Staff


Kelly B. Brill

Senior Minister

pastor@avonlakeucc.org

 

It has been my privilege and joy to serve this phenomenal congregation since January of 1995.  Before coming to Avon Lake, I was the Associate Minister at Lakewood Congregational Church (Lakewood, Ohio).  Previously I served churches in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Henry, Illinois and Waco, Texas.  I also worked one year at the Waco Rape Crisis Center.  I received my B.A. in Religion from Kalamazoo College in Michigan, my Master of Divinity with a concentration in Theology from Vanderbilt University (Nashville, Tennessee) and my Doctor of Ministry in Preaching from the Chicago Theological Seminary (through the Association of Chicago Theological Schools D.Min in Preaching program.)  I am active in the Avon Lake Ministerial Association, I serve on the Western Reserve Association Council, and am a member of the Board of Directors of the Ohio Conference (UCC).  I have served on the leadership team for the annual gathering of senior ministers of large-membership UCC churches.

My husband Doug and I have a blended family of five children.  Though our nest is empty, we are rarely in it – we love both traveling and exploring all that Cleveland and Northeast Ohio have to offer.  We are avid movie-goers, and we are huge fans of Cleveland’s dining and theater scenes.  Our tastes are eclectic – we enjoy Apollo’s Fire, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the Lake Erie Islands in the summertime.  Together we have produced music and drama events for the church, have taught a class on marriage, and have led a marriage enrichment retreat.  In my free time, I also enjoy reading, exercise, and occasional free-lance writing.

 

Beau Dansizen

Associate Minister for Children and Families

beau@avonlakeucc.org

 

I joined Avon Lake United Church of Christ in May of 2017 as the Associate Minister, with a primary focus on children and families of the church. I have served both in the Presbyterian church (PC(USA)) and the United Church of Christ in various roles, including Director of Youth Ministries, Director of Christian Education, and Director of Contemporary Worship. Both denominations are very similar, and although most of my work has been in the PC(USA), I feel right at home here in the UCC.

I graduated from Avon Lake High School in 1995 and I did my undergraduate work at Kent State University, first in Musical Theater and then Computer Science. I felt the call to ordained ministry in 2011, and began attending the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary in 2013. In May of 2017 I finished my Master of Divinity degree. My primary focus in ministry has been in the area of mission and missional churches, and I am excited to be part of a church that is so mission focused.

I have two children, Bowen and Parker, and I married my Avon Lake High School sweetheart, Amy, back in 2000. You will find me just as much at home working on my Harley as I am in front of my sewing and embroidery machine! We are a family of a million hobbies, always seeking new ways to have fun together.

I consider it such a blessing to be a part of such an amazing congregation doing wonderful things to show the love of Christ to the world.

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Nate Taylor, bio picNate Taylor

Director of Youth Ministry

nate@avonlakeucc.org

My name is Nate Taylor and I serve as the Director of Youth Ministries at Avon Lake UCC. I began my ministry here in April of 2007. My primary responsibilities include overseeing and developing our youth ministries programs for students in grades 6-12. That includes our JH Youth Group, our Confirmation program and our SH Youth Group. Along with all of this I am responsible for overseeing our Adult Volunteer Team, our SH Student Leadership Team, two summer mission trips, several fundraisers including our Annual Cabin Fever Cornhole Tournament and Dog Wash, countless games of ping-pong, the extremely rare overnighter and many high-level meetings at Las Cazuelas. I am very active in the Ohio Conference’s Outdoor Ministries programs. I have attended camp for the past 25+ years.
I am originally from Toledo, Ohio and first came to the greater Cleveland area in 1999 when I was a student at Baldwin-Wallace College. I graduated from B-W in 2003 with a degree in Sport Management and Business Administration. I live in Lakewood with my wife Lisa and our three children – Max, Nora & Brooke. I am a big fan of Cleveland – especially the Metroparks, Cavs, Indians, Browns, Lake Erie, Fatheads Smoked Chicken Wings, Las Cazuelas’ salsa & concerts at Blossom Music Center. I enjoy antiquing, hiking, golfing, camping, photography, canoeing, stargazing & smoking ribs, pig butts, briskets and atomic buffalo turds in my spare time. I am an avid Star Wars fan. I think recycling should be a law. I think sunroofs and the windows down is the only way to drive. I believe that love wins. I think that everyone is awesome. I think falling in love with yourself is the most important gift you could ever receive. I think we should play more and worry less. I have a hard time with bad drivers, clutter is my kryptonite. I do not believe you can put a price tag on having peace of mind. I look forward to meeting you!

 

Tim Schulz, bio picTim Schulz

Membership & Media Coordinator

membership@avonlakeucc.org

 

I joined the ALUCC staff in April 2011 as Membership Coordinator. One year later, my title was expanded to include my work with media and technology.  We have added many multi-media aspects to our worship and communication in the past few  years, specifically in the 11:00 AM New Horizons Worship and at The Buoy youth center.  On the membership side, I oversee classes and communications with prospective and new church members.  I work closely with the Membership Team and other staff members to not only develop programming, but to also keep the ALUCC family informed of events and happenings.

Church has always been a strong part my life, in education, volunteering and employment.  I grew up in Cleveland and attended St. Ignatius and the University of Dayton.  Katie and I have been married 18 years and we have two boys, Alexander and Nicholas.  We joined ALUCC in February 2005.  I am also an IHN volunteer, work with our  Audio/Video Team, and actively involved with our Youth Group through mission trips, confirmation, and as co-director of the annual Cabin Fever Cornhole Tournament.  In my time away from church, I enjoy fishing, traveling, photography and playing or watching sports with my family.

 

Lynn Miller

Office Manager

office@avonlakeucc.org

 

I’m very grateful for the chance to serve the church as Office Manager, and I joined the staff in June 2018.  My family and I have been members at ALUCC since July 1999, and I have served on many boards, teams, and in other volunteer capacities.   I am currently a Stephen Minister and am a member of the Handbell Choir.  I came to the Office Manager position having worked over the years as a law librarian, a cataloger at public libraries, and volunteered for many years at Avon Lake School PTAs and for other non-profit groups.
 
We have two grown children – both of whom found the youth program at the church to be life-changing – and my husband, Bob, is currently the church moderator.  We are all grateful for the opportunities to worship here, to serve local and international missions, and to grow our faith.  Bob and I are die-hard Cleveland fans – sports, culture, and food.  I am also interested in local history, and serve on the boards of Heritage Avon Lake and the Lorain County Historical Society.  

Jill Eston, 8-27-15, IMG_7714

Jill Eston

Business Manager

business@avonlakeucc.org

 

I became a member of the Avon Lake United Church of Christ in February of 2012, and since then I have been an advocate of the life and missions of the church.  I began volunteering with the Junior and Senior High youth ministries, joined the Anchored in Faith worship band, and had the opportunity to go on several mission trips with the youth.  In July of 2015, I was honored to join the church staff as the Business Manager.  I have various accounting duties that include tracking contributions and pledges, monthly reporting, accounts payable, payroll, and assisting wherever needed to help the operation of the church run smoothly.

My husband, Tom, and I were both raised nearby in Westlake, attended high school together, and were married in 1996.  We have been proud residents of Avon Lake since 2002.  We have two children, Julie and Tommy, and I have had the honor of being a stay-at-home mom for thirteen years.  We love animals and currently have three cats, three fish and a hamster.  Together our family enjoys riding bikes, swimming, watching movies, playing games, traveling, going to music concerts, and spending time with our family and friends.

 

Melody Rice, bio picMelody Rice

Director of Jack-n-Jill Nursery School

jacknjill@avonlakeucc.org

 

I have been director of Jack-n-Jill Nursery School since May 2011. The past seven years have been full of learning, fun, and hugs. My years of teaching at the elementary level have been invaluable in my work at our preschool. I received my bachelor’s degree in education from Bowling Green State University in 1985, and received my master’s degree in counseling from The Ohio State University in 1996. Being part of a strong, loving preschool is a true joy.

My husband, John, and I are adjusting to an empty nest. Although, we do have a pet bird named Quito, so I guess the nest is not quite empty. Mikhaila is attending pharmacy school at the University of Pittsburgh and Austin and Isaac attend the University of Kentucky. All three of our children are graduates of Jack-n-Jill where their educational journeys began on a very positive note. We moved to Avon Lake in 1998 and joined this amazing church the same year. I enjoy reading, meeting with my book club, yoga, and traveling

 

Cheryl Updegraff, bio picCheryl Updegraff, RN, B.S.

Parish Nurse

cherylupdegraff@oh.rr.com

 

I began serving as the Parish Nurse for our church family in January 2004.  The goal of our Parish Nurse Program is to meet the emotional, spiritual, and physical needs of the individual by utilizing the resources of our church family (Doorstep Dinners/ Heavenly Helpers), the health care system, and the community.  I spend most of my time responding to the needs of our church members by visiting hospitalized members, nursing home and home visits, availability on Sunday mornings, Wednesday afternoons and evening by appointment; and providing support and education of availability of services, programs, and health screenings.  I remain involved in the mission outreach and caring ministry programs.  Our Parish Nurse staff position is a part time position (10 hours per week).

During the remainder of the week I am the practice manager for The E.N.T. Group of Cleveland, an otolaryngology practice; prior to that I was a pediatric nurse.  I am a Stephen Minister Leader and member of our Mission Board – I love being a part of the caring ministry of our church!  My husband and I have been members of our church since 1971; we have three children who were baptized, confirmed and married in our church and seven grandchildren.

 

Eileen Zakel

Christian Education Coordinator

christianed@avonlakeucc.org

 

I am excited to serve the children of ALUCC! I have been a member of ALUCC since 2007 and have served as a Sunday School teacher, Nursery volunteer, VBS volunteer, and served 3 years on the Faith Formation Team before becoming Christian Education Coordinator.

I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and Education of the Handicapped from the University of Dayton and a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Bowling Green University. I am currently an Intervention Specialist in North Ridgeville City School District. I have three children who keep me very busy. In my spare time I enjoy reading, playing games, watching Netflix, and being outdoors when the weather is nice.

 

Kim Rose, square for webKim Rose

Outreach and Connections Coordinator

outreach@avonlakeucc.org

 

I begin my work as the Outreach and Connections Coordinator at ALUCC in April 2016.  Our family joined the church in February 2015.  I am primarily responsible for finding where our members are best connected with each other by ways of small groups and our various ministries.  I have also been active in our Mom’s Small Group and our annual Day of Service project.  I feel that people value the sense of being a part of something and I want to help make those connections here at ALUCC.  Our Outreach and Connections Coordinator position is a part-time position (10 hours per week).

I am originally from Springfield, Ohio and moved to the Avon Lake area in October 2011.  I have been married to Kyle for almost 10 years and we have two children, Lincoln and Ella.  We absolutely love Northeast Ohio and have really grown deep, strong roots here.  I have been a proud stay-at-home mom and have enjoyed this precious time with our children.  I am also a registered nurse with a background of nursing in critical care and computer programming and teaching.  I earned my diploma of nursing from The Community Hospital School of Nursing in Springfield, Ohio and then also my bachelor’s degree, BSN, from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio.  Our family lives a pretty active lifestyle, and we enjoy exploring new places together, traveling, cooking and just spending time with the people we love. 

 

Mary Fancher, bio picMary Fancher

Director of Music Ministry

fancherie@aol.com

 

Since 1996 I’ve been in love with my job as Choir Director and Director of Music Ministry at ALUCC. My education started with a Bachelor of Music Education degree (vocal and instrumental music) from The College of Wooster. That was followed by a Master of Arts degree in Choral Music and Music Education from Eastern Michigan University. Before coming to ALUCC I had worked as a church musician in two Presbyterian congregations as well as working as a church camp counselor and Music/Arts/Drama camp director. Over the years I’ve been a public school music teacher in four Michigan and Ohio school districts in K – 12 positions; I also worked in the Cleveland Catholic Diocese as a Mentor Teacher. Since 1998 I’ve been teaching in the Rocky River City Schools. I’m a member of Chorister’s Guild and the UCC Musicians Network. I’ve attended several national and regional UCC musicians’ summer conferences and numerous workshops on worship planning, leading and design.

I have 3 grown sons-Kevin, Eric and Brian. Two of them are music teachers and one is an actor. My husband Jon is pastor of Rocky River Presbyterian Church. We love attending concerts, supporting local theater productions, and being entertained by our 20-lb. Havanese, “Parker the Dog.”

 

Ruth Williams, bio picRuth Williams

Organist/Keyboards

mrsruthwilliams@yahoo.com

 

I was raised in the Chicago area and came to the Oberlin College Conservatory for my Bachelor of Music in Education.  Before coming to ALUCC, I had many years’ experience as piano accompanist for voice lessons, and as an organ substitute in area churches.  I was a member of the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus for 15 years.  In 2009, I retired from a career as a Learning Disabilities Tutor in the Sheffield Lake Schools, followed by St. Raphael School in Bay Village.  I have been organist at ALUCC since 2002.  In 2013, my job expanded to include playing electronic keyboard with the Anchored in Faith Band.

I live in Avon with my husband, Glenn, who retired from his career as an electronics engineer at NASA Glenn Research Center. Our daughter Emily, teaches private viola lessons in Wheaton, Illinois, where she lives with her husband and our granddaughters, Eliza and Caroline.  Our daughter Hilary works at Levin Furniture in Akron, where she lives with our grandson, Collin.

 

Jim Kotora, bio picJim Kotora

Worship Band Director  – “Anchored in Faith”

jameskotora@wowway.com

 

Hi! I’m Jim Kotora and I serve the ALUCC as Music Worship Leader for the 11:00 AM “New Horizons” worship service. My duties involve directing the Anchored in Faith Worship Band as well as coordinating and leading music for worship. I earned my bachelors and masters degrees in vocal music education and choral conducting from Bowling Green State University and my doctorate in music education from Case Western Reserve University.

Currently, I also work as an elementary music specialist for the North Ridgeville City Schools where I teach music to children in Kindergarten and First Grade.I am also a proud husband and father. My wife Cynthia and daughters Katherine and Elizabeth are also members of the church and we reside in Bay Village. The ALUCC has become such a blessing in our lives and I hope it will be the same for you!

 

Sharon Dixon, bio picSharon Dixon

Director of Bell Choir – “Celebration Ringers”

sdixon0714@sbcglobal.net

 

I’ve been involved with church work most of my life – both paid and volunteer.  I worked as a choir/bell director for children/youth at Westlake United Methodist Church. I also worked as the youth director for Jr & Sr High. I am a retired Administrative Assistant from Westlake United Methodist Church.

My husband, Al, & I have 3 married children and 6 grandchildren. I play horn with the Bay Village Community Band, Patriots Symphonic Band, and the North Wind Brass Quintet. I also play in the Monday Morning Handbell group at WUMC. Over the years I played competitive tennis and coached the Westlake High School Girls Tennis Team.  I’ve given up my tennis racquet for quilting and knitting.

 

Dave Witzigreuter

Physical Plant Supervisor

 

 

Joe Romano

Custodian

 

 

Dave Uthe

Custodian