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.
Moderator ~ Carol Fields
Carol is a retired vocal music educator. She has served as a music director for Presbyterian Church of the Way in Shoreview, Minnesota and a vocal music teacher for children grades K – 12. She met her husband, Doug, also a teacher, while teaching in Roseville, Minnesota. They have 3 children and 7 grandchildren and will be celebrating 50 years of marriage this December. Carol spends her time golfing, singing, traveling, sewing, reading and attending the theater.
Vice-Moderator ~ Jim Butterworth
Jim retired to Sarasota after 46 years in education in upstate New York as a teacher, principal, superintendent of schools, state education official and university professor. With his wife, Sandra, they raised three children in Castleton-on-Hudson, N.Y. where Jim served as Sunday School teacher and lay leader in the Methodist church. At Church, Jim has been a part of the Staffing Committee, the Oasis Center Advisory Group and SURE’s affordable housing initiative. He enjoys gardening, hiking, bird watching and working with the Sarasota Literacy Council as an English as Second Language instructor.
Immediate Past Moderator ~Warren Bacon
Warren is a 2015 retiree from Boston, Ma who recently served as the Chair of Church’s Finance Committee and a member of the Church Council; he is a Deacon Emeritus of the Wellesley Hills Congregational Church in Massachusetts. With his wife, Barbara Smith-Bacon, they raised two children in Newton, MA, where they had a deep connection to the church, a number of non-profits and their community. Warren spent 40 years in Chicago and Boston as a banker and management consultant. He enjoys photography, bicycle trips, cooking and science fiction.
Other Staff and Volunteers
Campus Manager: Mark Swain; Media Specialist: Douglas Kingsley; Bookkeeper: Bill Lewis; Collector: Gordon Quimby; Newsletter Team: Wes Curry and Carol McCloud.
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.