Sermons from the 2014-2015 church year at First Parish
Laura has been an active volunteer and activist with UU Mass Action since 2011 and formally accepted her role as Acting Executive Director in April of 2014. She follows in the footsteps of the previous Executive Director, Jesse Jaeger, who provided three years of leadership and visioning that helped to grow UU Mass Action into a powerful organizing force.
Laura has been a Unitarian Universalist for over 20 years. During this time she has held many lay leadership roles, but her passion has always been for social justice. Her work has centered on hunger and homelessness, environmental justice, ending mass incarceration and immigrant rights.
Laura deepened her commitment to immigrant rights during a service learning trip with Boston New Sanctuary Movement to the Arizona/Mexican border in 2011. She states, “Witnessing the conditions at the border first hand moves one from an intellectual understanding of the situation to a deeply felt comprehension of the pain that our nation’s economic, drug and immigration policy has created.”
In 2014, Laura traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico, as part of a Witness for Peace learning experience exploring the roots of migration. In August 2014, Laura participated in the Pray for Relief action in Washington DC and was arrested with over 100 other interfaith activists calling for an end to deportations. Laura has also been an active member UU Mass Action working group, EMIT (End Mass Incarceration Together) and helped to organize the buses for the Jobs Not Jails rally in April 2014.
Laura balances her community activism with her work as a Clinical Social Worker. She maintains a part-time private practice helping people who are healing from trauma. She holds a Masters degree from Boston University’s School of Social Work and a Bachelor of Science with a major in management from Northeastern University.
Laura has been married for 26 years to Ken Wagner. Ken also has a long history in lay leadership and he is a passionate ally in Anti-Racism/Anti-Oppression/Multicultural ministries. Laura and Ken are both members of Allies for Racial Equity and are committed to anti-racism/anti-oppression/multicultural work. Laura and Ken have four beautiful children and are enjoying the recent addition of two wonderful grandchildren to their family.
Matt Meyer is an artist of percussion, knowledgeable and experienced in a variety of styles, including latin-jazz, Brazilian, folk, funk, Hiphop and pop. He is a graduate of Berklee College of Music and has studied in Cuba, Ghana, and Central America.
The Reverend Allison Palm is a Program Assistant at the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association.
Allison is a life-long UU and Minnesota native. Now a resident of Brooklyn, NY, Allison is a minister in preliminary fellowship with the UUA and has served congregations as a religious educator, Ministerial Intern and Temporary Minister. Allison graduated from Andover Newton Theological School in 2013 with a Masters of Divinity and a Certificate in Pastoral Care and Counseling. She is passionate about religious community, spiritual development and social justice. In her spare time, Allison enjoys biking, ballet, and exploring the city with her spouse, Tristan.
The Rev. Lilia Cuervo, a native of Colombia, was the first Latin American woman ordained in the Unitarian Universalist denomination. She pioneered full time ministry in Spanish in San Jose, CA. where she served for six and a half years. At First Parish in Cambridge she also made history by being the first woman (and a Latina at that!) to be installed as a Parish Minister. She just ended four years of very productive multicultural ministry there.
She is a co-founder of the Latino/a UU Networking Association (LUUNA), and the initiator of, and a translator and contributor to, Las Voces del Camino, the Spanish language Unitarian Universalist hymnal.
Before entering seminary, she had a career as a Demographer working in Colombia, Brazil and United States. In 1964 she was invited by the University of California at Berkeley as an exchange Visiting Assistant Professor of Demography at its School of Public Health. Later she worked as the Evaluation & Research Associate at the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) in New York City.
Her degrees include a Master of Divinity from Starr King School for the Ministry, a Master of Demography from Georgetown University, and a B.A. in Math & Physics from Women Teachers College, Bogota, Colombia.
The Reverend Ellen Rowse Spero has served as our minister since August, 2002.
Ellen is a graduate of Brandeis University, University of Maryland (with an M.Ed in Special Education) and Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. She has served as the Assistant Minister at the First Parish in Lexington, MA, and as the Interim Minister at Hope United Church of Christ in Alexandria, VA. Before entering the ministry, she was a special education teacher in Alexandria, Virginia. She grew up as a Unitarian Universalist, attending the First Church Unitarian in Littleton, MA.
The Reverend John Pastor is currently the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Gardner.
Rev. John G. Pastor, Jr. has served as minister of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Gardner, Massachusetts since 2007. He graduated with academic honors from Andover Newton Theological School where he was actively involved in the Center for Faith, Health, and Spirituality and the Reiki Ministry. During his tenure at seminary he completed a one year, full-time, chaplain residency at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Boston. He was ordained in April of 2006 by the First Congregational Parish Unitarian in Petersham. In addition to serving UUSG, he serves as Interfaith Chaplain for JHC Hospice of Worcester. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Clara Barton District and the UU Mass. Action Network. He is also a former member of the CBD UU Minister’s Association Executive Committee. He lives in Petersham with his spouse, Bob Hall.