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. To see our most up-to-date document on all of our opportunities, please click to read A Brief Guide to First Parish in Concord.
A list of Social Action Programs can be found by CLICKING HERE.
Committees and Councils
Contact: Sara Ballard
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: Jane Barnes
The purpose of the Finance Committee is to assist the Treasurer and Standing Committee in their efforts to support the Head of Staff and the Director of Operations in matters relating to congregational priorities and finance.
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: Peter Lowitt
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.
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.
Ministerial Intern Committee
Contact: Sue Ryan
Responsible for screening and selecting a ministerial intern for First Parish, and then providing support to that person throughout the intern year. The committee meets monthly with the intern, gives feedback on sermons and other worship activities, serves as a sounding board, and in general, provides the intern with a supportive community. As a large teaching congregation, First Parish is in a strong position to help develop future ministers for our denomination.
Music Events Committee
Contact: Rob Hamilton
Develops and facilitates musical programs and events at First Parish to feed us spiritually, strengthen our sense of community, expand our musical horizons and offer a gateway to the wider community.
Contact: Eric Moore
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.
Contact: Lillian Anderson
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.
Pastoral Care Lay Ministers
Contact: Diane Clapp
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.
Pastoral Care Council
Contact: Judy Dembsey
The mission of the Pastoral Care Council is to work with the pastoral care ministers and promote the pastoral care networks of First Parish to extend and strengthen their reach. Council members work in collaboration with the senior minister and the ministerial intern to ensure that the pastoral care ministries at First Parish are vital and strong.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like a shawl, please contact Rev. Liz Weber at email@example.com.
Contact: Peter Nobile
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.
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.
Women’s Parish Association
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.
Womens’ Retreats Planning Team
Contact: Bozena Smith
The First Parish Women’s Retreats provide a setting for women to gather and talk, listen, play (indoors and out), write, sing, enjoy great food, talk some more, and create and deepen friendships within the community. Women wishing to attend can choose one of two late-January weekends (2 nights) in a cozy old retreat house in Connecticut or a shorter “mini-retreat” at First Parish (date tba).
*Committees that are appointed or elected are denoted with an asterisk.
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. [Can we add something here explaining why people would want to make it official, e.g., use of rooms or other church resources that might only be available to “official” groups?–VC] 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:
Jewish Awareness Affinity Group
Contact: Dana Snyder-Grant
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. We usually meet at 7:00 PM on the third Friday of the month.
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.
Tibetan Buddhist Group
Contact: 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 9:30 to 11:00 a.m., and Thursday evenings from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m., in the Chapel.
First Tuesday 65+ Group
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.
Mom’s Connection Group
The First Parish Mom’s Night Out (FP MNO) group connects mothers in friendly and fun ways and meets monthly. The FP MNO group provides a forum for sharing wisdom and inspiration for raising children and meaningful living, and serves as a subset of the Women’s Parish Association (WPA) in an effort to weave multiple generations of women at First Parish. In addition to our casual get-togethers, we are organizing hikes, group music outings, yoga, cooking demos and more. Bring your ideas and enthusiasm to MNO! For information about MNO get-togethers, events and activities, contact Melissa or Val.
Sign up to receive information about this group here.
Women’s A.M./P.M. Book Group
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.
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.