2019 Chaplains of the Week
WEEK 1: June 22 - 29
Rev. Dr. Don Skinner - Copley, OH
The Rev. Dr. Don Skinner received his undergraduate education at Allegheny College in Meadville, PA, and his theological training at Yale Divinity School. In 1966, he received an interdisciplinary PhD from Syracuse University. That same June, he was ordained in the United Church of Christ.
In 1966, he was named chaplain and associate professor of philosophy and religion at Northland College in Wisconsin, moving to become Dean of Students at Hamline University in Minnesota in 1969. He returned to Allegheny as dean of students in 1978, transferring to the chaplaincy of the college in 1985. On his retirement in 1994, he was named chaplain emeritus.
On retiring, he and his wife, Patricia, moved to Oregon, returning to Chautauqua during the summers of 1995-98, where Don was chaplain-administrator of the Chautauqua UCC Society. In 2003, they returned to Pennsylvania where, from 2003 to 2013, Don taught seminars to Allegheny College freshmen on persuasive speaking and writing. In 2003, he was elected to the board of directors of the Chautauqua UCC Society, serving as society president and chairman of the board from 2005 to 2009.
Four years after his wife died, Don married Carolyn Chapman, a resident of Akron, OH, where they now make their home. Carolyn—who for a time was a licensed minister in the UCC—is coordinator of pastoral care for St. Paul's Episcopal Church, leader of its Stephen Ministry program, and a Eucharistic Visitor. Their extended family now includes four children, 10 step-children, 31 grandchildren, and now, 8 great grandchildren, resulting in an annual birthday-card-and-gift budget roughly equivalent to the national debt. Don has published four books (including one about growing up at Chautauqua), 21 periodical articles, and over 350 newspaper columns. For a week in July 1972, he was daily lecturer for Chautauqua’s Department of Religion, speaking on “Stewardship and the Environment.”
WEEK 2: June 29 - July 6
Rev. Dr. Ruth Snyder - West Seneca, NY
The Rev. Dr. Ruth E. Snyder has served as Pastor and Interim Pastor for over thirty-five years in town and country, urban, and suburban congregations. Currently, she is the pastor of Church of the Nativity UCC in Buffalo, NY, where, in addition to typical pastoral duties, Ruth is the keyboardist and director of Nativity’s Contemporary Worship Praise Team.
Ruth began her church journey in the Lutheran Church in America (now ELCA), received her M.Div. from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (now United Lutheran Seminary), and was ordained in 1982. In 2005, she left the ELCA because their stance against the ordination of practicing homosexuals, excluded her from continued ministry. She had been blessed to fall in love with her now wife of seven years, Kate Snyder, who will be joining her at Chautauqua. Almost immediately, Ruth found an “extravagant welcome” in the UCC and began ministry with a UCC congregation in 2006.
In addition to parish ministry, Ruth is also a trained Spiritual Director working with individuals, groups, and congregations in spiritual formation. She received her D.Min. from Chicago Theological Seminary in spirituality and spiritual direction. She is especially interested in the Enneagram, dream work, and a variety of prayer practices.
During free time, Ruth enjoys reading, concerts, movies, time with Kate (and their seven-year old black lab, Rachmaninoff), and visits with their four children, spouses, and two granddaughters.
WEEK 3: July 6 - 13
Joe Twist - Baltimore, MD
Joseph A. Twist, a pharmacist, has spent his entire professional career in the pharmaceutical industry and currently works as an intelligence analyst for Novartis Oncology with an expertise in malignant melanoma and lung cancer. For over 20 years, he founded and served as president of the Collaborative Consulting Group, which provided strategic planning, marketing research and business intelligence services to the pharmaceutical industry. Earlier, Joe served Novartis as the Strategic Business Unit Manager with responsibility for the commercial launch of cyclosporine (Neoral), the drug that revolutionized solid organ transplantation.
With his wife, Claudia, who sings in the Motet Choir, they have been coming to Chautauqua annually since 1982. Joe is currently serving on the Chautauqua UCC Society Board of Directors. When their children were young, they often spent the entire season here. Living in Baltimore, he and Claudia attend St Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, where Joe has served on Vestry and is an occasional preacher.
WEEK 4: July 13 - 20
Rev. Dr. Wes Bixby - Sarasota, FL
The Rev. Dr. Wes Bixby is the Senior Pastor of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Sarasota, FL. He has served this church for the past five years. Prior to serving in Sarasota, he was the minister for the UCC church in Janesville, WI. His first call out of Seminary was to Smith Memorial UCC in Hillsboro, NH. He is married to his best friend, Gina. Together they have two children, Ethan (15) and Olivia (13). They also proud owners to Asha, a loving Golden doodle who will do anything to get you to pet her.
Wes enjoys reading, exercising, maintaining his blog (www.gracetraces.blogspot.com), watching movies, taking photos, laughing, and spending time with his family. Wes graduated from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities and has a Doctorate of Ministry from Luther Seminary. In Sarasota, he serves on the Board of Orchard Place (an affordable housing initiative in the community) as well as the co-chair for a justice ministry, SURE (Sarasota United for Responsibility and Equity). His current interest include exploring visual arts as a way of prayer and connecting to creation. He is passionate about meaningful worship and always willing to have a great conversation.
WEEK 5: July 20 - 27
Rev. Calvon Jones - Chicago IL
The Rev. Calvon Jones is a native of Garysburg, North Carolina where his loving parents, Calvin and Mae Jones, raised him in New Jerusalem Church of God. Jones received Christ at an early age. Not only did he hone his spirituality and moral temperaments, his educational endeavors were also significant. He is an alumnus of KIPP: Gaston College Preparatory, class of 2011. He went on to Morehouse College, in Atlanta, Georgia, where he was a history and religion major. During his time at Morehouse, Calvon Jones was honored as an Oprah Winfrey Scholar. He graduated from Morehouse College on May 17th, 2015 with the highest honors, Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa.
Rev. Jones is striving to be a greater catalyst for social equality; that in order to produce a strong nation the government has to address the issues of the marginalized. Jones was honored to work a few years ago, as an intern in Senator Cory Booker’s office in Washington, DC where his focus areas were: civil rights, the economy, education, and crime.
Jones recently graduated from Yale Divinity School on May 21st, 2018 with a Master of Divinity degree, with a concentration in Homiletics and Practical Theology. During Rev. Calvon Jones’ time at Yale Divinity School, he was honored as a distinguished William Sloane Coffin scholar in recognition for his commitment to social-justice. He also was honored to receive the Charles Mersick Prize for continuing students who show marked improvement in effective public address, especially in preaching. He graduated with the highest award, the Henry Hallam Tweedy Prize for Exceptional Promise in Pastoral Leadership.
Jones believes that religion is the spiritual compass that informs our daily lives and should be the force that compels us to fight for those whose voices are not heard. For the past two years, Calvon Jones has had the opportunity to intern at Trinity United Church of Christ and in his words: "Trinity is my home and I have fallen in love with my Trinity-family. I am honored to serve on the team as an Associate Pastor and I do not take this call lightly. I support the vision of our senior pastor and I look forward to seeing what God will do on this side of the Jordan. For it doth not yet appear what we shall be…” Rev. Jones has a passion for young people and for God’s people and is looking forward to all that God will do.
WEEK 6: July 27 - August 3
Rev. Dr. Nancy Vogele - Coffstown, NH
The Rev. Dr. Nancy A.G. Vogele is the 16th Rector of St. Matthew's Episcopal Church in Goffstown, NH. Prior to coming to St. Matthew's, Nancy served as the Transitional Pastor at Our Savior Lutheran Church and Lutheran Campus Ministry at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH. She also served as Director of Religious and Spiritual Life at Dartmouth and in various parish ministry positions for almost 20 years: Rector of St. Paul’s Church in White River Junction; Assistant at St. Matthew’s in Goffstown; and Assistant to the Rector at St. Paul’s Church in Concord, NH.
Throughout her career and in her personal spiritual journey, Nancy has sought to make connections between religious profession and social justice. She was the longterm chairperson of the Dismantling Racism Commission for the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont, was a member of the Vermont Commission on Family Recognition and Protection that led to Marriage Equality in that state in 2009, and held various leadership positions for United Valley Interfaith Project, a community organizing project in the greater Upper Valley.
Nancy also served as a Volunteer For Mission with the Episcopal Church from 1988-1990 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She credits that experience for her call to ordained ministry. She was ordained to the priesthood in 1993 at St. Paul’s Church in Concord, NH. Nancy holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Dartmouth, a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School, and a Doctor of Ministry from Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She lives in Manchester with her wife, Lynn, and their dog, Phoebe, and rabbit, Lium.
WEEK 7: August 3 - 10
Rev. Vicki Burtson
The Rev. Vicki Burtson is the Senior Pastor of Homer Congregational United Church of Christ in Homer, NY. Prior to receiving her call to Homer, Vicki served in a variety of ministry settings including campus ministry, church camping/retreat ministry and judicatory administrative leadership. She earned her M.Div. from Drew University in Madison, NJ.
Prior to entering ministry, Vicki taught music and throughout her professional life, music has been a constant companion. She has conducted adult choir festivals, secular and religious youth choirs and a music camp choir of over 200 voices. She was a founding member and musical director of Sister Spirit, a clergywomen’s quartet which recorded a CD in 1992. Music and ministry have provided her the chance to explore Cuba, England, France, Greece/Turkey, Ireland, Israel, Scotland and South Korea.
Vicki experiences grace married to her wife, Belinda. Together they enjoy music, theater and traveling.
WEEK 8: August 10 - 17
Rev. Eric Jackson - Manchester, NH
The Rev. Eric Jackson is a pastor, activist, and scholar. For Jackson, the tandem of religion and advocacy affords communities the ability to combat injustice; and to create bridges for reconciliation. Rev. Jackson focuses on partnering with communities to leverage the teachings of the Bible and the radical revolutionary from Nazareth - Jesus Christ. Jackson serves as the Branch President of the Manchester NAACP and tri-chair of the NH Poor Peoples Campaign. Jackson also serves as a consultant for congregations that seek to become multi-racial and multi-cultural congregations.
Jackson has served in pastoral ministry as Senior Minister/Lead Pastor for over a decade for congregations in New Hampshire and NY. Jackson is completing his Doctor of Ministry at Hartford Seminary and looks forward to beginning his Ph.D. in African-American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric at Christian Theology Seminary in 2020.
WEEK 9: August 17 - 24
Rev. Bradley Bergfalk - Litchfield, CT
The Rev. Bradley Bergfalk is the 27th Pastor of First Congregational Church of Litchfield in Litchfield, CT and the Vice Moderator of the the Litchfield South Association of the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ. Rev. Bergfalk has recently returned from ministry renewal leave in Melbourne Australia where he was the Pastor-in-Residence at Pilgrim Theological College in Melbourne, Australia.
Prior to serving in Litchfield, Rev. Bergfalk has served churches in Nebraska, Alaska, Washington, New York, and New Hampshire. Rev. Bergfalk is a graduate of Drew Theological School in Madison, NJ and North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, IL.