Pastor: Rev. Andrew Nagy-Benson (Andy@midducc.org)
Raised in Simsbury, Connecticut, Andy graduated from Colby College in 1992, where he played lacrosse and edited the literary magazine. After college, Andy worked on a salmon dock in southeast Alaska, taught English and environmental education in southeast Costa Rica, and taught and coached at Millbrook School, an independent secondary school in New York.
As a student at Yale Divinity School (M.Div., ’98), Andy served as an intern in the office of the University Chaplain. In his final year he was selected to be a chapel minister at the Divinity School and concurrently served as the licensed pastor of Pilgrim Congregational Church (UCC) in New Haven. He was ordained as a minister in the United Church of Christ in 1998.
Andy served churches in New Hampshire and Connecticut before arriving in Middlebury in 2009. During his pastorate in Connecticut, he was a Lecturer of Homiletics at Yale Divinity School and contributed articles to the biblical commentary series, Feasting on the Word.
Andy and his wife, Gwen, and their three daughters live in Weybridge, Vermont.
Click here for Pastor Andy’s Message.
Andy gave a talk at Middlebury College that was part of “TEDx Middlebury.” The video of that speech is below.
Theologian-in-Residence: Rev. Dr. James Calvin Davis
James Calvin Davis, author, religion professor, and ethicist, initially joined the staff of the Middlebury Congregational Church as a “pastoral associate” in the fall of 2013. In this role, James helped Andy with worship leadership, Christian education, and pastoral care as needed. In March 2017, Church Council agreed to change James’s title to “theologian-in-residence,” a term widely used by congregations for folks in the role James now has with us: the focus of his service to the church is on worship leadership and teaching. James is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA). In his day job, James is a professor of religion at Middlebury College, where he has taught social ethics and American religious history since 2001. An author of several books, his website is jamescalvindavis.com. James lives with his wife Elizabeth and their two sons among the farms of Shoreham.
Director of Children and Youth Ministries: Jennifer Smith
Jennifer became the Director of Children and Youth Ministries in September 2007. She previously had taught middle and high school Spanish for 15 years, most recently at The Gailer School in Middlebury. She was also responsible for writing the curriculum and implementing the Spanish program for grades 2-6 at St. Mary’s Elementary School in Middlebury. The majority of her teaching career was in the New York State Public Schools for 10 years to grades 7-12 before moving to Vermont. She received a B.S. in Secondary Education/ Spanish from SUNY Plattsburgh in 1991 and a M.S. in Education/Reading from SUNY Cortland in 1996.
Jennifer’s new career path at the Middlebury Congregational Church has allowed her to continue doing what she loves most, working with children of all ages in a meaningful way. She loves the long-term relationships she has built with the children year after year.
She lives in Middlebury with her husband and two children. She enjoys being an active member of the community by volunteering at school.
Coordinator of Pastoral Care: Bonnie Stevens
Bonnie assumed the new church position of Coordinator of Pastoral Care in September 2016. She grew up in the Presbyterian Church and spent most of her adult life in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley as a member of the Hurley Reformed Church (RCA). She holds a B.A. degree from Vassar College and M.A. from Tufts University. Her teaching and administrative career spanned work with infants through college students in various settings.
In 2000 Bonnie and her late husband, Derwin, moved to Middlebury and joined this church six months later. She has completed the Vermont Academy of Spiritual Training program of the Vermont Conference UCC. Her family includes two married sons and four grandchildren.
Music Director: Jessica Allen
Jessica has been a staff member at The Congregational Church of Middlebury since 2007. She is a conductor and soprano soloist and has held leadership positions with church and community choirs since 2000. She performs regularly in musical theater and opera productions, recitals and as a guest soloist throughout New England.
In addition to her work at The Congregational Church of Middlebury, Jessica teaches private voice and Music Together in Middlebury, VT and is Cofounder and Administrator of the Middlebury Bach Festival at Middlebury College.
She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Voice from John Brown University and a Master’s degree in Choral Conducting from Michigan State University.
Jessica and her husband Jeff live in Middlebury with their daughter.
Organist: Dr. Jeffrey Buettner
Jeff is the organist of the Congregation Church of Middlebury. He is Director of Choral Activities at Middlebury College, where he conducts the College Choir and teaches musicianship, arranging, a capella vocal music, and conducting. He is also the founding conductor of the Vermont Youth Orchestra Chorus and Concert Chorale.
Jeffrey received his Bachelor’s Degree in Church Music from St. Olaf College, where he studied organ repertoire, hymn playing and improvisation with John Ferguson. He holds a Masters Degree from the University of Cincinnati College, Conservatory of Music and a Doctorate (Musical Arts) from Michigan State University.
Church Administrator: Judy Albright
New to Middlebury since 2016, Judy was an educator for 32 years in New York state where she taught elementary school, directed an after school enrichment program and coached a LEGO Robotics Team. During that time and after retiring in 2006 her entrepreneurial spirit found her creating and running a bed & breakfast reservation service as well as a home staging business. To realize a life long dream to paint, Judy studied painting at the Washington Art Association and with numerous acclaimed artists. She is now an award-winning artist and on the Board of the Vermont Pastel Society, creating and teaching painting in her home studio. She lives with her husband Dory in Middlebury, Vermont.
Church Sexton: Brian Slavin
Brian grew up in Muncie, Indiana where he learned to swim in the deep end at the age of 4, skateboard, and “throw clay” on the potter’s wheel. After graduating from Ball State University with a BFA in Metalworking, he became a Kripalu Yoga Instructor and certified Massage Therapist. In 2005, Brian moved to Vermont with his family and instantly fell in love with Middlebury where he is learning to juggle his life as dad, massage therapist, artist, and now as the Sexton of Middlebury Congregational Church. He feels his new role as “custodian of sacred objects” is a wonderful blend of his talents and skills. He offers hospitality to groups using the church and helps care for and clean our building and grounds.
Brian lives just a stone’s throw from church with his wife, Jennifer Stefani. They share 4 children, two cats, a potter’s wheel, and a library full of good books.