At First Parish, we provide pastoral care to one another. Pastoral care can take many different forms.

Care Circle

A monthly volunteer coordinates the efforts of members of the congregation to provide rides, meals, visits and cards to those in need. Learn more about the Care Circle.

Rites of Passage

Rituals marking the most important life passages may include times of pastoral care and support.

Memorial services

While planning a memorial service, the minister offers pastoral care to the grieving family. The memorial service is a time when our community gathers to offer their public support to the family. Learn more about memorial services at First Parish.


A wedding is a joyous time, and it can also be a stressful time. While planning a wedding, the minister may talk with the couple about the stress, so they can focus on the joy. Learn more about weddings at First Parish.

Small Group Ministry

Members of small group ministries — what we call Circle Ministry — provide informal support and caring to one another. Learn more about Circle Ministry.

Pastoral emergencies

Our minister, Rev. Dan Harper, is available to provide pastoral care during pastoral emergencies. Pastoral emergencies include the following: you or a loved one is hospitalized; someone in your family has just died or is actively dying; you just lost your job; and other similar major life events that require immediate attention.

You can call or text our minister on his cell phone (listed in the parish directory) or reach him via email. When you reach the minister, together you can decide whether a phone conversation or an in-person visit would be best.

Requests for financial assistance are not considered pastoral emergencies. If financial assistance is available, it will take 1-3 weeks to cut a check. Priority is given to current active members and friends of First Parish.

Pastoral counseling

Our minister, Rev. Dan Harper, is available for spiritual counseling. Unitarian Universalists use the word “spiritual” to include many important life concerns. You might seek spiritual counseling to talk through concerns about your career (your vocation), your marriage or romantic partnership, your children or parents, your concerns about aging or about growing up, and so on.

Our minister may refer you to other professionals. For example, for some issues he might suggest talking to a psychotherapist in addition to pastoral counseling.

Candles of Joy, Sorrow, and Concern

Close-up of candles burning, with people standing behind them.
Candles of joy, sorrow, and concern from a recent Sunday service.

Each week during our worship services, there is a time to share your joys, concerns, and sorrows to the gathered First Parish community. By listening to one another during this time in our service, we all participate in providing pastoral care.

If you’re not able to come on Sunday morning, you can email your joy, concern, or sorrow to our minister. In your email, specify where you want your joy, sorrow, or concern to appear — in the Sunday service, and/or in the weekly eBlast that goes out to all First Parish members and friends.

Informal pastoral care

We provide informal pastoral care to each other by listening to one another and showing our care. That’s what being part of a religious community is all about.