Sam is grateful to serve alongside the First Church community as Minister of Faith Formation. He feels called to create a space to help all ages, from infants to adults, sense God’s presence in their lives. Sam desires to make the church more about how we relate to God and with one another than a static adherence to tradition, creed, or even our history. He believes God is still speaking, and through Sunday school, service, story sharing and song, prayer and acts of solidarity with the marginalized, that we are provided opportunities to hear God’s call and act upon it. Sam is ordained in the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) and a graduate of Union Presbyterian Seminary, the University of Kansas, and Haverford College. He is joined by his wife, Lauren, and their two sons, Brendan and Ryan. Sam loves the Nationals, playing baseball, and living in DC!
For the last three years, James has worked with staff, church members, and the broader community to craft and implement advocacy, volunteering, and education and worship programs that reflect the church’s priorities and community needs. By supporting the Social Action and Awareness Commission, he partners with the congregation on issues related to racial justice, sanctuary, affordable housing, and other church concerns. He also provides leadership to the Downtown Drop-In Center, which is located at First Church and welcomes youth who are homeless or at risk of homelessness with food, case management, and a sense of community. James is also a journalist and currently serves as the Director of Outreach and Engagement for the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth. James is a graduate of the University of Alabama and holds a Master of Arts in American Culture Studies from Bowling Green State University and a Master of Divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary. Under the tutelage of the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., he is completing a doctorate in African-Centered Religious Thought and Practice at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago.
John retired from teaching after 20+ years with the Montgomery County, Maryland Public School System. He received the Broom Award for Excellence awarded by his home county for his work in composition for children. John served Warner Memorial Presbyterian Church in Kensington, Maryland for 43 years as Organist and Director of Music. His compositions are found in the catalogues of over ten nation-wide publishers. He presently has over 250 anthems for children, youth, and adults in print. Over his career, John has served as clinician for children and youth choirs at national conferences held by Presbyterians, Reformed Presbyterians, American Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, United Church of Christ, and Disciples of Christ. John has served both on the Choristers Guild Board of Directors and the Board of Directors of the Presbyterian Association of Musicians. More recently, John joined the Pallas Theatre Collective board of directors, where he serves as president. John also works as a freelance writer for a number of music periodicals including Church Music Workshop, a journal published by Abingdon Press, and The Chorister, the journal for the Choristers Guild of Garland, Texas. Combining talents with hymnist Mary Nelson Keithahn, John has co-authored four new hymn collections: Come Away with Me, Time Now to Gather, The Song Lingers On, and most recently, A Faith that Lets Us Sing. Some of his hymns have been included in the United Methodist hymn supplement, The Faith We Sing, the Presbyterian supplement, We Sing the Faith, and the new Presbyterian hymnal, Glory to God, among others.
Byron devotes his church hours to building relationships with a variety of organizations in the Greater Washington region (including Ford’s Theater, Washington Bach Consort, National Symphony Orchestra, Choral Arts Society) who use the church’s space for concerts, lectures, forums, classes, and more. His service on the Site Development Design Team and a career in direct and brand marketing gives him a unique perspective on how the building can be used and promoted to build the wider community in the heart of the city. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and participated in immersion language training in Chiapas, Mexico.
Cindy joined the staff of First Congregational UCC in March of 2015. After having lived in the DC area in her youth, she moved back to the area from Connecticut to be closer to family. Cindy earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from the University of Maryland. She served as the administrative assistant at two churches in Connecticut, along with holding several positions in the legal field and teaching private piano lessons for over 25 years. Cindy is happy to be a part of the staff at First Church. Please stop by the office and say hello!
Andy is the Assistant Moderator for First Congregational UCC in 2017. Andy and his wife, Tory, moved to the District in 2011 and are excited to be part of such a vibrant and welcoming community. They are the proud parents of an energetic daughter, Evie, and can often be found in the Education Suite or trying not to cause too large a commotion on the Balcony! An Ohio native, Andy is a senior director for risk management at a life insurance company in Baltimore. He is enthusiastic to work with the staff and the congregation as we all strive to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God.
Melissa and her husband Scott officially joined First Church as members in 2016, though they attended for several years prior. Both of their kids were baptized at First Church and are active members of the First Church youth group. Melissa has more than 20 years of international development experience and currently works in the non-profit sector, focusing on issues of food security, nutrition, and sustainability of our global food system. Melissa is humbled to be part of the First Church community, and learning and sharing its legacy of social justice and action. Working together with staff and the congregation, she looks forward to continuing the First Church mission of creating a peaceful and equitable community and world, right here in our midst, in our downtown DC neighborhood, and especially for our children. Melissa and her family live on Capitol Hill.