First Parish Church recently voted to call the Rev. Dr. Mark Boyea as full time Pastor beginning in January 2020.
Rev. Dr. Mark Boyea has been the Senior Minister of First Congregational Church in Westfield, NJ, since 2005. Prior to that, he was Assistant Minister for Congregational Care at Union Congregational Church in Montclair, NJ. Over a 20-year career prior to entering the ministry, Dr. Boyea, who holds a PhD in the Psychology of Human Performance, served as a coach, athletics administrator, faculty member, counselor, and sport psychologist at the university, college, and private school levels at institutions such as The University of Maryland, George Mason Univ., Daniel Webster College (NH), and Thomas College (ME).
While guided by his faith throughout his personal and professional lives, it was during his tenure as Director of Athletics and Instructor of Psychology at The Montclair Kimberley Academy in New Jersey that Mark realized what had always drawn him to teaching, coaching, and counseling – the desire to help people become all that God wants them to be. From this insight, he made the decision to enter seminary, and received his Master of Divinity degree in May 2005. His wife Cindy’s response when he anxiously told her of his decision to leave a great job and attend seminary? “What took you so long?”
As Senior Minister at First Congregational Church, Westfield, Dr. Boyea led the development of a comprehensive Adult Studies program, involving 6-8 short-term courses in Bible Studies, Spirituality, Church History, and Current Events; regular prayer and meditation sessions; documentary film discussions; museum, theater and monastery trips; and forums and guest speakers on topics such as Islam, Judaism, the environment and the Syrian refugee crisis. He worked to incorporate music more creatively and with greater variety in Worship, and the church had a thriving Church School and youth program, punctuated by annual Mission Trips which Dr. Boyea and his wife helped lead along with Westfield’s Associate Minister and other adults.
During his time in Westfield, membership also returned to its previous count after a Congregational crisis preceding his arrival; new spiritual opportunities were created, such as a “First Saturday” alternative Worship experience and monthly Meditation sessions; and several new avenues for service outside the church were initiated by members with his guidance.
Dr. Boyea continues to work on occasion with adult, college, and high school athletes and coaches, as well as teachers, musicians and business leaders on the mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of human performance and leadership; has authored several articles; and was a contributing editor for three books: Coaching and Character, The Power of Three, and The Educated Child. In addition, he continues to serve as guest lecturer at high schools and colleges throughout the country, including Duke University.
He holds a B.A. in Sociology from Potsdam College (NY), a M.Ed. in Education and Administration from East Stroudsburg University (PA), a M.Div, from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, and a Ph.D from the University of Maryland.
He provided us with this description of his philosophy and approach to ministry:
“It’s not my church, nor is it supposed to be. It’s God’s and Jesus’ church first. Then the members and friends of the spiritual community I serve. My job is to help create and sustain an environment that, through inspiring Worship, and diverse opportunities for study, service and social interaction, help every individual discover for themselves who and what God calls them to be, and how best to move toward that call in their everyday lives.
“I am at my core, a spiritual teacher; a guide. And a guide’s responsibility is to essentially make themselves as unnecessary as possible, in the sense of helping equip others to find their own path to God and the practices that will best help them there.
“What I promise the members and friends of First Parish is inspiring and thought-provoking preaching and teaching, as well as steady, dedicated, compassionate pastoral care – that, and a consistent and sometimes “devilish” sense of humor.
“All this is grounded in and guided by – as best I can in the moment but never perfectly – the life, teachings, and example of Jesus. While I firmly believe there can never be only one path to God, Jesus is the foundation of the way that speaks most clearly to me.”
Dr. Boyea, who hopes that we will simply call him “Mark” outside of formal settings, has been married for 35 years to his best friend and full partner, Cindy, a commercial property manager in New York City who is looking forward to new opportunities in our region. They are the parents of Ryan, a building engineer in the New York City area, and Kelsey, a law clerk with the Veteran’s Administration in Washington, DC. He and Cindy look forward to living here in Manchester-by-the-Sea in our Church Parsonage and to becoming Red Sox / Celtics / Patriots fans!