2023 Chaplains of the Week
The Rev. Meredith Allen
The Rev. Merrie Allen is a graduate of Tufts University with a BA in French and an MA in French and education. Her MDiv is from Andover Newton Theological School. Before being called to pastoral ministry she taught French at the high school and preschool levels. She is now retired, having served churches in suburban Boston since 1990. She resides in Winchester, MA, where she raised her two daughters. Her daughter Meg now lives in Perth, Australia, and Courtney lives in Los Angeles – so Merrie spends a lot of time flying off to visit children and grandchildren! She has been coming to Chautauqua since the late 80s.
With her partner Jerry, Merrie enjoys museums, concerts, reading, travel, trying new recipes, and regular walks with friends. She loves Spelling Bee and Wordle. She currently serves as the moderator of Hillside Community Church, UCC, where she is now a member. She helps to maintain a micro food pantry at Hillside, and she enjoys cooking meals for a local homeless shelter. She is a member of the
Winchester Council on Aging where she serves as the secretary. Above all she’s grateful to have time to do these things.
The Rev. Jennifer Heckmann
The Rev. Jennifer Heckmann is a graduate of SUNY at Buffalo and Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. After working in IT a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Jen is honored to be an ordinary small church pastor who loves and serves unique people so they might know our extraordinary God. She sees her calling as one of reaching out to people who haven't always been welcomed in churches - those with physical or mental differences, LGBTQIA+ persons, and those who are considered to be neuroatypical.
Jen currently serves Cleveland Heights Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and volunteers on the boards of the UCCNY Women and the Center for Christian Growth of Western NY.
Along with her occasional sporadic bursts of varied creative pursuits (music, painting, soapmaking, scrapbooking, baking, and more), her primary hobbies involve games of all sorts - roleplaying games such as Dungeons and Dragons, board games, tabletop miniatures games, and video games too. She has a particular passion for cooperative games and the potential for games to bring people
Jen has been happily married to Tom for 27 years, and has two grown children, Curtis and Drake. All four Heckmanns are avid gamers - the family that plays together stays together!
Week 3: The Rev. Laurie TenHave Chapman
The Rev. Laurie TenHave-Chapman graduated from St. Olaf College in Minnesota and earned her MDiv at Chicago Theological Seminary. She is also a certified spiritual director and currently works with Gentiva Hospice. Previously she served as pastor of First Congregational Church of Rockford, United Church of Christ. In 2015, her congregation was recognized as one of the top four vital congregations in the Michigan Conference, United Church of Christ, in 2015.
Laurie serves on the Board of Directors of the United Church Outreach Ministries in Grand Rapids, Michigan and volunteers in the cat room at the local Humane Society. She also loves singing in the Rockford Community Choir which raises money so that children can participate in the Rockford Community Children’s Choir free of charge. Her hobbies include gardening, reading, traveling, and sewing. Laurie and her husband Garrett met and married at Chicago Theological Seminary. Her husband ministers through his practice as owner of Solomon Law Firm, dealing primarily with disability, immigration, and family law cases. They rejoice in ther four children and two young grandsons.
Week 4: The Rev. Dr. John H. Danner
The Rev Dr John H Danner hails from Fort Myers, FL. A graduate of the University of Maine, Bangor Theological Seminary, Boston University, and the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Direction, John is a UCC pastor with interests in pastoral psychotherapy. He currently has a private spiritual direction practice and lectures at Florida Gulf Coast University’s Academy. John is the author of Angels Dancing on the Roof, Stories for the Season (2021) and various articles in The Christian Century. He enjoys volunteering with Rotary projects including founding and co-chairing the Annual Wheels-for-Wheels Cycling Challenge. John’s hobbies include cycling, reading, and theater. John and his spouse Linda Bradbury-Danner have three adult children and several grandchildren.
Week 5: Gaye Santoro and Tom Gerstenlauer
The Revs Tom Gerstenlauer and Gaye Santoro live in Akron, Ohio. Tom is a graduate of Cleary University and Chicago Theological Seminary. He has retired from a settled pastorate at South Congregational in Springfield, MA. Tom volunteers with Let’s Grow Akron and is a recipient of the Massachusetts Community Action Network Shining Star award. His hobbies include reading and trail exploring. Tom and Gaye’s blended family includes four adult children, two grandkids and two newly weds spread out all along the east coast from New York to Florida.
Week 6: The Rev. Dr. Diane Weible
The Rev. Dr. Diane Weible lives in Burns, Oregon. She graduated from Drury University and Eden Theological Seminary and earned a Doctor of Ministry degree at Chicago Theological Seminary. She is the owner of Enkei Resolutions, which provides coaching and consulting for churches and ministers. Diane previously served as Conference Minister for the Northern Nevada Conference of the UCC. She is a Certified Coach with the International Coaching Federation, and is currently working on a book on White Privilege with a working title of Yes, There is Toilet Paper on Your Shoe. Diane has volunteered on a hotline for domestic violence victims. She enjoys crafting, reading mystery books, and Tae Kwon Do. She hopes to have earned her black belt by the time she arrives at Chautauqua. She is learning to play the banjo as trying to remember all I learned as a youth playing flute and piano.
Diane has three amazing young adult children. Her oldest daughter, Rebecca, is a marine biologist working for NOAA; her second daughter, Sarah, has taught middle school science and will be getting married in June. Her youngest, a son, Joshua, is a fourth grade teacher in Burns, Oregon and owns his own Tae Kwon Do Dojang.
Week 7: The Rev. Dr. Marja Coons-Tom
Marja is a native Western New Yorker, born in Jamestown and raised in Tonawanda. She is a former pastor of Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Jamestown. Marja and her husband, Jim Coons-Tom, live at a UCC related full service retirement community in Orchard Park, NY.
After graduating from the SUNY-Buffalo, Rev. Dr. Marja Coons-Torn earned her MDiv at Andover Newton Theological School and her D. Min. at Eden Theological Seminary. Marja previously served as Conference Minister of the Penn Central Conference. She is a member of the Board of Directors at Fox Run Orchard Park and a past chair of the UCC Council of Conference Ministers;. She also serves as an Oxfam Sisters on the Planet Ambassador. Her hobbies include knitting, reading, and traveling.
Week 8: The Rev. Jason McCullaugh
The Rev. Jason Mccullagh lives in Otley, North Yorkshire in the United Kingdom. He earned his undergraduate degree from St. Mary’s University College, London and an M. Phil from Canterbury. He is currently employed at the Bridge Church Otley and Salem Church, Burley-in-Wharfedale. The Rev. Jason Mccullagh is a local steam railroad aficionado. He enjoys reading and ballroom dancing.
Week 9: The Rev. Rachel Helgeson
The Rev. Rachel Helgeson graduated from Westminster College and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. She also has a Masters of Arts degree in Vocal Performance from Indiana University of PA. Rachel previously served at First Presbyterian Church of Dallas, TX and is currently serving at Northminster Presbyterian Church in Endwell, NY and at UHS Hospital in Binghamton, NY. Rachel has published in Seasons of the Spirit (Liturgical Worship Resources) and has worked as a religious writer for Tribute newspaper. She is an alum of the Abrahamic Pastoral Residents program at Chautauqua.
Rachel loves volunteering behind the scenes as a stage mom to her two Irish Dancing and Singing children. She loves reading a good book; binge watching Rom Coms, fantasy, or her new favorite show. She enjoys being outdoors with a good cup of coffee. Rachel believes that the world is a beautiful place. Her children, Sophie and Isaac, help her to see God's good creation in beautiful and different ways.