I was born in Gardner, Mass. to Robert and Joyce Stowell. I am the oldest of four siblings. I lived in Winchendon from 1966- 1995 when I moved to 42 Country Lane in Leominster I have been at First Church Unitarian Universalist in Leominster since 1992 when I was installed that year on October 18th.
I am married to Ron Brown and have two grown children Eric and Scott. Eric is married to Andrea they live in Winchendon Ma. and Scott Suchocki and Stephanie live in Murrieta California. Together Ron and I have many grandchildren, Kevin, son of Eric and Andrea, and Alex, Bella and Mattie daughters of Stephanie and Scott,and Geneveve and Zachary, children of Ron’s daughter Jessica and son in law Chris, and Cameron son of Jason and Linda.
I was born into a Unitarian Universalist family and attended the Gardner Unitarian Society through my childhood and early adult years. Prior to pursuing the ministry I worked in human service field. First, at a sheltered workshop assisting persons who were institutionalized to retain or learn new work skills. I then worked for over 16 years in various capacities at Naukeag Hospital an alcohol and drug treatment facility. I pursued an associates degree and Mount Wachusett Community College and a bachelors in the Human Service field at the University of Massachusetts with a specialty to Alcohol Abuse counseling and education. While attending the Unitarian Universalist church of my youth, I would often watch the minister and imagine that I could and wanted to do what he was doing. However, I married young and with the birth of two children in those first years of marriage the pursuit of ministry seemed an impossible one. When I left Naukeag Hospital, I was given the opportunity to reflect on what direction I wanted to take for the rest of my career and professional life.
The call to ministry had always been there and the opportunity to go for my dream seemed possible again. To financially survive attending divinity school Ron and I operated a hot dog stand. To begin with this was located on the side of the road where we sold hot dogs from a New York Style steamer; eventually the business became so successful we needed to rent a building to expand the business. We found a place in Ashburnham, where we sold ice cream, expanded our menu and sold fresh seasonable produce. While attending Andover Newton Theological School, I also served as the student intern at the Church of the Unity in Winchendon. I consider this my first ministry and have a special fondness for the people and the church there.
Being called to Leominster has been great. The community of Leominster and its needs, challenges, and gifts both within the church and in the larger community provide me with an opportunity to be a minister and to use many of my life and employment skills and experiences. Early in my life, my parents and my beloved grandfather, who lived with us while I was growing up, told me that I should attempt to find ways to give back to the community in which I live, so I am apt to be found volunteering for or attending numerous community events and committees. Each of these activities embodies the message of Unitarian Universalism and I represent the church and demonstrate what it means to be a member of the first religious society in Leominster. Since 1996, I have been Chaplain with the Leominster Fire Department. I was a founding member and still serve on the Board of the Massachusetts Corps of Fire Chaplains, which was established in October 1999. This is the first ever state wide interfaith Corps of Chaplains.
In December of 1999, I was called to the Worcester Cold Storage Fire, where six fire fighters lost their lives. And on September, (16th – 23 rd returning again at the end of October for three more days) I was deployed to New York under the direction of the International Association of Fire Fighters, through the Massachusetts Fire Service Department and State Fire Marshall. I and twenty-seven other Chaplains from Massachusetts provided various services to victims, families, fire fighters, police and other rescue workers. I also was at Logan Airport on September 12 and 15th, 2001 as part of a Spiritual Aviation Incident Response Team through the Red Cross.
Also I have had the honor to be the President and a founding member of the Unitarian Universalist Trauma Response ministry. The UUTRM responds to Unitarian Universalist ministers and congregations when an event occurs that requires our special expertise. For example I have responded to wild fires in California, to the shooting at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg Va. and to the Knoxville Tennessee congregation when two people were killed and several injured when a shooter opened fire during a worship service
In May 2002, 10 years after receiving my Masters degree I received a Doctorate in Ministry from Andover Newton Theological School. My thesis project addressed anti-oppression, anti-racism, multicultural transformation of institutions and individuals, by looking at the issue from a theological, social, congregational and systemic perspective. The desire for First Church Unitarian Universalist to be an institution that is welcoming, free of oppressions and open to all persons remains one of my strongest values and ideals.
Because I had such a positive experience as a Student Intern Minister; I have become a supervisor to other students. This has brought me to become adjunct faculty at Andover Newton Theological Schools where I have the honor of working in an interfaith setting with students studying for the ministry. In 2014 I will have an expanded role at Andover Newton Theological School working with Field Education sites and the supervisors of students. First Church Unitarian Universalist has had five student ministers and each has brought their unique gifts and talents to the church and I have learned valuable lessons from each one of them. I am proud of the church for taking the risk to be a teaching congregation.
I serve on the board of Spectrum, a drug alcohol treatment agency.
My opinion of ministry is that it is the highest and most humbling of professions. I engage with people at the height of joys and the depths of sorrow and together we face life with a willingness to stay connected with me, with others and with that which they have come to understand as the ultimate, that which is oft times called God but is the divine love and source.
If you would like more information please contact me at 978.537.0310 work or home 978.537.7252.