Our Minister and Staff
Reverend Aaron Stockwell, Senior Minister
Since earning degrees at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA and at Andover Newton Theological School, in Newton Centre, MA, I have served congregations in Massachusetts, Texas, and Kansas. My home congregation, the First Parish Church of Groton, MA ordained me in June 2015. I am in Final/Full Fellowship as a Unitarian Universalist minister. As a life long member of the Boy Scouts, I enjoy the exploring the outdoors. I also enjoy crafting meaningful worship services, and letterpress.
Thoughts on Worship & Preaching
Worship and preaching are the reasons why I am a minister. The best worship creates an experience where people get a chance to rest and recharge or to be challenged and affirmed. Someone once described Unitarian Universalist worship as the huddle before going out into the often chaotic world. I agree with that. It is about creating moments where we can experience awe and perhaps transformation. The best preaching furthers this purpose.
My sermons explore challenging concepts, expand our horizons, and provide comfort. I love writing, and I love crafting worship experiences for a community to enjoy and encounter together.
Worship also speaks to parts of the worship attendee’s own life that they might be struggling with, and gives some tools to continue in that struggle.
I try to balance the pastoral with the prophetic, the heart with the head. I like creating rituals as well that move us to experience worship with all of our senses.
Thoughts on Pastoral Care
There’s a song I learned in seminary written by the Rev. Burns Stanfield. The lyrics were simple: “Walking, walking with you, walking with you is my prayer.” Pastoral Care is about traveling with people during joyful and sad moments in their life, and going where they could not go alone. But it’s also about a long term relationship, especially in the context of a ministry in a congregation. Pastoral Care in our congregations means randomly checking in with members of the communities that I serve. One of the best things that we can do as well is to teaching contemplative practices. These skills serve to ground people and give them a sense of resilience.
Thoughts on Prophetic Witness
The work of social justice, prophetic witness, and interfaith engagement begins with something simple – knowing that people in our community are hurting, and suffering. It begins when our heart breaks and we seek to rebuild this broken and beautiful world. The work truly happens when we development relationships with those who struggle in oppression and we work to trouble the waters and be Love’s hands in the world. We must realize that we are all in this together—our liberation is bound up together (Paraphrased from the words from a group of Aboriginal activists in Queensland in 1970s). We must focus on reaching across denominational and community lines to work to build the Beloved Community and to love the Hell out of this world (as the Rev. Joanna Fontaine Crawford, a UU minister in Texas says). We must also work to center the voices of those who are most affected and those whose voices often go unheard. To tell stories that are not often told, and to trouble the waters.
My partner Lizzie and I have been in a long-distance relationship, and we are happy to now be together in Massachusetts!
For more information about Rev. Stockwell click here.Contact
Dean Arvidson, Director of Handbell Choir
Dean is a long time member of First Parish, and a former member of the First Parish Senior Choir. He leads the Bell Choir, which practices each Monday night, year-round and the Bell Choir provides music for regular services each month. Dean is a Composer / Performer, teaches several instruments privately, and is the Pianist for Temple Beth Am’s High Holy Days. Dean started playing piano in 1962 and now plays a lot of different instruments the main focus being piano. He is very glad to continue to work with the First Parish Music Staff.Contact
Rebecca Crawford, Director of Religious Exploration
Rebecca Crawford served on the Religious Exploration Council at First Parish as a member for several years, and as Acting DRE before becoming the permanent Director of Religious Exploration. She has spent the last 15 years creating dynamic programming for youth and families in a variety of capacities, most recently at the USS Constitution Museum in Boston as the Manager of Academic and Family Programs. Rebecca earned a Masters of Arts degree in Art + Design Education from the Rhode Island School of Design and a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Smith College. She is Director of Development at Summit Montessori School in Framingham and on the board of the Old State House Education Committee. Rebecca enjoys volunteering with the Boy Scouts of America Pack and Girl Scouts in Framingham and with the Auction Committee here at First Parish. She resides in Framingham with her husband Matt Crawford and their two children, William and Abigail.Contact
Sara Morrison Neil, Church Administrator & Membership Coordinator
Contact Sara about First Parish publications, buildings, grounds, weddings and rentals or membership.
Sara has been a member since 2010, and her son has participated in the RE program since he was 2. Sara loved teaching Holy Days and Holidays to the 3&4 grade class, before joining the staff in 2011 as Membership Coordinator. Her passion to help others and make a difference in the world has led her to work in the non-profit sector for thirty years in volunteer management, communications, education programming and event planning. She lives with her partner Pat and son Nathan (and Evie and the fish) in Framingham and enjoys reading, Sudbury Valley Trustee trails, and the Saxonville Beach.
Sara has a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Earlham College in Indiana, and a Masters degree in Public Administration from UMass Amherst.