• Supports people through crises, transitions and difficult situations
  • Listens compassionately and helps individuals sort out what can and cannot be changed
  • Is present with people in their pain, loss, struggle, anxiety, and joy
  • Relates gently to individuals as whole people
  • Offers encouragement and comfort in times of trouble
  • Is available to everyone at any stage of life

Seek Pastoral Care

During crises and transitions such as divorce, health issues, retirement, death of someone close to you, marriage, family concerns, mid-life crises, coming to terms with sexual identity, losing a job, making a career change or financial distress

You need to talk confidentially with a compassionate listener, even if you are not sure what is bothering you

You are facing a major life decision

You are grieving or hurting and need emotional and spiritual support

Pastoral Care Process

1. A First Parish member or friend contacts a minister or lay minister to express his or her concerns.

2. The minister or lay minister talks with the member to better understand his or her needs.

3. Together, the member and the minister or lay minister decides what type of support or referral would be helpful, and initiate support.

4. The minister or lay minister follows-up with the member to see if the pastoral care support has been beneficial and whether further support is needed.

How Can You Be Involved?

You are encouraged to let us know, through the ministers, the church office, or one of the groups below, when you or someone you know is in need of support.

If you would like to volunteer to help with pastoral care or the Caring Connection, please contact Rev. Marion Visel, Minister for Pastoral Care, mvisel@firstparish.org or the front office.

Our Ministers

The ministers offer counseling, hospital or home visits, phone calls, and are always available to respond when called. Please call the church office (978-369-9602) to schedule an appointment or email the ministers directly:

Primary contact:  Marion Visel, Minister for Pastoral Care, mvisel@firstparish.org, 978-369-9602, cell 203-931-5239

Senior Minister:  Howard Dana, hdana@firstparish.org, 978-369-9602, cell 717-412-8543

Minister of Religious Education:  Amy Freedmanafreedman@firstparish.org

Ministerial Intern:  Laurel Grey, lgray@firstparish.org, cell 401-932-7855

Pastoral Care Lay Ministers

The ministers are assisted by the Pastoral Care Lay Ministers, who companion parishioners who are in need of spiritual and emotional support during hospitalizations, bereavement, and long-term illness; they offer support for elders, caregivers, and families in crisis. The Pastoral Care Lay Ministers are selected by the ministers. They receive significant training and meet monthly for supervision, reflection and support. Contact Rev. Marion Visel at mvisel@firstparish.org for more information.

 Paula Adelson apauladog@comcast.net 508-485-1030
 Sally Brandon Bemis sgbrandon@me.com 978-505-0492
 Diane Clapp dianebamclapp@gmail.com 781-257-5025
 Sue Dobbie susandobbie@gmail.com 978-501-6969
 Lori Gill-Pazaris gillpazaris@gmail.com 978-505-2720
 Peter Nobile
 peter.nobile@gmail.com 978-369-5857
 Dana Snyder Grant dana.snydergrant@gmail.com 978-760-1129
 Virginia Taylor virginiarosstaylor@verizon.net 978-263-9777

Caring Connection Services

The Caring Connection provides concrete assistance to parishioners by preparing and delivering meals, offering rides, writing personal notes, welcoming new babies with gifts, and providing opportunities for parishioners to reach out to others through card writing, shawl ministries, and friendly visits. Contact one of the ministers or lay ministers to request these services or to volunteer.

Meal Delivery brings meals to parishioners during illness, injury or bereavement.

By Your Side Singers are a pastoral choir that helps through life’s transitions by singing rounds, chants, lullabies, choral music, hymns and spirituals to parishioners in their homes or at the hospital.

Friendly Visitors are matched with members and friends of First Parish who would like to be contacted regularly.

Shawl Ministry provides shawls to those who are experiencing a time of loss, difficult transition, illness or injury.

In addition, there are other Pastoral Care Services that you may contact directly.

Rides to appointments and First Parish events can be arranged with the Rides Coordinator Pat Brinkman,  pabrinkman@comcast.net, 781-259-9639


Pastoral “Thinking of You” Note Cards at Coffee Hour: Kathleen Elcox, kelcox1@verizon.net

Notes: Kitsy Rothermel, kitsy.mcr@icloud.com


New Baby Blankets: created by Kitsy Rothermel, kitsy.mcr@icloud.com

New Baby Welcomers: Louisa Paushter, louisa@wimoweh.com

Holiday Memorial Wreath: Judy Dembsey, dembsey@verizon.net

Holiday Plant Delivery: Caitlin Selle, selle.caitlin5@gmail.com

Pastoral Care Brochure

If you would like a printed copy of the Pastoral Care Brochure you can pick one up outside the office at First Parish or click on this link: Pastoral Care Brochure.

On-line Resources

We have compiled a very useful list of available on-line resources to assist with caregiving, parenting, family support, health and mental illness on the On-line Resources page.

Personal Information Form

This form is of help to members, their families, and their ministers.  In the event of serious accident, illness or death, when immediate family members are not nearby, First Parish is sometimes expected to serve as a source of information.

This form is kept in a confidential file and only accessed if and when needed.  Some items are merely “memory joggers” and may remind you to review documents you have in your own files.  Please fill out this Personal Information Form to any extent you wish, and send to the attention of one of our ministers.  It is also helpful to keep a copy of the completed form with your own personal papers.

Pastoral Care Council

The mission of the Pastoral Care Council is to work with the pastoral care minister and promote the pastoral care networks of First Parish to extend and strengthen their reach. Council members work in collaboration with the Senior Minister, Minister for Pastoral Care and the Ministerial Intern to ensure that the pastoral care ministries at First Parish are vital and strong. If you would like to provide feedback on any of the pastoral care programs, please contact a member of the Council.

Judy Dembseydembsey@verizon.netChairperson
Marion Viselmvisel@firstparish.orgMinister for Pastoral Care
Enid Boasbergharpplayer@comcast.netPC Library
Sue Dobbiesusandobbie@gmail.com
Fred Van Deusenfredvandeu@gmail.comPC Website
Lou Fackertlfackert@baycove.org
Mary Ann Bartonmabartonst@gmail.com
Virginia Taylorvirginiarosstaylor@verizon.net

Educational Events

Pastoral Care offers workshops on aging, preparing for death, living well and communicating with compassion. See the Meetinghouse News for more information.

Pastoral Care Lending Library

The Pastoral Care Lending Library is a self-serve library, located in the hallway leading to the Peter Bulkeley room, available to all parishioners. To view a list of books available in the library, click this link: Pastoral Care Library Catalogue-12-12-17.

My Faith Community Is Important to Me

If part of conveying your wishes is making sure that First Parish in Concord is contacted in case of your bereavement, serious illness, hospitalization, or death, then you should communicate your wishes to your loved ones or representatives who will speak for you. To facilitate that process we’ve developed a simple form, “My Faith Community is Important to Me.”

Download this form, print it out, fill it out, and save it with your other important documents. If you reside in an assisted living or skilled nursing facility make this form available to your caregivers there.

The form provides those who care for and about you with the contact information for First Parish in Concord. It will be easy for them to let us know of your situation, and we will follow up with you.


Small Group Ministry Program

Small Group Ministry provides a safe and caring way for small groups of members and friends of the congregation to come together and explore the greater meanings of our lives.

Small Group Ministry groups will meet during a term of approximately four months with a trained facilitator. At the core of each meeting is a topic or activity that serves as a spring-board for reflection on deeper issues of who we are and what gives our lives meaning. Topics cover a range of spiritual and experiential themes such as Forgiveness, Creativity, Mentors, Conscious Consuming, Gratitude, Doubt.

For additional information on the Small Group Ministry Program contact Rev. Marion Visel at mvisel@firstparish.org.

First Tuesday 65+ Group

The First 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. Each meeting includes a time of focused sharing and a topic for facilitated discussion. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday Group Steering Committee: Berni Jenkins, Bob Andrews, Mary Clark, Dave Dawson, Susan Dobbie, Patricia Ellis, Bill Maxwell, Jack Nevison and Virginia Taylor
Contact: Virginia Taylor, virginiarosstaylor@verizon.net

Caregiver Support Group

Providing care for a family member in need is an age-old act of love or at least loyalty. You may care for an aging parent (perhaps while also caring for your own children), disabled spouse, sibling or an adult child with physical, mental or addiction issues.  Whether you provide direct care or oversee care at a distance, with support you can be a good caregiver without sacrificing yourself in the process.

This group meets monthly, usually on the first Monday of each month from 1:30 – 3:00pm.  Contact facilitator Diane Clapp, dianebamclapp@gmail.com to learn more about the group.  If you are unable to attend meetings on Monday afternoons please let her know of your interest.

The Holden Fund of First Parish

The Holden Fund was established at First Parish in 1901 when Ellen Emerson contributed $3,500 in honor of Nancy Holden for “daughters taking care of mothers in straitened circumstances.”  Those original instructions have been interpreted more liberally since then to support residents of Concord (and First Parish members wherever they reside) who require care so they can continue to live in their own homes. Monthly stipends of varying amounts, based upon need, are awarded to help support caregivers (family members or paid professionals). Questions or request for application contact: Rev. Marion Visel, Minister for Pastoral Care, mvisel@firstparish.org, 978-369-9602 X414

Holden Fund Panel: Rev. Howard Dana, Susan Dobbie, Alice Van Deusen, and Rev. Marion Visel