Research tells us that healthy pastors need to be mentally, physically and spiritually nurtured. Our church family helps facilitate that by being mindful of these times of rest. The days staff are available in the office is listed next to their names below. As we enhance our inner capacity for wholeness and freedom, we strengthen our outer capacity to love and serve.
REV. JT SMIEDENDORF (he, him, his), Interim Senior Pastor, firstname.lastname@example.org, available Sunday-Thursday
It is with great pleasure that we announce the hiring of The Reverend Jonathan Todd (JT) Smiedendorf as our new Interim Senior Pastor. Pastor JT joined us March 12, 2023, and will be with us for the next two years as we embark on a new chapter in our church’s journey.
Pastor JT comes to us with more than 20 years of experience in ministry and a deep passion for guiding congregations through times of transition. He has served three other congregations as an interim minister. This includes University Congregational UCC in Seattle and, most recently, JT served as an interim pastor at Plymouth Congregational UCC in Fort Collins, Colorado, a church of similar size to FCC located near Colorado State University. This experience makes him uniquely equipped to help us navigate our period of change and prepare for the arrival of our next permanent minister.
During Pastor JT’s time with us, he will be working closely with our church leadership and congregation to ensure that our community remains strong, connected, and spiritually nourished. He will supervise our staff, preach regularly, provide pastoral care, and support us during this period of reflection and planning.
We are excited to welcome JT to our congregation and look forward to the guidance, wisdom, and support that he will bring to our community. Please join us in warmly welcoming The Rev. JT Smiedendorf to our church family.
MARK LINDBERG (he, him, his), Youth Minister, email@example.com, available Sunday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday.
Mark began his work as Director of Youth & Family Ministries in May of 2017. He brings a wealth of knowledge about our community and our church, having been a member of First Congregational Church since 2001, along with his wife Julia, and children, Annika and Joren. He is passionate about youth and focused on developing a ministry program that is both vibrant and comprehensive. Mark helped spearhead the effort to develop our “We are Family” Christian education program on Sunday mornings over 6 years ago and he now seeks to enhance the support for parents during these challenging days. Over the years at FCC, Mark has led a HS youth mission trip to Villas del Sol, Mexico, served as HS Sunday school teacher, Mission Committee Chair (now Justice & Witness), Congregational Preschool Board, Family Ministries Committee, Church Board Member and Vice Moderator. Mark is very grateful for this opportunity to serve the church and prays that with the support of the congregation, together we will keep our hearts and minds open to where the Lord is calling us in our youth and family ministries!
A Path to Ordination
In February of 2020, the FCC Board requested that the Central Pacific Conference (CPC) take Youth Minister Mark Lindberg under care as a “Member in Discernment”. The past year since then has been a busy time of writing, reflection, meetings, evaluations, interviews, psychological testing,
further study, networking, and most importantly…listening for God’s call.
Throughout this time, Mark has worked with the Rev. Dana McBrien, who is Mark’s Member in Discernment Advisor with the conference Committee on Ministry.
In November, the CPC Committee on Ministry formally approved Mark’s path to ordination. Part of that path includes Eden Seminary, to which Mark was admitted this month; he has registered for classes beginning on February 4th! Eden Seminary is located in St. Louis, Missouri and Mark will be completing his coursework online during this time through Zoom classes and the Brightspace
platform. He is planning to visit Eden Seminary during the years ahead, hoping to sit in on his classes in person, while also getting to visit with his family in St. Louis.
During this last year, The Center for Ministry in the West also completed their own, independent assessment, highly recommending Mark for the ministry. Our own FCC Local Church Discernment Committee (LCDC), will continue to work with Mark during this time and the days ahead, comparing his skill sets against the Marks of Faithful and Effective Authorized Ministers in the United Church of Christ – supporting him throughout the journey towards ordination. Mark’s LCDC includes: Brenda Kame’enui, Doug White, Suzanne Congdon, Todd Grigsby and Wayne Martin. Many other members and pastors are also supporting Mark on this journey, such that he is feeling very “well held” during
this time. He is deeply grateful for this love, care and support!
In his “down” time, Mark also manages PDI, LLC, a local print brokerage and graphic design firm. Mostly, he enjoys spending time with his family, especially in the great outdoors. Hiking, camping, whitewater kayaking and snowboarding are among his favorite pastimes. He also manages, coaches and plays for several soccer teams in the area, as this has been a lifelong passion. Mark is actively involved with the Boy Scouts of America, currently serving as a leader (and playing bugle!) for Cub Scout Pack 20. Having spent time in Mexico, Honduras and Costa Rica, and graduating from Missouri State University with a B.A. in International Affairs / Latin America, Mark continues to have a great deal of interest in the region – specifically around human rights and restorative justice issues.
JESSIE AMELIA LA FARGA PETERSON, Children’s Ministry Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org, available Sundays and by appointment
Jessie Amelia La Farga Peterson was born in a suburb outside of Los Angeles, California. She grew up in the church and taught bible study classes to youth, in addition to volunteering at church camp. Her love for nature drew her to attend college at Humboldt State University located along Northern California’s Redwood Coast, where she earned her MS in Exercise Science and a minor in psychology before moving to Monroe, Oregon and starting a family. Jessie currently resides in South Eugene and brings experience teaching children at Head Start of Lane County and at the University of Oregon’s EC CARES, where she utilized her minor in psychology and her MS in Exercise Science; because kiddos love to move!
Her career path as a mother has included managing programs at Habitat for Humanity, teaching child development, and most recently working as a research assistant at the University of Oregon. Jessie’s passion is teaching and she is profoundly grateful to be entrusted with guiding the next generation in their relationships with Divine Love through Children’s Ministries. Jess shares, “I am in awe of the radiant love that is evident in this community and the abundance of support that it provides.”
JARED FISCHER (he, him, his), Director of Music Ministries, email@example.com, available Sunday/Tuesday/Wednesday.
There is an abundance of good news for us in selecting and hiring Jared as our Director of Music Ministries, who has been making music in church since age 11. Jared was the director of music at Holy Covenant UCC in Charlotte, North Carolina from 2009 to 2018. We are thrilled to have him bring his love of liturgical worship and appreciation for music to inspire vibrant worship experiences that utilize both traditional and contemporary elements.
A committed educator, he and six colleagues founded the annual workshop, Porterville Summer Strings, in Porterville, California, with the mission of making music education accessible to children disenfranchised by poverty and at risk of gang recruitment. During the summer of 2010, he taught music at House of Peace Orphanage in southern India.
Jared has most recently worked in the collegiate setting as a graduate instructor in conducting at the University of Oregon, where he earned two master’s degrees, one in orchestral conducting, the other in choral conducting.
BARBARA BAIRD, Organist, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Barbara Baird has been on the staff of First Congregational Church, Eugene, since April 1, 1982. She has served as organist over 30 years, as well as being Director of Music Ministries for over ten years. Barbara has been a member of the University of Oregon music faculty since 1988, teaching organ, harpsichord, and piano. An active recitalist since 1971, Baird has performed throughout the United States as well as Argentina, Brazil, Europe and Australia. A frequent adjudicator and clinician, she regularly conducts workshops and master classes for keyboardists, particularly on Baroque and Classical Period Performance, and Keyboard Pedagogy. Baird has been a presenter and recitalist at both national and regional conventions of the American Guild of Organists, and for the Southeastern Historical Keyboard Society, the Organ Historical Society, the Historical Keyboard Society, the Oregon Bach Festival, several chapters of the American Guild of Organists, and for piano teachers’ guilds in the United States and Australia. She is particularly known for her presentations on organ manual and pedal techniques for beginning organists.
VICKI BRABHAM, Keyboardist, email@example.com
Vicki is a local pianist, singer, arranger, and music educator. She has made First Congregational Church her home for nearly 20 years, and enjoys integrating jazz, blues, gospel, and other contemporary styles into the worship at FCC. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, reading, crossword puzzles, the beach and the mountains in nearly equal measure, a good cup of coffee, and the everyday joys of life with her family.
JENNIFER SELLERS, Bell Choir Director, and Children’s Music/ Joyful Noise Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer has been involved in Church Music since she began planning and leading “Sunday School Opening Exercises” at 8 years old. From her start as one of the “Singing Sellers Sisters,” she has sung in School, Church and Community Choirs her whole life, and sings presently with The Jewel Tones. She enjoys community theatre and making music of all kinds. She teaches private piano lessons out of her home studio.
JENNIE SHERLOCK (she, her, hers), Our Whole Lives Director, email@example.com, available Tuesday/Wednesday/by appointment.
Jennie and her family started coming to FCC in 1999, drawn in by the warm and familiar community. In 2006, with her children’s adolescence on the horizon, she took the Our Whole Lives (OWL) middle and high school training to fortify her parenting toolbox, never expecting it to go further. She fell in love with the curriculum though, quickly recognizing its importance and relevancy. In 2007 she volunteered to help facilitate an 8th grade OWL class at FCC, and literally hasn’t stopped since! In June of 2019 she took over as OWL Coordinator at FCC. Jennie is trained in all levels of OWL: K-1, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12, Young Adult, Adult and Older Adult. In addition to coordinating the OWL program at FCC, Jennie also teaches 6th grade, 8th grade and 10-12th grade OWL and Health at Oak Hill School, and 8th grade OWL at the Village School. Jennie considers it a blessing and a privilege to get to walk alongside so many youth for this sacred part of their growing-up journeys.
Jennie earned a degree in Biology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She enjoys hiking, gardening, bee keeping, cooking, fermenting and furthering various artistic endeavors. She has two beautiful children, Bodin 19, in his first year at OSU, and Carmin, 23, a 2021 graduate now “adulting” in NYC.
DANA CLARK (she, her), Director of Fellowship Ministries, Office Administrator, firstname.lastname@example.org, available Sunday-Thursday.
Dana joined our staff in 2017 and is committed to offering warm welcome and fellowship for our congregation and visitors. If you have any questions on how to be involved with our many thriving church groups, be sure to talk to Dana and she will find multiple ways you can participate.
KIM DORR, Bookkeeper, email@example.com, available Tuesday-Friday.
Kim Dorr is the Bookkeeper for the Church and for Congregational Preschool since 2016. She lives with her husband and daughter in Cottage Grove.
DENNIS MORENO, Director of Facilities, firstname.lastname@example.org, available Monday-Wednesday
My wife, Cheryl, and I live on 3 1/2 acres in the Marcola area. We have loads of fun working on our small piece of Heaven on Earth! We have adopted two donkeys (named Hall and Oats) via BLM from Arizona. Rounding out the cast of characters is our black lab Ebony, and a 24 pound cat, Charles Barkley.
We really enjoy camping and spending time with our family which includes our two daughters and their spouses. We have four grandchildren ranging in ages 16 to 27; three grandsons and one granddaughter.
I am very excited to join the FCC team and work to enhance church programs and community outreach! I will be anxious to get better acquainted with the entire church family. Thank you all, for the warm welcome!