Rev. Dr. Wes Bixby began his ministry as Senior Minister of First Congregational United Church of Christ in January 2014. Wes was born in Iowa. He attended United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. It was in the Twin Cities where Wes met his wife Gina. Ordained by the UCC in 2001, he has served congregations in New Hampshire and Wisconsin. Wes and Gina have two children, Ethan and Olivia. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, running, laughing, watching movies, and maintaining his blog: www.gracetraces.blogspot.com.
Minister of Music
Gregory Chestnut has served as Minister of Music since 1989. He received Bachelor and Master Degrees in Organ from Indiana University, Bloomington, IN. A noted church organist and choir director, Mr. Chestnut has served churches in Indiana and Florida.
Christian Education Administrator
Leigh Melton has served as Christian Education Administrator since 2009. She has also been attending First Congregational UCC since she was a small child. Leigh and her husband Ryan have two children, Emma and Cameron.
Moderator ~ Lynn Jones
Lynn grew up in Ohio before spending the last 40 years in Northern New Jersey and Northeast Pennsylvania. She graduated from Miami University, and most of her career was spent with Dun & Bradstreet in various Sales Management, Marketing, and Executive Recruiting & Training roles before “retiring” in 2007. Lynn became a snowbird in 2010 and joined FCUCC in 2011. Since then she has served on the Fellowship and Celebrating Worship committees as well as the Little Pilgrim Preschool Board, and has chaired the Spiritual Education and Growth committee. Lynn has also worked closely with our Youth, taking them to National Youth Event in 2012, to Miami to do mission work, and throughout our local community to serve those in need. She also sings in the choir and plays in the bell choir. When not involved with FCUCC, Lynn volunteers at Girls, Inc., mentoring in their High School program; and is active in many of the sports and cultural events in the community.
Vice-Moderator ~ Bob Goldman, Sr.
Bob Goldman was born and raised in Barrington, Illinois. He attended Northern Illinois University and besides earning his BA and MA there, he met his wife Betty. Together they have forged a life together with three boys and three grandchildren. Bob began his career as an English and Speech teacher in suburban Chicago. He then went on to the University of Iowa where he earned his PhD in Educational Administration. After working a few years in Brockton, Massachusetts, where he was also the Lay Leader for the downtown Methodist Church, he began his first superintendency in South Windsor, CT. There he joined the Congregational Church and became deeply involved as a member of the Stewardship Committee, the Church Council, and co-chair of the church’s Long-Range Planning Committee. After 42 years in education, Bob and Betty retired to Sarasota and joined First Congregational. He has served as a deacon, and chaired the Serving Others Committee, as well as being a member of the Church Council. Bob and Betty also serve as coordinators for Family Promise and remain committed to this worthy organization and its commitment to homeless families.
Immediate Past Moderator ~ Myron Robinson
During the last 37 years he has served as President/CEO of various Urban League affliates around the country and is a consultant to the National Urban League. He was also a Marketing & Senior Sales Executive for ATT&T and Southern New England Telephone Company. Before permanently moving to Sarasota in 2009 he was an Executive in Residence at the School of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University. Myron also has a multifaceted volunteer career. He served on numerous boards in Cleveland, including John Carroll University, Key Bank and University Hospitals he is presently President of the Board of Directors of Doctorʼs Hospital here in Sarasota and the Manattee Library Board. Myron has been a member of our church since 2009 and has served as a Deacon and on the search committee for our new pastor. Myron is currently employed part-time as a Facilitator at Lecom Dental school in Bradenton. He lives in Bradenton and is married to Brenda Robinson and they have 2 children and 4 grandchildren.
Other Staff and Volunteers
Administrative Assistant: Donna McCalden; Secretary: Sue Spigel; Parish Nurse: Julie Pennella; Campus Manager: Mark Swain; Bookkeeper: George Cubberly; Collector: Gordon Quimby; Little Pilgrim Preschool Director: Lorrie Young; Newsletter Team: Wes Curry, Sue Spigel, Thom Reeves and Contributing Photographers: Susan Moore.
Rev. Dr. John E. Syster. After serving as the Senior Pastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ for 29 years, Rev. Dr. John E. Syster was elected Pastor Emeritus upon his retirement in 2012. He is a native of Massachusetts, grew up in the Midwest, and was educated at Doane College and Chicago Theological Seminary. He earned a D.M. from Eden Theological Seminary in 2001. He previously served churches in Iowa and Florida.