The staff at First Churches works to ensure smooth operations of our Worship services and the many meetings and events here at the church. Each staff member brings their own character and expertise to the team.
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Rev. Weir believes ministry unites the practices of spiritual growth and prayer with the work of social ministry, peace and justice. He seeks to do this through creating worship services and sermons that focus on contemplation and action for the common good. Rev. Weir came to First Churches in July 2012 and has been ordained since 1991. He has served congregations in Providence, Rhode Island and Poughkeepsie, NY.
Working for affordable housing, neighborhood development and helping homeless people has been a big focus throughout Rev. Weir’s ministry. He has managed transitional housing programs and homeless shelters, and currently serves on the Board of Friends of the Homeless and the Northampton Housing Partnership.
Beyond his seminary education (M.Div. from Andover Newton), Rev. Weir has training in counseling (M.A. from Marist College) and as a small group leader with the Laity Empowerment Project. He received a Lilly Grant in 2002 to study conflict transformation in Northern Ireland. Rev. Weir is currently completing training to be a certified leadership and life coach. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ.
Rev. Weir has been married to Jeanne Fenton since 2009. Their four children are grown and currently live in Washington, DC, Connecticut and Florida. They enjoy biking and hiking together, and reading books when the weather is bad. Pastor Todd also enjoys cooking.
The Reverend Sarah Buteux, Co-pastor
Minister of Christian Education and Outreach
Founding Pastor of Common Ground
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The Rev. Sarah Buteux, brings many and varied gifts along with 13+ years of ministry experience to her work at First Churches.
Although Sarah was raised evangelical, ordained by the Swedenborgian Church in 2001, and received Privilege of Call from the U.C.C. in 2014, she identifies most fully as Emergent. She is a graduate of Smith College and Harvard Divinity School.
Sarah has ministered in the valley for the last nine years to a growing and thriving U.C.C. congregation in Hadley Massachusetts. As much as she loved her work in Hadley, Sarah left in order to follow the call God laid on her heart to explore alternative ways of creating a fully inclusive Christian community. That call led her to found Common Ground, a farm to table dinner church. In July of 2014 the congregation of First Churches invited Sarah to come on staff as their associate pastor and not only offered Common Ground a home, but formally adopted it as a new ministry of First Churches.
Sarah is charismatic and compassionate, intelligent and kind. She is a theological and social progressive with an evangelical heart whose greatest joy is welcoming people into the kingdom of God and then empowering them to extend that same extravagant welcome to others.
Sarah is well known and respected in the Pioneer Valley as an inspiring preacher and singer, a creative and adaptable leader, a voice people trust and a pastor they can count on. She is the mother of two school aged children -George and Genevieve – which keeps her grounded and connected to the lives and challenges of other families. Sarah is happily married to Andrew Dole, a professor of Religion at Amherst College.
Rebecca Phelps, Minister of Music
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Rebecca Phelps lives in Hatfield with her life partner Ann Michaels. She has two grown sons, Abe – a physics teacher who lives in Amherst with his wife and 2 sons, and Sacha who lives in Orlando Florida and is a professional violinist. Rebecca has been a life-long resident of the Pioneer Valley having spent most of her growing up years in Amherst in a very musical family. She is a third generation graduate of Smith College, Ada Comstock ’85, Summa Cum Laude. Both her mother and grandmother went there! While at Smith, she majored in music and studied piano with Lori Wallfisch. Her graduate degree is from Hartt School of Music in Choral Conducting. For the past 30 years, she has been teaching general music, chorus, piano and music theory primarily in the public schools, as well as private schools and area colleges. For 10 years, she served as the choir director and organist for Wesley Methodist Church – formerly of Amherst, now of Hadley. She also has an extensive background in musical theatre having musically directed many community and school productions in the valley. In June 2017, she retired as choral director from Hampshire Regional High School and although she enjoyed the newly found time to spend with grandkids in Amherst and her 94 year old mother, Rebecca found that she was profoundly missing her true calling – which is music! Rebecca is thrilled to have the opportunity to share, inspire, celebrate and worship with you through music at First Churches.
Aaron McMurray, Church Administrator
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Aaron assumed the role of Church Administrator in 2017. They have a background in organic agriculture and business management. Aaron manages the building, data and communications, and tracks church finances as the bookkeeper. From time to time, you can also find Aaron working in the Common Ground garden. They live in Chicopee with their partner – Jenn Weisgerber, daughter – Hazel, and two dogs.