Minister of Faith Formation
I grew up in the quaint town of Warrenton, Virginia, where I first encountered God through the love of my parents and their authentic lives of faith. My family’s Jewish background fostered my love for tradition and stories, while the Evangelical church we attended offered me vibrant worship experiences, in-depth knowledge of Scripture, and a highly relational theological lens. While many of my earliest memories in church are positive, over time I became disillusioned by the sexism, homophobia, and legalism that unfortunately also characterized this particular congregation. I’ll always remember how one beloved Sunday School teacher tried to affirm me by saying, “It’s too bad you aren’t a boy, Hannah. You could have made a great pastor!” With this remark, I heard the first whisper of a calling–and finally realized that I no longer had a home in conservative Christianity.
While studying theatre directing, religion, and social change at Smith College, I learned that God could be found outside the narrow boundaries of Evangelicalism and I began to worship at an “emerging church” that met in a contemporary art gallery. This faith community helped me to see my own creative gifts as integrally tied to my ministerial calling and catalyzed my love for innovative liturgy. Throughout my undergraduate years, I also served as the pastoral intern at Cathedral in the Night, an outdoor, ecumenical church that serves folks experiencing homelessness. As part of this community, I came to understand that the marginalized are actually the heart of God’s kingdom, and this is a central conviction that continues to shape my work.
My year teaching in the Czech Republic as a Fulbright Scholar was also a transformative experience. I gained both pedagogical and cross-cultural skills–and it was through this work that I met my wife, Renata. Eventually, we both made our way back to the US to complete degrees at Yale Divinity School, and in 2020, I received my MDiv, as well as a certificate in religion and the arts from Yale’s Institute of Sacred Music and a certificate in congregational ministry from Andover Newton Seminary. During my first two years at Yale, I had been pursuing ordination through the Vineyard movement. Unfortunately, upon learning that Renata and I were engaged, the church withdrew their support. This was a painful experience, and God used it to bring us to our true home–the UCC. We are forever grateful that we can simply get on with serving Christ, rather than fighting endlessly for a seat at the table!