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Service to celebrate 35 years of Manchester pastor

The First Parish Church Congregational in Manchester-by-the-Sea will be celebrating 35 years of service by its pastor, Rev. John G. Hughes, with a special service in his honor.

Rev. John G. Hughes

“It’s really a reception to celebrate all of the lives he’s touched over 35 years,” said John Round, the chairman of the board of trustees of First Parish. “He’s always caring for people. He’s always s been easy to talk to and the church has grown and has been quite successful under his tenure.”

The service will be held at 10 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 4, at the First Parish Church, 1 Chapel Lane. The sermon will be given by Reverend Tom Bentley from the Trinity Congregational Church of Gloucester and scriptures will be read by Hughes’ children.


A town party will be held following the service at 11:30 a.m. on the Green.

Hughes first came to the church after spending a four years at the First Congregational Church in Billerica. He has since taken on the role as pastor but also the chairperson for the professional advisory committee to the Clinical Pastoral Education Program at Beverly Hospital and raised over $11,000 in one day for Council on Aging transportation.

“What I find remarkable about Rev. Hughes is that he’s been the town minister,” said Allison Moir-Smith of the Vitality and Christian Education Committees at the church. “He is often one of the first to show up when a loved one has died, even when you’re not a member of First Parish. He is there in times of crisis, for schools, for families, and is a spiritual leader of this town. He’s a real treasure.”

Before turning to the ministry, Hughes said he wanted to be a pediatric surgeon, following in the footsteps of his pediatrician father and nurse mother. By the time he had graduated college, Hughes had seen 67 operations tableside.


”I realized that [medicine] was going in other directions and I realized I was looking for what my father was doing, and that type of medicine was disappearing,” he said. “The ministry allowed me to get that same type of connection.”

A turning point for Hughes was when a woman who tried to commit suicide was revived but then died for no reason about four days later.

“It was that type of situation made me contemplate what I wanted to do,” Hughes said. “If you could heal the body but couldn’t heal the spirit, what was the point? If they had a healthy body but not a healthy spirit they could still suffer.”

“Its interesting because small community churches are where stuff happens,” Hughes said. “When you get into the community it becomes really personal, really connected, really focused, and I think that the strength of the church is in the small communities and that’s the backbone of American faith.”

For more information on the celebration, visit www.firstparishchurch.org or call 978-526-7661.

Alexandra Malloy can be reached at alexandra.malloy@globe.com.