Staff Listing for First Parish of Watertown

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Rev. Sophia M. Lyons, Minister

Rev. Sophia 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. She 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…

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 taking orders from her lop-eared rabbit and tuxedo cat.

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, spiritual formation and direction, and working towards collective liberation for all. Rev. Sophia aspires to live her life and fulfill her ministry guided by spiritual seeking, an ethic of love, and the guiding principles and theology of Unitarian Universalism.

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.

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Charlyn Bethell, Music Director

Here are the most important things about Charlyn as Music Director at First Parish:

  • She loves music and she loves sharing good music.
  • She loves being with people at First Parish and she loves engaging those people as active singers or active listeners at church services.
  • She and her husband Guy Urban, our pianist, work together in a shared music ministry.
  • Charlyn welcomes challenges which give her the opportunity to grow.
  • Charlyn is a credentialed Music Leader through the AUUMM (Association of Unitarian Universalist Music Ministries), the national organization of music leaders for UU congregations.
  • She hosts monthly meetings with music directors from our local area, keeping a pulse on what is happening in other parishes.

Charlyn trained as a Classical oboist and music educator, giving her two paths that intertwine: as a professional oboist and as a music teacher. She has degrees from Western Washington State University (Bellingham, WA), from the state music conservatory in Aarhus, Denmark, from the Kodaly Center of America, and from Cambridge College. She has played in Carnegie Recital Hall with the award-winning New Art Winds and is currently in both Solar Winds Wind Quintet and the Kaleidoscope Chamber Ensemble. She is now retired from teaching in the Concord (MA) Public Schools, and she is the adjunct oboe teacher at Phillips Andover Academy.

Guy Urban, Pianist

Guy is a life-long UU and a performing pianist. He taught piano, music theory, and music history at Wheaton College in Norton for thirty-five years until retiring in 2018. He accompanies the First Parish Choir, plays solo piano for most services, and prepares electronic practice materials for choir members. He loves listening to and playing all kinds of music and collaborating with other musicians.
He is known to many as an enthusiastic Grateful Dead-head.

Samantha Eyster, Director of Lifespan Faith Exploration

Samantha joined the FPW staff in August 2023. She is a formidable faith leader with a long history of volunteering and work experience in a variety of religious communities. Her understanding of these varied faith communities and expressions of belief have guided her passion for serving in a liberal church and acutely prepared her for companioning all ages in faith exploration. She has a wide breadth of experience nurturing and creatively collaborating with leaders, teaching and working with children and youth, igniting and leading justice movements, and facilitating healing. She is credentialed in restorative justice circles and draws from this in all interpersonal matters.

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Allison Hewett, Church Administrator

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.

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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.”