One of the great joys we have in the Minnesota Conference UCC is welcoming new clergy. We are thrilled to welcome nine new clergy to positions around the state.
These amazing individuals have met on Zoom, preached on Zoom, trained on Zoom … and despite the great challenges of serving at this time, they have committed to congregations. We are deeply grateful and offer our prayers and blessings to them as they embark upon their journeys.
Our new clergy:
- Greg Briggs, Peace UCC, Duluth (interim)
- Sarah Brouwer, St. Paul’s UCC on Summit, St. Paul
- Nikki Darlene Frontz, Solomon’s Porch, Minneapolis
- Kris Geer, Northern Lights Parish, near the Canadian border!
- Andrew Greenhaw, The Congregational Church UCC, Rochester (co-pastor)
- Winston Janusz, Peace UCC, Rochester
- Shannon Smith, The Congregational Church UCC, Rochester, (co-pastor)
- Ana Wilson, Grace UCC, Millville
- Jim Wilson, St James UCC, Barnesville
Rev. Greg Briggs – Peace UCC, Duluth (interim)
I am a born and raised Michigander. I moved here with my dog Jackson, a black lab and collie mix. His wagging tail and powerful desire to lick your face is a great antidote to the winter blues, but can be a bit much. Outside of ministry, my passions include being a nature buff and a nerd of many kinds. I enjoy sci-fi, Dungeons and Dragons, comics, and all things science. I deeply enjoy being outdoors and near water, especially the great lakes. Generally, you can find my personality somewhere in a Venn diagram of Mr. Rogers, LeVar Burton, A.O.C., Robin Williams, and Batman. In college I served on a volunteer maritime search and rescue team called EC-SAR, which really formed my identity and makes me comfortable in stressful situations. I believe the teachings of Jesus are easy to learn & take a lifetime to refine in practice. I’m passionate about intersectional social justice as a spiritual discipline of equality, and truly believe that all people are blessed children of God. I’m a cis, hetero white male who tries to be aware of his privileges, is open to being corrected, and use my social presence to uplift the voices of those who get ignored. I ask a lot of questions, and I’m as interested in the why that is behind the answers.
Rev. Sarah Brouwer – St. Paul’s UCC, St. Paul
Greetings! I am Sarah Brouwer, the new Lead Minister at St. Paul’s UCC in Saint Paul, MN, but I came to this congregation by way of an ecumenical path. I grew up the daughter of a Presbyterian Minister, but spent time with the Lutherans at St. Olaf College and Luther Seminary. While at Luther, I did an internship at Macalester Plymouth United Church in St. Paul, and grew to appreciate aspects of the United Church of Christ. In 2009, I did a Lilly Residency in Parish Ministry at Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, and from there went to an installed associate role at Ladue Chapel Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, MO. After four years in St. Louis, I was called to another associate role at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis. My five and a half years at Westminster were spent leading the church’s communications team through a major capital campaign, building a young adult ministry, and starting a new Sunday evening worship service called Gathered at Five. Being at St. Paul’s will allow me to keep using much of the nimbleness and skills I acquired growing a new worshipping community, as this congregation continues to revitalize. It is a joy to be called by God and to this church in the heart of St. Paul. Here we will continue to live into our calling, journeying together to deepen our faith, seek justice for all, and share God’s unconditional love with the world.
Rev. Nikki Darlene Frontz – Solomon’s Porch
Rev. Nikki Darlene Frontz (She/Hers/Her) is a creative out of the box thinker and doer that thrives on possibility. She loves to boldly inspire people to their fullest potential by empowering them and by challenging the status quo. She believes that God welcomes all to the sacred table and inclusivity is how she does life. She loves to partner with people to explore experimental ways to be with God. She was ordained with the United Church of Christ in 2017 in Colorado and is one of the main organizers of the UCC Minnesota Conference BIPOC Clergy Cluster. She is the Community and Spiritual Leader/Solo Pastor at Solomon’s Porch in South Minneapolis, has 15 years in the United States Air Force and is currently serving, a Certified Professional Life Coach, the founder of Rebel Harmony- a company that provides tools to empower people to live their best lives, and an affiliate coach with Convergence. She graduated from Iliff School of Theology in 2016 with a Master of Divinity specializing in Pastoral and Spiritual Care. She has a BA in Music (Vocal Emphasis) from the University of Southern Mississippi. She is from Gulfport, Mississippi and her southern draw may be heard depending on the situation. Her husband Michael from the UP of Michigan and they have been together since 2005. She enjoys traveling, the Arts, creativity, laughing, video games, playing, experimentation and worship, drink and fire invitations, community connection invitations, and re-imagining faith and Christianity. She is just trying to be a blessing and assist people in living their best lives.
Rev. Kris Geer – Northern Waters Parish
I’m the new pastor for the three churches in the Northern Waters Parish along the Canadian border. I started serving November 1, 2020, after finishing a delayed CPE (due to Covid) October 21. I officially graduated from Moravian Theological Seminary in Bethlehem, PA last May, but with canceled ceremonies and a delayed internship at St Luke’s hospital to complete. I came to seminary as an older student with life experience and having been a LLP, ministering in four Methodist churches for two years in MN. I was appointed to two Methodist churches in PA as I began seminary, then switched to UCC serving a wonderful, historic church in NJ for the last two years before graduation. I’ve also been a farmer, in hotel management, and a teacher. I have three young adult children, three cats, and miss having goats to milk, as I have been welcomed into a lovely parsonage (with no barn) in Baudette, MN. My passion is to help small rural churches survive, and then thrive by providing relevant, community sensitive ministry in their time and place. I never expected God to call me back to the church of my confirmation vows to be their pastor during this difficult time in our history. And my heart truly bursts for the amazing message that the UCC in particular speaks to our world today. I did not realize, while growing up within the embrace of this young denomination, the foundational understanding it provided for my life journey.
Rev. Andrew Greenhaw, The Congregational Church UCC, Rochester
Andrew is a son of a UCC pastor and grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and St. Louis, Missouri. He attended Macalester College in St. Paul, MN and The Pacific School of Religion, in Berkeley, California, before getting ordained as a UCC pastor. Andrew’s first call was to St. Paul’s UCC in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he helped an aging congregation in decline grow from 6 – 50 members. Some of Andrew’s passions include racial justice, immigration rights and supporting the open and affirming community. He is also very interested in Historical Theology and the Reformed tradition. Andrew is engaging and energetic, works well with children and families and is willing to try new things. He’s thrilled to be in Rochester, Minnesota and excited to serve The Congregational Church with his wife, Shannon.
Rev. Winston Janusz – Peace Church, Rochester, MN
Rev. Janusz joined Peace Church in Rochester MN in July 2020 as associate pastor. Winston first studied philosophy and then went on to earn his master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling. After working as a licensed therapist for several years and still feeling passionate about recognizing the importance of mental health in our communities, Winston heeded his call to pursue ordained ministry, earning his Master of Divinity from Boston University School of Theology. Winston is married and has three young children. He enjoys writing, tennis, yoga, meditation, and movies.
Rev. Shannon Smith, The Congregational Church UCC, Rochester
A native of Kentucky, Shannon attended Western Kentucky University before discerning a call to ministry. After completing her Master of Divinity at Pacific School of Religion she was ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and served as the pastor of First Christian Church in Slidell, Louisiana. When she is not chasing her children, Ruth and Samuel, Shannon loves to read and imagine how we can make the Church a more welcoming, diverse place that serves all of God’s children.
Rev. Ana Wilson – Grace UCC, Millville
Rev. Ana Wilson is an ordained DOC minister and currently serves Grace UCC in Millville, MN, part-time. She is married 25 years to her love; they have four grown children, and they have one grandson. Ana grew up in Germany because her father was in the Air Force and in Texas where her dad retired. Since 2015, Pastor Ana serves full-time as a Chaplain at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and is working on her DMin at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, OK.
Rev. Jim Wilson – St. James UCC, Barnesville
Jim Wilson has been serving as the new interim pastor at St James UCC in Barnesville since the beginning of 2021. He is originally from Los Angeles, CA, and his wife, Jayanthi, is a native of India. He brings with him 40 years of experience in ministry. He has served churches in California, Oklahoma, Missouri and Iowa as well as Canada. Jim served as missionary with Global Ministries (the outreach arm of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ- serving in Lesotho, Botswana and South Africa from 1989 until 2017. He has served three times as an interim pastor and has also worked at various educational institutions, both in the U.S. as well as overseas.