Rev. Daniel F. Bogre (Senior Pastor)
My name is Daniel Bogre and I would like to personally welcome you to Rocky River United Methodist Church. The first thing that I want you to know about our church is that God is here. God is living and moving in the lives of the people who call this place home. We have a beautiful facility but it is just bricks and mortar if the people are not here bringing it to life for Christ. You see God has given us all gifts. We have been gifted to do amazing things in this world and Rocky River United Methodist Church is a place where you can discover those gifts. It is also a place where we work together to use those gifts to help transform people’s lives and the world around us.
An amazing God called me into full-time Christian ministry when I was 18 and I ran the opposite direction as fast as I could. I did not come from a family of ministers. I too remember asking God, “What’s in it for me”. I was certain that my will for my life was better than God’s. As I was pursuing my will my life just fell apart. Realizing that I could not run from God any longer I said yes to my call and the gifts that God had given me. It has not always been smooth sailing but it has been an incredible journey.
I believe that God has an incredible journey for you too. My prayer is that Rocky River United Methodist Church can come along side you on that journey. Whether that journey is filled with joy or pain, sorrow or celebration, Rocky River United Methodist Church is a place where you can live out that journey with other people who are going through the same thing. You don’t have to do it alone. If you do not come here, I hope you keep looking for that place where you and Christ can come together to change the world. I hope to see you this Sunday.
Rev. Daniel F. Bogre
Pastor Paul Bennett (Associate Pastor)
My name is Paul Bennett and I am delighted to be able to greet you on behalf of Rocky River United Methodist Church. As you try to work out God’s plan for your life, I want you to know that you are in good company here at Rocky River United Methodist Church. As a church, we are known for a lot of things. But above all, know that we are a family of ordinary people seeking to find purpose, to make sense of all of life’s ups and downs, together, as a family. Together, we acknowledge that God alone can guide us through the struggles that we face, and God alone can save us from our own brokenness and sin. God alone can empower a group of ordinary people to not only find freedom, but to then turn and set the world free in his name.
Out of my own brokenness, God called me into full-time ministry when I was 20 years old. I could only respond by telling God how unworthy I was, and reminding him of my many weaknesses. Yet God delights in meeting us in our weaknesses. And I would eventually come to submit to his amazing plan for my life. That doesn’t mean I have it all together; no, far from it. But through the support and encouragement of my brothers and sisters around me, and through the grace of God that is born anew in me each morning, I am able to press onward in the journey.
Friends, God has an amazing plan for your life, too. And I pray you might consider inviting Rocky River United Methodist Church to be your family along the way. It is in the community of the body of Christ here in the church that each of us finds the love, hope and encouragement that we need to discover exactly what it is the Lord has in store for us. Regardless of where you find your church family, though, I pray God will meet you there. And I pray that in the presence of the Almighty, you will find the incredible joy and peace that can only come from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Pastor Paul A. Bennett
Dr. William Kimball (Endowment Ministries)
Dr. Kimball was ordained 30 years ago and has served the church in a variety of ways. For many years he was a pastor and then Sr. Pastor of a growing suburban Lutheran Church. His ministry is now specialized in the area of Stewardship, and more specifically, planned giving. He works with our members who wish to structure charitable giving in their estate plans, and he brings years of experience to help them through the myriad of options for giving. After beginning this program here, he helped in establishing the Theo & Belle Moll Society - a group that is recognized for having made a commitment to giving back to the church in their estate plans. In addition to spending time here, Bill also has a small consulting firm that helps other churches establish planned giving programs, and he works with a few nonprofit organizations to help them with fundraising.
Bill completed his Doctorate in Ministry in 1994 in the area of lay leadership and volunteer development. In 2003 he passed the CFRE exam, which is a relatively new credentialling standard in the field of professional development executives, which stands for Certified FundRaising Executive. He has a wife and three children, and when not spending time with them, you'll probably find him on the links or a bicycle.
Steve Machovec (Executive Director - Twice Blessed Free Store)
Hey all! I am Steve Machovec, and I am blessed to be the Director of Twice Blessed Free Store. When God called Isaiah, his response wasn’t to immediately come running. He said something like (and I’m paraphrasing here) “Woah, you got this all wrong God. I am messed up and a sinner, and am way more comfortable with the sinners than with the saints”. And I can definitely relate to that; I was there too. But God didn’t give up on him (or me), and it wasn’t long until that response quickly changed into “Here am I, send me”.
God calls each and every one of us into ministry. Faith isn’t a trophy to set on a mantle in a glass case. It’s a garden trowel. It’s supposed to plunge right in and dig deep into the dirt. It’s scary and dirty and messy and hard work; but through HIS work we can see the seeds of faith we sow grow into beautiful new lives all around us. It took a lot of people to get their hands dirty to get me to answer God’s calling to Twice Blessed, and I hope through this ministry we are able to sow exponentially more seeds of faith. After all, at Rocky River UMC, “It’s all about the Story!” and we exist to help people meet Jesus Christ in the midst of their story. Jesus is in YOUR story, in everyone’s story right now, we just need to be Jesus to someone else. And at our second campus on the near West Side at Twice Blessed, that is exactly what we try to do. So join us. Get your hands dirty with us. And plant seeds!
Less of us, and more of HIM!
Rachel Burns (Youth Director)
Hi, I’m Rachel Burns. I’m delighted that you are here to find out more about our staff and how God is moving at Rocky River United Methodist Church. In our youth ministry, which is for students in grades 6-12, we strive to provide an atmosphere that is open and welcoming to all people where they can discover, grow with, and share God. Our adult leaders and students are in ministry together as they grow in faith and serve others in the name of Christ. We have a place for you in our ministry and encourage you to get in touch and get involved.
My own journey in youth ministry feels like a lifelong one. I grew up in church and enjoyed serving in leadership whenever I had the opportunity. When I went to college, I faced a true testing of faith as I struggled with making my faith personal and trusting God with my future. Pivotal moments like what I faced in college inspire me to help young people as they ask real questions about life and faith. Halfway through my college career, I made the bold choice to change my major from Education to Youth Ministry, trusting my heart and God’s guidance. I began serving professionally in youth ministry in North West Ohio in 2003. In 2009, my husband, Chris, and our children, David and Lillian, and I made the move to North East Ohio and have been in ministry at Rocky River United Methodist Church ever since.
Wherever you are in your story, whether it be discovery, growth, service, or a mixture of the three, you are welcome at Rocky River United Methodist Church. I would love to learn about your story.
Quinn Bennett (Director of Children's Ministry)
“Every child is a story yet to be told.” ~Sesame Street
As a mother of three, I have come to realize how true this quote really is. As parents, we are constantly trying to help our children find their story as they learn respect and responsibility, interact with their peers and find their place in this world among all the sports, activities and opportunities they are granted. Whether it be through soccer, football, ballet, etc., my prayer for your child is that they begin their story with Christ. I pray that by looking through Christ’s eyes, they can be a better ballerina, soccer or football player. As my own children play in their respective sports and activities, my greatest hope is that they will take what Christ is teaching them and bring it to the context they are involved in. I truly believe that if they are meant to excel in an activity, they will excel further with Christ on their side while keeping Him first above all.
Here at RRUMC my first job is to teach your children what it means to put Christ first and what that looks like when they are away from church on a Sunday morning, to help you as parents in the process you have already started and to be a helper in raising your children in Christ. I would love to be a part of the process to help your family find ways of applying the love and truths of Christ to your everyday lives simply and effectively.
Jeremiah 29:11 says “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’” The Lord has plans for the families here at RRUMC. I pray that your family will join us and begin your story with Christ alongside of us.
Karen Freeh (Nursery School Director)
Email Director: RRUMNS@gmail.com
Email Registrar: RRUMNSRegistrar@gmail.com
Hello! My name is Karen Freeh, and I’ve been the Director of the Nursery School since 2011. I am thrilled and honored to be a part of RRUMC and a church ministry that was created more than 50 years ago. I have had the ability to witness how loving a place RRUMNS is as a parent of a Nursery School student and now have the ability to continue to grow with the preschool as the Director. I enjoy having the opportunity to witness each child beginning their journey to learn their gifts and strengths. At this age, we also strengthen the practice of how to be a caring and giving little person. I love to see the transformation that happens in preschool for our students!
I went to Ohio University for my undergraduate degree in Psychology. I continued my studies at Case and earned a Master’s in Social Work (MSSA). I continue to have the opportunity to use my past school and job experience while working with families age birth to 5. I enjoy meeting each family where they are in their life and educational journey. We truly are a family at RRUMNS and would love for you to join it! We thank the church staff and members for the support they have given the Nursery School all of these years.
Chris Burns (Harbor Worship Leader)
"But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." John 4:23-24
Greetings. My name is Chris Burns. I lead the worship team at the Harbor Service on Sundays in Beacon Hall at 11:25 a.m. We lead primarily contemporary, modern music from bands like Elevation Worship, River Valley Worship, David Crowder, Phil Wickman, Jesus Culture, Vertical Church Band, and several others. Our mission is to help people meet Jesus Christ in the midst of their story by connecting with the Holy Spirit through music. I would love to see you any Sunday at the Harbor Service.
Braden Pontoli (Music Director)
Hello! My name is Braden Pontoli and I am excited to be apart of the great ministry at RRUMC as our Music Director! I grew up in Beaver, PA where I participated on our worship team, sang in our church choir, and led our youth group worship team. I then moved to Berea, OH to attend Baldwin Wallace University to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Music Education. During my time at Baldwin Wallace, I managed the BW Men’s Chorus and formed an a cappella ensemble called Mr. Sun’s Echo. Now I split my time between RRUMC and my full time job where I teach choir at Learwood Middle School in Avon Lake OH. At RRUMC I oversee all music ministries and direct our chancel choir. You will see me from time to time on our Harbor worship team and in our chapel service. I love to write my own music and love to arrange music. Typically when I play or sing, it is something that I have arranged. I love to travel and to be inspired by God’s Creation outside. I also love to cook and to check out new places to eat in the Cleveland area! If we have not met yet, I hope to meet you soon and if you sing…you may be recruited to sing in the chancel choir!
Gayle Donahue (Faith Community Nurse)
"Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul." ~ 3 John 1:2
Hi I am Gayle Donahue RN, MSN. I am pleased to be joining the staff here at Rocky River United Methodist Church as your Faith Community Nurse and continuing the work that has been begun. Faith Community Nursing is my passion. I was blessed to be a part of this exciting ministry from the early days when Tom LaMotte introduced the work of the parish nurse to this area. In addition to serving RRUMC as your Faith Community Nurse I also serve another local congregation and I am an adjunct instructor for Kent State University College of Nursing teaching community health clinical. It gives me great joy to walk with individuals and a community of faith to find comfort and strength in the wholeness of life. I look forward to chatting with you whether you would like to discuss healthy behaviors, health challenges or the wonderful gift we have been given called our human body.
When I am not working I enjoy spending time with my husband Brad and traveling to visit our three children and their families.
Jeffrey A. Acker, Organist, email@example.com
Carmen G. Massaro, Director of Fuller Sounds Handbell Choir, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lynn Young, Director of Joyful Sounds Handbell Director, email@example.com
Michael Parry, Bass Soloist
Linda Burgess, Soprano Soloist
Michael Cook, Audio Video Engineer