Senior Minister Pastor Rachel Fay Beam has been the Senior Minister at First Congregational Church of Bethel since November, 2015.
Pastor Rachel grew up in Wilbraham, Massachusetts. She attended Smith College and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1978. After graduation, she moved to Boston, where she worked for a law firm as an Assistant/Secretary to an attorney.
Following her marriage to a UCC pastor in 1984, Rachel moved to Binghamton, New York, where she held several jobs, including Box Office Manager for the local Pops orchestra and Coordinator of the CHOW food pantry system for the Broome County Council of Churches. After the birth of her son Nate in 1988, Rachel was a stay at home mom for several years. It was during this time that she discerned her call to parish ministry and enrolled in seminary. Outreach was an important part of this discernment, and she was instrumental in starting a food pantry in her local church and also co-founded the Sunday Dinner Program, a weekly meal for hungry and lonely members of the community.
Pastor Rachel graduated from Lancaster Theological Seminary, one of the UCC-affiliated seminaries, and was ordained in August 1996. She received a call to serve the Tri-Penn Charge United Church of Christ in rural Spring Mills, Pennsylvania. During her time at Tri-Penn, Rachel instituted healing prayer services, began Lenten devotional guides written by church members, encouraged and facilitated ministries for children, introduced and prepared children for their first communions, and held popular Blessing of the Animals services. She also served the wider church as Vice President and then President of her Association and as a delegate to UCC General Synod.
In 2002, Rachel was called to serve the Congregational Church of North Stonington (United Church of Christ) in North Stonington, Connecticut. In North Stonington, she was privileged to introduce and facilitate the congregation’s discernment through the Open and Affirming process, instituted one-on-one interviews with members of the congregation and facilitated a successful study group for seekers. She also served her Association on the Executive Committee and Committee on Ministry as Scribe/Registrar/Treasurer. Rachel participated in the North Stonington community as a member of the local Lion’s Club, serving as Secretary for several years.
After marrying Larry Beam in 2008 and moving to southern California, Pastor Rachel has been on leave of absence from the church. During that time, she joined Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Carlsbad, California. She has led worship and preached at Pilgrim many times, assisted in pastoral care when the pastor has been away, facilitated a women’s book study group, and assisted in the facilitation of the weekly Centering Prayer and book study meeting. She also volunteered for Bichon Furkids Rescue, serving as a placement volunteer, matching adoptive families with rescue Bichons in foster care.
Besides her husband Larry and son Nate, who lives and works in Boston, Pastor Rachel’s family includes her two rescue Bichons, Rascal and Sunny. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, exercise, and she is building a miniature doll house.