Our staff is here for you. Anyone with a pastoral concern should feel free to contact one of our pastors.
firstname.lastname@example.org 708-386-5215 (ext. 101)
Deborah is a graduate of Brown University, Union Theological Seminary in NYC, and Loyola University Chicago. Her ministry has included pastoral work in three congregations, work with Presbyterian Women, and teaching ministry at McCormick Theological Seminary, from which she retired in June 2017. She is deeply committed to congregational life and ministry, and looks forward to engaging the work and people of First United. Deborah and her husband Tony Ruger have lived in Oak Park since 1995. They have two grown sons, Geoff and Peter (OPRF ’03 and ’05), and two cats. When Deborah kicks back, she enjoys cooking and eating, reading, and a spot of gardening. Part of her spiritual journey is learning to be more mindful of everyday beauty, so she also takes walks.
Rev. Britt Cox – Associate Pastor of Discipleship
email@example.com 708-386-5215 (ext. 105)
Britt is a graduate of Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, and Chicago Theological Seminary. Prior to seminary, she served in a variety of nonprofit settings, including work as a national organizer for Reconciling Ministries Network. During seminary she served at Holy Covenant United Methodist Church and Bethany Methodist Retirement Community. Britt is passionate about communities that take risks, ecumenical conversations, worship that honors authenticity, and story-sharing. Britt is a United Methodist by tradition, serving First United Church through a Methodist appointment. She loves all things foodie, photography, writing, bike riding, traveling, and her wonderful family.
firstname.lastname@example.org 708-386-5215 (ext. 103)
Lydia began at First United in 2016 after serving United Church of Christ congregations in California. She received her master of divinity degree from Pacific School of Religion and has a passion for creating safe and healthy environments where people of all ages can learn the sacred stories that bind us together, find a sense of identity within those stories, and gather courage to write the next chapter. She loves to make music and has worked in church music and in music education. In her time off, you’ll find her with Ivy, her partner. They will likely be gathered around a table of friends, eating good food, telling stories, and playing board games.
email@example.com 708-386-5215 (ext. 104)
Alicia was born and raised in Arlington Heights, Illinois, and attended First Presbyterian Church of Arlington Heights. She received her bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University and her master of divinity degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. She was nurtured by her home church and her wonderful experiences in youth group, which are what eventually led Alicia to discern her call to ministry in seminary. Alicia is passionate about working with youth and interfaith engagement. She is in the process of being ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and is excited to be serving such a vibrant community of believers in the hope that you all will allow her to know your stories and accompany you on this journey of faith.
firstname.lastname@example.org 708-386-5215 (ext. 108)
William Chin has a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Bill is the Assistant Director of the Chicago Symphony Chorus and is the founder and artistic director of the Oriana Singers, a six-voice a cappella group that tours nationally and internationally and has performed with the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago and at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, Illinois. He is Music Director of the Oak Park and River Forest Children’s Chorus, with whom he has recorded two CDs for GIA Publications. In addition, Bill directs the Symphony Chorus for the Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest and is the conductor of the Anshe Emet Synagogue Choir in Chicago. Bill has been the Director of Music Ministries at First United Church of Oak Park since 2000.
A native of North Carolina and a church organist since the age of 12, Michael Surratt holds a bachelor of music degree from Oberlin College Conservatory of Music and a master of music degree from Northwestern University in organ performance. He also has done work toward earning a doctorate in organ at Northwestern and a master of divinity degree at Chicago Theological Seminary. In addition to serving as First United’s organist, Michael directs the handbell choir, which performs several times a year with the church’s five octaves of Malmark handbells.
email@example.com 708-386-5215 (ext. 102)
Although Amanda’s academic background reads journalism, her recent professional interests all have been with the church. Since 2010, she has cheerfully served church offices in Oswego, Illinois, and now First United. Outside of church office hours, you can find Amanda working on her small business in vintage glassware and china rental or planning her next great international travel adventure. She was particularly drawn to First United for its strong stances on social justice as well as global mission interests.
firstname.lastname@example.org 708-386-5215 (ext. 100)
Dennis has many years of service in the Presbyterian Church (USA), having held various positions in the denomination from local congregations to the national offices. He received his master of divinity degree from San Francisco Theological Seminary and also holds a juris doctor degree from the University of Kansas School of Law. In addition to his service in the church, he has worked in the secular world in the areas of communication, editing, and social media evaluation. The opportunity to work with a congregation that is welcoming to all and involved in social justice issues drew him to First United. Dennis moved to this area in the spring of 2016 with his husband, who is the pastor of Riverside Presbyterian Church.
email@example.com 708-386-5215 (ext. 109)
Susan has spent her career in nonprofits working as vice president of finance and operations at the Healthy Schools Campaign, heading up historic house museums, and early on serving as curator of costumes and director of exhibitions at the Chicago History Museum. Susan joined First United in March 2018 and also does financial work for The Village Chicago. Susan and her husband, artist Michael x. Ryan, have two grown children, Sam and Stella, both of whom live out of state. Susan looks forward to family gatherings, loves working on her family genealogy, and is always at the ready to help others discover their roots.
Keith Liesse – Manager of Building and Grounds
Keith has been with First United since 2013 and has assumed numerous building maintenance responsibilities while also working a full-time day job. DIY and maintenance comes naturally to Keith — if he comes across an unfamiliar task, he will read and watch instructional videos to learn. You’ll usually find Keith at First United from 4:30 until close of the building, though his responsibilities include weekends, early hours and after hours when necessary. Keith is dedicated to maintaining the church along with the other custodial staff members, Patrick Guinan and Jesus Santiago. He works closely with Building and Grounds to ensure all areas of concerns are addressed. Keith, his wife, and two children live in Berwyn and enjoy family trips to Six Flags throughout the summertime.