Church is not a place to check your brain at the door. We believe that being created in God’s image includes using our minds to create and explore.
Never place a period where God has placed a comma,
Why? Because God is still speaking.
Learn more about the kinds of churches that belong to the UCC, and the buzzwords that will help you find the church right for you.
The Rev. Sam Chamelin is the president of the Catoctin Association. He also serves as pastor of St. Mary’s United Church of Christ in Silver Run, MD, and is the founder of The Keep & Till in Westminster, MD, a community dedicated to ecology, agriculture, and food justice. He is husband to Jennie, father to Caleb, Charlotte, and Brenna, and spends a lot of time playing roller hockey, taking care of pigs, and reading a lot of stuff.
Chuck launched his professional ministry in June of 1984 – at Grace Trinity UCC, in Frederick – following a Service of Ordination amongst the congregation of Trinity UCC, in Thurmont, that nurtured him in the faith since birth. Preparation for ministry happened, at Lancaster Theological Seminary, following a brief season of endeavor as a public school teacher of instrumental music.
His thirty-five years of service in full-time, settled ministry included calls in small town/rural, and urban settings – Frederick, Bethlehem (Pennsylvania), and Clear Spring, respectively. Those seasons in ministry found him likewise involved in numerous larger church ministries organized and initiated by the Catoctin Association, The Central Atlantic Conference, and the Penn Northeast Conference; the most memorable, perhaps, being his work as staff and subsequent camp director of Catoctin Association offerings in summer-time outdoor ministry for elementary and middle school children at Hashawha Environmental Center, in Carroll County, MD.
Retirement from full-time ministry, in June of 2019, propelled him toward part-time transitional ministry; currently at Christ Reformed UCC, in Cavetown. Release from full-time ministry has offered him more time for his fervent interests in reading, bicycling, brisk walking, and – most recently, at the prodding of his son – kayaking. The Potomac River and adjoining Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park are his gymnasium and sanctuary! Married to Melissa, he is dad to two young adult children – Elizabeth and Christopher – who have graced their parents with inestimable joy.
Jessica M. Townsley is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and joyfully serves as pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Manchester, MD. While raising two young sons, she recently became a somewhat reluctant “soccer mom.” Jessica enjoys spending time with her kids as well as her partner, Donna. It is her passion for writing that first allowed Jessica to explore theology and led her, almost accidentally, to become a pastor. Her hobbies are many and varied and include walking anywhere and everywhere, exploring England, movies, British T.V. and poetry. Jessica abstains from eating God’s beloved sentient creatures and aspires to one day travel via T.A.R.D.I.S.
Rev. Sheresa Simpson-Rice serves as the Associate Conference Minister for the western region, providing support to churches in West Virginia, Virginia, and western Maryland. A native of south central Pennsylvania, Sheresa has served rural churches in Penn Central Conference and an urban church in Heartland Conference prior to conference ministry. She completed an interim ACM role with Minnesota Conference over the pandemic. The product of the small rural church, she has a heart for this ministry and the faithful that uphold Christ’s Call to be a neighborhood church that welcomes all.
Sheresa has a passion for congregational development and the nurturing of our clergy. She has completed Lombard Mennonite Peace Center’s Mediation training and is a trainer for Peter Steinke’s Healthy Congregations program.
Her work with Committee on Ministry has a foundation in multiple paths development and the creation of teams to support congregations and clergy in conflict. Additionally, Sheresa has traveled multiple times to Germany as a part of the UCC’s partnership with the EKBO and has developed long lasting relationships with ecumenical pastors both in the cities she has served and abroad.
A graduate of Pennsylvania State University and Lancaster Theological Seminary, Sheresa is married to her husband Karl. She has a son, a daughter by marriage, a beloved dog named Lola, and two grand pups. Serving Christ through the work of the church is the honor of her life.
Katie Penick is the interim pastor of Zion reformed UCC in Hagerstown, MD. Her Yorkie is the unofficial co-pastor. She lives with her husband and college-aged daughter in Frederick, Md. She is also the Association Rep for the CAC Board.
Mark serves as the co-chair of the Catoctin Association Committee on Ministry. Mark is a native of Northern Virginia, with a Bachelor's degree from William and Mary. M. Div. from Andover Newton Theological Seminary. Ordained in 1980. He has pastored churches in Henderson, NC, Summit, NJ and Middletown, MD. Retired in Spring, 2020. Served on lots of Association and Conference Boards and Committees.
Michael served with the Marine Corps and Maryland Army National Guard as an administrator before dedicating his time to that of the Church. In addition to serving on the Catoctin Association Council, he is a founding member at Connections 6:8 UCC in Hagerstown, MD, and currently serves as their Pastoral Administrator. Connections 6:8 is the youngest congregation to be received into the Catoctin Association. He is also a member at Zion Reformed UCC in Hagerstown, MD where he serves as their multimedia specialist, and is co-founder and treasurer of Rise Up Hagerstown, a nonprofit dedicated to second-chance scholarships for those who have overcome addiction, incarceration, and/or abuse/trauma. Michael is a native of Hagerstown where he lives with his Mom and their many rescued cats, and enjoys hiking the many trails of Western MD in his spare time. He is passionate about serving others as an expression of humanity and of his faith, and looks forward to serving Catoctin during this exciting time of renewal within God’s Church.
Sue serves as Treasurer for the Catoctin Association and is a life-long member of Trinity United Church Christ in Manchester, MD. When not doing church work she is performing her other duties as a CPA. Her and husband Doug enjoy traveling to the Eastern Shore and spending time with their 2 adult children and 3 grandchildren.
Cliff grew up on a farm in Michigan but left farm life to pursue higher education (earning bachelor's degree at Western Michigan University, master's degree at The Ohio State University, and doctorate at Bowling Green State University). His career was divided between being a professor of French Language and Literature and serving as an academic administrator at a number of colleges. He grew up in the United Methodist Church but, as a young family man, found himself drawn to the United Church of Christ. He has served several local congregations as a member (and President) of consistories and the larger church as a member of the Association's Church and Ministry Committee and, more recently, as a member of the Catoctin Association's Council. He is currently a member of the Evangelical Reformed UCC (Frederick, MD) where he is a member of the Green Team. Cliff is married to Ave and is father to two amazing daughters. They have gifted him with six fantastic grand kids. Cliff is an active Rotarian (Southern Frederick County) and enjoys playing bridge, listening to classical music, and hiking (now more like walking). .