Transition at First Church

May 8, 2024

Dan’s Farewell Sunday, June 9

On Sunday, June 9, we will celebrate Dan’s 20 years of ministry at First Church in Cambridge. Our Morning Worship will include special moments (and special guests) to lift up the journey we have walked together, to express our gratitude for the experiences we have shared, and to acknowledge the end of this pastoral relationship. Then, we’ll gather for a Farewell Party, where we will share a light meal, toast Dan, and shower him with gifts and heartfelt gratitude for his presence among us these last two decades.

It takes a village to throw a party!
We are planning a special party for Dan, and we need your help! In addition to your contributions of messages, pictures, and remembrances to the Leavetaking Team’s project, we welcome your helping hands to set up, run, and clean up our after-worship celebration. This includes an invitation to provide cupcakes for a scrumptious cupcake dessert buffet!

Find all the details on this signup form, and don’t hesitate to email: with any questions.

May 8, 2024

Pastoral Care During Our Transition

With Dan and our Pastoral Associates leaving soon, some of you may wonder who will be available for pastoral care in the coming months of leadership transition. As always, feel free to reach out to current program staff Kate Layzer, Karen McArthur, and Sarah Higginbotham, all of whom are available to offer support and/or direct you to someone who can. To reach a minister on-call, please dial 617-547-2724 ext. 222. We are also grateful to these Community Ministers, who have expressed their availability to provide periodic pastoral care conversations through the summer: Reverends Liz Williams, Krysia Burnham, Ingeborg Haug, Alex Steinert-Evoy, Jenny Stuart, and Beth Spaulding. You may reach out to any of them via email, which can be found in the Parish List on our website.

May 6, 2024

Staffing Update

We have good news to share! Ministerial Intern Emma Thomas has agreed to be a Pastoral Associate for the coming year, working 25 hours a week. She will participate in worship at least 2 Sundays per month (as she currently does), preach, lead Christian formation, work with new members, and more. She will end her time as Ministerial Intern on Sunday, June 16, and take a break for the summer. She will begin as our Pastoral Associate on Sunday, September 1. Let’s give a warm, heartfelt, and ongoing welcome to Emma and her extraordinary gifts!

In addition, after Dan leaves and until the Interim Minister begins their term (hopefully, by late August), our Director of Operations Kirsten Manville, who is already full-time and oversees much of our current staff, will serve as Acting Head of Staff. While Kirsten won’t take on pastoral duties, she is able to coordinate pastoral care coverage as the need arises. Dan is currently pre-planning the summer preaching and on-call pastoral care schedule with program staff and Community Ministers. Please take an opportunity to thank all of our current staff for their extra efforts during this transition time.

April 19, 2024

Requests from the Leavetaking/Farewell Team

The Leavetaking/Farewell Team is requesting items for two different projects to honor and celebrate Dan’s ministry for and with us.

Scrapbook: Any physical items (photos, cards, artwork, etc.) can be left in the plastic bin in the church office. Please add a note with your contributions so the team knows who/when/where they are from. Any electronic submissions (photos, emails, etc.), can be sent to Beth Spaulding. Please submit your items by May 15!

Photos for a slideshow to run during the party on June 9: please email any photos to Beth Spaulding by May 15.

April 16, 2024

Update from the Interim Search Team

The Interim Search Team is now in the process of completing the first round of interviews with potential candidates for the full time position of Interim Minister. In the coming week we will be deciding which candidates we will be inviting back for a second interview. The Team feels grateful that this work has been interesting and enriching. We will continue to keep you posted on our progress.

Jim Cairns, Claire Morgan, Stephen Weller, and Linda Ziebell

April 4, 2024

A Second Transition Letter from Dan

Dear Friends,

Now that we are through Lent, Holy Week, and an especially joyous Easter Sunday, I want to share a follow-up to my February 4 farewell letter with more information about what the next few months, and beyond, will look like for me and for you…

Read Dan’s Second Letter Here.

Schedule a Meeting with Dan

Rev. Dan Smith leads a Bible study on ZoomAs I share in this follow-up letter to my February 4 farewell letter, my last Sunday in worship will be June 9. I hope to see many of you there, and before as well! Starting in late April, I’m clearing much of my weekday schedule for 1:1s and small group meetings with as many of you as possible. This is time for whatever you may need—a last pastoral check-in, a chance to wrap up a shared project, a time to laugh and/or cry together, a goodbye hug. Please visit my Calendly site to pick a time and place, via Zoom or in person!

April 2, 2024

Update from the Interim Search Team

As the Interim Search Team, we are tasked with finding a full-time interim minister, who will provide pastoral leadership after Dan leaves and as we seek to call a “settled” minister. We are following the UCC Call Process for interim ministers.

Thank you to those who answered our questionnaire. We received 49 responses, which offered us a variety of perspectives and allowed us to see some important common themes arising in many of the answers. This gave us guidance and information that we are finding useful as we continue the work to find our interim minister.

We have begun to review the ministerial profiles of the candidates sent to us from the Southern New England Conference office.  We expect that we will begin initial interviews shortly. We are engaged and excited for our next steps in this process. We look forward to the time when we can share the successful conclusion of the interim search.

Jim Cairns, Claire Morgan, Stephen Weller, and Linda Ziebell

April 2, 2024

Leavetaking Gatherings in April

The Leavetaking Team hosted the first gathering to discuss Senior Minister Dan Smith’s upcoming departure from First Church, and now plans to proceed with offering opportunities to meet one-to-one or in small groups to hold each other’s thoughts, worries, ideas, hopes, and feelings. These events have passed. Please read above keep checking this webpage for future updates.

We look forward to spending time with you.

Sunday, April 7

  • 12:30 p.m., Harter Room, hosted by Bruce Hoppe

Monday, April 8

  • 3:00 p.m., hosted by Alex Steinert-Evoy at her home in Watertown
  • 5:00 p.m., via Zoom, hosted by Amy Matias

Wednesday, April 10

  • 12:00 p.m., via Zoom, hosted by Alex Steinert-Evoy

Thursday, April 11

  • 7:00 p.m., via Zoom, hosted by Beth Spaulding

Friday, April 12

  • 3:00 p.m., Nubar in the Sheraton Commander Hotel, hosted by Beth Spaulding

Sunday, April 14

  • 9:30 a.m., Harter Room, hosted by Bruce Hoppe

Monday, April 15

  • 3:00 p.m., hosted by Alex Steinert-Evoy at her home in Watertown
  • 5:00 p.m., via Zoom, hosted by Amy Matias

Wednesday, April 17

  • 7:00 p.m., via Zoom, hosted by Alex Steinert-Evoy

Thursday, April 18

  • 7:00 p.m., via Zoom, hosted by Beth Spaulding

Friday, April 19

  • 3:00 p.m., Nubar in the Sheraton Commander Hotel, hosted by Beth Spaulding

Sunday, April 21

  • 9:30 a.m., Harter Room, hosted by Bruce Hoppe


March 13, 2024

Leavetaking Team Update
Sunday, March 24, 12:15 – 1:00 p.m.
Margaret Jewett Hall
Join the Leavetaking/Farewell Team (Bruce Hoppe, Amy Matias, Beth Spaulding, and Alex Steinert-Evoy) after worship on Palm Sunday for an opportunity to hear more about what we have planned and how we can minister to each other during this time of pastoral transition.

February 28, 2024

The Interim Search Team is seeking input from the congregation as it begins the process of looking for an interim pastor. They have created an Interim Search Congregational Survey that asks a few questions to assist them in their work. Share your thoughts about strengths and challenges here at First Church and the skills and personal qualities you think are important to have in an interim pastor.

Please try to respond no later than Wednesday, March 13.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Jim Cairns at:

Complete the Survey now

February 15, 2024

As we enter into the early days of First Church’s season of transition, church leaders are pleased to announce the formation of two teams to guide our journey over the coming months.

  • The members of our Interim Minister Search Team are Jim Cairns, Claire Morgan, Stephen Weller, and Linda Ziebell. They are working closely with our SNEUCC Area Conference Minister Rev. Alex Shea Will, who is providing resources on the “search and call” process. (Click HERE for more information about our United Church of Christ polity and the general process for pastoral transitions.) The team is updating our church profile so that the position can be listed for candidates to consider, and the team will be taking the lead on interviewing promising candidates.
  • The Leavetaking and Farewell Team is made up of Bruce Hoppe, Amy Matias, Beth Spaulding, and Alex Steinert-Evoy. They will begin sharing information with the congregation about these plans very soon.

Moderator Moana Bentin, Vice Moderator Phil Jones, Deacon Co-Chair Leslie Pelton-Cairns, and Deacon Co-Chair Casey Marsh welcome your questions and input as we walk this journey together.

February 6, 2024

Pastor Dan Smith has shared big news. After 20 years with First Church, Dan will be leaving his role as our Senior Minister at the end of June. As Dan shared in his letter, we know this significant change comes at a time when other things are changing all around us. At all times, but especially in the season of Lent, our tradition invites us to lean into prayer and spiritual practice, and to find courage in God and in our community.

As we enter into a time of pastoral leavetaking and transition, we ask God’s blessing upon our grief, our gratitude, and our discernment of next steps – including searching for an Interim Minister and planning for Dan’s farewell.  In this tender time, we invite your prayers for Dan and his family, and for our First Church community and its leaders as we prepare to say goodbye and open our hearts to what comes next.

Read Dan’s letter here.

Read the church leaders’ letter here.