Rev. Art McDonald, ordained to the ministry in 1978, was
called as minister to the First Universalist (Unitarian Universalist)
Church of Essex, MA in September of 2003.
Previously, Art had served as
minister of the Allegheny Unitarian Universalist Church in Pittsburgh,
PA. from 1991-2003.
Art holds a PhD in Religious Studies from the
University of Pittsburgh, focused on the relationship between religion
and politics. His dissertation research was conducted in Peru, South
America. Art is also adjunct faculty at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary,
Pgh. PA. More recently Art has been teaching as a part time faculty member at Merrimack College, North Andover, MA and Salem State College in Salem Ma.
Along with traditional
pastoral duties such as preaching, conducting rites of passage,
worship-leading, counseling and adult education, Art believes that
religious congregations have a major role to play in community outreach
and organizing, thus he sees much of his ministry as involved in
community issues of justice and peacemaking.
Art has been married to
Melanie (Hodorowski) McDonald for 25 years.
'search Art's sermons' click here.
Our congregation at the First Universalist Church of Essex was
founded in 1829.
In 2005, we celebrated 175 years in the same location
on Cape Ann. After a number of decades of slow decline, we are currently
growing once again. Currently, we have approximately 75 members and
contributing friends with twenty-five children in our Religious
Education Program. We have a full music program as well, and frequent
adult religious education programs. A big part of our mission is in the
community. To that end, we are active and engaged in issues around
economic justice, same-sex marriage, affordable housing, environmental
justice, hunger and youth advocacy.
On Sundays, we come together, in
part, to share our joys, concerns and challenges surrounding our
families, communities and our world. We are welcoming and affirming and
are proud of the accomplishments of our church, our congregation and our
Becoming a member of the congregation involves basically four
things: (1) Fundamental agreement with our principles and purposes;
Regular and ongoing participation in Sunday worship and other
(3) Participation in the work of the church
in committees and the wider community;
(4) Financial support as each is
Religious Education Director
Lois Bairstow is our newly appointed Religious Education
Director at the First Universalist Church of Essex. Lois brings a wealth
of knowledge and experience to the Religious Education program at our
Previously she designed and directed educational programs at
Mass Audubon and currently she teaches at the Stoneridge Children's
Montessori school in Beverly, MA.
Under her guidance, the Church has implemented an exciting new
RE curriculum and program for children, that includes lessons on UU
history, people and beliefs, Judeo-Christian teachings, World Religions,
and Social Justice. These lessons are grouped by month and are designed
to foster our children's ethical, spiritual and faith development as
well as a Unitarian Universalist identity.
For more on our RE Program click here.
To email the RE Director click here.
Music Director and staff:
Fran Pierce is the current Music Director at the First
Universalist Church of Essex. Fran received her undergraduate degree at the SUNY Potsdam, Crane School of Music, and her MEd at Antioch University, in Ohio. Fran teaches music at the Rockport elementary school and has performed with Roger Pierce, as part of the folk duo, Tamarac, for over 20 years. Fran co-hosts the One World Performance Center Coffehouse concerts held on Saturday nights downstairs in the Fellowship Hall here at the church.
Along with Fran, Lisa Palance and Betsy Vicksell, all share the creation of our Sunday morning music selections and performance. Under their selection of hymns, musical works and guest performances we have a very robust musical Sunday service every week.
Under Betsy Vicksell's direction, our choir continues to grow and perform
magically; Betsy's talent, patience, direction and dedication
have inspired many of us to let our hearts sing! Choir is open to all to join. We practice 1 hour before service and perform on many occassions.
For schedule and performances at the church,click here
Board of Trustees
Officers (1 year appointment)
Moderator: Deb Frontierro
Secretary: Jennifer Holmgren
Treasurer: Tom Duff
Email Board of Trustees:click here
Committees and Chairpersons
Music / Choir: Fran Pierce, Director/Betsy Vicksell
Children's Religious Education: Lois Bairstow, Director
Building & Property: Mike Dyer
Finance: Tom Duff, Treasurer/Sarah Willwerth-Dyer
Fundraising: Barbara Corning-Davis
Care and Hospitality: Melanie McDonald
Publicity: Cindy Westman
Landscape: Sylvia Howe
Social Justice: Rev. Art McDonald
Artist Corner: Lynne Marchetti
The First Universalist Church, a member of the Unitarian
Universalist Association, has been a consistent presence on the North
Shore since 1829, proclaiming the central message of Universalism, which
is inclusive, and justice-based universal love and salvation.
After the tragic fire in 1946, that leveled our historic
building, the congregation was rebuilt in the 1950s. As we begin the
21st century, the Universalist message of love is relevant as ever.
We are a vibrant, growing congregation with a developing
Religious Education program for our children. We offer a rich and
diverse music program that includes an adult choir and musical guests
during the Sunday services.
We are also proud to be the home of the One World Coffee House.