Our Team

Servant leaders share their time, talents, prayers, and passions to help our congregation be a positive presence and make a positive difference in the community, Quiet Corner, and world.

Staff

Worship, Music, Communications, & Support
Working together to support the mission and further the vision of the congregation
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Council

Strategy, Mission, Program Coordination
Advising Pastor, boards, & committees, Establishing policy, Coordinating programs
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Deacons

Spiritual Care
Shares with the Pastor the oversight of the spiritual life of the Church
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Outreach

Community Collaborations in service of a more loving, just, and sustainable world
Provides avenues for mission at local, state, national, and global levels
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Trustees

Facilities, Finance, Personnel
Provide care and custody of property; Handle business affairs of the Church; & with the Pastor, hire employees.
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Staff

Worship, Music, Communications, & Support
Working together to support the mission and further the vision of the congregation
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Working together to support the mission and further the vision of the congregation

REV. DR. KEVIN DOWNER, PASTOR 

Bio for Rev. Downer

A positive, joyful leader; Rev. Downer teaches, preaches, pastors, and ministers in spiritually-grounded, practical ways. An openly gay man, Rev Kev believes our challenges present opportunities to express, extend and experience grace, love, compassion and justice.  He welcomes and affirms all wherever you may be on your life or spiritual journey.

He grew up in the area; spent a decade as a business consultant; started an emerging church in Chicago; and pastored diverse congregations in East Hollywood Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Antonio, Toronto, and Worcester.  He has worked with interfaith, eccumenical, and social-justice organizations; was a member of the Chicago LGBT Substance Use and Abuse Task Force and the LGBT Asylum Task Force.

He enjoys running, gardening, baking and exploring life’s journey with his spouse Toby and their two cats. You can address him in whatever way you feel comfortable, e.g., Rev. Kev, Kevin, Pastor Kevin, Rev. Downer, etc. and contact him on Facebook, his cell phone 774.764.1021 or by email RevKev.  

STAFF-Boylan, Ellen-2ELLEN BRADLEY, OFFICE MANAGER

Ellen has been the office manager since 1999.  She spent many years playing guitar and bass with the Hill Church Hillbillies, the Junior Choir, The Skillet Lickers;  singing in the choir, and playing in the Handbell Choir.  She currently is a member of the Norwich Diocesan Choir. She also graduated from QVCC and is a licensed phlebotomist.   In her free time she enjoys cooking, canning, sewing, chess, cribbage, shooting pool, writing, gardening,  her pets,  jamming with family and friends, and spending time with her adult daughter.   Ellen and her husband Edward live in Union, CT.  Email Ellen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

LA-DIR-STAFF-Nixon, LeilaniEILANI NIXON, ORGANIST

Leilani has been the organist at First Congregational Church or Woodstock since 1995.  She began her organ studies at Eastman  while she was an undergraduate at the University of Rochester and later studied at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago.  She has been organist of several churches in the Chicago area before moving to the Quiet Corner in 1988.  She is a member of the American Guild of Organists and enjoys participating in master classes and playing in member and solo recitals.  She likes to hike and kayak when she is on vacation where she’s frequently found in music stores searching for new music.

Deacons

Spiritual Care
Shares with the Pastor the oversight of the spiritual life of the Church
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Supporting the Spiritual, Care, and Prayer needs of the Congregation

Each deacon was asked to answer the same three questions about themselves.  The questions were:

  • Why did you choose to become a deacon at FCCW?
  • Where were you born and raised?
  • What kind of activities bring you joy?

BRUCE STAEHLE

Although I had been affiliated with the church for a number of years, I didn’t ask to formally join until fairly recently. When our previous minister announced her resignation I felt the need to make the formal commitment to join the church because I knew that trying times would lie ahead.  I became a deacon because I wanted to be more actively involved in the life of the church and do what I could to help it grow and prosper.

I was born and raised just outside of Chicago and lived in various suburbs in “Chicagoland” until moving to Connecticut in 1988. Swapping traffic gridlock for rolling green hills is a decision I have never regretted.

What do I enjoy doing?  A comprehensive list would be very long because I enjoy so many different things.  My favorites include going on trips with my wife, reading, listening to music, hiking and kayaking.  What brings me particular joy is helping others and I felt especially fulfilled by teaching which I did at the college level for almost 20 years.

CHARLENE SWANSON

I was born and raised in Great Falls, Montana and came to Connecticut in 1973, but did not move to Woodstock until 2001, after living in TX for  7 years. I have now lived longer here than anywhere but Montana will always be home for me.

My spiritual journey did not begin with the United Congregational Church of Christ but as a Baptist. By becoming a deacon I gained further knowledge into the beliefs of this body as well as its administration and directions. It also gave me an opportunity to get to know all the congregants better and has helped me gain a way of learning how I can show the love of God more fully to those around me.

I certainly cannot limit the activities that bring me joy to one thing but I can name a few – I love to entertain and have people in my home; I love spending time with my world-class grandchildren, I like to swim as many mornings a week that I can; and I love to read.

JACOB VICENTE

I grew up in Dedham Massachusetts and spent many years “church bouncing”. I was baptized in the Catholic church, raised in a Baptist church, and finally found a home in a Congregational church. My wife Julia and I moved to the Woodstock area in 2011 and have felt at home ever since.

When Kelsey, my oldest daughter, was born we felt that we needed to find a church home locally. Prior, we had been driving back to Bolton Massachusetts. We were welcomed into the church on the hill community. I became a deacon because I felt that as a Congregational church, each member played a pivotal role in the church operations. I wanted to play that role in a formalized position, where I could foster and grow my own spiritual connection.

My free time is spent with Julia, Kelsey, and Mya. We enjoy spending time with our horses, bike riding and swimming.

KATHLEEN PACKARD

I was a deacon here several years ago and enjoyed serving God, my congregation and community in this capacity.  I am enjoying it even more this time around!

I grew up in Oakland, California and was associated with a very diverse community.

I enjoy working with children and their families.  I like cooking, sewing, gardening and making handcrafted items.

RICK RAMDATHSINGH (SINGH)

Having met a church that was very welcoming to my family and me, I felt a need to help in a way that can benefit many. I chose to become a Deacon to share my support and ideas, and give back for the many that shared interest in my family growing up. I was honored to be approached to serve as a Deacon.

 

I was born in Trinidad & Tobago and grew up in many parts of NYC, Lived and went to College in RI and now started my family in Dayville, CT.

 

I enjoy traveling, spending time with my family: Ashley, my wife, our son Hunter, our daughter Aurora, and my step daughter Alanna doing various sports, hiking, technology, music, photography, festivals, and art. 

CHRISTINA MANUILOW

I chose to become a Deacon because being a part of the FCCW community has been so meaningful to me. I was honored to be asked and grateful to have the opportunity to give back as much as I’ve received. Serving as a Deacon has deepened my relationships within the community and allowed me to extend God’s love through supporting others on their spiritual path.

I was born and raised in Wrentham, Massachusetts. Although I enjoyed growing up and being part of the community there for most of my life, moving to Woodstock, CT in 2014 felt like coming home to me.

Spending time with my husband, Dennis, and our son, Collin, brings me incredible joy. I love family game nights and attending Collin’s soccer games. One of my favorite activities is playing in the woods. I enjoy hiking with Dennis on almost a weekly basis from October through May. I also love backyard birdwatching and I am an avid reader – anything from spirituality and health to science fiction and love stories.

BRUCE LYMAN

Why did I become a deacon? Well, I was asked, and it’s hard to say “no” to Bob Kirk! I was a deacon in the distant past, and then served the church in multiple other capacities more recently.  We believe that “God calls us to celebrate the fellowship of a loving, supportive community of friends,” and I can think of no better way to both celebrate and complete my service to this congregation than by serving once more as a deacon.

I was born in Glens Falls, N.Y., raised there and in Poultney, Vt. and New London, Conn. I continue to be drawn to the Adirondacks and the Green Mountains, but Woodstock has been our home for over 43 years.

What do I enjoy? Being in service to others – as a physician during my professional life, and helping with our Community Kitchen meals during retirement.  Getting outside into “God’s big book,” as Jamie Harrison once described it, by walking or running, hiking, or even doing yard work.  And singing, or listening to good music, especially if performed by one of my children or grands! Joys abound, actually..