Minister & Staff
Contact Catie at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Reverend Catie Scudera began her ministry at First Parish in August 2014. She previously served as the intern minister of Arlington Street Church in downtown Boston, as the student and summer minister of the Winchester Unitarian Society in Winchester, Massachusetts, and as a student chaplain at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Washington. Her personal theology is guided by historic Universalism and Unitarianism, as well as progressive Christianity and engaged Buddhism.
Before responding to her call to ministry, Rev. Catie co-founded the A. Margaret Barr Children’s Village in Meghalaya, India, with the Unitarian Union of Northeast India. The orphanage is currently run by local Indian Unitarians and is sponsored through the Unitarian Universalist Partner Church Council. She also served as a full-time tutor at Match High School, a Boston charter school committed to help “close the achievement gap” between urban and suburban students. In these contexts and through her ministerial training, Rev. Catie developed her dedication to economic and educational justice, anti-racism and anti-oppression, and creating beloved community.
Rev. Catie was born in New York City, but grew up in northern Virginia just west of Washington, D.C. She and her mother converted from Roman Catholicism to Unitarian Universalism when she was a preteen. She is a 2007 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and earned her Master of Divinity in 2012 from Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. At both universities, she was a leader in the Unitarian Universalist student groups and the Gay/Straight Alliances. Rev. Catie currently lives in Needham Heights with her spouse, Cole Stephenson. Together, they enjoy board games, traveling, photography, and the great outdoors.
For more information about Rev. Catie, visit her candidating website or read the brochure prepared by the search committee. She holds office hours at First Parish on Mondays from 1-4 pm and Wednesdays from 4-6 pm, and holds office hours on Thursdays from 8-10 am at Cafe Fresh Bagel in Needham Heights (on 1st, 3rd, and 5th Thursdays) and Bagel’s Best in Needham Center 2nd and 4th Thursdays. Scheduling an appointment is recommended.
Contact Mark at DRE@uuneedham.org
Mark LaPointe took on the post of Director of Lifespan Religious Education for the First Parish Church in August of 2011. He comes to first parish after serving for nearly three years as the DRE at the Gloucester Unitarian Universalist Church.
Mark has spent most of his career in higher education, teaching most recently at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, where he also sat on the board of the Meadville UU Church.He holds a BA in English, with minors in Women’s Studies and African-American Studies from Colby College in Waterville, Maine. He has completed graduate work in Journalism and Communication at the University of Nevada, Reno and at the University of Washington in Seattle. He occasionally teaches courses at Endicott College in Beverly. Mark sees education as a radical, spiritual action that is at the center of Unitarian Universalist principles.
Mark is a native of Lakeville, Massachusetts. He currently resides in Salem with his husband, Jim and their son, Bryce. They are active in the First Church of Salem. As a family, they love spending time outdoors, camping and enjoying nature. Their collective ambition is to visit as many national parks as they can.
In addition to serving as our Assistant Music Director for Youth and Intergenerational Programs, Kate has stepped in to fill the role of our Youth Programs Coordinator. Kate brings to this job multiple pertinent degrees, a long history of working with youth, hands on experience with our specific youth groups over the past 5+ years (including planning and leading last year’s service trip to New Orleans), and a deep connection with and love for this congregation.
Contact Jen at email@example.com
Jen received her BA from Wheaton College (MA) in Philosophy with a minor in Psychology. After working for five years she felt called to ministry and received her M.Div. in 2009 from Andover Newton Theological School and completed a two –year internship at First Parish in Weston from 2013-2015. While serving in Weston she realized a call to Religious Exploration and Multigenerational Ministry rather than Parish Ministry. She has been working with children in some capacity since she was a teenager.
Originally from Rhode Island, she moved to Newton to attend seminary. She now lives in Waltham with her wife, Sara, and their two cats, Elli and Graci. She likes to read, listen to music, and hang out at the local coffee shop.
Contact Irina at firstname.lastname@example.org
Irina completed her Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting in 2013 at the prestigious Eastman School of Music, a school that accepts only one doctoral candidate annually in that field. She moved from Rochester to Boston for a faculty position teaching conducting at Berklee College of Music, where she works regularly with superb musicians from a variety of genres. Irina brings strong keyboard skills on piano and organ. Irina has a genuine love of making music as a contribution to spiritual life. She writes: “I have always been drawn to the strong relationship between worship and music.” She has over 15 years of experience as a Music Director and accompanist in a wide variety of religious settings, and always wants to have that as an aspect of her life. She has led an extensive variety of musical ensembles, large and small, in other settings as well. A relaxed, warm and welcoming presence, Irina looks forward to getting to know us and joining our ongoing “music conversation” to further enrich the community life of First Parish through music.
Contact Kate at email@example.com
Originally from upstate NY, Kate has always enjoyed singing in worship and performing in the community. Kate has recently completed her Master’s in Mind, Brain, and Education at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, which allowed her to focus her research on children’s development and music. She has a bachelors in Music Education and Voice from Westminster Choir College, and a masters in Music Theory from Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. With over 5 years of experience conducting children, she is excited to be back at First Parish working with the Children’s Choir and Youth Group. Also, this fall she is opening up a private voice studio for interested members of the parish. She wants to encourage any one who is interested to speak with her and join the fun! Kate joined the First Parish staff in January, 2011.
Contact Susanna at firstname.lastname@example.org
Susanna is a life-long Unitarian Universalist, now an active member of First Parish in Lexington. Her past church roles include vice-president, co-chair of membership, and on RE and other committees. She comes to us with impressive list of professional credentials including ten years in the Congregational Life group at the UUA. Prior to that she served as DRE at Melrose UU Church and worked for five years in London for the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Most recently she has served as a Project Management Consultant assisting clients with program and curriculum development as well as project management. Susanna lives in Lexington with her husband Jonathan Kinghorn and their three children. Susanna is currently studying acting in her spare time.
Introducing an Intern Ministry Program to First Parish was one of the Reverend John Buehrens’ greatest contributions to First Parish. During his time First Parish in Needham became an established “teaching congregation,” regularly training seminarians and recent seminary graduates for successful service as Unitarian Universalist ministers. Our Intern Ministers have included:
- Thom Belote, now minister of the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church of Johnson County, KS
- Sarah Gibbs Millspaugh, ordained at First Parish in Needham and now co-minister of the Winchester (MA) Unitarian Society
- Maria Cristina Vlassidis Burgoa, ordained in September of 2013 by the First Church in Cambridge, Unitarian Universalist
- Lucas Hergert, now minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Livermore, CA
- Molly Housh Gordon, ordained at First Parish in Needham in May of 2011 and now the settled minister of the UU Church of Columbia, Missouri.
- Christian Schmidt, ordained at First Parish in Needham in May of 2013 and now the minister at First Parish in Malden, Universalist.
The Ministerial Intern Program is presently on hiatus. First Parish expects to continue the program in the near future.