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Rev. Rebecca’s schedule:
Rev. Rebecca is available for pastoral care and other one-on-one meetings in the office on Wednesday, 9:30am-4:30pm; Thursday, 10am-5pm, and Friday, 9am-5pm. Monday, Sabbath. Tuesday, sermon writing from home; office some Tuesday evenings for adult faith formation. Saturday, community and work from home. Rev. Rebecca is available any time for pastoral emergencies.
To schedule time with Rev. Rebecca, email RevRebecca.Bryan@frsuu.org.
For pastoral emergencies contact her on her cell at 860-882-9410.
The Reverend Rebecca M. Bryan joyfully accepted the call to serve as the settled minister at the First Religious Society starting in August 2018. She is the congregation’s first settled female minister.
Rev. Rebecca serves as a member of the Diversity Equity Inclusion Task Force for the City of Newburyport, Chair of the Greater Newburyport Clergy Association, and as the UUA Director on the Massachusetts Convention of Congregational Ministers.
Rev. Rebecca has been a Unitarian Universalist for forty years. She is committed to sharing the good news of UUism through congregational life, preaching, and denominational engagement. Some of her additional areas of focus include interfaith partnerships, addictions ministry, and spiritual direction. Rev. Rebecca aspires to live her life and fulfill her ministry guided by Love and the seven principles of Unitarian Universalism.
Rev. Rebecca is a 2015 graduate of Andover Newton Theological School where she was
awarded membership into the Jonathan Edwards Honor Society and was the recipient of the Unitarian Universalist James Luther Adams Award for Excellence in the Study of Liberal Theology and the Gabriel Fackre Award for Excellence in Constructive Theology.
She was ordained into the fellowship of Unitarian Universalist ministers after a long and rewarding career in the nonprofit sector. She worked in the field of fundraising and organizational development for over twenty-five years including operating her own consulting business helping nonprofits with capital campaigns, annual and planned giving, and organizational development.
Before coming to the First Religious Society, Rev. Rebecca served as the Interim Senior Minister for First Parish in Brookline, MA and contract minister for the Unitarian Universalist Parish in Monson, MA
Rev. Helen Murgida
Rev. Helen M. Sampson Murgida, Ed.D.
Helen Murgida is called to serve as Community Minister Affiliated by Rev. Rebeca Bryan. She is an Ordained Interfaith Minister from the Chaplaincy Institute of Maine (ChIME). She is a member of the Pastoral Care Associates, Parish Friends and has delivered sermons entitled “Neruodiversity and Self Compassion” on 2/20 and “Diverse Ability, Ableism, Allyship” on 12/20. She is currently engaged with a small group to discuss ways to foster greater inclusion of people with disabilities in the activities of FRS. This group watched the award-winning film Crip Camp and shared in discussion of the book Sitting Pretty by disability author and activist Dr. Rebekkah Taussig. She continues to work as a Consultant for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Office of Approved Special Education Schools (OASES). As an Interfaith Chaplain, she provides people in need of celebrating the lives of deceased family members with memorial service rituals at funeral homes and at gravesides.
Helen was born and raised in Somerville, MA, attended Matignon Cambridge HS, received a B.S. Ed. and M.Ed. from Northeastern University, an M.Ed., Special Education, from Salem State University, and an Ed.D. from Nova Southeastern University. She is the wife of the late Frank Murgida, a long-time choir member who brought her to FRS. She has two sons, Matthew Murgida of Somerville, and Lucas Murgida of Santa Barbara, CA. She is co-founder of the Pentucket Workshop Preschool in Georgetown and taught at the Cotting School, and held administrative positions at the Somerville Charter School and Pathways Academy at McLean Hospital. She has served as a Hospice Volunteer, is on the Executive Committee of the Interfaith Ministers of New England, and is a member of the Council for Exceptional Children. Her hobbies include reading widely, including foreign language mysteries that have been translated into English, and visiting family in California, Arizona, Florida, and Hawaii.
Rev. Stan Barrett
Rev. Stan Barrett
The Rev. Stan Barrett is an Affiliate Minister of FRS. He and his wife, Leslie, have been members here for more than 20 years. Stan retired several years ago after 15 years as a hospice chaplain. Before that, he was a local church minister and a pastoral counselor in private practice. He ıs enjoying having more time for reading, playing (mostly) Bach on the piano, connecting more deeply with longtime friends, and doing housework. On his 70th birthday, he entered his 8th decade with some trepidation. His latest discoveries are Audible (if you haven’t heard War and Peace read aloud, you haven’t lived!) and a novel by 20th Century Russian author Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate.
Schedule: Office Monday-Thursday, 9am-5pm (and as needed). Friday off unless needed.
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Rob Authier joined the staff of First Religious Society as Director of Church Operations in November 2021. He provides strategic leadership and staff support to the Minister, Parish Board, and church committees to integrate and execute church Mission and Vision in the daily business affairs of the church.
For most of his career, Rob was CEO of the 25,000-member Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®, having previously led the New Hampshire and Virginia associations. Mentoring more than 15 of his staff to become CEOs themselves, Rob received his national organization’s highest staff Award of Excellence in 2008. He also was Public Relations Director of the American Lung Association of Massachusetts. More recently, he has provided strategic planning, leadership, and crisis management consulting.
A native of Holyoke, MA, Rob and his wife Deborah (a high school history teacher) live in Newburyport…about six streets away from their two grandchildren. They have three children living in Newburyport, Chicago, and Singapore. Rob sings first tenor with the Newburyport Choral Society where he also serves as volunteer Vice President of Operations. A cum laude Public Relations graduate of Boston University, Rob was president of his alumni association and the Virginia Council on Economic Education. He is an Eagle Scout, songwriter, and plays guitar, drums, blues harmonica, jaw’s harp, and some flute.
Schedule: Business Office, Monday-Friday, 9am-1pm. Focus time: Monday-Friday, 1-4pm.
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Diane Carroll joined the staff at First Religious Society in January 2019 as the Office Administrator. Her role at FRS includes desktop publishing, bookkeeping, publicity, editing, scheduling room reservations and rentals, and managing the business office. Diane holds a Bachelor of Music Business degree from the University of Massachusetts Lowell. She worked for Mercer Management Consulting for 15 years, first as a billing representative and then as a knowledge manager/document librarian for the transportation industry group. After stepping away from the work force to raise her son during his early years,
Diane was a parent volunteer for the Triton Regional School District, serving as chair of the elementary school book fair for two years. She later worked as a substitute teacher/instructional assistant in the district. She was a parent volunteer with the Triton Music Parents Organization, serving as treasurer for three years, and was a member of the parent “pit crew” for the Triton High School marching band. Diane and her family enjoyed camping for many years with the New England Airstream Club; she served as both Trustee and Newsletter Editor for the club. Diane also enjoys singing and has sung with the FRS Adult Choir, the Candlelight Chorale, and the Newburyport Choral Society. In the fall, she loves to see her son perform with the UMass Lowell River Hawks Marching Band!
Director of Children's Ministry
Schedule: Office Wednesday, 9am-2pm; Sunday 8:30-noon. Work from home Tuesday, 8am-4pm; Thursday, 9am-3pm; Friday and Saturday as needed. Monday Sabbath.
Mara Flynn joined the staff of the First Religious Society as Director of Children’s Ministry in 2019. She brings years of experience in theater, music, and education and is committed to fostering community, self-awareness and empathy, and the exploration of social justice as a spiritual practice. Mara holds a BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. In addition to over 20 years teaching and directing workshops for various organizations (Tannery Arts Camp, Theater in the Open) she was co-director at Acting Out in Newburyport, MA where she taught improv-based theater and performance workshops for 15 years. As a singer-songwriter, Mara has released three solo albums on Burst and Bloom Records; her last album, “Good Hands,” was released in 2016.
Schedule: Office Tuesday, 10am-3pm; Wednesday, 10am-3pm; Thursday, 11am-6pm; Friday, noon-3:30pm; Sunday, 9am-noon
Justin Murphy-Mancini joined the staff of the First Religious Society as Director of Church Music in 2019. He joyfully oversees the church’s musical offerings, directs the Adult Choir, and performs on the organ, harpsichord, and piano.
Justin balances a commitment to building community through church music with an active performing and composing career. Over the past 15 years, he has served UU, UCC, and Episcopal congregations from Western Massachusetts to San Diego, wearing a variety of hats from choir director to vocal coach to concert impresario.
As a keyboardist, Justin has appeared in concert performing music from the High Middle Ages to world premieres of solo and ensemble music. He can be heard on recorded releases on the Acis, Marginal Frequency, and Another Timbre labels. Justin has written solo, chamber, choral, and orchestral music in a wide variety of idioms for both amateur and professional musicians. He is currently focused on developing long-term collaborative relationships with individual instrumentalists and singers across the US and Canada.
Justin grew up in Wilbraham, MA, where he began studying piano and organ from an early age. He earned a BM in Organ Performance and Composition, a BA in Philosophy, and a MM in Historical Keyboards from Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Jack Mitchener, Marie-Louise Langlais, Webb Wiggins, Steven Plank, and many others. He completed his Ph.D. in Composition at UC San Diego under the advisement of Dr. Katharina Rosenberger.
Julie Parker Amery
Director of Faith Formation and Spiritual Exploration
Julie Parker Amery
Schedule: Office Tuesday, 9am-3pm; Wednesday, 9am-3pm; Friday by appointment. Not available Thursdays. Occasional flex time on Monday and Saturday; away first Sunday monthly.
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Julie Parker Amery joined the staff of the First Religious Society as the Director of Religious Education in 2000 and moved into the position of Director of Faith Formation and Spiritual Exploration in 2019. In this capacity, she works in both youth (teenager) and adult ministries, ensuring a robust selection of faith formation offerings that include opportunities for spiritual growth, UU identity formation, social justice learning, and community connection. She has worked within the denomination in various capacities since the late 1980s and is also trained as a spiritual director, working both with individuals and with groups. Julie and her family live in Amesbury, where she covers lots of ground on walks with their dogs. She loves to cook, eat, jog, write, read, hike, and sing along to musicals with her daughter.
Director of Congregational and Community Engagement
Schedule: Office Tuesday, 8:15am-2pm; Wednesday, 10:30am-2pm; Friday, 8am-1pm. Remote/email on Monday (4 hours). Off Thursday and Saturday.
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Cynthia Walsh, she/her, joined the staff of First Religious Society in 2020 as Director of Congregational and Community Engagement. Cynthia is a lifelong community organizer, specializing in social justice advocacy and program and leadership development. Cynthia holds a Master of Science in Dispute Resolution from the McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies, Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security and Global Governance at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Cynthia served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guinea, West Africa and has traveled extensively throughout the Americas, Europe, and Africa. She is a self-described backyard farmer and loves to experiment in her kitchen lab! Cynthia and her partner live in West Newbury with their three sons, two dogs, and rabbit.