About the AVC

Connecting a
Spiritually Diverse Community
to God and to the World

Welcome Letter from Rev. Judy Brain

I’m delighted to serve as the bridge pastor of AVC and invite you to experience the warm and accepting community that makes its home in our charming, historic building.

How do we make good on our pledge to connect people to God, one another, and the world? Here is what we aspire to:

Gathering for Worship that is Biblical, Relevant, and Joyful
  • Our music is upbeat spanning many genres.
  • We always find room for a child who wants to play the chimes.
  • We sing heartily, laugh often, and pray with conviction.
Providing a Welcoming Atmosphere for Spiritual Seekers
  • Our congregation is a mix of long-time church members and people who identify as spiritual-but-not-religious.
  • People come from many denominations and none at all.
  • The deeply committed sit next to folks who aren’t sure they believe any of it.
  • We are held together by our respect for each other and our curiosity about multiple faith traditions.
  • We have a special relationship with a Hindu community.
Honoring Creation
  • We regard care for the earth as a spiritual discipline.
Serving God by Serving Others
  • This is the core of our faith expression.
  • We are called to love our neighbor and we take that call seriously.
  • Caring is perhaps the most effective way of connecting.

Whether you are young or old, single or coupled, gay or straight, rich or poor, conservative or liberal, you can find a home at Annisquam Village Church.

~ Rev. Judy Brain, Bridge Pastor

Our History and Background

  • Annisquam Village Church is not just a community of faith, but also a community landmark – an iconic beacon of light at the head of Lobster Cove and a vital part of the Village of Annisquam.
  • Incorporated as the Third Parish of Gloucester on June 11, 1728, we are older than these United States. We have occupied our spot as the entrance marker for the Village and as its “spiritual lighthouse” for nearly 300 years!
  • Over those years, we have continuously served the Annisquam community in times of joy and grief. Our records comprise the spiritual biography of Annisquam.
  • Our current building, constructed in 1830, is one of the oldest non-residential structures in the Village.
  • Modern-day Hindu Pilgrims visit AVC annually to pay homage and walk in the steps of Swami Vivekananda, the first Hindu monk in America, who spoke from the Church’s pulpit in 1893. Learn more about our special relationship with the Hindu community.

We Are a Community Asset

  • We are a community gathering place for weddings, baptisms and memorial services. Wonderful concerts performed in our sanctuary are enhanced by its superb acoustics.
  • We host other events that are open to the public, such as the Arts & Crafts Show, and our annual partnership in the Sea Fair, a historic and popular Village-wide event, open to all, which began on the church lawn.
  • We support those in need in our larger Cape Ann community and beyond through the funds and volunteers we provide, year after year, to Action, Inc., Family Promise North Shore Boston, Pathways for Children, The Open Door, Wellspring, Haiti Projects, and Heifer International.
  • We are a community asset…not only as the gateway to our Village, but also as a symbol of hope, support and caring for our neighbors when they experience sadness, loneliness and stress.

About Our Faith

  • No longer defined geographically as a “Parish,” our faith community includes people from all over Cape Ann and beyond.
  • AVC is an interdenominational community that has remained independent and is unaffiliated with any particular denomination. Our worship and faith is ecumenical in nature, and shaped by our Protestant heritage.
  • We are part of the “Community Church Movement” through our affiliation with the International Council of Community Churches (ICCC), an interracial, international fellowship composed of congregations, ministry centers and church bodies with a global vision expressed through local ministries. The Community Church Movement “calls Christians to unity without demands for uniformity, to dialogue without dictation, and to diversity without division.

Pastor & Staff

Rev. Judy Brain, Bridge Pastor

photo of Rev. Judy Brain

Rev. Judy Brain is the bridge pastor at AVC.

Judy is a graduate of Harvard Divinity School where she was awarded the Billings Prize for Preaching.

She served as senior minister at Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Lexington for 17 years. In the years since her retirement from full time ministry, she has accompanied several churches in transition as a short-term bridge pastor.

In her ministry, a primary focus has been interfaith understanding and social justice. She has worked with many community organizations that promote respect, civility, and peace.

Judy facilitates a monthly meeting for clergy who gather for collegial support and sharing best practices.

She lives in Essex, Massachusetts with her husband, Joe, and enjoys the company of their grandchildren, gardening, cooking, swimming, kayaking, reading, and puzzles.

Judy can be reached at revbrain@aol.com.

Kathleen Adams, Music Director


Organist and Choirmaster, Kathleen Adams studied vocal literature and performance at the American Conservatory of Music. Her post-graduate work included studies in organ and conducting at Harvard University while she continued her vocal work at the University of Massachusetts and with master teachers. Specializing in early music at the beginning of her career, she performed renaissance repertoire with lutenist, David Rhodes, touring universities in the Midwest and on the East Coast.

Her performances of song literature range from early liturgical works and chant to baroque, romantic, and modern repertoire. Working with Gloucester composer Stephen Scotti, she performed cabaret repertoire and Scotti’s settings of Cape Ann poets. In Japan and in Italy, she performed recitals of classical song repertoire accompanied on organ and harpsichord by her husband, Jeremy Adams. As “Caterina la Canterina,” she has appeared at Italian Fiestas throughout the region, singing Neapolitan repertoire and operatic arias with the Italo American Band and the Italian Colonial and St. Alfio Bands under Maestro Nunzio Cicarelli.

She has appeared as soloist with the Cape Ann Symphony, the Cape Ann Community Band, North Shore Concert Band, Musica Sacra, and Gloucester Pro Musica. She has recorded for National Public Radio’s “Living on Earth” and for a number of independent film projects.

Kathleen served as both cantor and organist at St. Leonard’s of Port Maurice in Boston’s North End for ten years. After moving to the North Shore, she was Music Director at First Church in Ipswich until her appointment at the Annisquam Village Church in 1984. In addition her post as Music Director (Organist and Choirmaster) she is Artistic Director of the concert series, drawing world-class musicians to play in the exceptional acoustics and on the exceptional instruments at the Village Church.

She maintains a musical arts studio, teaching voice, piano, harpsichord, and organ. She is an active member of the American Guild of Organists and is a member of Sigma Alpha Iota, the International Music Fraternity.​

Deborah Aiello, Administrator

photo of Deborah Aiello

Deborah Aiello, administrator to Rev. Judy Brain and the church community.

She came to the Annisquam Village Church in April of 2015 after being at the Eastern Point Retreat House for 20 years as part of their administrative staff.

She is married and has three children and nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Kierstin Hazzard, Children's Education Coordinator

Kierstin brings much training and experience to her role as Children’s Education Coordinator.

A graduate of Lesley University, she taught at Gloucester’s Pathways for Children and, with the rest of her family, has been deeply involved in the theater arts.

Ben Steele, Sexton

Photo and bio coming soon.