Pastoral Care

As a large and vital church, there are many ways we care for one another at First Parish. Our benediction, which we say together every Sunday, serves as our mission statement for pastoral care.

Go out into the world in peace,
have courage,
hold onto what is good;
return to no person evil for evil;
strengthen the faint-hearted,
support the weak,
help the suffering;
honor all beings.

The 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:

Rev. Howard N. Dana, Senior Minister,

Pastoral Care Council

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. For information contact Judy Dembsey, team leader, at for more information.

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. This lay ministry group is selected by the ministers. They receive significant training and meet monthly for supervision, reflection and support. Contact Diane Clapp, team leader, at for more information. 

Caring Connection

The Caring Connection provides concrete assistance to parishioners by preparing and delivering meals, offering rides, writing personal notes, welcoming new babies with gifts and a meal, and providing opportunities for congregation members to reach out to others through card writing and shawl ministries. Contact the church office for more information or to volunteer.

  • Food Preparation:  Carolyn Shohet, and Tracey Hurd
  • Food Delivery:  Bev Bringle, Petra Betts, Patty Keane, and Pat Kane
  • Notes:  Kitsy Rothermel and the Women's Parish Association
  • New Baby Welcomers:  Jane Stewart, Louisa Paushter and Bridget Neale Paris
  • Pastoral "Thinking of You" Note Cards:  Kathleen Elcox
  • New Baby Blankets: created by Kitsy Rothermel
  • Shawl Ministries:  Regina Hugendubler
  • Transportation: Contact the church office or volunteer ride coordinator, Suzanne Hogan,

Memorial Wreath

Beginning the first Sunday of Advent through the month of December, a memorial wreath stands in front of the Sanctuary. Parishioners are invited attach ribbons to acknowledge a loved one who has died.

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 Note Cards

Note cards are available during the Sunday coffee hour in the Parlor. Parishioners can take the opportunity to write a caring note to a congregant who was remembered on the Pastoral List prior to silent meditation during the Sunday service. It will be mailed for you.

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. The Library List of its contents is posted on this website.

Pastoral Care On-Line Resource Library

The Pastoral Care On-Line Resource Library on this website, provides links to resources for individuals, families and caregivers.

Covenant Groups

The Covenant Group program provides a safe and caring way for small groups to come together and explore the greater meaning of their lives.  See the Covenant Groups section of this website for more information. Contact Rachel Baker, the Director of Congregational Life, to find out more.

By Your Side Singers

Singing and pastoral care join together in the By Your Side Singing group. The group meets the first and third Thursdays at First Parish from 7:30 to 9:00 PM under the direction of Beth Norton, Music Director. You do not need to be a member of the Adult Choir to participate. The By Your Side Singers provide pastoral care through life’s transitions by singing rounds, chants, lullabies, choral music, hymns and spirituals to parishioners in their homes or at the hospital.

How Can You Be Involved?

You are encouraged to let us know, through the ministers, the church office, or one of the groups above, 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 the front office.