I have always had a passion for the local church and for parish ministry. I spent the first 25 years of my career as a parish pastor, serving churches in New Jersey, New York and Denver before accepting a call in 1998 to join the denominational staff of the Reformed Church in America. For six years I coordinated the RCA’s ecumenical and mission ministries in Europe and Russia and in 2005 was asked to head up the denomination’s disaster response program. Both jobs were challenging, fulfilling, and fun.
I took early retirement in 2010 and after a few months off returned to my first love: parish ministry, this time as an Interim Minister. Interim Ministry is a specialized type of ministry, designed to help churches that are in transition, either because they have lost their former minister under difficult circumstances or because they have internal issues they need to address before they move forward in ministry. Interim ministry has turned out to be a great match for my gift set and personality and over the past nine years I’ve served four congregations in that role.
My wife Anna and I celebrated our 41th anniversary this past August. She’s definitely on the list for sainthood! We are both big readers, travelers, and foodies. I also enjoy hiking and biking and spend regular time at the gym.
Serving as Interim Minister at First Congregational UCC of Grand Junction is a great joy for me. We love being back in Colorado and we’ve experienced First Congregational as a warm, welcoming, and rich place to be in community with others who are looking for a great place to serve and be served. If you’re looking for a spiritual home, I invite you to give us a try. It could turn out to be a life-changing experience.
With you on the journey,
My name is Karen Caton, I have the pleasure of serving First Congregational Church in several capacities which include being the Chancel Choir Director, the Cantabile Ringers Choir Director (handbells) and the Christian Education Director.
I was born and raised in the Denver area. I moved to the Grand Junction area back in 2003 (with my menagerie of animals) and connected with FCUCC right away. My educational background includes a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the University of Colorado, Boulder. My primary instrument is percussion, but I enjoy playing many instruments and pushing myself to learn new modalities. My experience includes teaching in public schools, non-profit groups, private lessons and spending many, many years playing in bands and musical settings of all types.
I recently retired, so am thoroughly enjoying my new life which includes getting up when I feel like it! Rehearsals and meetings here at church, but also spending much more time at home with my cats, dogs and horses. I would have to admit that moving to Grand Junction was a wonderful decision for me and I am so happy to be a part of this faith family.
My name is Ellen Bradley and I’ve had the joy and privilege to serve as organist at First Congregational Church, Grand Junction from 1987 to 2000 and from 2012 to the present.
My husband Ron and I moved to Grand Junction in 1986, and except for a brief time living in California from 2000-2002, have lived here ever since, raising our family of three children. We have six grandchildren and one great-grandson, all of whom live in the Grand Valley! Ron and I met in graduate school in Brattleboro, VT and have been married for 46 years. We have enjoyed pursuing our careers together, founding and operating schools for international students at three different universities in the U.S. We also spent four years in Japan where both of our daughters were born. For the past 15 years, we have been involved in teacher training, both in the U.S. and abroad. We are now consulting and doing long-distance training for a school in London as well as for our alma mater, The School for International Training and the U.S. State Department. I received my B.A. in French at The College of Wooster, Ohio, and had the wonderful opportunity to spend three years in Geneva, Switzerland immediately after graduating. I taught French at Mesa State College for 13 years.
Ron’s and my mutual interests include travel and attending concerts and plays as well as cooking and eating food from many different countries. We are both currently volunteering in the literacy center at our local library and on the District 51 Explore team. I recently joined a task force which is trying to receive grant money in order to offer free ESL classes to immigrants living in our community. In my free time, I enjoy reading both fiction and non-fiction, and I knit for relaxation.
I serve on the Mission and Outreach team at FCC as well as maintain the Columbarium area and occasionally help out in the church office.
Hello! My name is Beth Rakestraw and I am the part time Church Administrator for First Congregational UCC Grand Junction.
I am a former pastor from two different denominations who is exploring a new and different calling/purpose, and I am very excited to share many of my church administrative skills with the ministry team and congregants in my church home, a very welcoming and inspiring community.
My wife Beverly and I moved to Grand Junction in July of 2017 to enjoy the health benefits of its drier, sunnier climate, to be closer to family, and, for the first time in our lives, to live in a state that offers us full civil rights protections as members of the LGBTQ+ community.
When I am not in the church office, Beverly and I enjoy soaking up all of the sunshine and beauty Colorado’s Western Slope and the Grand Valley has to offer. When we are not gardening, doing genealogy, working to become happier and healthier or creating our dream home, we both serve as the domestic staff for our 2 dogs, both of whom may be the world’s most spoiled dogs. Contact Beth Rakestraw: firstname.lastname@example.org
Martha Jones is our pianist/organist and also volunteers to oversee our financial processes. Born into a minister family, Martha claims a spiritual heritage that gave her strong grounding in the Biblical roots of our faith and traditional hymnody, as well as being deeply schooled in African American spirituals, as sung by people she worked alongside in the cotton fields of South Carolina.
After hanging out with Episcopalians and Presbyterians during college, she found home in the UCC in 1968. In many concurrent lifetimes, she is mother to two adult sons who know all things geek about computer programming, was a teacher, an assistant to the president of a health plan, and a grant writer and project manager. She officially retired from the 8-hour workday in 2015.
In addition to being a member of our music team, she plays for a local Catholic Church. When the weather cooperates, she travels to Denver as a member of the Board of Directors for the Rocky Mountain Conference. Besides her church and the lovely friends in her life, she enjoys poetry, politics (sometimes), eating all things vegetable, and trying to figure out how to downsize her very complicated and full life. Contact Martha Jones: email@example.com
Rick Smith joined our staff as our new Facilities Manager and went immediately to work cleaning our building and grounds and organizing some of his work spaces. He is a Grand Valley native and, after spending several years elsewhere, he and his wife Patti returned to Grand Junction. When he is not hard at work putting in 20 hours per week caring for our facilities, he also works as a golf pro for the City of Grand Junction. Although he has primarily a business and accounting background, he has a "can do" attitude, problem solving skills and experience managing volunteers.
Contact Rick Smith: firstname.lastname@example.org, leave a message with the church office or leave a note in his mailbox