75 The Great Road, Bedford, MA 01730
Hours: Monday-Friday 9:30 am to 2 pm
To get in touch with a minister, call the office and they will help you get the information you need.
Rev. Jamie Hinson-Rieger, Senior Minister
Jamie Hinson-Rieger is an Indiana native who discovered Unitarian Universalism in 2005 when his family went looking for a welcoming and inclusive spiritual community and found so much more in our liberal religious tradition. He fell in love with Unitarian Universalism immediately. He served at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Indianapolis from 2012-2023, first preaching every Sunday as a lay person, and then on through seminary, before ultimately serving as minister. Prior to becoming a minister, he enjoyed an eighteen-year-long stint at the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis supporting community banking. Jamie’s background also includes ten years of community organizing and activism with the group Faith in Indiana. He studied history, economics, and mathematics at Indiana University and received his MDiv from Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis.
Jamie is married to Susanne Hinson-Rieger, who is the Director of Family Religious Education in North Parish of North Andover. They live in First Parish’s beautiful parsonage in Bedford with their daughter, Jordan, and their two dogs, Molly and Shadow. Their other two adult children, Sam and Claudia, live in Bloomington, Indiana. In his spare time Jamie enjoys reading, playing guitar, learning Spanish, walking his dogs, and spending time with his family. He is grateful to serve in a religious tradition that draws on diverse sources for wisdom and inspiration, with transformative love and a call to justice at the center.
Rev. Annie Gonzalez, Minister of Faith Development
Annie Gonzalez is a lifelong UU from the midwest who started at First Parish Bedford in August 2018. She has lived in 7 states and has been involved in 10 UU congregations. Previously she served as the Young Adult and Campus Ministry Associate at the Unitarian Universalist Association for five years and was affiliated as a community minister with First Parish Dorchester.
Annie lives in Malden with three housemates (two of whom are also UU ministers!) and her child Moira. She helped form the Boston Immigration Justice Accompaniment Network (BIJAN) in 2018 and continues to support this community’s efforts to get people free from immigration jail in New England. Along with these endeavors you might find Annie baking pies, going for a run, playing board games or worshipping with her Christian small group called “NightChurch.”
Brad Conner, Music/Choir Director
Bradford Conner has been Music Director at First Parish since the Fall of 2005 and came to us with 23 years’ experience in directing a church choir in southeastern Massachusetts. Over the years, with his prior church, he expanded the choir and broadened its repertoire. He conducted many special musical programs and initiated and produced several successful choral festivals. Earlier in his career Brad held positions as pianist, vocalist, and choir director at a variety of church congregations, including Greek Orthodox, Jewish, and Unitarian.
His academic background includes degrees in musicology/performance (choral and instrumental conducting) as well as undergraduate degrees in German and in business administration. From 1986 to 1991 he was general manager of the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra in Boson. Brad’s current day position is as an administrative assistant at Harvard Law School.
So much for the formalities. Brad also has an active performing life outside First Parish! He is a Producing Director of American Classics, a non-profit dedicated to American music, as well as partnering regularly as a pianist/vocalist with baritone Ben Sears. The “Ben and Brad” duo specializes in researching the songs and music of composers from the Great American Songbook such as Irving Berlin, Richard Rogers, and Jerome Kern, among others, and creating performances honoring special occasions based on the lives of those songwriters. Sears and Conner perform regularly in the Boston area and have been featured on WGBH, WBUR, WHRB and WERS radio.
Sandra LaBarge-Neumann, Organist
Sandra comes to First Parish via a circuitous route that started with a degree in classical voice (minor in organ) from the University of Albany, NY. After graduate voice study at New England Conservatory, she sang for 13 seasons as a member of the Handel and Haydn Society Professional Chorus.
Life brought further study, resulting in a Kodály teaching certificate and an MM in conducting. She has taught classroom music, directed church music programs, and taught a private voice studio where she specialized in adolescents and their healthy vocal development.
Sandra enjoys studying organ with Heinrich Christensen, director of music for Kings Chapel, Boston. She serves as soprano section leader for Boston’s Coro Allegro, a chorus for members and friends of the LGBT communities that affirms, strengthens, and enriches the lives of its members and the broader community through the presentation of outstanding performances of classical choral music.
Perhaps her hardest and most fulfilling role has been mom to her two sons; Alex, a theatre sound designer in NYC, and Jesse, a Navy JAG officer. She is delighted to share that she has been married to her best friend, co-conspirator, and incredibly lucky husband Stan since 1973. We’ll let you know in a few years whether this will last. Sandra looks forward to being a positive contributor the First Parish community.
Natan Wythe, Youth Choirs Director
Natan Wythe (he/him/they/them) has taught music, chorus, and musical theatre in public schools across Massachusetts since 2015. As a professionally licensed K-12 music educator, Natan conducts rehearsals and performances with the goals of building community, encouraging participants to discover their artistic identities, and spreading joy through vocal music, rather than as a pursuit of technical mastery or aesthetic perfection. He was raised in Los Angeles, and travelled to Boston in 2010 to attend Berklee College of Music, earning dual degrees in Music Education and Music Production & Engineering. In 2021, Natan earned a master’s degree in Music Education from Boston University, with a capstone topic in the benefits of a modern “popular music education” approach within the upper-elementary music classroom.
Natan plays piano and guitar as primary instruments, as well as ukulele, mandolin, and bass guitar. His debut americana/folk singer-songwriter EP can be found here, and he hopes the congregation will look forward to his upcoming full-length album appearing on all streaming services in the not-too-distant future!
Brenda Rybicki, Parish Administrator
Brenda grew up near Boston but has been a North Shore resident for the past 25 years. She was blessed to be a stay-at-home mother for almost a decade. Once her daughter was old enough, she rejoined the work force in her fields of study – Accounting & Business Administration. Brenda is also a licensed Realtor and occasionally enjoys assisting colleagues with referrals. In her free time, Brenda loves spending time with her daughter, family & friends. She also enjoys baking, traveling & watching football!
Stacey Katz, Assistant Parish Administrator
Stacey is a former New Jersey native that loves living in Bedford, MA. Her only wish is that the ocean up here was a bit warmer! After many years teaching science in both public school and at the American Museum of Natural History, she took a break to care for her two kids and mother-in-law with dementia. She feels passionate to work for good causes, like being a teacher or supporting the goals of First Parish. If you see her in the office, she’d gladly chat about local hikes, evolutionary biology, snorkeling, and the many ways to ride the waves at the Jersey shore.
Mark McCarthy, Custodian
Office Hours: Varies
Rev. John E. Gibbons, Minister Emeritus
Office Hours: During the interim period, John is not available for pastoral needs and refers all to the current ministers.
John Gibbons was Bedford’s senior minister 1990-2021, our longest-serving minister since 1800. He came to Bedford in 1990 after a decade as minister to the Unitarian Congregation in Mendon and Uxbridge, MA. Ordained in 1980, he is a graduate of the Harvard Divinity School and holds an undergraduate degree in religion and political science from Tufts University. He is married to Sue Baldauf, a social worker; and they have one son, Eric. In previous lifetimes John was a public school teacher, union organizer, counselor at a halfway house for teenage girls, apprentice to a Mexican curandera (healer-woman), and a salesman of pansies and parsley.
John is a participant in many interfaith roundtables, chaplain to the Bedford Minutemen, a founding member of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, past president of the UU Partner Church Council, and Board Chair of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee. He remains available for “good trouble” and is currently the Community Minister for Good Trouble at the Arlington Street Church Unitarian Universalist in Boston.
A book of John’s Bedford sermons, titled “Huh?,” is available at https://www.amazon.com/HUH-Collection-Sermons-Homilies-Action/dp/B0942L8GTD/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=huh%3F&qid=1630802087&sr=8-2.
John regards the church as the last, best and most improbable hope for humanity.