Rev. Kathleen Hepler
Rev. Kathleen Hepler began as our contract minister in August 2022. She was ordained in 1984 and served most recently as Interim Minister at First Parish Church United of Westford. Prior to that, she held the position of Senior Minister at First Parish of Framingham from 2007 to 2018. During her 38 years in ministry, she served in many states, including CA, PA, NJ, and MD. She began her career in social work, before making the move to ministry. She earned a B.S. in Social Work from Ohio State University and attended graduate school at Antioch University (Community Education) and Hamline University (Community Education).
When asked to distill her sermons into one line, Rev. Hepler responded, “Everyone has the light of love, and religious communities are about nurturing each other and the world.” On her application, she stated, “After 38 years as a UU minister, I have an ever-increasing commitment to the power of spiritual community. Especially one that resides in the context of liberality, freedom, and the goal of understanding how to love one another within the resultant diversity of thought. At this stage of my life, I am interested in using all of the wisdom I have gleaned….It is exciting for me to consider being a companion to a congregation in transition, helping them assess and celebrate who they have been, and to consider whom they wish to become.”
Director of Religious Education
Prior to becoming Director of Religious Exploration at First Parish of Sudbury, Michelle served for 14 years as Director of Religious Education at First Parish of Stow & Acton and taught at the elementary level, both as a literacy specialist and special educator. In addition, she has worked as a life coach and advocate for adults with developmental and cognitive challenges.
Michelle believes that all children and youth should be seen, heard, and valued. One of her favorite quotes is Marcus Samuelson’s African saying: “I want to believe that I am here to teach one, and more than that there is one here who is meant to teach me. And if we each one, teach one, we will make a difference.”
Rev. Debra Morris-Bennett
Minister of Music
Debra Morris-Bennett has been the Music Director and Organist at the First Parish of Sudbury for three decades, and in November 2018 was ordained at First Parish and became Minister of Music. She received a M.M. degree in Organ Performance from the New England Conservatory of Music. During her tenure at First Parish she has enjoyed exploring the wide range of choral literature—both sacred and secular—that the Unitarian Universalist service embraces.
Some of the diverse works performed with the First Parish Choir over past seasons include Henry Mollicone’s Beatitude Mass for the Homeless, Missa Gaia by Paul Winter and Jim Scott, Acquaintance With Nature by Gwyneth Walker, a collaboration with Celtic harpist Áine Minogue entitled “A Celtic Harvest,” and lesser-known choral works of Johannes Brahms, selections of Aaron Copland, John Rutter’s Requiem, Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, Irish choral music, Gabriel Faure’s Requiem, and Dietrich Buxtehude’s Cantate Domini.
In 2008, she moved with her husband and three children to the U.S. After a couple of years in Stow, MA, raising her family, she began volunteering at her kids’ school. Later, the family moved to Bolton, MA, where she managed social media accounts and fostered cats.