Reverend Carla has been serving churches since 1995 as a Senior Minister at a big church, Solo Minister at medium and small churches, Interim, Bridge, Supply Pastor, Associate Pastor, Chaplain, Youth Director, CE Director, In-Person and Virtual Worship Leader, Meditation Leader, and Church Consultant. Carla has a Bachelors in Performing Arts from Syracuse University, a Masters in Special Education from Fairfield University, and a Masters in Divinity from Yale. She’s a writer, tree-hugging hiker, beachcomber and advocate for immigrants and refugees, and spouse, mother, grandmother, and pet parent. Carla tries to say yes instead of no and is up for whatever meaningful activity is on the table. Born in New York, she’s made Connecticut home for 30 years. Because of a deep faith in God and love of the progressive Jesus movement, Carla will continue to serve where she is called, alongside her friend and husband John Carroll.
Penny V. Phillips, MA, MDiv, BCC, retired from her 25-year ministry at the Palo Alto Veterans Hospital Hospice and Palliative Care Center in January 2020. She has been a member, and active choir member, at First Congregational Church of San Jose for 14 years.
Kristin grew up singing in the First Congregational UCC in Janesville, Wisconsin. After receiving degrees in music education from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the University of Michigan, she taught for a number of years in Quincy, Illinois. After a couple of moves, Kristin and her husband arrived in San Jose and joined the First Congregational Church of San Jose in 1998. She has been the Director of Music since the fall of 2005 and conducts the Chancel, Handbell, and Children’s Choirs, and the Drum Circle. Kristin and Brian raised their two children (now young adults) in a home filled with music and a church filled with God’s love and acceptance.
Maryann Coole grew up attending FCCSJ, was confirmed here in junior high and started helping in the church school while in high school. Over the years, Maryann has taught the nursery school class, the high school class, and everything in between. Previously Maryann held the position of Church School Coordinator and was a member of the Northern California/Nevada Conference Partners in Education. Outside of church, Maryann spent 32 years in the space/communications industry and enjoys baking, crafts, and reading.
Mark has been a member of FCCSJ since 1993. He has been serving as the Treasurer since 2013 and has been an active part of the Trustees and other church operations committees/ministry teams since 2000. In 2021 Mark also became our Operations Manager, managing our tenants, property projects, and general business operations.
Deidre was born in Michigan, and her hobbies include reading, gardening, cooking, and taking care of her ten-year-old Pomeranian, Maximo.
Susan Snook-Luther and Barbara Sunseri are our accompanists. Both are accomplished musicians with extensive performance experience. Susan has been a church organist and pianist for many years and has multiple music degrees from Stanford. Barbara has her degree in piano performance from UC Santa Barbara and is a frequent pianist for school choirs, musicals, and soloists.
Laurel grew up in Chico and studied German at UC Davis. She met her husband (a fellow Californian) as an exchange student in Germany her junior year in college, and moved back to Germany with him after college. After four years in Munich (and a wedding), they moved to San Francisco, then seven years and two daughters later to San Jose, where they were extremely fortunate to find the First Congregational Church of San Jose. In addition to maintaining the church’s website, Laurel is a librarian at San Jose State.
Kadie Eckhardt grew up attending First Congregational Church of San Jose. She enjoys reading, walking around Target, going to Starbucks, and babysitting. She has been a helper for the nursery, toddlers, and the youth groups in the past. She had been one of the toddler Sunday School teachers for about 5 years.