Staff Team

The staff of First Congregational Church UCC is a team of capable, committed individuals with diverse gifts and skills which, on a daily basis, supports church and community members involved in the church's ministry and mission by providing:

  • Hospitality, information and resources
  • A church-system perspective in support of lay-led ministries; and
  • A view of the church in the context of its local community, the various settings of the United Church of Christ, and wider ecumenical initiatives.

In addition, pastoral staff attend to the spiritual health and nurture of church members.

  • Rev. Nayiri karjian

    Interim Lead Minister

    Pastor Nayiri Karjian joined FCC as our Interim Lead Minister in September, 2016. 

    An Interim Transitional Minister at this time on her journey, Nayiri Karjian has served UCC congregations around the country, including

    Spring Glen UCC, Hamden, CT

    First Congregational UCC, Houston, TX

    First Congregational UCC, Downers Grove, IL

    First Congregational UCC, St Louis, MO

    Pleasant Hill Community UCC, Pleasant Hill, TN

    St. John UCC, Freeport, IL

    Armenian Christian born and raised in Aleppo, Syria, Nayiri earned her BA from Haigazian University in Beirut, Lebanon and her Master of Divinity from Lancaster Theological Seminary, Lancaster PA. Nayiri’s particular interests include the arts, especially music, reading, traveling, languages, global issues, fashion and good chocolate.

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  • Rev. Dr. Jacque Franklin

    Minister of Pastoral Care

    Jacque Franklin began her ministry as Associate Pastor of First Congregational UCC in August, 2008. Previously she served as Pastor of Visitation under lead Pastor Benjamin Broadbent. She came to the staff after serving as a Hospice Chaplain and a Chaplain to a local retirement community.She grew up in southern Ohio and moved to Tucson AZ at the age of 12. She graduated from University of AZ with a Fine Arts Degree and a minor in Agriculture. She worked as a horse groom for Ventura Farms in Thousand Oaks, CA. She wrote and published a children’s book, “Where Do I Look, A Child’s Search for the Grand Canyon” through Grand Canyon Publishers. She graduated from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary, now known as Palmer Seminary, in ’89 with an emphasis in Pastoral Care and Counseling. Ordained in the American Baptist Church to Pastoral Ministry in ’90 she continued her education receiving a Doctorate in Ministry with an emphasis in Marriage and Family as Systems in 1997. Among her pastoral duties she served FBC of Dayton Ohio as Pastor of Urban Outreach and Youth Ministry and FBC of Colorado Springs as Associate Pastor. Rev. Franklin is dually aligned with her ordination recognized in both the American Baptist and United Church of Christ denominations. 

    Jacque met her husband, Tom Francis while serving a church in Dayton OH. Tom was a youth minister attending Film School at the time. He and Jacque were married at Dayton First Baptist Church and Westminster Presbyterian Church on August 27, 1994. Tom now has his degree in Organizational Psychology. They have two children, Joel Thomas Francis 5/14/1998 and Ellen Nicole Francis 1/21/2004.

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  • Mandy Todd

    Director of Music and Arts ministry

    Mandy celebrated ten years of ministry at First Congregational Church in 2016. From 2006 to 2011, she served as part-time Chancel Choir Director, and also taught choir, drama, and general music at the middle school level in Fountain-Ft. Carson and Harrison school districts. In January 2012, she accepted the position of Director of Music & Arts at FCC. In that role, Mandy directs the Chancel Choir, Joyful Noise Children’s Choir, the Bells of Saint Vrain Handbell Ensemble, the Men’s Ensemble, and the Women’s Ensemble. She also plays an integral role in planning worship collaboratively with the Pastoral Staff.
    Mandy received a BA in Music Education with a Choral Conducting Emphasis from Bethany College in Lindsborg, KS, and a Master of Theological Studies degree focusing on Sacred Music from Iliff School of Theology in Denver, CO. She has studied conducting with Daniel Mahraun, Deborah Jenkins Teske, and is excited to study this summer with Dr. James Jordan through the Westminster Choir College continuing education program.

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  • candace datz

    director of youth and adult ministry

    Candace joined the First Congregational Church staff team in July 2014 and became a member of the congregation in 2015, because she found a true home at FCC. She has lived in the Springs since 2004, when she moved from Eastern Oregon to join an international Christian nonprofit. That led to experiences leading youth and young adults on service projects in Asia, such as rebuilding work in Thailand after the tsunami of 2004 and service to street kids in India. Candace is a pastor’s kid and was highly active in her youth group growing up, with camps and mission trips being the highlight of those youth activities for her. Her passion for international issues led her to attend Colorado College where she received a degree in History and Political Science focused on the Middle East with a minor in Religion in 2013. She is now currently in seminary at Iliff School of Theology as she pursues ordination in the United Church of Christ. 

    Candace loves living in Downtown Colorado Springs with her pup Tucker. She enjoys yoga, reading, hammocking, spending time out with friends, and attending scholarly lectures, because she is, in fact, a super nerd.
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  • del hokanson

    director of children's and faith ministry

    Del Hokanson has been the director of Children’s Ministry at First Congregational Church since 2008. Prior to this, she served a term as Education representative on the Church Council after volunteering on both the Education and Community Life committees. After receiving training in the Our Whole Lives, Sexuality and Our Faith program in San Francisco in 1998, she has facilitated over 100 teens through the 8/9 program in the past decade at FCC. Her passion has been creating community through creative, spiritual, and life-affirming coaching.
    Del received her Bachelor’s degree in Education from the South Australian College of Advanced Education, majoring in Physical Education and Biology. After teaching in secondary schools in Australia for seven years, she met her husband, Peter, through an International Teacher’s Exchange program. They married at Fountain Valley School in September 1997. With grants from the United States Field Hockey Association, based at Olympic Training Center, Del spent the next 10 years promoting and creating a community Field Hockey program, that earned her the privilege of serving on the National Board for three years. Her family returned to Australia for five years, where Del was hired to develop a program to inspire and develop elite high school athletes.
    Upon the family’s return to Colorado, with Peter’s job as IB English instructor at Palmer High School, Del worked as the Division 3 classroom teacher of math and science at the private community Renaissance Academy school until its closure.Del and Pete have two daughters, Kea and Hannah, who have been members at First Congregational Church for over 20 years.

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  • ruth roland

    director of financial ministries

    Ruth worked in the Oil and Gas and Airline industries as an accountant, auditor and manager prior to moving to Colorado Springs. She began working at the First Congregational Church in 1997. In addition to a degree in accounting, she holds a graduate certificate from UCCS in Nonprofit Fund Development. She lives downtown with husband David Petersen and daughter Thea.

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  • emily bond

    communications coordinator

    Emily joined the Staff of First Congregational Church in July, 2013. She was born and raised in London, England, graduating with a degree in Music from the University of Bristol. During her time in England, Emily worked as a caterer both in London and Bristol, which led to opening a restaurant in Bath where she designed and produced creative menus as chef.
    Emily moved to Crested Butte, CO in 2001 and worked in Development, Marketing and Production for the Crested Butte Music Festival until 2010. She served as the President of the Colorado Music Alliance (CMA) from 2007-2009.
    In 2009, Emily was hired as the Office Manager of the Union Congregational Church in Crested Butte where she became a team member with the Senior and Associate Ministers. Marketing and promoting the Church to existing and potential members through social media became a constant, exciting project. In 2010, Emily was accepted into the Gunnison Valley Leadership Program of Gunnison County. This competitive-admissions program for young professionals is aimed at developing leadership knowledge and skills.
    Emily’s passion is to perform classical music and musical theater on stage. She frequently performs with her mother, Elizabeth Bond – mezzo soprano. Other interests include exploring new cultures and cuisines, kickboxing, horse-riding; and enjoying life with her young daughter, Kayla.

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  • david acton

    organist and office administrator

    David joined the staff team as organist and office administrator in July 2017. Previously, he served as the organ scholar of the First Congregational Church of Kalamazoo, Michigan. His nearly twelve years of experience as an organist have also included freelance work and positions at the First Christian Church in Greencastle, Indiana and Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Indianapolis. David was featured as an organ soloist in the 2017 Western Michigan University Showcase Spectacular and as a recitalist in the 2016 and 2017 Lenten Organ Recital Series, hosted by the First United Methodist Church of Kalamazoo.

    David graduated in April 2017 with a Master of Music degree in French horn performance and secondary emphases in organ and choral conducting from Western Michigan University. He served as a graduate assistant in the horn studio and played as a member of the University Symphony Orchestra, Symphonic Band, and Graduate Chamber Ensembles. David received his Bachelor of Music degree in French horn performance at DePauw University in 2015. When not playing music, David enjoys drinking coffee, watching Netflix, reading, and running. He is also an avid hiker and is excited to explore the plethora of beautiful hiking opportunities in the Springs.

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  • Lesli Weaver


    Lesli Weaver is the Congregational Nurse for the First Congregational Church. More information to come.

  • Facility and nursery staff

    Robert Scheafer and Doris Fletcher - Custodians
    Kiara Nath - Nursery Attendant Supervisor
    Sean Drevs, Alana Khederian, Kären Knabe, Kaitlyn O’Donnell, Kiara Nath and Thea Roland - Nursery Attendants
    Ani Rose Whaleswan and Curt Daniel - Sunday Sextons