Rev. Mark Mendes, Senior Pastor.
Rev. Mendes grew up in Miami Florida, graduated with BS in Business Finance from Auburn University in Alabama and an Master of Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School in Massachusetts. A life-long UCC member and clergyman, he has a unique energetic yet authentic style that mixes a strong faith in Jesus Christ with a realistic yet challenging application to both individual and corporate lives. He, his wife and two children live in Essex Junction and love to camp, hike, ski, play games and do projects around the house.
Devon Thomas, Associate Bridge Pastor.
Devon moved to Vermont with his family in 1999 and left to see the world in 2004. Since then he has earned a bachelors in anthropology from the University of New Hampshire and a masters in divinity from Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Devon returned home to take up ministry and joined First Church Essex Junction as a member in August of 2015. He has since taken on the role of Bridge Associate Minister here at First Church Essex while we search for a permanent associate pastor. Devon has also been accepted and licensed as a member in discernment in the Vermont Conference of the United Church of Christ.
Laurie Chipman, Christian Education Director.
Laurie and her husband moved to VT in 1986, having both grown up in western NY. Laurie attended church quite regularly as a kid on up through my college years, but attendance became less frequent after she got married until they came and settled here in Essex Junction. The family started attending the United Methodist Church here in town and Laurie volunteered for many children and youth activities. Eventually she was asked to take the job as the Christian Education Director for that church when the previous director stepped down. So, in January of 1995 Laurie graciously accepted and began a wonderful journey of working with children, youth and families in a church setting in the United Methodist tradition. Eleven years later she moved to a different church, a federated congregation of United Methodist and United Church of Christ in Williston, VT. Then in the summer of 2009 Laurie accepted the position and came on board here at First Church and soon fully joined the United Church of Christ denomination, returning once again to the community of Essex Junction and seeing many familiar faces. Laurie is now in her 20th year of Christian Education ministry and feels so blessed for the journey that has led her to this faith community where God is present, the Spirit is moving and the support for Christian Education faith formation continues to be strong and healthy.
Jen Dooley, Church Administrator.
Jen grew up on Cape Cod in Falmouth, Massachusetts. She came to college at St. Michael’s here in Vermont and fell in love, both with the area and her husband! Their jobs initially took them away for several years, but after the birth of their first son, they were able to relocate back to Vermont in 1996 for good.
When the Dooley’s moved back to Vermont, Jen took a job as a librarian, first at a public library, and then at Essex High School. Jen and her husband live in Milton with their three boys and two dogs. They enjoy traveling, camping, music, watching our boys play soccer and spending time at our family camp in Barton.
Faith has always been a huge part of Jen’s life. She was heavily involved in a Cape-wide youth retreat program in high school, as well as a similar college-based program when at St. Mike’s. She continued to be active in their previous church, running a funeral meal ministry and coordinating the Christmas Pageant each year. In 2012, their family made the decision to look for a new worship community, and were drawn to the First Congregational Church of Essex Junction. Jen has been working here as Church Administrator for five years. She loves to put faces to the names she sees on the Friendship Pads so please come on in, introduce yourself and say hello!
First Congregational Church of Essex Junction Covenant
We covenant one with another to seek and respond to the Word and the will of God. We agree to walk together in the ways of the Lord, made known and to be made known to us. We hold it to be the mission of the Church to witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all the world, while worshiping God, and striving for truth, justice, and peace. As in the past, we depend on the Holy Spirit to lead and empower us. We pray for the coming of the kingdom of God, and we look with faith toward the triumph of righteousness and eternal life.
Open and Affirming Statement
The First Congregational Church of Essex Junction, United Church of Christ, is an Open and Affirming congregation, embracing diversity and affirming the dignity and worth of every person, because we are all created by a loving God. We seek to live Christ’s call for compassion, justice, healing and wholeness in life. Therefore, we welcome into our community persons of every race, gender, age, sexual orientation, faith background, nationality, ethnicity, marital status, mental and physical ability, economic and social position, gender identity and expression, level of education and family structure. We invite all to share in the life, leadership, ordained ministry, lay ministry, worship, sacraments, responsibilities, fellowship, blessings, and joys of our congregation as we seek to grow together in faith and love.
United Church of Christ Statement of Faith
We believe in God, the Eternal Spirit, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and our Father, and to his deeds we testify:
He calls the worlds into being, creates man in his own image and sets before him the ways of life and death.
He seeks in holy love to save all people from aimlessness and sin.
He judges men and nations by his righteous will declared through prophets and apostles.
In Jesus Christ, the man of Nazareth, our crucified and risen Lord,he has come to us and shared our common lot, conquering sin and death and reconciling the world to himself.
He bestows upon us his Holy Spirit, creating and renewing the church of Jesus Christ, binding in covenant faithful people of all ages, tongues, and races.
He calls us into his church to accept the cost and joy of discipleship, to be his servants in the service of men, to proclaim the gospel to all the world and resist the powers of evil, to share in Christ’s baptism and eat at his table, to join him in his passion and victory.
He promises to all who trust him forgiveness of sins and fullness of grace, courage in the struggle for justice and peace, his presence in trial and rejoicing, and eternal life in his kingdom which has no end.
Blessing and honor, glory and power be unto him.