Rev. Michael Ellick:   Senior Minister  Michael came to us after serving as minister at Judson Memorial church for seven years. His sermons establish a new Christian vocabulary for a post-Christian world, embracing Judson's legacy...  Read More

Rev. Michael Ellick: Senior Minister
Michael came to us after serving as minister at Judson Memorial church for seven years. His sermons establish a new Christian vocabulary for a post-Christian world, embracing Judson's legacy...Read More

  Rev. Elizabeth Durant:     Assistant Minister  Rev. Elizabeth Durant joined us in July 2016. Elizabeth is a queer poet-preacher, activist, and rabble-rouser who deeply loves Mama God, her family, Buffy and Jesus (not necessarily in that order)...  Read More

Rev. Elizabeth Durant: Assistant Minister
Rev. Elizabeth Durant joined us in July 2016. Elizabeth is a queer poet-preacher, activist, and rabble-rouser who deeply loves Mama God, her family, Buffy and Jesus (not necessarily in that order)...Read More

Batya Podos,
Youth Coordinator

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Batya Podos discovered Greek Myths at age nine, and ever since then, she has been chasing a good story. For over thirty years, she has been a storyteller and performer, workshop leader, teacher, and playwright. She worked as an artist in residence and educational consultant in the U.K. where she lived for over a decade, and later when she returned to the U.S. as a middle school drama teacher.

Batya is an ordained maggid, a teacher and storyteller in the Jewish tradition, and now that she has retired from teaching middle school, she works with young people who are about to have their Bar or Bat Mitzvah and is one of the directors of "Abraham's Tent" - an interfaith summer camp for Christian, Jewish, and Muslim children. Her goal is to have children connect with the Divine through their personal experience of the stories within their tradition. Batya also leads services, facilitates holiday celebrations, and has taken the pulpit on more than one occasion. She has written her own book for middle level readers, Rebecca and the Talisman of Time.


Dr. Michael Kelly,
Music Director

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Dr. Michael Kelly has been our music director since May 2005. He has many years of experience, not only as a music director, organist, and choirmaster in several large churches but also as a performer and professor. In addition to serving as our Music Director, Michael is the pianist for the Portland Symphonic Choir and is an active vocal coach and accompanist. Michael performed at Lincoln Center in New York City as winner of the 1982 Bach Society Competition. He has taught piano and music theory at the Manhattan School of Music, the Brooklyn College of CUNY, and the University of Puget Sound. He earned a Master's degree in piano at the Julliard School and a Doctorate in piano at Manhattan School of Music in New York City. We are thankful for Michael's dynamic ability that reaches across style and genre.

Cara Rothe,
Business Manager

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Cara Rothe joined First Congregational in October, 2013. She is responsible for promoting the church's activities to the public, coordinating special and educational events, and building partnerships with other organizations. Previously, working in health care, Cara developed an interest in nonprofit management and decided to switch gears. While working on her Bachelors in Business Management from Portland State, Cara worked as a Marketing and Development Assistant and as a Volunteer Coordinator.

Cara is excited to apply her love of organizational behavior and marketing to First Congregational. Cara enjoys kayaking, backpacking, and attending meditation/spiritual retreats. She plays Native American flute and loves to act and sing.

Caroline Patetta,
Child Care Provider

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I am delighted to join the community at First Congregational United Church of Christ, and I can't wait to get to know all of you and - of course - your children! I moved to Portland four years ago from Cleveland, Ohio; where I spent five magical years as a nanny to three children. My last four years have been spent both in administration and in the classroom at ChildRoots, where I've built wonderful relationships with families, children, and teachers. In my free time, I enjoy swimming, painting, singing, and snuggling my sweet dog, Rooney.


Grant Edwards,
Musician in Residence

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Grant Edwards has been organist of First Congregational since June 1995, on occasion of the 100th anniversary service of the landmark building. He holds a BA in Organ from Lewis & Clark College. Grant has also studied at the Ludwig-Maxmillians-Universitat in Munich and as a Deutsche-UNESCO scholar in Weimar, East Germany. An organ builder as well, he has been a craftsman at Bond Organ Builders since 1993. Grant installed his first self-designed organ at the Episcopal Church of the Nativity in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. In collaboration with Bond, he also constructed the organ in our sanctuary, incorporating mechanical portions of the original 1951 instrument as well as an ornate 1877 organ case. He is currently completing a large-scale choral work based on the poetry of Emily Dickinson and has created and performed several original compositions for our worship services. Grant has performed for three National Conventions of the Organ Historical Society. In 2003, he recorded an eclectic album, Musical Feast, (ProOrgano CD7181) at St. Stephen's Episcopal, Seattle. Active in the local chapter of the American Guild of Organists, Grant is currently that organization's Sub-Dean and chair of the Program Committee.

Maia Watkins, Communications Coordinator

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Maia joins us as a recent graduate of Whitman College, where they studied Studio Art and Spanish. While at college, they participated in grassroots organizing for local and national political campaigns, relentlessly advocated for real avenues of justice for survivors of sexual assault, and walked in the ocassional drag show. They have previously been a member of UCC congregations in Eugene and Walla Walla, and are thrilled to join in the community of FCUCC of Portland as it continues to center its mission in inclusive and active social justice.


Annie Tarter, Teen Ministry Coordinator

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Annie joins us after graduating from Western Oregon University in June of 2017 and moving to Portland in July of the same year. During her teenage years, Annie was highly involved in the youth and teen programs at the UCC congregation in Eugene, and she is so excited to bring that continued energy into her work with the youth group at First Congregational. Some of Annie's greatest joys in life involve supporting those are around her, recognizing their accomplishments, and celebrating them in the process. Annie is eager to support and encourage the youth at First Congregational, and to help bolster a youth program that is already filled with hope and care. Outside of her work with First Congregational, Annie supports college student living in the Residence Halls and supervises a staff of 11 Resident Assistants at PSU as a Residence Director with University Housing and Residence Life.

Steve Eggers, 
Facilities Manager

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Steve Eggers joins our staff after having worked for many years in East Africa, training people affected by HIV in sustainable farming and nutrition. He enjoys singing and playing guitar in a local bluegrass band. Please join us in welcoming him to the First Congregational family!


Sandra Hetzel,  Bookkeeper

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Sandra comes to UCC with a background in accounting, human resources, health care and retail management. As a life-long activist, she is excited to support the mission of the church.

She has a BA from The College of New Jersey, a Master’s degree in Management from The University of Phoenix, and she recently studied Music Therapy at Marylhurst University.

Sandra is also the bookkeeper for New Renaissance Bookshop and she does freelance bookkeeping.

When not at work, Sandra volunteers for Providence ElderPlace, visiting residents and participating in special events. A lifelong musician, she enjoys playing various musical instruments at ElderPlace, including the accordion, the ukulele, the clarinet and the piano.