Rev. Dr. Jennifer Yocum, Senior Pastor
Rev. Dr. Jennifer Yocum is a guitar-playing, kayak-paddling, story-weaving, pot-stirring, lover of God. She comes Montana by way of Oregon with her sweetheart, Ellen, her mother, Kathleen, her grandson, Crys, and a passel of dogs that make up their home. Jennifer was ordained into ministry in the United Church of Christ in 2006. Prior to ordained ministry, she was a management consultant and organizational improvement coordinator. She has been a camp counselor, adjunct faculty at two colleges, and the lowliest of privates in the US Army National Guard. Jennifer‘s more expensive wallpaper includes diplomas from the University of Portland (BS Journalism); Lewis and Clark College (Master of Public Administration); Marylhurst University (Master of Arts in Applied Theology); San Francisco Theological Seminary (Master of Divinity) and George Fox University/Portland Seminary (Doctor of Ministry). Jennifer‘s primary task in ministry is to help facilitate the relationships that transform communities into the Kindom of God. She is happy to set up appointments to visit, pray or start the revolution Monday-Thursday.
Laura Folkwein, Minister of Small Groups
Laura Folkwein, MSW, M.Div, earned her MSW from the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Denver and her Master of Divinity from Iliff School of Theology in 2005. She has worked with communities and groups in faith-based and nonprofit settings since she was a shy junior high kid at camp on Flathead Lake. Since then, Laura has served in ministry in various settings, including working with undocumented immigrants in Washington, DC, advocating for justice issues within the United Methodist Church, working as a social worker, program director and executive director in nonprofits in Denver, Colorado, and a even completed a short stint teaching bachelors and masters level social work in Tucson, Arizona. After nearly ten years of procrastination and discernment, she was ordained last April (2014) at The Good Shepherd United Church of Christ in Sahuarita, Arizona, where she was the Assistant Minister and Youth Leader. A year ago, Laura and her (now legal!) wife, Laurie moved to Missoula when Laurie accepted a tenure track faculty position at the U of M School of Social Work. Laura now works part-time at the Poverello Center as Program Manager of Housing MT Heroes, a transitional housing program for homeless veterans. She has also been serving Community Congregational Church-UCC in Kalispell part-time. Laura is passionate about strengthening communities, treating all people with dignity and respect and connecting people to care for and advocate with each other. She recently learned to play the ukulele and loves to read, hike, dabble in cooking and craft projects and take orders from her cat and pet bunny, Topanga and Moose. She is thrilled to be exploring small group ministry with you at UCC-Missoula!
Janice Springer, Minister of Spiritual Formation
Janice began her ministry with University Congregational Church in 2006. She lives in an off-grid log cabin in Frenchtown for one-third of the year. The rest of the time she lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa with her partner Sue Weier, also a UCC pastor. Janice has three grown children: Christie and Katy live in the Missoula area and David is in St. Louis. Janice and Sue have 4 grandchildren. She is a life-long member of the United Church of Christ and a graduate of Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis. For 24 years she served churches in Missouri, Iowa and Michigan. Then she began a ministry of writing, teaching and retreat work around three of her passions: worship, deep prayer, and faith communities.When she is in residence with us, Janice joins Peter and Amy in preaching and pastoral work, and also leads several retreats each summer. When she is in Iowa, she works with us in various ways electronically and continues her writing and retreat ministry with churches in the Midwest.,,Janice loves family, church, and dark chocolate. She plays a flute, reads French, walks with her dog, and is happily addicted to books.
Valerie Young, Director of Children’s Ministry
Valerie and her family have been a part of UCC since they arrived in Missoula from Toronto in 2004. She and her husband, Christopher Hahn, have four children: Clara, Adam, Jacob and Julia. Valerie has over 20 years of experience working with children and families in a variety of capacities, including camp counselor, church musician, choir director, music therapist, and piano teacher. She holds a degree in Music Therapy from Wilfrid Laurier University (Waterloo, Canada) and an associate diploma in piano performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music (Toronto, Canada). Valerie also owns an award-winning Kindermusik studio. She loves singing with Dolce Canto, cooking, gardening, swimming and camping.
Robin Kendall, Director of Music
Robin came to Missoula from Memphis, TN where she attended First Congregational Church. She began attending UCC Missoula soon after arriving. She was here for only a short time before moving to Fort Collins, CO where she attended Plymouth Congregational Church. She has been back in Missoula for 3 years and has made UCC her home. She and her wife Amelia have two beautiful boys, Jack and Bennie. She sings with the Missoula Symphony Chorale and in her spare time loves to hike, climb, bike, backpack, and snowboard. She is excited to be a part of the staff and work with the wealth of musical talent here at UCC.
Heather Brighton, Church Administrator
Heather grew up on the front range of Colorado and got her degrees in Natural Resource Management and Restoration Ecology from Colorado State University and University of Idaho. She moved to Missoula in 2007, and has worked for non-profits in various capacities from administration to project management and development. Heather joined the church in 2014 after feeling a belonging to the church community. She has a young daughter Alice, and enjoys doing art projects and reading with her. In her limited free time, she can be found mountain biking, hiking, or painting.
Karin Clark-Cassens, Youth Director
Like so many, Karin has had a storied journey full of adventures and wonderful people. She grew up in Eastern Montana and still has an appreciation for the true “Big Sky Country” over there. She earned her undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies while also running track and field and cross country for the University of Montana (Go Lady Griz!). After undergraduate studies, she married Michael Cassens and they began their incredible life journey together. Karin also earned a Master’s in Business Administration and has been involved in starting and growing many small businesses. Her passion for building community and social justice awareness with children began at home with her and Michael’s two children. She loves being with kind and funny people, hiking, biking, running, cooking and watching PBS Masterpiece television shows.
Moderator, David Gray
Vice Moderator, Melanie Brock
Treasurer, Mike Guess
Clerk, Susan Cuff