Christian Coon, Lead PastorEmail
Christian has been a pastor since 1998 and served two Chicago-area suburban churches before moving to the South Loop. He’s a native Iowan who worked in the not-for-profit public relations and journalism fields before going into church ministry. He loves running, blogging (christiancoon.tumblr.com), all kinds of music, baseball, ice cream, and, most importantly, his wife, Anne, and two children, Caroline and Ethan. You can read some of Christian’s writing in the books: 365 Meditations for Young Adults and 365 Devotionals for Men by Men.
Brittany Isaac, Site PastorEmail
After finishing seminary and feeling burned by the church Brittany chose to work at the Church of Starbucks instead of the Church of Jesus Christ. After 7 years her thirst was still not quenched and she left her management position to follow God’s leading back to ministry In 2011 she left her coffee addiction to plant Urban Village Church’s 3rd site in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago. In 2017, Brittany transitioned her site to the Edgewater neighborhood. An aspiring raised bed gardener, a novice quilter and a chef for her family, Brittany loves her life and is passionate about helping others to discover their vocation too.
Emily McGinley, Site PastorEmail
Emily comes to Urban Village with a background in graphic design and ministry among young adults of color. An ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) with roots in the non-denominational, evangelical tradition, Emily hails from Seattle where she grew up among mountains, pine trees, and poor snow removal systems. Besides Jesus, Emily loves to tell bad jokes, eat good food with friends, and spend time with her partner in life and ministry, Rich Pak. In all that she does, Emily seeks to bring a commitment to racial reconciliation, radical hospitality, and creative authenticity.
Hannah Kardon, Site PastorEmail
Hannah believes that God is good, that God made us all to be who we are, and our differences are a gift. This has brought her to Pastor in a Filipino neighborhood church, an outdoor church for homeless people, and an urban graduate student ministry as well as the bold, inclusive, relevant ministry of UVC. She was previously an educator and a trainer with the Interfaith Youth Core. She loves puzzles, trashy TV, swimming, her husband Matt and her daughter Annabel. She also wants to know you better, and know how you can change our church.
Erin James-Brown, Director of DiscipleshipEmail
Hailing from the great state of Texas (and proud of it!), Erin comes to Urban Village having previously ministered with two church plants in very different cities in her home state. In addition to filling her time as a group exercise instructor, a dog owner, and a voracious reader of young adult literature, Erin has also recently served as a hospital chaplain and as the director of a ministry for youth and children. She is incredibly excited to be working with UVC in fulfilling its mission to be a community where discipleship (i.e., the conversion of individuals and communities to increasingly act like Jesus, talk like Jesus, and desire the very things Jesus desires) happens by sharing life together. If you are interested in small groups, shoot Erin an email because she’d love to talk with you.
Grant Crusor, Director of OperationsEmail
Grant is a Chicago native and joins Urban Village from the world of graduate theological education. For the past few years he’s traveled the country to help guide future seminarians in their preparation for ministry. Prior to that he served as an online pastor, ministering to those in Chicagoland and beyond. You can find Grant roaming the city taking shots for photo essays, crate digging for the perfect record, or convincing tourists that the Bulls are the greatest team ever. Grant is a graduate of Howard University and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, each integral in forming his passion for creating peace-filled communities citywide and combating systemic racial and ethnic injustices.
Monica Isaac, Director of Children’s Ministry and Children’s Ministry Coordinator EdgewaterEmail
Monica Isaac is an ordained Deacon in the United Methodist Church serving as a chaplain at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago as well as mother to Ruby, her daughter. She enjoys playing, reading, cooking and cycling along the lakeshore. Passionate about children’s spirituality, she is excited to be in ministry with the children and parents at our Edgewater site.
Cobey Bienert, Worship Leader Wicker ParkEmail
Cobey Bienert has been our Assistant Worship Leader since last fall and is excited to move into the Worship Leader position. He’s been playing music ever since he was old enough to have a memory. He is the songwriter, singer, and a musician for the Chicago-based band, Hudson Branch. Check them out here. He was born in Baltimore, moved to San Diego, then made the cold trek with his family of nine to the Midwest. He went to school in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, but felt the city calling his name in 2012. Email Cobey if you’d like to help out with music this year.
Enoch Kim, Worship Leader EdgewaterEmail
Enoch is a singer, songwriter, musician, and a radio and music producer who loves to lead and sing songs with church communities. A native of Guam (the Pacific island), he originally moved to Illinois to study Audio Engineering at Greenville College and afterwards he moved to Chicago to pursue a career in music and radio. He loves being silly and sharing in laughter. A few of his inspirations are Michael Jordan, Will Smith, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Enoch is excited to share life, community, and music with Urban Village.
Drew Holley-Jones, Minister of Music Hyde Park-WoodlawnEmail
Drew is a professional vocalist, music teacher, and vocal coach. He toured 13 countries as a lead singer with the USAF band before becoming a teacher. He performed at the Apollo Theatre at age 13, was a finalist in the 2004 Gospel Icon Contest, and made it to Hollywood week on Season 12 of American Idol. Drew has degrees from the Community College of the Air Force, Roosevelt University, and the University of Phoenix. He is working on his terminal degree in Educational Leadership at the University of Illinois. Drew has been worshipping for more than two years with UVC along with his husband, Sean, and daughter, Anmarie.
Darren Calhoun, Worship Leader South LoopEmail
Darren comes to UVC-South Loop after serving as a volunteer worship leader at Willow Chicago for 9 years. He was born and raised in Chicago where he’s heavily engaged in local community and social justice efforts. For more than 16 years, worship has been a central part of Darren’s ministry life including leading choirs, dance teams, and visual arts ministries. He brings with him an intentional focus on worship being inclusive of a diversity of cultures, musical styles, and expressions as an authentic reflection of the Kingdom of God. Lastly, Darren is an extrovert who loves hugs, anything involving chocolate and peanut butter, and social media.
Rico Howard, Worship Co-Leader Hyde Park-WoodlawnEmail
Rico Howard is a pianist, aspiring educator, and social dancer. He credits his unconventional path into music to God’s greater plan for his life. Because of the lack of music programs in his neighborhood, he was unable to pursue formal piano lessons until he was 19 years old and a sophomore at Grinnell College. After two years of diligent work, by the end of his collegiate career, he was the pianist for the Latin American Performance Ensemble, the Grinnell College Jazz Ensemble and also leader of his own funk and soul cover band. Rico has attended Urban Village Church since September 2011 and has been volunteering on the worship team as either a pianist or a vocalist since November 2011 and is thrilled to be join the staff. He is currently studying classical piano at VanderCook College of Music training to become a music teacher with the hopes of inspiring youth through music
Keith Bjorklund, Assistant Worship Leader EdgewaterEmail
Keith is a musician, teacher, and improv performer in Chicago. After receiving a masters in oboe performance, he began seeking opportunities to bring his music and voice to new areas of music. He is a native of Spokane, Washington and honorary Texan. He is married to Janell and they are parents to wonderful twins.
Leslie Moore, Worship Co-Leader Hyde Park-WoodlawnEmail
Leslie is a classically-trained vocalist with experience singing Spirituals, Gospel, Contemporary Christian and Jazz. She has a passion for teaching about how the music of the African American experience has contributed to social justice movements, ultimately effecting change and transforming society for the better. Leslie has traveled widely and has been touched by music from around the world, which has allowed her to house within herself a multifaceted expression of life, love and music.
Carolyn Roncolato, Theologian in ResidenceEmail
Dr. Carolyn Roncolato is a scholar, activist and teacher. She is a feminist theologian who works on the intersections of race, class, and gender. In 2014, she graduated from Chicago Theological Seminary with her doctorate in Theology, Ethics, and Human Culture. She got her BA from Allegheny College in Pennsylvania and her MA from Chicago Theological Seminary. Prior to graduate school she worked in domestic and sexual violence response and prevention. She has worked in Appalachia Kentucky for many years and is currently working on developing a method of feminist theology that is accountable to women in poverty. Carolyn also works on labor justice with the local hotel workers union as well as writes about race, gender and reproduction.
Jarell Wilson, Church Starting ResidentEmail
Jarell is a graduate of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, a Twitter addict, a blogger, and a self-proclaimed Methodork. He attended Baylor University and graduated from the University of North Texas with a degree in Sociology. He’s an Austinite but not quite a true Texan; an activist in Chacos; a proud Slytherin; a Matt Smith Whovian; a scented candle aficionado; and obsessed parent of the most wonderful dog in all of God’s creation. While he isn’t working or studying, he can be found slacking off, prowling whatever city he is in for the best places to eat, reading, watching Netflix, and singing…rather loudly. He is currently a certified candidate for ordained ministry in the Rio Texas annual conference of the United Methodist Church on the elder track.
Macy Wilson, Children’s Ministry Coordinator Hyde Park-WoodlawnEmail
A Texas native, Macy came to Chicago to pursue her doctorate in Child and Adolescent Psychology. After years as a pastor’s kid questioning the endorsement of religious beliefs not in accordance with her own, Macy began to seek spiritual fulfillment that aligned with her values as a feminist and advocate for social justice; in 2013, she found it at Urban Village. From her previous work as a Sunday school teacher, nanny, and preschool teacher, to her current work as a therapist for adolescent males and a Rape Crisis Counselor for the Chicagoland area, Macy is passionate about working to make a positive difference in the lives of those around her…no matter how small the effort.
Elba Iris Nazario, Children’s Ministry Coordinator South LoopEmail
Rev. Elba Iris is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denomination and was a Hospital and Hospice Chaplain before retiring in 2009. Her hobbies include reading, writing poetry, making jewelry and spending time with her two grandchildren: William Khari and Marley Sarai. Rev. Elba has enjoyed preaching and teaching Sunday School at other churches in the Chicagoland area before coming to serve with us at Urban Village Church. She has been a part of the UVC community since 2016 and began her ministry with us in early 2017.
Josh Lee, Church Planting Intern Wicker ParkEmail
Josh is currently a first year Master of Divinity student at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. He most recently served as a pastor at a multi-site United Methodist Church in Kalamazoo Michigan but he has served in many other flavors of the church also. Growing up in Elgin, IL, he served as an Associate Pastor at an Assemblies of God Church and Youth Pastor at an American Baptist Church. After obtaining a Bachelors of Arts in Pastoral Studies from the Moody Bible Institute, he served as the Senior Pastor of an Independent Christian Church in Madisonville, KY. Josh has had a dynamic journey reconciling his faith, sexuality and call to ministry. He shares this journey on his blog at pjoshlee.blogspot.com.
Colton Lott, Student Pastor Hyde Park-WoodlawnEmail
Colton Lott is a second year MDiv student at the University of Chicago Divinity School. Originally from Ada, Oklahoma (where the wind comes sweeping down the plain), Colton is beginning his sixth year in Illinois and second year as a Chicagoan. An enthusiast of all things old-fangled, his hobbies include collecting (and using!) fountain pens, clacking on a manual typewriter, and becoming an urban gardener. Above all, Colton is deeply concerned with how we can seek and achieve goodness in our common life. He is seeking ordination in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and is pursuing congregational ministry.
Colin McDonald, Ministry Exploration Intern EdgewaterEmail
Colin McDonald moved back to Chicago in late 2014 after pursuing his MFA in poetry in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he also taught preschool and kindergarten, and sold books at Garrison Keillor’s bookstore. He is Marketing and Events Coordinator at Seminary Co-op Bookstores in Hyde Park, and enjoys writing, reading, and overpriced coffee. He’s been a part of the Edgewater site for a while now and exploring further what ministry experience looks like in an urban multi-site church plant.
Danny Sanchez, Ministry Exploration Intern Wicker ParkEmail
Danny was born and raised in South Florida, the oldest son of a Baptist pastor. He moved to Chicago to earn his BA at the University of Chicago almost a decade ago. In the years following graduation he has worked in the online ad industry, helping brands reach their customers through advertising. Danny is now joining UVC to explore how he can help God reach God’s people instead! He has been intermittently hearing (and ignoring!) God’s call to ministry over the years, and is thankful for the opportunity to lean into God’s whispers, especially in a community that is committed to sharing and living out the Good News in a way that is bold, inclusive, and relevant.
Grant Swanson, Student Pastor Wicker ParkEmail
Grant Swanson was born and raised in Omaha, NE. He attended North Central College in Naperville, IL for a BA in English. After college, Grant taught sixth grade elementary at St. Francis Indian School on the Rosebud Lakota Sioux Reservation in South Dakota for four years. During that time, Grant spent his summers working as a park ranger at Yellowstone National Park and completing a MA in English through Middlebury College in Vermont. In the fall of of 2015, Grant moved to Evanston, IL to start Seminary at Garrett-Evangelical. He started attending Urban Village Church: Andersonville and loved every minute of it. As a result, Grant is thrilled to be serving, learning, and growing as an intern at the Wicker Park location of Urban Village Church.
Jesseca Reynolds, Church Planting Intern Wicker ParkEmail
Jesseca Reynolds is a happy wife, loving daughter, bossy sister, devoted cat-mom, meticulous PowerPoint-guru, curious question-asker, and passionate Cincinnati-native. She is deeply moved by UVC’s community and committed to its inclusive vision. Jesseca loves her small group and is so grateful for the investment UVC’s community has made in her life. Jesseca and her husband Adam moved to Chicago two years ago and have grown to love the city. Long-term, however, they plan to move back to Cincinnati to be closer to family. Lately, God has seemed to be tugging at Jesseca’s passions for UVC and Cincinnati to plant a dream in her mind… maybe. What if Cincinnati had a church like UVC? What would that mean for the city that Jesseca loves? For a spiritual community and culture that she hopes to surround herself with for the rest of her life? Jesseca is interested in exploring these questions by learning from the church who she believes is doing it best. She is so thankful for the opportunity to learn from and serve UVC for the next two months as the church-planting intern
Trey Hall, Gospel-Inclusive Missionary to EuropeEmail
One of the founders and former co-lead pastor of Urban Village Church, Trey now serves as UVC’s missionary to the United Kingdom and Europe, coaching and resourcing partners in the church planting and church revitalization movement there and regularly interpreting learnings back to Urban Village and the US context. A coach and strategist with The Epicenter Group, Trey presents regularly at church planting conferences; writes articles and chapters on 21st-century church for books, journals, and blogs; and is the co-author, with Paul Nixon, of a forthcoming book on multisite church planting. Read more about his transatlantic ministry at his blog, Recovering Control Freak.