Rev. Susan E. Thomas – Settled Minister
Rev. Thomas aka Pastor Sue began her ministry with First Congregational Church of Harwich on September 10, 2021, and is the first woman settled pastor in the church’s 274 year history.
Pastor Sue is a “wash ashore” to the Cape, having been born and raised in the Detroit, Michigan area, the middle of three adopted babies to 50 year old parents.
Although raised as in the Presbyterian Church and ordained as an Elder & Deacon in that denomination, she was ordained as a Minister in the United Church of Christ in 2016, serving as a licensed lay minister prior to that.
Pastor Sue has served UCC congregations in Baldwinville, Fitchburg, and Gardner; and Unitiarian Universalist congregations in Boston and Swampscott.
She began seminary at the Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit while caretaking for both elderly parents. After her internship with Greenfield Presbyterian Church in Berkley, MI, was given the opportunity to finish the Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia.
At Columbia, she was a Merit Scholar; worked for the seminary in the Alumni(ae)/Communications and Continuing Education departments; led the Imago Dei student group, including the first ever “Coming Out Day” worship service held in its chapel; led two sabbatical pastor groups to Israel; served on the student government; and was selected to supply preach most Sundays with congregations throughout Georgia, Alabama (she was the first woman to preach at the First Presbyterian Church in Selma), and Mississippi. Pastor Sue chose to do her clinical pastoral education training at Atlanta’s Northside Hospital, mainly in the pediatrics department.
At graduation in 2004, she received the Columbia Fellowship that allowed her to study for the Master of Theology (ThM) degree. Her thesis was on Paul’s letters and pastoral care. She was awarded the ThM in 2007 and moved to the Boston area shortly thereafter. In 2016, Pastor Sue applied for and received a grant to be one of Columbia’s Guthrie Scholars.
Her interests include race car driving (now retired); attending opera and classical music concerts; reading British mystery novels; learning French (Enchanté!); hiking the French/Swiss Alps and Appalachian Trail; biking 500 miles in 5 days (and camping); kayaking and anything else outdoors. She longs for a time when it’s safe to walk 100 miles of “the Way”- Camino de Santiago trail in Spain and receive her certificate. Pastor Sue is a confirmed theology & all-things-church nerd. She roots for the University of Michigan, the Soxs & Tigers, and Pats. She loves Jesus, her partner Dawn, cat Queen Victoria (Vica), her family and wide network of friends and mentors.
Pastor Sue has been drinking coffee since she was 5 years old and her record for eating pizza is 24 slices & a salad- so you know she’s always happy to meet with you over a cup of coffee & slice of pizza!
Marcia Hempel – Music Director / Organist
Music Director Marcia Hempel is a highly skilled organist with extensive training in choral direction for both children and adults.
Marcia has studied organ at the New England Conservatory, piano and voice at the Rhode Island Conservatory and choral conducting at Westminster Choir College, to name just part of her broad and ongoing training. Her interests are eclectic ranging, as she puts it, “from Bach to Bernstein,” including the jazz organ! She also plays the guitar.
In addition to her church work, Marcia directs the Young Singers Program for ages 9-16, sponsored by the church. She conducts the Harwich Women’s Chorus, which she started in 2013, and accompanies the Victrola Chorus, which performs at nursing homes. Prior to coming to First Church, Marcia was the founder, director and accompanist of the Nantucket Women’s Choir.
Tom Jahnke – Interim Administrative Assistant
Paul Frederickson – Sexton
Paul has served as our contracted Sexton at First Church since 2006. He enjoys his work and the people here.
Being the son of a long-time member, he grew up in this church and is knowledgeable about its buildings, campus and history.
A talented musician, he contributes to our Coffee House gatherings. Paul also works at the Cape Cod Technical High School.
He is married to Susan.