Church Staff

Many people contribute to the success of a church. Countless hours are generously given by many church members, too numerous to include here. Below we introduce you to the core staff of the church. Click on their link for detailed information

Church Staff

Reverend Amelia Fulbright, Designated Term Pastor
Rev. Tom VandeStadt, Pastor (Retired Feb. 28, 2021)
Nodie Murphy, Music Director 
Jonathan Geer, Pianist
Amy Harris, Violinist 
Tony Rogers, Cellist
Victor Cardenas, Custodian
Donna Cravens, Office Manager 

 

The Church has been blessed with many ministers who are  members. Their generous service to the church and its members has been and continues to be a very special blessing. We list them here for any needing their services.

Non-Staff Clergy Members of the Church
Biography’s

Rev, Cecile F. Adam & Board Certified Chaplain, Retired

Family: Husband David, two daughters from my first marriage, six daughters and one son that were gifts with my second marriage to David in 2000. six grandsons, one granddaughter. One more on the way.

Current Ministry: “Retired” from ministry, but do intake, screening and scheduling for licensed therapist and volunteer on oncology floor at Seton. My specialty at Seton – waiting on patients, finding green jello and harassing with love the nurses I worked with for so many years.

Past Ministries: Prior to seminary, worked at the UT Health Science Center in Houston teaching medical jurisprudence to physicians and medical students. Taught patient rights courses to graduate students at the Health Science Center. Co-taught medical ethics. Got my JD in 1988 from University of Houston School of Law. Prior education, B.A. and M.A. in Romance Languages/Latin American Poetry. After seminary was oncology chaplain for Seton Medical Center and Manager of Chaplain Services for the Seton system the last 3 years – 2002-2015.

Seminary: Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in 2002. Completed chaplain residency at Seton and hired as staff chaplain 2003, year of ordination with the UCC. In care with the Congregational Church of Austin during seminary.

My ministry in five words: I understand better by listening.

Rev. Dr. Whitney Bodman & Associate Professor of Comparative Religion
Austin Theological Seminary

Family: Wife, Betty,

A BA graduate of U. of North Carolina and  MDiv graduate of Duke Divinity School, Dr. Bodman was ordained in the United Church of Christ. He pastored churches in Massachusetts for twelve years before returning to graduate school. During his ministry and schooling he has been involved in various interfaith organizations including the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches and the Massachusetts Conference of Churches’ Jewish-Christian and Muslim-Christian dialogues. His current research focuses on the Qur’an, modern Islam in the Middle East, and political theology.

He is currently president of Texas Impact and on the board of the related Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy. He was a board member of the Texas Conference of Churches until its demise in 2013. He is currently active in Interfaith Action (iACT) and Austin Interfaith and the NCC Jewish-Christian Dialogue and Local and Regional Ecumenism Committee.

 

Rev. Dr. Sarah Bentley

Family: Spouse Rev. Bob Breihan (deceased). three adult stepchildren, six grandchildren, one great-granddaughter, nieces, nephews and their offspring. [they are like my kids]

Current ministry: Being present/helpful to spouse, kids, friends, especially when confronting aging/end-of-life questions

Past ministries and/or professions/education: (Too many to count!)

Worship leader national and regional ecumenical and UCC meetings, 1977-1983, pioneering use of movement as prayer; Visiting seminary teacher in New York, Pennsylvania, Austin; faculty of clergy continuing education center, New York; interim pastorates in SCC 1984-1997 (including CC); counseling/retreat leader, New Life Institute (1986-1996), including program to education religious communities about family violence; Associate Pastor, Westlake UMC, 1997- 2006; Hospice Austin chaplain, 2006-2012.

Education: Smith College, Teachers College, Union Seminary (M.Div, PhD.) Ordination: 1980

My Ministry in five words: Creative, challenging, adventuresome, growth-full, rewarding, spiritually enriching.

Rev. Sarah Darter. Pastor Sarah, Chaplain Sarah.

Past Ministries: First woman ordained by the American Baptists of Metropolitan New York in 1975, though they were reluctant to call me to serve a local church. Having bi-racial children, which was controversial for the small local churches; I served as a United Methodist minsiter in the Iowa Conference. Over 25 yearsI got in four years of Clinical Pastoral Education, some supervisory training. First woman chaplain for the United States Air Force Reserve.Family: Three children in their thirties, Nikki, a family and child protective services lawyergraduated from UT; Rikki, a cook for state corrections in Des Moines; David, a chiropractic doctor. Widowed and divorced by early thirties.

Current Ministry: Working presently as a CNA, applying to hospice and hospital ministries to return to Chaplaincy.

My ministry in five words or more: I have a passion for conversations with individual people and small groups where we think aloud about deeply spiritual and meaningful things in our lives & in our world.

Rev. Jo Jensen, DMin, BCC, GC—C

Spouse: Robert Garrett Children: Teresa

Grands & Greats: Ashley,‘Cody, McKenzie; J aydon, Adryan, Zayla Current ministry: Resiliency Mentor Past ministries and/or professions/education:

Author of The BE—Attitudes of Chaplaincy published in July 2015 Oncology chaplain at Shivers Cancer Center (Austin); Dell Children’s Medical Center (Austin), Sacred Heart Hospital (Pensacola, FL)

Co-Founder/Facilitator of Death Cafe Austin

Founder/Facilitator of Cancer Support Group at SHH (Pensacola)

Master or Arts in Pastoral Theology (MAPT) at St. Mary-of-the—Woods College

Doctor of Ministry in Pastoral Care and Counseling at Graduate Theological Foundation
University of Oxford (UK) in summer of 2011.

Certifications in Adult and Child/Adolescent Grief Counseling

Your ministry in five words or more: Sitting with people in the what’s next chair and walking with them into the unknown with mindful compassionate attentiveness.

Rev. Dr. Liz Nash

Family: Reuel, Ellie, Annie, Becky No grandkids yet..

Current ministry: Association Minister, Heart of Texas Association — formerly Association Minister, Brazos Association. Since 2006

Past Ministries:

Associate Minister, First Congregational Church, Houston

Associate for Christian Education, First Congregational Church, Stockton, CA

Substantial volunteer work for a number of years at UCC Camp Cazadero as camp counselor, chaplain, and camp director.

Co—chair of UCC Women’s Network, Northern Califomia—Nevada Conference for several years. Related work in teaching: .

Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary adjunct (current semester) teaching History and Polity of the UCC and Christian Church/Disciples of Christ

Adjunct at Dominican University, San Rafael, CA teaching ethics

Adjunct at Starr King School of Theology, Berkeley co-teaching economic social justice class Teaching assistant (several semesters) at Pacific School of Religion for ethics courses

Education:

Ph. D. Religion and Society: Ethics, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, 2005 (on the mommy track — it took awhile)

M.Div. Pacific School of Religion, 1987

M.A. Statistics, University of California, Berkeley, 1983

All but dissertation in Ph.D program, Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of California, Berkeley, 1980-83

M.S. Agricultural Economics, Texas A&M University, 1981

B.S. Agricultural Economics, Texas A&M University, 1978

Seminary and year of ordination Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley (1987). Ordained 1989.

Ministry in five words or more: As a young woman, I had few roles models, but I have always felt a call to some kind of Christian work in social and economic justice and environmental ethics.

And always a strong pull towards family, kids, and youth. Took awhile to find ways to express that in work and in my education — and perhaps in ways I didn’t really expect — but I seem to have found that path and am still discovering what it will become.

Rev. Dr. C. J. Wood

Rev. Dr. CJ Wood is a Board-Certified Chaplain who works at Ascension Seton Medical Center. She has served as a chaplain for almost 6 years.  She was ordained by the HOT Association June 9, 2019. Before becoming a chaplain, she served with the non-profit AVANCE which works to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty through innovative two generation education and support for families with young children. CJ has 12 years experience working in education including adult ESL, GED, and citizenship classes, teaching third grade in the inner city, and working as an Education Consultant in India for three and a half years. Her ministry experience includes leading mental health support groups, working in inner city Houston with adults, youth, and children, offering social service support to immigrants and the street dependent, and creating and facilitating an International Student Community Ministry. She also served as a Pastoral Associate for two years at DaySpring Baptist Church in Waco, TX. CJ graduated with a BS in Interdisciplinary Studies/Reading & ESL from Houston Baptist University, MDiv from Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University, and a DMin in Formational Counseling from Ashland Theological Seminary in Ashland, OH. Her DMin project was a resource to better equip pastoral caregivers to be spiritual companions with people who have bipolar disorder. Publications include “Outsider Perspective: Learning to Build Relationships with Hindu Friends”, presented at a seminar on Hinduism, New Delhi, 2010 and published in Walking the Way of the Cross with our Hindu Friends, Grassroots Mission Publications, 2011. Contributor to ABC of God’s Love for the Children of India by Constance Masand. CJ has a passion for mental health advocacy and education along with addiction and recovery. She is a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community. The perfect weekend for CJ is curling up on her couch, snuggling with her cats, Lucy and Logan, and reading a book while enjoying a nice cup of coffee.

Rev. Dr. Ann Locasio

Ann Locasio is a former pastor, computer salesperson and corporate trainer and now writes treatment plans for people at Austin State Hospital. After spending the first years of her life in Wales, Germany, England and Brazil, she completed college in Cleveland, Ohio with a BA in journalism. She got her Master’s of Divinity at Southern Methodist University and her PhD in Educational Psychology at UT. She was a pastor of churches in Medina, Center Point, San Marcos, and Goliad and published her memoir in 2017.  For fun, she likes museums, cooking, travel, visits with friends. She is working on her second book about her adventures walking around Austin.

Rev. Carolyn Thompson

Carolyn has been actively involved in the disability field since the early 80’s when she served on the board of the independent living center here in Austin. When her daughters finished college, she moved first to DC for work and study with the Church of the Savior (www.inwardoutward.org/), and then to Cambridge, MA for seminary. The focus of her M.Div. was to articulate a more liberating theology of disability, a theology that would foster the flourishing and full participation of everyone in the life of the church.  Carolyn went on to help draft several documents on theology and disability including the World Council of Churches (WCC) 2003 statement, A Church of All and for All. She has served on the UCC national Disability Ministries Board and on the Wider Church Ministries Board and shared her experience and knowledge with seminary classes, at conferences and workshops around the country.  She especially values her fifteen years working with the Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network (EDAN) of the WCC as they did presentations and trainings for seminaries, NGOs and religious institutions in many different countries. She joined Congregational Church of Austin when she moved back to Texas four years ago.