First Parish in Brookline joyfully announces that the Reverend Lisa Perry-Wood has accepted the congregation's call to be our next settled Senior Minister. She starts on August 1.
The Rev. Lisa Perry-Wood is a native New Englander who has lived in Lexington, MA for over 30 years, Lisa recently served as Acting Parish Minister at The First Parish in Bedford. She has also served as summer minister in Lexington and Winchester UU congregations, and completed her two-year intern ministry in Carlisle, where she also served as Interim Director of Religious Education her first year, revitalizing a struggling program. She was ordained on June 3, 2018 in Lexington.
Lisa is animated by a deep, long-time commitment to social justice with a particular focus on racial justice, prison ministry, immigration justice, marriage equality, and class inequity. As early as 1994 she was a founding member of Lexington’s Coalition for Racial Equality. From 2008 to 2010, she served as Executive Director of the MA Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth. She is currently a Workshop Facilitator for UU Class Conversations and is on the Steering Committee for the UUA’s Beloved Conversations. She has developed and led powerful worship services that reflect these values and commitments.
Like all five of our most-recent ministers, Lisa has a rich and varied work history to draw on for her ministry. Before entering Andover Newton Theological School in 2012, Lisa was a mental health counselor, trainer and community mediator; a K-8 charter school founder and leader in Lynn, MA; a consultant and trainer in grant writing and fund development; and interim executive director at non-profits in Boston, Cambridge, Roxbury, and Worcester.
Lisa draws on a wide range of spiritual traditions and experiences in UU communities. A childhood spiritual grounding in Episcopal, Baptist, and Congregational churches gave way later to active engagement as a member of two UU congregations over 25 years. As a member, she has sung in choirs, served as a pastoral associate and worship committee member, led parenting teens groups, taught OWL and other RE classes, developed RE curriculum, and led the youth group. She has formal training in yoga and ayurvedic health, has explored Eastern religions, and practices mediation. And she has recently completed a rigorous program at Andover Newton where her exceptional work was recognized through several awards, including the James Luther Adams Award for Excellence in the Study of Liberal Theology and induction into the Jonathan Edwards Honor Society.
Traditional and non-traditional family experiences have shaped Lisa’s understanding of life and ministry. A parent of three grown children from a first marriage, Lisa later came out as lesbian and, in 2004, legally married Zoe (pronounced Zo), a school psychologist and professional artist-photographer. Lisa is a grandparent of three (including twins), and, with Zoe, in 2010 took in a great niece and two great nephews—ages 8, 10, and 14—when they became homeless in Los Angeles. Her great niece remained with Lisa and Zoe for eight years and is now in college. As a biological parent of a child with physical and serious mental health challenges, and later as a foster parent of children with no prior experience of a middle class or affluent life style, Lisa has had many opportunities to learn—as she has told us—about her “own vulnerabilities, the pressures on teens, and how to love someone through countless moments of grief and despair.”
The Rev. Eliza Blanchard is an Affiliate Minister at First Parish. Formerly an English teacher, she received her M.Div. degree from Harvard Divinity School in 2004 and was ordained the following fall at the First Church in Belmont. After serving as the settled minister in Grafton for five years, she experienced a new call: as a community minister she provides spiritual guidance, especially to animal caregivers, and often preaches at local churches on Unitarian Universalism’s seventh principle – reverence for our interdependence on the web of all existence.
At First Parish she offers pet loss groups several times a year, in which she helps caregivers honor the bonds they have with animals through listening, sharing stories, thanks giving, and readings. She also leads a Blessing of the Animals in early October. She lives in Brookline with her husband, Ralph, and their dog, Maisie.
The Rev. MaryHelen Gunn is our Affiliate Minister for Campus Ministry in the Greater Boston area. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, Tufts University, and Andover Newton Theological School. Since her internship and ordination here in 2011, Rev. MaryHelen has pursued her calling to ministry in higher education settings, where some of our youngest adults engage the powerful spiritual work of self-(re)formation and (re)defining their maturing roles in a complex world. She focuses her ministry on supporting UU, secular-humanist, and seekers alike. Building outward from her role as Spiritual Advisor at Northeastern University, Rev. MaryHelen is now working under a 2015 grant from the UU Funding program, cultivating institutional relationships to bring sustained, ordained, progressive ministry to students in many Boston-area campus communities. Watch for the Faithify fundraising campaign later this year: follow @CampUUsBoston on Twitter and find us on Facebook!
Rev. MaryHelen also conducts the Children's Choir here at First Parish. She lives in Jamaica Plain with her spouse Matt, their child, Sophie (all active here), and their beloved canine companion Buddy (who loves to visit here, especially for the animal blessings!). For personal renewal, MaryHelen enjoys walking outdoors, observing and studying wildlife, and cultivating beautiful, soul-nourishing habitats for humans and other creatures.
|Coordinator of Religious Exploration||Laci Adams
|Music Director||Keith Kirchoff