Rev. Mark Longhurst
Mark arrived in Williamstown as pastor of First Congregational Church in 2013. His wife’s name is Faith McClellan, and they have two boys, Ian and Oliver. He cherishes the church’s commitment to social justice and the hospitable, open-minded, intellectually-engaged nature of the place. He began Christian faith in a conservative evangelical church, dipped toes in the charismatic/Pentecostal stream, jumped ship for social movement activism and the mainline/liberal church, but Mark finds his true home in the Christian mystical tradition. He earned a Masters of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School, followed Ana Forrest’s yoga teaching during formative years, and studied the mystics with Richard Rohr’s Living School for Action and Contemplation. He posts sermons, reflections, and occasional interviews on his blog www.ordinarymystic.net. He considers it a deep joy to serve this community, loves grappling with challenging topics through preaching, and is a near-fanatical fan of MASS MoCA.
Summer Sabbatical Pastor
We are thrilled to announce that Rev. Shannan Vance-Ocampo will be our summer pastor while Rev. Mark is away on sabbatical from June through August. Her part-time position is up to 12 hours a week and includes Sunday worship, pastoral care, support for basic Sunday programming and opportunities to connect with church members. Please note that she will not be in the office during the week.
Shannan grew up in Philadelphia as a part of a large congregation that was deeply involved in issues of social activism and theological reflection. Today she lives in Albany with her husband, Juan Gabriel Ocampo Valle, who is a native of Bogotá, Colombia and who emigrated to the U.S. in 2000 when we were married. Their daughter, Sofia Elena, is 16 years old and has a pet rabbit, Pepsi. Coming from the Presbyterian Church (USA), she looks forward to serving in a UCC congregation to gain insight into the differences and similarities of the traditions. For the past 13 years, she has worked on a human rights program of nonviolent accompaniment in Colombia, South America. She is also passionate about ecology and how to live into this moment that we are in as humanity with faithfulness and urgency around issues of climate change and ecological equity. One of the places she connects most with God is in nature. The oceans and the mountains speak to her about the largeness of the beauty and grandeur of God and her garden speaks to the opportunity for quiet, silence, and space to dig into the dirt. She tends to be an extrovert, but these are places that nurture and keep the other side of her spirituality, where she has the opportunity for reflection and contemplation. She and her husband have a membership at The Clark and love spending time there on the grounds and in the museum.
Church Office phone: 413-458-4273
Ellie arrived in Williamstown in 2016 with her partner, Andy Cornell, who teaches at Williams College. They have a young toddler, Teo, who really loves Williamstown thanks to the constant construction underway! She appreciates the church’s commitment to social justice and loves how friendly and welcoming everyone has been. She finds meaning and purpose in her political and ethical commitments, as well as her community. Her favorite things to do in the Berkshires are to spend time outside in the warmer months and to visit the many amazing art museums on those slightly less lovely days.
Director of Family Engagement
Anne was born and raised in Williamstown. She is a Williams College graduate, and moved back about six years ago after roughly 25 years living elsewhere (including 12 years in France and 6 years in Berlin.) She lives with her fabulous teenage daughter, Lola, and miracle cat, Milo. She appreciates the sense of community at First Congregational Church and always feels uplifted when she attends services. She also appreciates the church’s openness and tolerance in meeting people wherever they are on their spiritual journey. Raised to appreciate secular humanism, Anne came to the church as an adult after Iyengar yoga studies helped her discover a greater sense of purpose and spirituality. She particularly enjoys climbing to Stony Ledge.
Minister of Music
Ed moved to Bennington in 1974 for a public school teaching job. He only lasted a year in public school, but moved into choral and church jobs after that. Ed’s Methodist missionary grandfather was important in his early faith development. He has had a Vermont Civil Union, and now marriage, to his longtime partner Diego Uribe. He’s pleased that First Church made an early commitment to be an Open and Affirming (LGBTQ-inclusive) church. He also likes that the church invites an open-minded, intellectual exploration of scriptural truth. He lives for outdoor activities in the summer, including vegetable gardening and blueberry picking.
If you are interested in youth or adult choir, contact Ed.
Outreach Community Organizer
Bridget moved to Williamstown in 2004 with her husband, Don Zasada, to work on a transition plan with Sam and Elizabeth Smith in order to become the new farmers at Caretaker Farm. Bridget and Don have a daughter, Gabriela, 16, and a son, Micah, who is 12 years old. She values First Church’s focus on social justice and community, along with the activism of the church and individual members. Bridget grew up in the Catholic Church, attended Notre Dame, served as a lay missionary for two years in Chile, and here in town attends the Second Congregational Church in Williamstown. She loves hiking up Stony Ledge, which is a spiritual destination for her. She says the Stony Ledge vista “shows both how far I have come and how much more there is to experience.”
Steve came to Williamstown in 2011 to accept the position of Executive Director of the Hoosic River Watershed Association (HOORWA). As Building Manager, he manages special events and set-up and clean-up responsibilities from the HOORWA office in the church’s (well-lit and comfortable) basement. He has lived in the Berkshires since 1983 and in Massachusetts his entire life. His wife Marsha works for Berkshire Bank in Pittsfield, and he has two grown children, his son Matt and daughter Kate. Through Kate’s family he is blessed with two grandchildren: Autumn and Dylan. He appreciates the First Congregational Church for the positive, welcoming people who attend the church and volunteer on the many teams. His spiritual journey is defined as treating others as he wishes to be treated, trying to meet people where they are in life and, with God’s help, trying to be a better person each day. He loves spending time bicycling on the Ashuwillticook.