Staff Listing for First Parish of Watertown
Rev. Sophia M. Lyons, Ministerminister@fpwatertown.org
Reverend Sophia received her Master of Divinity from Boston University’s School of Theology in 2019 and was ordained by the First Religious Society UU of Newburyport, MA in 2021. Before coming to FPW, Rev. Sophia served as Intern and Sabbatical Minister at the UU Church of Haverhill, MA, year-round Island Minister on Star Island, and Memory Care Chaplain at Hebrew Senior Life in Dedham, MA. She also holds a BA in Education having taught high school English for a stint, spent many years in the theater performing in Chicago and Los Angeles, was a public relations executive, as well as a natural childbirth instructor! The path to ministry was most certainly a winding one… Rev. Sophia Lyons joyfully accepted the call to serve as the 30th settled minister at First Parish of Watertown in May of 2021 and considers it a great honor to minister to this beautiful community.
Rev. Sophia is committed to radical welcome and spreading the good news that is our bold Unitarian Universalist faith. Some of her areas of interest include interfaith partnerships, addictions ministry, spiritual direction, and working towards collective liberation for all. Rev. Sophia aspires to live her life and fulfill her ministry guided by spiritual seeking, big love, and the seven principles of Unitarian Universalism.
Raised in Los Angeles, CA, Rev. Sophia moved to New England in 2011, having lived in Chicago, IL and Portland, OR for a long while in between. She lives in Watertown with her husband, Jason, and two daughters, Olive and Poppy. Rev. Sophia enjoys yoga, music (particularly the kind you can dance to), communing with Nature, and looking after her two lop-eared rabbits and Siberian cat who seem to never be satisfied.
Rev. Sophia is generally in the office on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Friday is her sermon writing day and Monday is her day of rest, or Sabbath.
Charlyn Bethell, Music Director
Charlyn’s professional training has followed two paths: as a professional oboist and as a music teacher and conductor.
As an undergraduate at Western Washington State University, she received two Bachelor degrees: one in oboe performance and one in music education. Further studies at the state conservatory in Aarhus, Denmark (where she received a diploma) led her to a busy life as a professional freelance musician when she returned to the Boston area. She has played in Carnegie Recital Hall with the award-winning New Art Winds and is currently an active member in both the Solar Winds wind quintet and the Kaleidoscope Chamber Ensemble.
While her performing career flourished, she continued advanced studies in music education. She received a certificate in Kodály studies from the Kodály Center of America. (Zoltan Kodály was a Hungarian composer who founded a unique way of teaching music that has gained adherents around the world.)
For the past eleven summers, Charlyn has taught Kodály pedagogy, materials, and conducting to postgraduate music teachers at New England Conservatory. She is also an endorsed trainer for Education Through Movement: Building the Foundation, and she has taught elementary general music and chorus for the past twenty years in the Concord Public Schools.
Charlyn feels that one of the best things about being the Music Director at First Parish is that she can join these two paths in her musical life in a fulfilling way.
Allison Hewett, Church Administratoroffice@fpwatertown.org
Allison joined the FPW staff in January 2019. As the Church Administrator, she is the main point of contact for church announcements, administrative questions, scheduling, and rental inquiries. She is also the administrator for the Helen Robinson Wright Fund. She is the technical host and stage-manager of our online services.
Allison has a background in library and information science and theater arts. In her free time, she enjoys fiber arts and studying medieval textiles and other arts in the Society for Creative Anachronism.
Nathan Barahona, Sexton
Nathan joined the FPW staff in June 2022. As the sexton, he is the steward of our historic church building and the point of contact for maintenance issues. Nathan has education in Criminal Justice, Communication, and Spanish. He has previous experience in hotel housekeeping and handyman jobs in the Boston area.
Nathan is Guatemalan-American and speaks both Portuguese and Spanish. He is a strong believer in helping others and that everything is possible together with God’s guidance.
Mark Harris, Minister Emeritus
Mark was minister at First Parish from 1996 until 2019, serving the first two years as part of a co-ministry team with his wife, Andrea Greenwood, who had been settled in Watertown in 1992. Mark’s ministry was grounded in the importance of carrying on the traditions of the congregation and the UU faith. He loves congregations like First Parish where everyone ministers to one another and the community is central.
A denominational historian, Mark wrote and edited many works on UU history, including The A to Z of Unitarian Universalism (2009), Elite: Uncovering Classism in Unitarian Universalist History (2011), An Introduction to the Unitarian and Universalist Traditions (with Andrea Greenwood, 2011), and An Ancient Parish: A History of First Parish of Watertown, Massachusetts (2019), and the pamphlet “Unitarian Universalist Origins: Our Historic Faith.”