Meet the Staff

 

Reverend Laura Biddle

Minister 

 

Rev. Laura Biddle joined Brookside Church as the interim minister in June of 2019.  As minister, she is responsible for preaching and teaching the gospel, administering the sacraments and rites of the church, and providing pastoral care and leadership. She leads the weekly worship service and heads the ministry groups that serve the congregation and the Manchester community.  She also lends her acoustic guitar and vocal talents to the services and works to ensure that everyone - particularly children feel welcome and are encouraged to participate.

 

Rev. Biddle graduated from Episcopal Divinity School in 1986. Her first call to ministry was serving women in prison at MCI Framingham. Teaching courses in economic development and family reintegration allowed her to encourage new pathways for women and their children. Through preaching in congregations around New England she became an advocate for the spiritual health and well being of incarcerated women and their families. During this period of time, she worked closely on issues regarding domestic violence, drug and alcohol addiction, and community awareness of prisoners in Massachusetts. 

 

In 1998, she was called to parish ministry. Serving congregations in Newburyport, Salem, Andover, West Concord, Weston, Boxford, and most recently, Nahant Massachusetts, she enjoyed both settled and interim ministries. Her commitment to creating and sustaining Open and Affirming congregations has been an important aspect of her ministry. 


As a trained grief counselor, in 2009 she became the Spiritual Advisor to military families grieving suicide. Working with the staff of an organization called TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Project for Survivors), she continues to be committed to helping military and police families advance their spiritual health after a suicide. 

 

For six years, she served as the part-time Chaplain at Salem State University, allowing her to bring a spiritual perspective to all academic areas. She also focused on the veterans program, the LGBTQ community, confidential conversations after a sexual assault, and the Diversity and Inclusivity Department. 

Louise Popp

Church Administrator

 

Louise has been attending Brookside since the late 80’s and has been our church administrator since 2019.  She has worked in the non-profit arena for the past 30 years as the Deputy Executive Director for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, serving MA, ME, NH, & RI and as Regional Vice President for the American Cancer Society, New England Division.  Louise graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a BS in Marketing/Management. 

Fran Hakenson

Church School Coordinator

 

Fran is the Church School Coordinator at Brookside and is responsible for the management and curriculum of the church school.  Fran is an ordained minister and prior to joining Brookside, she served churches in Vermont and Eastern New York state for thirty-five years. She retired from full time ministry in 2001 and moved back to NH in 2006. She has 6 children and 18 grandchildren.   

Fran is a graduate of Plymouth High School in Plymouth, NH.  She did her undergraduate work at Hiram college in Hiram, Ohio and received her Master of Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School and was ordained by the UCC in 1980. 

Kimberly Vars Whitehead

Minister of Music

Kimberly Vars Whitehead is the Minister of Music at Brookside Congregational Church.  She has been in this role since 2010 and is responsible for overseeing the entire music ministry program including preparation and execution of hymns and other service music for worship.  She maintains the two organs and five pianos and an extensive choral library at the church. She also directs three choirs: Chancel (adult), Junior (kids) and the Handbell Choir.


Kimberly holds a Bachelor's Degree in piano and organ performance from the University of New Hampshire, as well as a Master's Degree in organ from Boston University. She also earned her Alt.4 Certification from the NH Dept of Education to teach K-12 music in public schools.
 

In addition to her position at Brookside, Kim is very active in the community serving as a public school music teacher in Amherst, NH.  She also has extensive experience in theater having taken the role of Music Director for numerous production companies in the area.  She gives piano lessons and also performs in productions sharing her vocal, piano and handbell talents.

Heath Auger

Sexton

Heath Auger is the sexton at Brookside Congregational Church.  In this role, since 2008, he is responsible for the maintenance of the church facility that includes the historic Manning House, a chapel, sanctuary, fellowship hall, and additional buildings on the 10-acre estate.  Heath is also responsible for special event support and maintenance.  When the church was forced to go online only due to the pandemic, Heath stepped up to produce the livestreamed worship services using his talents as an audio and video technician.
 

Heath is also very active in the church. He sings in the choir, plays the carillon (bells) in the church steeple, and is involved in numerous other volunteer projects. 
 

Heath graduated from New Hampshire College with an associate’s degree in accounting, and he also works at the Manchester Transit Authority as the maintenance secretary. 

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