Six Area Conference Missioners for 2021 Called

Six Area Conference Missioners for 2021 Called

Six Area Conference Missioners have been called to work as agents of transformation in the newly configured regions of the Southern New England Conference, beginning in early 2021.

Three current and three new staff members will serve in these newly defined positions, and they will be the most visible connections to the Conference for many clergy and churches. Announcements about them are being sent to clergy and churches in each region today.

"The ACM positions in our SNEUCC Conference have a primary and fundamental calling to bring new life as agents of transformation seeking to minister to the ministries in and through our local churches and specialized settings," said Bridge Conference Minister the Rev. Don Remick. "Their work is to build on the relationships with clergy and lay leadership for ministries within their area, to enable those ministries to flourish -- boldly, bravely and faithfully -- within the ever evolving landscape of ministry."

According to the position description: "Missioners bring adaptive change by provoking and nurturing discipleship, new life and creative partnerships in and through the love and justice of Jesus in our clergy and church congregations and Associations. Missioners are the chief provokers of clarity and provide vision and adaptive change by embodying and living our Conference Vision." 

The Rev. Remick said 18 people applied for the six positions, and the "ACM search team, guided by the Holy Spirit, has discerned and called the following individuals."  (Read a description of the search process here.)

Meet the new Missioners below:

The Rev. Dr. Michael Ciba, Southwest Region and Team Leader, beginning Jan. 1
(Approximately 94 churches in the Naugatuck, New Haven, New Haven East Consociation, Fairfield East, Fairfield West, and Litchfield South Associations)

The Rev. Dr. Ciba has served as a Regional Minister in the historic Connecticut Conference since 2005. In the new configuration, he will serve as Team Leader, a role also held in Connecticut.

“In the last few years, the Church has increasingly realized that its mission can no longer primarily be the maintenance of an institution," he said in his cover letter. "The Church does not exist for its own sake. Rather, it exists for the sake of the world God so loves and everyone and everything in it. God calls the Church and its members to live the Good News of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit invites us to look beyond institutional decline to the new things God is doing in the world right now. The Spirit invites us, collectively and individually, to discover new life by participating in God’s mission. God calls us to be co-creators of new ways of being church and new forms of organization that will support God’s mission.”

The Rev. Ciba grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, and worked in business for ten years before attending seminary. He has pastored churches in Waterbury, Connecticut, and Gustavus, Ohio. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. John’s College in Annapolis, a Master of Divinity degree from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Virginia Theological Seminary. 

The Rev. Elizabeth Garrigan-Byerly, North Central Region, beginning Jan. 1
(Approximately 103 churches in the Central MA and Windham Associations) 

The Rev. Garrigan-Byerly is currently the Assistant Director of the Metrowest Worker Center/ Casa del Trabajador/ Casa do Trabalhador in Framingham, MA.

In 2017, the Rev. Garrigan-Byerly co-founded the Metrowest Immigrant Solidarity Network, which has inspired, trained and organized over
300 volunteers to act in solidarity with immigrant neighbors. The center has worked to build collaborations with other groups and the accompaniment program is a model for other communities. Currently, Garrigan-Byerly is managing a culturally appropriate food disribution program for 500 families in response to the pandemic.

Previously, the Rev. Garrigan-Byerly served as the Associate Pastor and the Director of the Pastoral Residency Program at the Wellesley Village Church in Wellelsey, MA,where she shepherded the program into its second generation to better match the needs of the congregation and the program participants. This included revamping the search and call process and implementing a "scope and sequence" for the residents' ministry as well as a "learning loop" process that aligned with the Marks of Faith and Effective Ministry.

In her cover letter, she wrote: “What an exciting, life-giving time to be part of the church! Holy provocation never seeks to shame, diminish or undermine. Even so, it can be intense, unnerving, sometimes even unwelcomed. What a gift, then, to experience it in covenant where we are supported and nurtured in our discipleship and know that the purpose is holy and good.”

She earned her Master of Divinity degree from Andover Newton Theological School, and also holds a Bachelor of Social Work from Bloomsburg University in PA.

The Rev. Dr. Patty Kogut, Southeast Region, beginning Jan. 1
(105 churches in the Barnstable, Old Colony, Pilgrim and Rhode Island Associations)

The Rev. Dr. Kogut currently serves part-time as the Associate Conference Minister for the three Associations of the Southeast Region of the historic Massachusetts Conference; she will take on Rhode Island as well and serve at a full-time capacity.

The Rev. Kogut also currently serves as the pastor of the North Congregational Church in Middleboro, MA, where she has been for more than 20 years. She has been on the Conference staff since 2018, and prior to that worked as highly accomplished vitality coach. She has also served on a variety of Association and Conference boards and committees. 

“As one committed to supporting the vision of 'bringing new life as agents of change,' I have seen it lived out during this time of pandemic," she said in her cover letter. "With Covid-19 and all the challenges it has brought, change and adaptation has been essential for pastors and churches. It has been my privilege to walk with clergy and churches as they navigate this unknown territory and uncertain future.”

The Rev. Kogut received her Masters and Doctoral degrees from Andover Newton Theological School. 
The Rev. Tamara Moreland, South Central Region, beginning Jan. 1
(105 churches in the Central CT, Farmington Valley, Hartford, Hartford East, Middlesex, New London and Tolland Associations)

The Rev. Moreland has served as the regional minister for the Northwest Central Region in the historic Connecticut Conference since 2012, where she was the first African American woman to serve in such a position.

Rev. Moreland has 20 years of pastoral experience and previously served in management as the Director of the Greater Hartford Campus Ministry, Director of Black Family Enrichment Programs with Catholic Charities, and Director of the Center for Graduate and Adult Academic Services at the University of Hartford, where this week she was appointed to co-chair the President’s Community Advisory Council. In addition, the Rev Moreland has experience consulting, teaching, and serving as a clergy coach.

“The United Church of Christ, like so many denominations, is in a state of transformation," she said in her cover letter. "There has never been in my lifetime a greater need for adaptive and authentic transformational leadership in this world and in Conference ministry.  I am uniquely qualified in this moment to be an Area Conference Missioner not only because of my extensive experience, but because I am called to serve God’s Church in a leadership capacity.” 
Rev. Moreland holds a Master of Divinity degree from Yale University and has completed course work for the Master of Science in Organizational Behavior at the Barney School of Business. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Hartford.

The Rev. Terry Yasuko Ogawa, Northwest Region, beginning Feb. 1
(Consists of 100 churches in Berkshire, Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin and Litchfield North Associations)

The Rev. Ogawa is currently pastor of the Congregational Church of Pinehurst, UCC, in NC and Campaign Organizer for the Faith and Democracy 2020 Campaign of the Central Atlantic Conference, UCC.

Since beginning in 2018, The Rev. Ogawa has worked with the Pinehurst church to improve its web presence and communication, and to renew community partnerships to strengthen outreach, including a revitalized area fellowship addressing systemic racism.  Prior to beginning at the church, the Rev. Ogawa served as the Associate Advancement Director of Pacific School of Religion where she focused on building relationships with alumni/ae, denominations, and congregations.

Previously, the Rev. Ogawa served as the Chaplain and Community Liaison at The Institute for Human Services (IHS), the largest comprehensive homelessness services agency in Hawai‘i, where she built the foundation for an interfaith chaplaincy program. In her studies at Pacific School of Religion, Terry researched the legacy of missionary heritage of the UCC in Hawai‘i, its implication for the UCC’s relationship with Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) churches, and theologies of reconciliation. Terry’s experience extends to significant work in areas of economic, social, environmental, and gender justice work that has been international in scope.

“Serving on the Committee on Ministry; facilitating a Community of Practice; and committing to a Sabbath Life program remind me what supports and accountability local clergy need," she wrote in her cover letter. "Having served as a chaplain, a local church pastor, and as a bi-vocational pastor, I understand the challenges many of our clergy and ministry settings face and am committed to upholding them in meaningful ways.”

The Rev. Ogawa holds her Master of Divinity degree and a Certificate in Asian and Oceanic Culture and Faith Traditions from Pacific School of Religion and the Graduate Theological Union, a Master of Science in National Resources and the Environment from the University of Michigan, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies from the College of Charleston.

The Rev. James D. Ross II, Northeast Region, beginning Feb. 1
(Consists of 111 churches in the Metropolitan Boston and Northeast Associations) 

The Rev. Ross is currently serving as the Designated Pastor at Pilgrim Congregational UCC in St. Louis, Missouri. where he has worked to integrate his church more deeply into the work of the Conference, instigated new community partnerships, and collaborated with other faith bodies to enhance Pilgrim’s reach, effectiveness, and impact. Another priority has been to help transform the congregation’s large physical plant into a source of revenue and, more significantly, an important community resource.

A native of Alabama, The Rev. Ross previously served as the Minister of Justice Formation at the First Congregational UCC in Washington DC. In that role, he led the launch of the Downtown Drop-In Center for Homeless Youth, and partnered with lay members of the church to begin the development and implementation of a comprehensive strategy to advance racial justice and confront white privilege. Part of this work involved planning and hosting events that addressed topics such as racism, police violence, xenophobia and anti-Muslim sentiments. He previously served in positions at two other DC churches.
The Rev. Ross also served as the Director of Outreach and Engagement for the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth in DC, where he says he saw the holy in the transformation, forgiveness, compassion, and mutual love among people sentenced as children to die in prison, their families, and the families of victims and survivors.

“I am convinced that this deeper understanding of the heart, who we are in the world, and what it really means to partner with God to bring forth the beloved community gives us the unquenchable thirst to serve in the most meaningful ways,“ The Rev. Ross wrote in his cover letter.

A former journalist, The Rev. Ross has served as a newspaper reporter and editor and an organizational communications professional. He was director of communications for the Denver-based Gill Foundation, which was then the largest funder of LGBTQI-related issues and causes, and served as a mayoral appointee in two cities, including New Orleans, where he led media programs, marketing initiatives and community engagement strategies following Hurricane Katrina. He holds an undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Alabama, a Master of Arts in American Culture Studies from Bowling Green State University in Ohio, and a Master of Divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.


tiffany vail cropped.jpg
Tiffany Vail

Tiffany Vail is the Director of Media & Communications for the Southern New England Conference.

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