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.
Sermons from the 2017-2018 church year at First Parish
Heleena Mathew is a Community Organizer at the Merrimack Valley Project
The Rev. Douglas Wilson was born in Vancouver, grew up in Santa Barbara, and fell in love with the music of the Beatles and Bob Dylan in the mid-sixties. He graduated from UCSB in religion and philosophy and from Starr King School for the Ministry and was ordained in Brooklyn in 1971. After hiking the Appalachian Trail in 1973, he moved to UU Rowe Camp, which was founded in 1924. Doug founded UU Rowe Conference Center in 1974, which he co-directed Rowe Camp and Conference Center, mostly with his wife Prue Berry, who is a lot nicer than he is, until 2012, when he retired. Since then, he’s mostly been doing whatever he wants to do.
Reverend Russ Menk served as Intern Minister at First Parish from September 2011 through June 2012.
Russ graduated from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California with an MDiv degree in 2013. He was given Preliminary Fellowship by the Unitarian Universalist Association with the award of his degree and he received Final Fellowship in 2016. Rev. Russ was ordained by the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Santa Cruz County and continues to serve there.
Prior to that, Russ had joined the First Unitarian Church in Salt Lake City, Utah in 2002 and after holding several lay-leadership positions decided to become a UU minister. In 2008 Russ retired after 29 years from his career in Aerospace, and moved to California to attend seminary. He enjoys life, people, church meetings, learning, nature, and dark beer.
Stephen Shick is Minister Emeritus of the Unitarian Church of Marlborough and Hudson where he served as Senior Minister. As a parish minister he has also served congregations in Haverhill, MA and Portland, ME.
Stephen was instrumental in establishing Community Ministry in our Association. He served our faith nationally as the founding Director of UU Peace Network and Director of the UU Service Committee's U.S. Programs Department. Before becoming a UU minister he was the founder and host of Consider the Alternatives, a national radio program carried on 400 commercial and non-commercial stations. Stephen teaches the art of preaching with out notes and manuscript as part of a national program sponsored by the UU Ministers Association. His newest project is Momentary Meditations, a one minute nature and poetry meditation published weekly on YouTube. Stephen is author of two Skinner House books, Be the Change and Consider the Lilies. Stephen lives in Lexington with his wife JoAnn Mulready-Shick. They have three adult children, Sarah, Dora and Michael.
Sermons from the 2020-2021 church year at First Parish
The Rev. Jackie Clement is a recently retired parish minister who served UU churches in New England and Illinois. She now counts First Church Unitarian in Littleton as home. Before entering the ministry, Jackie worked as an engineer in the field of computer graphics.She is the author of several UU publications and when not in the studio making art she serves as co-chair of the Ministerial Fellowship Committee, the body that grants credentials to our ministers.
Justine Sullivan is currently serving as the interim minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Brunswick Maine.
Justine served as our Ministerial Intern from the fall of 2015 until June of 2017 while pursuing her Master of Divinity degree at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago. Justine was ordained in 2017 by her home congregation of Northborough, Massachusetts.
Justine is a member of the UU congregation in Northborough, Massachusetts, where she lives with her spouse Dale. Justine and Dale have been together since 1986 and legally married since 2004. Justine has been a social worker and psychotherapist for the past 20 years and has worked as a congregational consultant and facilitator throughout New England. In addition to serving in leadership positions in her home congregation, Justine served as president of the Clara Barton district board from 2012 to 2015
Guest Minister Rev. Sophia Lyons. Rev Lyons currently serves as the Intern/Sabbatical Minister at the UU Church of Haverhill as well as year-round Island Minister on Star Island–one of the few Unitarian Universalist retreat and conference centers off the coast of Maine.
In 2019, she graduated with a Masters of Divinity from Boston University’s School of Theology–the alma mater of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and known to many as The School of the Prophets. Her life’s work, study and ministry has much to do with radical welcome and spiritual healing as a pathway towards collective liberation. She lives on the north shore of Massachusetts with her partner, Jason, and two daughters, Olive and Poppy.
Steve Zocchi has been the Music Director at First Parish since September of 2014.
Steve Zocchi is a pianist, guitarist, composer and music teacher from the Chelmsford area with over 25 years of teaching experience. He received his BA in Piano Performance from UMass Lowell. He studied organ with Dr. John Ogasapian and served as his Assistant Organist at St. Anne's Church in Lowell from 1997-1999. Prior to coming to First Parish, Steve served as Music Minister at St. John's Episcopal Church in Lowell from 2000-2014. He has performed in numerous eclectic piano concerts at local venues, juxtaposing classical, jazz and original compositions. He studied jazz piano theory with Steve Hunt. Steve's latest release 'Piano Works and Play' as well as his previous CD 'Compositions and Improvisation' include both music composed in the classical tradition as well as improvised music in several genres. Steve lives with his wife, pianist/cellist Meghan Zocchi, and their three sons in Acton, MA.