Meet The Staff
We like to hear from you! Rev. Ben and Rev. Tamara's email address is revben or revtamara at firstconggreeley.com. You can email the rest of the staff at thier first name at firstconggreeley.com.
Minister, Head of Staff
Rev. Ben Konecny (he/him)
Ben is from Wisconsin but is very happy calling Colorado and its beautiful landscape (and better weather!) home now. He completed his undergraduate degree in Biology and Religion from Ripon College and his Master of Divinity degree from Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Ben’s wife Caitlin is a lead collaborator at the Fred Tjardes School of Innovation in Greeley. Ben, Caitlin, and their son Emmett love calling Greeley home!=
Minister, Head of Programs
Rev. Tamara Torres McGovern (she/her)
Rev. Tamara Torres McGovern found her way to ministry following a path which included spiritual formation as a yoga instructor, holistic cook, folk musician, and massage therapist. She has a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Mount Holyoke College in MA, and a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University in New York, where her focus was Voices from the Margins. Ordained in 2013, Rev. Tamara served church congregations and emergent spiritual communities in Connecticut and Maine, before being called to Colorado. She dreams of a spiritual community where people are welcome in all of their messy, passionate, embodied suffering and hopefulness. She dreams of a place where justice is held up not only as the right thing to do, but as a path to encountering God. Rev. Tamara is trained as an Interim Minister, helping to guide communities through identity formation and transition. She is a passionate Enneagram educator (2w3), has volunteered as a Community Chaplain for Planned Parenthood and co-hosts the “Queer Spirit” radio series (part of OUTcast radio at WMPG in Maine). When Rev. Tamara is not working, she can be found hiking, biking, and baking (or engaging in power struggles) with her spunky kiddo, cuddling with the family dog, or listening to fantastical podcasts with her partner. Rev. Tamara and her family are delighted to be in Greeley and to be a part of a kind, curious, and compassionate community like the one at FCC.
Director of Music
Nicholas Gilmore He/Him
Along with overseeing FCC’s music program, Nicholas directs FCC’s Chancel Choir and Bell Choir. Nicholas is a Northern Colorado-based conductor specializing in orchestral music, choral, and operatic music. He has worked with ensembles around the US and Canada including Opera Fort Collins, Loveland Opera Theatre, and the Greeley Philharmonic. Nicholas also served as the Music Director for Hartland Opera Theatre in Joplin, MO. and the Halifax Summer Opera Festival in Nova Scotia for many years. In addition, he has taught music at Crowder College, Laramie County Community College, Missouri Southern State University, the University of Northern Colorado, and works regularly as an operatic voice coach. Nicholas’ compositions and arrangements are performed around the country by orchestras, choirs, and university groups. Nicholas and his partner Eli love to read, eat good good, go on adventures, and sing at the piano.
Laura Gurney She/Her
Laura is a Greeley native who has called First Cong home all of her adult life. SHe is currently working towards her Church Administration Certification and especially enjoys the financial aspects of her role at the Church. Laura has a special love for the work we do with the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota and in her free time, she enjoys singing a capella with two Sweet Adelines choruses. Laura loves life alongside her partner, Emily, their cats, Cassius and Nebula and their corgi, Hemingway.
Whitney Janzen-Pankratz (She/Her)
Whitney grew up in central Kansas, but has been thrilled to call Colorado home since 2010. She is a seminary student, working toward her Masters in Divinity with a concentration in Social Transformation with United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. Whitney is currently a Member in Discernment for ordination in the United Church of Christ. She has a passion for Social Justice, and an undergraduate degree in Social Work with a minor in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Kansas. Whitney finds inspiration in the way transformational love moves in community, and is passionate about grounding ways we serve in our faith. In her free time she enjoys hiking and camping with her partner Nick and sons Theo and Zack.
Tammi VanDrunen (She/Her)
Tammi is a Michigan native who has called Greeley home for over a decade. She graduated from Calvin University with a double major in Psychology and Spanish and followed that with an M.Div. from Western Theological Seminary in Holland MI. Tammi deeply believes that children are already on a spiritual journey and that the grown ups’ job is to make spaces for kids to meet God in ways that make sense to them. Children’s prayer practices and play languages have allowed Tammi to meet God in new ways. Her favorite prayer practice is blowing bubbles.
Tammi is married to Phil, who does all manner of web and video things and is also the home cook. Together, they love hanging out with their two elementary-aged kids. When the kids aren’t keeping her busy, she loves reading, doodling, and attempting to keep plants alive outside.
Katilyn Rittner She/Her
Ms. Kaitlyn Ritter currently serves as the Coordinator and Instructor of Class Piano at the University of Northern Colorado. Outside of her professional duties at UNC, Ms. Ritter maintains an active coaching and collaborative piano career. She regularly collaborates with Aims Community College, The Greeley Chorale, and many other musical organizations.
Katilyn began performing as a pianist for choirs when she was 8 years old, playing for her church youth choir. At 12, she was the assistant accompanist for her touring youth choir, volunteered as the pianist for the local elementary school music programs, and also played for young voice students. Throughout high school she continued to sing and accompany, working with conductors such as Henry Leck, Z. Randall Stroope, and Moses Hogan. She went on to earn her Bachelors of Music in Piano Performance at the University of Northern Colorado, where she then served as the pianist for the major choral ensembles for 12 years. During these years, Katilyn completed a Master of Music in Conducting while remaining involved as a collaborative pianist, coach and conductor. Some of the international highlights of her career include tours of Germany, Czech Republic, Spain and Portugal, with the Greeley Chorale, a tour of the British Isles with the Longmont Chorale, and two tours of Germany, France, and Spain with the UNC Opera Department and Opera Classica Europa. Some recent local highlights include the Colorado premiere of Howard Goodall’s Eternal Light: A Requiem, a benefit concert for the 15th Anniversary of the attacks of 9/11, and a collaboration with composer Robert Strobel, premiering “The Coronavirus Etudes” for piano solo.
For a change of pace, Katilyn enjoys occasionally taking the stage as a singer; performing as a soloist and chorus member with many stage productions, choral festivals, and local church choirs. Volunteer work and current research for musician injury prevention and recovery are jsut some of Katilyn’s passions outside of performing.
Director of Jubilation Choir
Shona Royle-Grimes She/Her
Shona holds a bachelor’s degree in music education and piano performance from the University of Northern Colorado. Shona has been teaching in Northeastern Colorado since 1997. She taught K-12 music, choir and band in Merino, Colorado for three years after her graduation from college. Shona has been teaching general music and keyboard classes at Union Colony Children’s Music Academy for 21 years and maintains a large private piano studio in Greeley, working with students of all ages. Shona also currently serves as the accompanist for the 8:00 am chapel service at First Congregational Church. She is a proud mom of two amazing sons, one a senior in college and one a senior in high school.
Director of Genesis Choir & Youth Group Leader
Colin Williamson He/Him
Colin is a Fort Collins native and has had to struggle with his name being spelled with two L’s his entire life. He studied music at Colorado State University and the Manhattan School of Music where he received his master’s degree in classical voice (opera). Colin enjoys board games and painting, listens to punk rock and metal, and will always have time to talk about dungeons and dragons.
Director of Rainbow Choir
Kathy Azari She/Her
Kathy Azari studied Oboe at UNC and received her BME in 1989. She was the Band Director at Brentwood Middle school for 31 years until her retirement in 2021. She has also taught early childhood music through Union Colony Children’s Music Academy since 1999 and continues to love singing, dancing, moving, and playing with these students every week… She was the Greeley/Evans District 6 Teacher of the year in 2013 and that same year was awarded the director of a Program of Excellence by the National Band Association. She was awarded the Outstanding Woman of Weld County distinction in 2007 for her contributions to music education in Weld County. Currently, she teaches woodwind lessons through Music & Arts in Ft. Collins. In addition to music, she works as a Recognition Specialist at Award Alliance in Greeley. She and her family have been members of First Congregational Church in Greeley since 1995.
Wednesday Night Live Childcare Leader
Bridget Hulac She/Her
Bridget recently graduated from Greeley West High School and is currently a student at the University of Northern Colorado. She is working to earn her BA in Psychology. She hopes to achieve a PhD in Child and Developmental Psychology. Bridget enjoys nature, music, theatre, traveling, and her very silly looking dog Apollo. If her brain was a soup, it would be cereal.
Tyler Rossman (he/him)
Tyler lives with his family in Loveland. In his free time, Tyler enjoys cycling and creating exceptional woodworking projects.
Zenith Maupin She/Her
Zenith Rhoda Maupin works as one of the teachers for the Nursery Team at First Congregational Church. She started working at the nursery in 2019. Zenith is happy and grateful to be able to work with the children. They are so welcoming and very beautiful people that help her feel at home.
Zenith is happily married to Shannon Maupin with six boys. They love to go camping, and fishing. Cooking is their favorite thing to do together. They love to explore different cultures and embrace diversity. If you haven’t met Zenith yet, drop by and say “hi” at the nursery.
Pat Welte She/Her
Hi! I’m Pat Welte, an assistant in the nursery. I have always been so appreciative of the assistance your church community provides to the larger community. I was honored when Rev. Ben asked if I would be interested in helping out here. I have worked with children most of my adult life. I spent over 30 years as an elementary school counselor. I have also worked at A Woman’s Place and the Weld Food Bank. I am currently working part time as the assistant in the Little Learners Program at the Immigrant and Refugee Center of Northern Colorado. We provide child care and learning experiences for children while their parents attend English and Citizenship classes. It is one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever had! I am one of those rare Colorado natives, born and raised in a very diverse neighborhood in Denver. In my free time I love gardening, walking, biking, reading and some crafts. Thank you for welcoming me to your amazing community!
Brittany Drake She/Her
Brittany is an aspiring educator currently enrolled in UNC’s elementary education program. Balancing her academic journey, Brittany dedicates her nights to the Little Learners child care program at the Immigrant and Refugee Center. Off-duty, she embraces the joyful chaos of her toddler. Brittany is excited for the chance to contribute to the church nursery.
Facility Assistant & Youth Group Leader
Joshua Huntley He/Him
Joshua works closely with Tyler Rossman to attend to the upkeep and care of our building and grounds. He also serves as one of the leaders of our youth group. Joshua grew up in the church and is a graduate of Greeley West High School.