Called by our First Church Trustees and Deacons, the Director of Music Ministries Search Committee will soon initiate a national search for a Director of Music Ministries to serve at First Church. As music is central in our shared ministry and mission, this is an important transition for our congregation. Updates will be shared with the congregation in our Church Newsletter, during worship, and will be posted to this page periodically as we make progress. The Search Committee will be commissioned during an April worship service. Learn more about our Search Committee members
The members of our Music Director Search Committee are: Laura Elder-Connors, the Rev. Elissa Johnk, David Lightbody, Danielle Rochford, Ana Ruesink, Hannah Sachs, and Doug Viehmann.
Children’s Choir Director, Laura Elder-Connors has been singing in choirs for as long as she can remember. Since 1998 she has alternated between singing with the Sanctuary Choir and leading children of all ages in singing here at First Church. She currently works as an elementary para-educator, lives in Stowe with her husband John, and is looking forward to many more visits from her four grown children this summer–after a winter of Zoom family gatherings.
Dave is a dad and a scholar of archaeology. Many, many, years ago he sang first soprano with the Scottish National Orchestra Junior Chorus, and he plays several instruments as a hobby including electric bagpipes. When he arrived in Vermont he was tempted to return to choir singing at First Church UCC and has enjoyed practicing and performing with the choir very much. Music has always been his amateur pleasure rather than a serious pursuit.
Music has always played an essential part in my life; it was part of speech therapy with my high school music teacher. Music provides access to feel into significant moments of our lives and to be in relationship to the sacred, like I experienced during our First Church Sacred Spaces, a series of alternative worship services. My musical tastes range from acoustic guitar at Vermont’s Weston Priory, to Lauren Daigle’s version of How Great Thou Art, and Billy Joel’s River of Dreams.
Youth Choir Director, Ana writes, “I’m a violist and music teacher who grew up singing UCC hymns in southern Indiana. My husband Andy and I joined First Church almost 20 years ago; for the past five years I’ve had a blast working with the Youth Choir and sharing faith-filled music in a variety of musical styles. Music in church connects us to a rich spiritual tradition, creates sacred space, and helps us express our faith through sound and song. I’m pleased to be part of the search committee!”
Doug Viehmann has been a member of First Congregational Church for about 40 years, serving in many ways including on Christian Action, Deacons and Trustees as well as chaperoning YETS trips. Doug returned to Vermont in 1978, working as an independent carpenter beginning work as an architect designing projects for schools, institutions, commercial and residential clients. Many of these projects reflect his long term commitment to sustainable design and building practices. He is a partner in GVV Architects. Doug has been active in other community organizations, serving on volunteer boards of directors and committees and most recently designing sets for the Community Theater Productions at Burlington’s Flynn Mainstage, Flynnspace and Stowe Town Hall Theater. His theater accomplishments include set design starting with Guys and Dolls in 2006. After work on 7 production sets, Titanic The Musical (2012) remains a high point for technical and emotional reasons.
The Rev. Elissa Johnk
Elissa’s extended family is musical, to say the least – all of her mother’s siblings are either church musicians or music teachers, or both! And while the church music performance gene skipped her, she understands that there are few things as important in worship as music for helping us break down our barriers – with God, and one another. After all, it has been said that when you sing, you pray twice! She is grateful to David for his pastoral wisdom, the understanding of music he has nurtured in this congregation, and his rich musical legacy he leaves with us. She has faith that we will the right person to help us grow in this next phase of our life together.
Hannah Sachs, Director of Creative Ministries
Hannah has always experienced God most intimately through musical worship and is grateful for the opportunity to serve on this important team! She received her MDiv degree from Yale’s Institute of Sacred Music and completed her thesis on music’s role in the transmission of tradition, theology, and Jewish American Identity. During her graduate program, she also had the opportunity to take numerous courses in music ministry and sing on the worship team at a local church. She is grateful for the rich legacy David is leaving and hopeful that God will continue to bless this congregation through faithful musical leadership.