Lisa Horst Clark, Lead Pastor
I am honored to work with this church as we seek how we are called to love God and neighbor in this time and place.
I originally grew up in Northern California, with a time in central Illinois that lent me an abiding love of casseroles. I grew up in a UCC church that allowed me to explore the mystery of the divine, and I knew the church as a force for good, love and justice in the world. I went to school in Philosophy at Pomona College, and it was there that I heard my call to ministry. Following that call would lead me across the country and back: first to New Haven, CT for seminary at Yale Divinity School and my first call in Guilford, CT and now back here to Bellevue, WA. I came to serve here at First Congregational Church in 2011 as Pastor for Spiritual Formation, and have loved the chance to minister with these thoughtful folks who are seeking to make a difference in the world.
When not at the church, I spend my time with my husband Josh and chasing around my young kiddo, who always keeps me on my toes.
Cristina Airaghi, Pastor for Children and Youth
Each week I am overjoyed by the children’s willingness to play and create in response to the scriptures. It is a sacred, and often silly, time with them. More than any other moment on Sunday mornings, it is when the children—children of all ages, gender variations, ethnicity, and ability—come bouncing up to receive the bread and wine that I see the true strength of the UCC to welcome all to the table. I am humbled to have found a home here in Bellevue to share my passion for the visual arts and my love of creative, playful spirituality.
“My deepest vocation,” says Henri Nouwen, “is to witness the glimpses of God I have been allowed to catch.” As an artist, the majority of my portfolio contains artwork that is based in Scripture. By sharing these artistic pieces that arise from deep moments of prayer and conversations with God, I have been able to share my own glimpses of the divine with others. When I preach and teach with the visual arts, more of our senses are engaged. Through storytelling, play, and breaking bread together, we come to know each other and our playful, loving God.
A Midwesterner by birth, the Pacific Northwest is truly where I belong. As John Muir says, “The Mountains are calling and I must go.”
Patty Ebner, Pastor of Congregational Care and Outreach
I am excited to join the staff at First Congregational Church, Bellevue. Most of my life has been committed to engaging with others through conversation, through mentorship, through standing on the edges and being at the center of action. As I have come to understand myself more fully and as my awareness of those who live on the margins has increased, I have felt more and more called to actions which “level the playing field” while increasing access to economic and spiritual pathways to all of God’s children.
I was born in Lafayette, LA, grew up in the state of Texas, and have relocated to Bellevue from San Jose, CA where I have lived since the early eighties. My call to ministry “interrupted” a wonderful career in the Medical Device Industry and opened the door to my receipt of a Certificate of Ministry Studies and Masters of Divinity, both from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA. My first call in ministry is to assist others who wish to find their place in a spiritual community. I also feel called to discover the intersections between Christianity and other faith traditions. Finally, it is my prayer that God will use me to heal the wounds of those who have been negatively impacted by the misuse of the Bible and the actions of Christian congregations.
I am blessed to share a very full life and partnership with my wife, Sue and our chocolate lab, Murphy. We enjoy a variety of activities—watching television, reading books, playing dice and board games and walking or hiking with Murphy.