Rev. Ann Zarate is native to St. Joseph, MO; was ordained in Austin, TX in the progressive Baptist tradition; serves as a part-time pastor of Innovation and the Arts at a Disciples of Christ Church (First Christian Church, St. Joseph); and is the office administrate and pulpit-fill-preacher at Kansas City United Church of Christ. As an ecumenical and interfaith minister, Ann enjoys helping people tell their stories. Since most of us have more than one twist in our plot lines, Ann likewise is an actor, former artistic director, and (yep!) a storyteller. Her specialties are Plays, Musicals, New Works, and an occasional Disney Princess party appearance (Elsa, Anna, Sally, etc). Ann resides in KCMO with her five-year-old child. Ann preaches January 22, February 19, and March 5.
Rev. Stephen King is well known at KCUCC. Members grew accustomed to seeing him and his wife, Shayla, on Zoom during the pandemic. When “in person” worship resumed, he began preaching as pulpit-fill in United Church of Christ churches in Saline County, Missouri. Stephen claims that he first thought of attending seminary while singing in our church choir (Jerry Cundiff directing). He previously served as pastor at Zion UCC in St. Joseph and Ivanhoe UCC in Raytown. His “best job ever” was chaplain at Benilde Hall (an east KC facility for homeless men) 2013 – 2020. Stephen preaches January 29.
Rev. Jane Heide and her husband, Joe, joined KCUCC in 1982 and it was in this congregation that they raised their two sons, Weston and Nathan. Following a longstanding career in social service administration, Jane attended St. Paul School of Theology, where she obtained her Master of Divinity degree. She was then called to be the pastor of the Rosedale Congregational Church in Kansas City, Kansas, where she helped to develop community programming through the “Rosedale Healthy Kids Initiative.” After almost 11 years in Rosedale, Jane left that church to focus on a nature-based ministry at Hickory Creek Farm, which she and her husband co-own east of Wichita. There, they have greatly enjoyed sharing their energy-efficient place with guests. Most recently, they have been working on a nature trail on the property and they continue to host an annual community picnic, which includes the processing of sweet sorghum. They dream of creating a labyrinth and providing space for other gatherings. All are welcome to come for a visit! Jane preaches February 5, 22 (Ash Wednesday), April 6 (Maundy Thursday), and facilitates at all Taize services.
Rev. Jennifer J. Thomas was ordained July 26, 1998. She is a rostered minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She has served congregations in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Kansas City, Butler, and Nevada, MO. She has served as the alumni engagement manager and a major gift officer at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, and she currently serves as a financial associate at Thrivent in Overland Park. She and her family live in Shawnee, KS where they've resided since 2007. Pastor Jen's hobbies include reading, swimming, baking, bunco, and enjoying her children's activities including Peder's music and Solveig's sports. She and her husband, Vance, have been married for 27 years. The family dog is Rose, named for the heroine in the Titanic. "Be who you are. See what you have. Do what matters." Jennifer preaches February 12 and serves in a pastoral care interim while Pastor Jessica Palys is on maternity leave.
Staci Cooper and her wife, Danie, have two beautiful children, Elise, 15 and Jax, 11 months. Staci is the Aviation Resource Management Superintendent for the 131st Bomb Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. After being in the military for 14 years she decided it was time to start her seminary journey in 2021. She attends Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Shawnee, KS. After completing her degree, she plans to become a military chaplain. Staci served as the KC/STJ Cluster representative for the Western Association from 2021-2023 where she met Pastor Jessica Palys. Staci is a member "in discernment" at Southwood UCC in Raytown, MO. Staci preaches February 26.
Rev. Jane Fisler-Hoffman was privileged to serve in local church ministry after graduating from Eden Seminary. She served in St Louis and Raytown; then in Conference Ministry in Ohio, Illinois and Southern California/Nevada. In those Conferences she worked with hundreds of local churches and pastors, with wonderful and sometimes difficult experiences. Now retired and recently widowed from her beloved husband Milt, she lives in Foxwood Springs Retirement Community. She rejoices in having two children and five grandchildren. She loves mystery novels, crochets and delights in her canine companion. She is active in fighting the death penalty in Missouri and working for environmental care at Foxwood. Jane preaches March 12.
Rev. Damien Lake is the Associate Conference Minister for the Missouri Mid-South Conference and has been with us for over two and a half years. He is a second career individual who worked in Sales and Marketing for many years before responding once again to God’s call. He has served as a settled pastor to churches in Michigan and Ohio as well as an Interim Minister to churches in New Jersey and California. Damien is passionate about classic cars and loves spending time working on his latest project. He is married to his wife Sue and together they have four children, almost all out of the house and two beautiful grand children who affectionately call him Papa. Together, they enjoy travel, house renovation projects, and playing games with their family. Damien oversees the Search & Call process for our Conference and works with our four different Committees On Ministry to walk the path towards ordination with members in discernment, helping churches to work through conflict, and to support the work of our Associations. Damien preaches March 19.
Rev. René Jensen is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Now (mostly) retired, she and her husband Rick (also an ordained pastor) served as co-pastors of congregations in Indianapolis, Omaha, and Shawnee; and co-interim pastors of churches in Scottsdale and Shawnee. René also served as solo interim pastor of Red Rock Christian Church in Boise and Saint Andrew Christian Church in Olathe. The Jensens settled in Shawnee in 2018. They have two terrific children—Peter who teaches at the University of Alabama; and Erica, who is a life coach and lives in Denver with her husband and three children. René preaches March 26 and April 2.
Rev. Dr. Peter A. Luckey completed a 24-year tenure as the Lead Pastor of Plymouth Church, United Church of Christ, in Lawrence, Kansas in June 2019. Rev. Luckey preached at KCUCC throughout the pandemic from March 2020 through May 2021. He has also been preaching at All Souls UU congregation in Kansas City, The Unitarian Fellowship of Topeka and Colonial UCC in Prairie Village, KS. Peter serves as an executive coach for pastors and other leaders. Peter is also a writer was recently published in The Christian Century magazine. Learn more about Peter here. Peter preaches Easter morning, April 9.