Rebecca Lockwood’s new role as Reverend at Westford’s First Parish Church marked not only the start of new journey but also the closing of a circle. For Rev. Becca it was a return to her New England roots and values established as a child growing up in rural Maine.
Her tenure at the helm of FPCU actually began in February of 2020 and is the culmination of a steady ascension in her duties as a Christian minister; as well as a continuation of a family legacy. With two aunts and an uncle also ordained Christian ministers, Lockwood knew her calling from a young age.
It’s not really “leading” the congregation, she explains. “The congregation is self-governed and I have a shared vision with them.” Staying the course already laid out by her predecessors and guided by the doctrine of UCC the mission is still true to old principles while adapting to change. “Serving the community is the centerpiece” of that mission.
She replaces Kathleen Helper, who served in the role for two years as interim in an abridgment capacity before the transition to Lockwood’s “settled” role.
Although “settled” for nearly a full year, Lockwood held only virtual services until the doors opened for in-person gatherings in September, due to COVID restrictions. She still has yet to realize the full breadth of her congregation but welcomes the opportunity to minister; just as her new community welcomes her.
Her rural upbringing instilled an appreciation of nature, spending many summers at United Church of Christ camp as both a camper then later as a counselor. Her background extends from the forests to the community to the classrooms, including a Master of Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School.
Her decision to accept the role at FPCU was affirmed partly as aspiration to return to New England.Yet the main lure came because of the church’s two-way relationship with the community and diverse bases of worship. “First Parish Church has evolved from a merger of the Unitarian and Congregational churches 40 years ago. Today, our congregation gathers from Congregational and Unitarian backgrounds as well as a wide variety of other religious heritages. Many people, reared in different faiths, join together in worship at our church,” is the expressed mission of FPCU.
Rev. Becca comes to Westford following a six-year stay as the Associate Pastor at St. Peter’s UCC in Carmel, IN; preceded by time spent in California as volunteer at a Tibetan Buddhist book bindery, Yeshe De Text Preservation Project.