Beloved King, a full-length biblical musical based on a queer interpretation of young King David. For the past two years, Jade has worked at the UUA both as LGBTQ+ Ministries Intern and Clara Barton Gender Justice Fellow. Jade is a Bible nerd, an art nerd, and a queer activist, and one of their missions in ministry is to marry the radical and the traditional.
Rev. Margie King Saphier has served as a Hospice chaplain, and Associate Minister for Pastoral Care. Presently she is Affiliate Minister at First Parish in Concord, MA serving as Community Minister for Restorative Justice. In this capacity she is the Chairperson of the Board of Directors of Partakers and works closely with Arthur Bembury, Partakers’ Executive Director. She also serves as the First Parish’s liaison to Louis D. Brown Peace Institute in Dorchester, MA. Prior to ministry Margie served as a public health nurse, pediatric nurse practitioner, and an advocate for families when their child was hospitalized. Throughout her professional life, Reverend Saphier has been committed to those who are disenfranchised, helping them to “find their voice” as they struggle to meet their needs, as well as the needs of their families.
Beth Norton has been Director of Music Ministry at First Parish since 1994. Beth believes in the power of music to express what is beyond words, to deepen our spiritual experience and to build community. As a singer, conductor, violinist and folk musician, Beth enjoys making music in a wide variety of styles with people of all ages and abilities. She received her BA in Music from Smith College and her MM in Choral Conducting from the Hartt School of Music. Beth has served as the president of the Association for UU Music Ministries (AUUMM), the professional organization for UU musicians and remains an active member.
Fifi joined the staff at First Parish in 2013. Fifi’s primary goal at First Parish is the transparency of the church’s finances to the congregation. Fifi has an MBA from Simmons Graduate School of Management.
We are delighted Bruce Davidson will join First Parish in Concord as its new Facilities Manager on September 1, 2020. Bruce’s professional experience ranges from property management, real estate brokerage, graphic design and illustration, café ownership, and, currently, providing landscape design and home building, maintenance, and improvement services via companies he founded and owns.
His other interests include art, history, the natural world, travel, ping-pong, and tennis. Bruce is also an artist specializing in watercolors and murals.
Adrienne comes to us from Maryland, just outside Washington, DC, where she served for many years on the social justice council of a large UU church and also contributed to the work of the RE council and environmental justice ministry team. She has been passionately engaged in her own peace and social justice and climate action work with a focus on building interfaith and other networks. Adrienne is a Latina and native New Yorker with long professional experience in the non-profit, university, college, and adult education arenas. She has worked with children as a volunteer at schools, especially to provide enrichment and coaching opportunities in and about the natural environment. She offers her skills in training, supporting, coordinating, and recognizing volunteers and developing leaders.
Sarah comes to us after serving as an Administrative Assistant at Hancock United Church of Christ in Lexington, MA, for the past two years. Sarah graduated from New Hampshire Institute of Art with a BFA in Illustration in 2014. In her spare time, Sarah writes and illustrates graphic novels, and helps young artists build college-worthy portfolios. She also loves playing with her dogs and finding a great cup of coffee.
Dawn has served First Parish in Concord since 2014. She finds great joy in working with children and families as they explore their spirituality in this faith community. Dawn is a member of the Leadership Team for Faith Development Week on Star Island, an annual conference for Unitarian Universalist families and religious professionals. She has a deep interest in alternative and non-traditional education and she helped to found a Waldorf-inspired elementary school and taught preschool in a Montessori environment.
Dawn grew up in Arlington, Virginia and although she has lived in the Boston area for over twenty years, is still surprised by the length of New England winters. Dawn likes getting dressed in the morning, books and movies that make her think, being in nature as much as possible, and playing with her friends and family. She lives in Maynard with her husband and two teenage daughters.
Brendan Ferrari is so excited to be serving as Children’s Choir Director! Brendan has been a Chorus Teacher in Massachusetts public schools for nine years, teaching chorus, guitar, piano, and composition. He earned his Bachelor of Music from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, his Master of Music from the University of Rhode Island, and will be completing his Doctor of Musical Arts from Boston University in September.
He lives right next door in Acton with his wife Jen and two children, Nicholas and Benjamin. When they were just a little smaller, we used to sit in front of First Parish and listen to the Church Bells.
Anderson Manuel has been a member of the First Parish music staff since 2000. He is the founding director of our Youth Gospel Choir. A native of Haiti, Anderson is a dad, husband and a teacher. Anderson has been singing since birth and continues to demonstrate to our youngsters the love and power of Gospel music.
D. Eric Huenneke, a native Californian,has been organist of First Parish in Concord since January 2001. He is a graduate ofthe University of California at Santa Barbara and Rutgers University in New Jersey, where he also taught and served as College Organist for Douglass College. Active as a church and concert musician for over three decades, his concert venues have ranged from coast-to-coast in the United States. He is also a Past Dean of the Merrimack Valley Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.