Pastors & Staff

Rev. Nanette Pitt
Senior Minister

Reverend Nanette Pitt is a dynamic preacher, engaging teacher and gifted pastoral leader who brings a deep faith, diverse skills and an all-around aptitude to her ministry. Nanette is Rev Nanette Pittpassionate about spreading the good news of God’s love, peace and justice and believes the church has a vital role to play in society, offering an experience of authentic community and connectedness to God, self, and other.

Nanette has years of experience as an award-winning theatre professional, directing, producing and performing in a wide range of critically acclaimed stage productions in South Africa and Boston, Mass. In addition, she has run her own business and worked extensively in the church as she discerned a call to ordained ministry. She graduated with highest academic honors from Simmons College in 2008 and from Andover Newton Theological School in 2012. At both institutions she was recognized with numerous awards and inducted into the prestigious Jonathan Edwards Honors Society at Andover Newton.

As a scholar her work has spanned transnational studies and theology with a strong focus on social justice and gender studies. Born and raised in South Africa her awareness of oppression came about at a young age and her passion for bringing about social change was ignited.

Nanette describes herself as a “relationally-oriented leader and community builder, empathically caring while holding fast to a visioning and empowering ethic.” She brings a “prophetic sense of future-possibility” to her leadership and deeply values the Congregationalist tradition.

Before being called to First Church, Nanette served as Acting Associate Pastor of First Church, West Hartford, Conn. where her duties ranged from preaching to offering visitation and pastoral care, working with committees and providing leadership to programs such as Confirmation and small groups for senior members. In her ministry with the Forward in Faith, Communications and Parish Care teams, Nanette was credited with introducing many exciting new initiatives including a new church website and logo, a covenanted space and ministry sharing relationship with a Hispanic congregation, and programming such as a weekly Prayer Circle and monthly Celtic Evening Eucharist.

Nanette lives in Highland Square with her husband, the Reverend Steven Savides. Steven is a PhD student at the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, where his concentration is Theology and Peace Studies. He has served as Senior Minister of two congregations of the United Church of Christ and is a former journalist, having worked for The Christian Science Monitor (Boston), The Eastern Province Herald (Port Elizabeth, SA) and The Pretoria News (Pretoria, SA).

Rev. William O. Rodefer
Associate Pastor Emeritus

Program Staff

Mark Peterson
Interim Choir Director & Organist (11am worship)

Mark studied music from an early age in Iowa, assuming his first church post at Mayflower Congregational Church in Sioux City at the age of 15. Educated at St. Olaf College and the University of Iowa, Mark did graduate work at Cambridge University. He has held positions at the Cathedral Church of St. Mark in Minneapolis, House of Hope Presbyterian Church in St. Paul, and moved to New York City to assume the position of Assistant Organist and Music Department Administrator at Trinity Church Wall Street. He subsequently held interim posts at the historic Congregational church, Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims in Brooklyn, and the Church of St. James the Less in Scarsdale. Mark capped his East Coast experience as Director of Music and Organist at the renowned Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Times Square, also in New York. Relocating to the Akron area in the summer of 2017, Mark is happy to be amongst Midwesterners again, and is thrilled to live in the natural beauty that constitutes the Valley.

Dave Aberth
Musician & Vocalist (9:30am worship)

Christine Allison
Handbell Choir Director

Valerie Niese Stewart
Children’s Choir Director

Mary Ann Gray
Childcare Worker

Jessica Busson
Childcare Worker

Kalie Hasson
Childcare Worker

Administrative Staff

Deborah Anderson
Administrative Manager

Kasey Kalchert
Congregational Life Coordinator

Patricia Gillespie
Financial Secretary

Building and Grounds Staff

Debbie Riley
Facilities & Hospitality Manager

Russ Gaippe
Senior Sexton

Darren Jones-Baker
Event Support Staff & Cleaner