Larry’s ministry is one of creative preaching, humorous surprises, a variety of musical gifts, plus pastoral care, spiritual direction, and a commitment to social justice. A graduate of Yale Divinity School, Larry has seen UCG through many transitions from a church of seventy five members to its current six hundred members. He is the author of three books: Living at the Edge of Faith; The Hospital Handbook with James T. Wagner; and The Retreat Handbook with Sandy Reimer.
Larry takes the important questions of faith and justice and explores them through the lens of new biblical discoveries, current films and books, humor, and personal experience. The informal motto of UCG, cross stitched and framed in the church foyer, “It’s Not Like This Every Sunday,” challenges Larry to find fresh approaches to life’s questions. He plays trumpet with “The Hogtown Strutters” and often accompanies hymns on his guitar.
Larry has visited Death Row and worked to abolish the death penalty for many years. He was a member of the founding board of Planned Parenthood in Gainesville. He was the Moderator of the Florida Conference of the United Church of Christ from 2002 to 2004. His work for racial justice and human rights for people of all sexual orientations won him the 1992 ACLU Annual Civil Liberties award for championing fundamental human rights.
Larry’s joy at UCG is working with a church that embraces a search for an inclusive faith in the Judeo Christian tradition, recognizing always that God is still speaking.
Sandy Reimer grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C. Her childhood spiritual home was St. Luke Lutheran Church. Sandy graduated from Gettysburg College and spent her early professional years teaching English at West Haven High School in Connecticut. She is married to Larry Reimer; they have two grown sons and daughters-in-law, and five grandchildren.
Sandy began her work at UCG as its youth minister. Her ministry now focuses on spiritual nurture and practice, worship leadership and preaching, programs for adults and children, retreat leadership, planning and organizational process, and staff oversight. Sandy creates our annual Advent and Lenten Reflection booklets, coordinates the Labyrinth and the Lenten Taize services, and leads Contemplative Prayer. Her ministerial education has included Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California, The Institute for Creation Spirituality in Oakland, and the Alban Institute. She is the co-author, with Larry Reimer, of The Retreat Handbook.
What Sandy loves about the United Church of Gainesville is the acceptance of a diversity of people and ages, the openness to creativity and new ideas, and the grounding this church has in spirituality and in outreach to others. She also loves the opportunities she has at UCG to be involved in three of her lifelong passions: dancing, poetry and music.
Andy has served UCG since the fall of 2003. Originally from Western Springs, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), Andy was encouraged into ministry by the church he grew up in, the First Congregational Church of Western Springs, also a United Church of Christ. Andy attended the Chicago Theological Seminary on Chicago’s southside, and upon graduation, pursued ordination in the United Church of Christ. In the summer of 2003, Andy was called to serve as the Associate Minister of the United Church of Gainesville.
Here at UCG, Andy oversees our youth programs, focusing primarily on MSG, YU and 20=/-, our middle, high and post-high school youth groups. He also oversees all of our Outreach Committees, Compassion in Action, Social Justice and IHN. In worship, Andy preaches on a regular basis, but can also be found behind a guitar or a mandolin, or even a computer screen, bringing a variety of multimedia arts to our worshiping experience. He’s also a founding member of our bluegrass ensemble, the Hogtown Pickers.
During the summer months, Andy heads off to northern Wisconsin, where he is an owner and the co-director of Camp Highlands for Boys; one of the oldest private boys camps in the country. Andy is married to Tracy Atwater Bachmann, and together they have three children.
Vince is a lifelong member of the United Church of Christ and grew up as a preacher’s kid at Zion UCC in Indianapolis. He is grateful for the support of many congregations and pastors in New York, Indiana, and Illinois for their guidance in discerning his call to ministry. Before becoming a minister, Vince studied Dramatic Writing at New York University and Voice at Indiana University. He received his MDiv from the Divinity School at the University of Chicago. He previously worked as the the Minister of Small Groups at Holy Covenant United Methodist church in Chicago.
Vince’s work at UCG continues to build on his passion for community as he focuses on strengthening interpersonal connections through Adult Programs and the Board of Membership. He joins the ministerial team in providing pastoral care. In addition, he is excited to bring his experience with drama and music to UCG’s ever-changing, ever-lively worship.
Vince is thrilled to have found such a loving and supportive congregation in UCG and such excellent mentors in Sandy, Larry and Andy and glad to be able to share this community and his life with his wife, Rachelle.
Lisa is responsible for the daily management of office operations and staff. She oversees the church database, calendar and computer network, prepares business reports, and manages building rentals and the office operations budget. Lisa sees her work as a form of ministry and outreach; she says she loves working with such wonderful people. Lisa is married to Steve Goldstein; they are the proud parents of a son who is studying Jazz Studies and Piano with a French minor at Florida State University.
Sara works at the front desk of the church office. She answers phone calls, greets and assists people as they come in, and prepares the church for various events and programs, including Sunday worship services.
Debi keeps track of all pledges, contributions and other income, pays the day-to-day bills, processes payroll and the related tax forms, and reviews the church’s bank accounts. She also prepares monthly financial statements for the Board of Business.
Shay directs the program and staff for our nursery care with babies and toddlers on Sunday mornings as well as the Activity Time for our preschoolers, following their church school classes. Shay’s loving care of these small children has been a gift to us for the past eight years. Her own son is now in middle school.
Kathy coordinates the visual and performing arts within our church community. This includes facilitating piano and/or instrumental accompaniment for all of our worship services. The coordination extends to the adult choir, children's choir, youth choir, soloists or vocal ensembles, and liturgical dance. Additional responsibilities include selection of coordinators for the visual art displays in the UCG library and for brass ensembles. Kathy says that one of the most rewarding aspects of her work at UCG is her direct contact with our amazingly talented church members and friends. She finds it energizing to be able to interact with them on a weekly basis in finding creative outlets for their talents and gifts. Kathy is married to Michael Pellett; they share two daughters and two sons, all in high school or college.