Committees and Groups
Much of the work of the church is done by you – members, friends, and visitors of First Parish. Without your gifts of time, talent, and vision we would not be the vibrant religious community that you find when you walk through the meetinghouse doors.
Help support your community by volunteering on a committee, task force, or one-time volunteer opportunity. If you are interested in becoming involved, please contact the church office or email the contact associated with each opportunity described below.
(*) notes committees that one must be elected into
A list of Social Action Programs can be found by CLICKING HERE.
A list of all committee and group leaders for 2023-24 can be found here: Committee and Group Leadership at First Parish Master List
Committees and Councils
Contact: Suzie Weaver
Congregational Life Committee (CLC)
Contact: Suzie Weaver
The Diversity Committee educates and raises awareness in the congregation about issues of sexual orientation, gender identity, racism, ableism, classism and sexism, and advocates for specific steps to foster a sense of inclusion for all parishioners and newcomers.
Ferry Beach Planning Committee
Contact: Darien Smith
Arranges for the Parish’s annual spring weekend outing to the Ferry Beach Camp and Conference Center on the beach in Saco, Maine. This is a great social event for individuals and families, and is shared with First Parish in Lexington.
Contact: Doug Hardy
The First Parish Transition Team helps the interim minister take the pulse of the congregation, Throughout the 2-year transition, the team leads events and discussions with the congregation about its past, present and vision for the future of First Parish. [The team is separate from the Search Committee, which will nominate the next settled minister.] All congregants are encouraged to talk or email Transition Team members with thoughts, concerns and ideas about our transition time.
Contact: Ellen Whitney
Handles the flower arrangements that grace the sanctuary and the chapel at every service, and for the many gatherings, celebrations, and special occasions held in the parish hall. Volunteers help to arrange the flowers, which are often memorials and which are frequently drawn from local gardens.
Contact: Gail Kharidia
The EAT formed in 2010 as an extension of our Green Sanctuary accreditation in 2009. In keeping with our UU principles and benediction, the EAT is working to help our congregation find ways to respond effectively to a variety of environmental issues. Click here to learn more.
Greening the Campus
Contact: Ted Bayne
Contact: Andy Puchrik
The goal of the First Parish Humanist Council is to strengthen the voice of Humanism in First Parish, through informative and social meetings. The Council cooperates with the Concord Area Humanist (CAH) group and its meetings under the umbrella of the First Parish’s Wright Tavern Center for Spiritual Development. The CAH is affiliated with both the Unitarian Universalist HUUmanists and the American Humanist Association. The group inclusively brings together various non-supernatural lifestances that emphasize humanity’s responsibility for what happens around us.
Contact: Laurie Van Loon
Contact: Liz Rust
We have started a Membership and Welcoming Committee this fall 2023 and warmly inviting anyone interested to join us. Our goals are simple – help people learn about our congregation and how to become more involved. And to have some fun while we do it.
Of course there are many details in this work, and we welcome everyone. Your ideas, your energy, and your participation. From big ideas to smaller items, from one time events to on-going tasks. We welcome it all.
We have an amazing congregation, with many offerings and a historic and beautiful building. Let’s show it off to our friends, neighbors and all those who are interested in experiencing the place that has brought us such joy and meaning.
Please be in touch with Liz Rust for more information.
Contact: Toby Smith Ropeik
Contact: Kristin Moore
The First Parish Search Committee has been tasked with choosing the candidate to become our next settled Senior Minister. In the fall they will be collecting information about the demographics, dreams, challenges, and aspirations of our congregation so that they can compile the congregational record (story of our congregation) that will be available to those interested in applying to be our candidate. In order to do this, they will distribute a survey, host a congregational workshop, and hold a number of listening sessions. In the winter they will review all the applications received, conduct interviews, listen to sermons, and pare down the list to three pre-candidates. They will then choose the candidate that they believe will be the best person to lead and journey with us. They will make all the arrangements for Candidating Week in the spring, at the end of which the congregation will vote on whether to call the candidate to serve as our next Senior Minister.
Contact: Jeff Brainerd
The Nominating Committee is responsible for preparing a slate of candidates to be voted at the
Annual Meeting, including but not limited to:
- Standing Committee Members-at-Large
Members of the Nominating Committee select candidates for nomination from among Members of First Parish, based on the following criteria:
- The current and future needs of the Standing Committee, including the skills and experience of current members;
- The current and future composition of the Standing Committee, with consideration toward achieving a diverse representation of the Congregation;
- Individual knowledge and interest in the specific duties of the Standing Committee, including (but not limited to) Collaborative Governance;
- History of participation in service to the Congregation.
Promotes the exchange of clergy, parishioners, and resources between First Parish and the Unitarian Church of Székelykeresztúr in Transylvania, the birthplace of Unitarianism. These exchanges, between two historic churches on different continents and between congregations speaking different languages in different cultures, enrich the life and worship of both congregations and deepen our mutual understanding of what it means to be Unitarian.
Contact: Judy Dembsey
Assist the ministers as they companion parishioners who are in need of spiritual and emotional support during hospitalizations, bereavement and long-term illnesses. They also offer support to elders, caregivers and families in crisis.
Contact: Sue St.Croix
Contact: Fred Van Deusen
Contact: Ingrid Wheeler
The Shawl Ministry offers shawls to members and friends of the congregation in order to provide congregational comfort and support to those who are experiencing a time of loss, difficult transition, illness or injury. Many hands can be involved in creating a “Share a Shawl” which works well for those just starting out (lessons are offered at the Tuesday gatherings) or with limited time, but most shawls and lap blankets are knit by individuals. Some folks attend the Shawl Ministry monthly meetings on the second Tuesday of each month from 2:00-5:00 p.m. in the Brooks Room. Others knit or crochet shawls or blankets on their own. Shawls/blankets are created with the intention of kindness, fellowship, support and love. All are welcome to the monthly group meetings, or to contribute a shawl by contacting Ingrid Wheeler at email@example.com. If you would like a shawl, please contact Rev. Paul Langston-Daley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact: Gib Metcalf
Composed of eleven members, including the Clerk and the Treasurer, this elected committee is responsible for conduct of the business affairs and control of the administration of First Parish.
The Standing Committee meets monthly at First Parish. Members of First Parish are invited to attend.
Contact: Shelley Hawks
As an historical hub for the development of Transcendentalism in the 19th century, First Parish continues as a location for the study of this important philosophy. The Council, a member of the Concord Historical Collaborative, develops and plans events to expand the understanding of Transcendentalism today. The council meets as needed to plan events. You can visit the Transcendentalism Council’s Youtube Page by Clicking Here.
Contact: Philip vanderWilden
A five-member elected committee charged with supervision of the property of First Parish, including the historic buildings adjacent to the meeting house, and the endowed funds.
Founded in 1881, the WPA continues to be a large, active organization. It promotes the educational, charitable, and religious interests of First Parish. Meetings are scheduled once a month from September through May, and generally include speakers who address a wide variety of topics. Two major fund-raising events are held each year, with the profits given to special parish projects, as well as educational and charitable activities within the community and the denomination. The WPA is a member of the national Unitarian Universalist Women’s Federation.
Women’s Retreat Planning Committee
Contact: Lilllian Anderson
Members of First Parish in Concord gather for a wide variety of reasons. The congregation has affinity groups for social action, the arts, spiritual enrichment, pastoral care, learning, and fun. If a member has an idea for an affinity group, they can see if there are others in the congregation who are also interested in the idea. If there are enough people who want to gather around this idea for it to be a viable program, filling out a simple form makes it official. Likewise, when an affinity group ceases to meet, it is allowed to disappear. Naturally, all affinity groups must fit within the mission of First Parish and within Unitarian Universalist principles. Here are some of the current affinity groups:
Contact: Rick Moore
Each meeting includes a time of focused sharing and a topic for facilitated discussion. The Tuesday Group meets the first Tuesday of the month 1:30-3:00 p.m., don’t worry about your age, all welcome, you determine whether the topic is for you. Hope to see you there!
Tuesday Group Steering Committee:
Bob Andrews, Linda Benua, Mary Clarke, Jack Nevison, Margie King Saphier, Anne Fortier, Co-Chair, and Nancy McJennett, Co-Chair.
Jewish Awareness Affinity Group
Contact: TBD (Currently Inactive)
The Jewish Awareness affinity group is a place to share questions (and on more rare occasions, answers) about Judaism in a Unitarian Universalist context. Questions include: Can I be Jewish and Unitarian Universalist at the same time? What can I learn from Judaism that will help me as a Unitarian Universalist? How can I share what I know about Jewish history and culture? We gather and share some wine and challah, exchange stories, and explore and laugh together. Sometimes we watch a movie, eat a meal, or take a field trip. All Jews, non-Jews, allies of Jews, and those just plain curious are welcome.
Mom’s Connection Group
Contact: Dana Lissy
The First Parish Mom’s Connection Group brings mothers together in friendly and fun ways and meets throughout the year. The group provides a forum for sharing wisdom and support as we raise our families during ever-changing times, as well as inspiration for meaningful living. It serves as a subset of the Women’s Parish Association (WPA) in an effort to weave together multiple generations of women at First Parish. In addition to our casual get-togethers, we organize activities such as hikes, group music outings, yoga, cooking demos, and more. Bring your ideas and enthusiasm to the group! For information about get-togethers, events, and activities, contact Dana or Jen.
Contact: Fred Van Deusen
Spanish Speakers Affinity Group
Contact: Laurie Van Loon
This is an informal social group for people in our congregation who speak Spanish or want to speak it better. Is goal is to encourage and embrace the use of Spanish as a first or second language and to explore topics and experiences related to Spanish-speaking world. We gather monthly for a shared evening meal at members’ houses, usually with a previously decided theme. Fluency is not required. Though most conversation is conducted in Spanish, someone is always willing to translate.
Contact: Neil Brock
The Sunday men’s group meets from 7:00-8:15 p.m. every Sunday on Zoom to discuss our life concerns. It is a “closed” group that expects members attend regularly. If you’re interested in joining, please contact Neil to learn more.
Tibetan Buddhist Group (Wednesday Group & Jhamtse Thursday Group)
Contact for Wednesday Group: Bill Seaver
Contact for Jhamtse Thursday Group: Veronica Brandstrader
Everyone is invited to attend either of these weekly gatherings and share the spirit of community with old friends and new. Regardless of your familiarity with Buddhist teachings (even if it’s “none”), or even if you haven’t been in active practice for a while, come join our community. Each session starts with a short meditation, followed by discussions on various dharma texts, talks or videos. Meetings are held Wednesday mornings from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m., and Thursday evenings from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m., in the Chapel.
Contact: Darien Smith
All women of First Parish are warmly invited to read the current book and join one or both discussions. Please note that we are always open for drop-in, and you never need to sign up to attend. If you’d like to join the discussion one month, just come to either the Monday evening session, 7:30-9:00 p.m., or the Tuesday morning session 9:30-11:00 a.m. The meetings are held at First Parish in the Brooks Room. Discussions are usually the 4th or 5th Monday and Tuesday of the month, with a few exceptions as indicated in the date list below. The morning session is facilitated by Darien Smith and the evening by Siri Smedvig. If you would like to be added to the Women’s Book Group email list, please contact Darien Smith.
Women’s Goddess Covenant Circle
Contact: Darien Smith
The Women’s Goddess Covenant Circle of First Parish in Concord focuses on the feminine aspects of earth-centered spirituality, gathering two to three times a month to celebrate the Wheel of the Year and a shared understanding of the Feminine Divine in its many manifestations. Membership includes an orientation / familiarization period and a commitment to attendance, active participation in shared leadership, and to the relationships within the group.