Religion in Needham

First Parish in Needham
Unitarian Universalist


An Active Church

First Parish in Needham is today an active church of about 250 adult members and well over 100 children and young people involved in its Religious Education program. Sunday worship and Church School are held at the church, 23 Dedham Avenue in Needham center, at 10:30 a.m. from September through June.


Minister: Rev. John Buehrens.

Administrator: Sue King


For More Information

If you would like more information about the church, please call the Church Administrator, Ann Stewart, Monday through Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.

First Parish in Needham
23 Dedham Avenue
Needham, MA 02192
(781) 444-0823

First Parish in Needham

First Parish was literally the first parish in Needham. In colonial Massachusetts, every town was required to establish a church of the standing order and make provisions to erect a Meetinghouse and hire a clergyman. Thus, when Needham, formerly a part of the Town of Dedham, wished to incorporate as a separate community, it had first to establish a church and parish. The parish it established, in 1711, was the First Parish in Needham, and the minister it hired was the Rev. Jonathan Townsend, who was to serve the church and the town until 1762. As the years passed and religious diversity came to Needham, several other churches were formed.

By the middle 1800s, First Parish had become Unitarian in its theology. In 1961 the present Unitarian Universalist Association ("UUA") was founded when the American Unitarian Association united with the Universalist Church of America, and First Parish became a member of the new association. Unitarian Universalists are dedicated to freedom of individual belief in religion, and neither the predecessor churches nor today’s UUA impose a creed or required statement of belief on its members. We believe the search for religious truth is primarily an individual responsibility. We meet in religious communities for mutual support, inspiration, worship and religious education.

Worship Reflects Openness

Our worship reflects an openness to many sources of inspiration and many forms of expression. The minister usually conducts worship, but laypeople are also deeply involved and often develop and conduct services. The intent of our Religious Education program is one of lifetime learning. We attempt to help children explore the difficult questions which will enlarge their insight into life and start them on their own pursuit of a personal religion. We also provide programs and resources to help adults continue their explorations.

Putting our religious and ethical convictions into action is an important part of being a Unitarian Universalist. Both adults and children in the Parish have many, many opportunities to do so. At its Annual Meeting in May of 1996, First Parish voted to become a Welcoming Congregation of the UUA. As a Welcoming Congregation, we welcome the presence and participation of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons and pledge ourselves to foster an environment of understanding and respect.

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