75 The Great Road, Bedford, MA 01730
Hours: Monday-Friday 9am to 5pm
Rev. Wendy Bell
Office Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday…best by appointment
Rev. Wendy L. Bell has served Unitarian Universalist churches professionally for over twenty years, both as a “settled” minister and as an interim, and now she is delighted to have the opportunity to serve as the Interim Minister at The First Parish in Bedford!
Previously, after having completed her internship in Chelmsford, Rev. Wendy served congregations in Rockport, Harvard, Malden, Sharon, and Watertown. For the last six years, her ministry has been wholly dedicated to helping congregations as they transition from one settled ministry to the next. She feels called to – and finds particular joy in – this work of companioning congregations through the liminal time of letting go of what has been and of reaching toward what might next be.
Rev. Wendy is a graduate of Grinnell College (BA in Religious Studies), Harvard Divinity School (M.Div.), and Andover Newton Theological School (Certificate in Advanced Theological Studies). She is a member of both the interfaith Interim Ministry Network and the Transitional Ministry Chapter of the UU Ministers’ Association, where she is currently serving on the Executive Leadership Team.
Wendy lives in Arlington with her wife, Cathy, their daughter, Katelynn, and their two beloved dogs, Winifred and Madeline. In her free time, she likes to hang out with her pack, walk on the beach and in the woods, kayak and paddle, read and write, cook and bake. She volunteers weekly at Lovelane, a therapeutic horseback riding program in Lincoln. She is a former horseback riding instructor and an on-again-off-again student of the bagpipes.
Rev. Annie Gonzalez, Minister of Faith Development
Office Hours: Tuesday-Thursday and Sunday, also by appointment
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 Jamaica Plain 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 down the Southwest Corridor, playing board games or worshipping with her Christian small group called “NightChurch” or with The Sanctuary Boston, a contemporary worship community grounded in UU.
Lisa Maria Andreoli Steinberg, Director of Faith Development for Children
Office Hours: Sundays, Tuesday-Thursday, other times by appointment
Lisa Maria Andreoli Steinberg has worked in churches for over 25 years, first as a musician and then in faith development ministries. She brings a background in education, social work, music, and theology to her career in faith development. As a graduate student, Lisa Maria studied at Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, CA and at Andover Newton Theological School in Newton Centre, MA where she graduated with an M.A. in Theology and the Arts with concentrations in education and liturgical arts. She resides in Shirley, MA with her husband, their two children, and two cats.
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.
Janet Welby, Youth Choirs Director
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 many years. 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 with referrals. In her free time, Brenda loves spending time with her daughter, family & friends. She also enjoys baking, traveling & watching football!
Stacey Katz, Acting Assistant Parish Administrator
Stacey is a former New Jersey native that loves living in Bedford, MA. Her only wish is that the ocean 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.
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.”
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.