Our Minister and Staff
ANNOUNCING!!! FIRST CHURCH’S NEW MINISTER
REV. DR. ALEX RIEGEL
The Search Committee is delighted to welcome Rev Dr Alex Riegel as First Church’s Developmental Minister for the next 4-7 years! Here are some things we have learned about him.
Alex was born in Michigan and although unchurched, was very philosophical and questioning. He attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor with a major in philosophy and a minor in religion. A crisis of faith made him seek advice from his Hebrew professor who encouraged him to apply to Harvard Divinity School. That way, if he found his faith again, he could still pursue the ministry and if not, he could become a professor.
It was at Harvard that he encountered students who introduced him to Unitarian Universalism, which has been his chosen faith ever since. Graduating from Divinity School, he began his ministry in the greater Boston area and also earned a Masters of Theology and a Doctorate of Ministry.
However, Alex’s ministry is not rooted in his mind; he draws upon study of world religious traditions and his commitment to spiritual practice. His spiritual journey is one of heart and his ministry calls our best selves through the path of the heart.
Alex is passionate about preaching from the wisdom he finds in religions, poets, and philosophy. And dogs. He will be bringing his furry companion, Godot, to church with him, and maybe share his sermon, “Zen and the Art of Being a Dog”.
When not preaching, Alex’s forte is adult religious education where he sees opportunities to engage in spiritual wisdoms together on our spiritual paths. Social justice is another area that Alex is passionate about as it’s where spirituality hits the worldly road and how we walk our religious talk. His special interest is antiracism and he looks forward to leading us further in this work.
Alex finds pastoral care to be vital to a healthy ministry and congregation so he makes himself available to people for counsel, visiting shut-ins, and daily interactions that demonstrate our faith. He says to expect him to gently challenge us with a persistent call to loving-kindness as we engage in beloved community.
Alex is excited about engaging First UU in ministry and is looking forward to meeting us all!
LIFESPAN FAITH DEVELOPMENT, FAITH FORMATION AND COMMUNITY BUILDING
Meredith Plummer (she/they) is a queer, neurodivergent, lifelong UU. Throughout her childhood she attended Heritage Universalist Unitarian Church in Anderson Township. She graduated with a B.S. in education from Miami University in December 2008 and came to First Unitarian Church in August 2009. She lives with her husband and two daughters in a small town just north of the city. Her passions include amusement parks, disability rights, the human condition, and all things geeky. She enjoys weaving her passions into her work at First Unitarian Church, crafting programs for the young and old that are not only relevant, but engaging.
Contact Meredith at (513) 281-1564 or via email.
DIRECTOR OF MUSIC
Jera has been the music director and keyboardist for First Unitarian Church since 2010. Prior to serving this church, she was the music director at Hartzell United Methodist Church for 32 years, where she directed the handbell and singing choirs and provided keyboard music for all services. Jera earned a B.A. in piano performance and a master’s degree in secondary education from Xavier University. She is currently the band director for Reading Community City Schools, and is responsible for resurrecting the band program after several years of elimination.
Jera provides keyboard music for services, directs the First Unitarian Singers and Ringers, plays with the House Band, and arranges music when necessary. She is grateful for the myriad of talent in the church and feels privileged to have the support of the congregation.
Contact Jera at (513) 281-1564 or via email.
Chris Smith (she/her) wears the label of “Finance Manager” for First Unitarian Church, but currently fills the role of rental coordinator and, along with Kenny Hopgood (Maintenance & Janitorial staff member), oversees many of the day-to-day operations within the church. Chris attended Berea College, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree. She worked for state government in KY for over 15 years and has done a bit of everything in the administrative and retail worlds. She comes to First Unitarian Church, and Cincinnati, from Frankfort, the state capitol of Kentucky. “I never thought I would like living in a big city, but Cincinnati is more like a cluster of wonderful little villages.” She lives in the Clifton area with her SO and enjoys spending time with her friends and her daughter, who still lives in Kentucky. She is severely addicted to crafting, over-priced coffee drinks and creative writing and photography. On her days off, if she isn’t tucked away in her craft corner, you might find her at a Renaissance Faire or local village shop exploring.
Contact Chris at (513) 281-1564 or via email.
Kenny is more than a Custodian for these days where dedication and perseverance is First Church’s positive need. Coming out a career of property management in the landscape business, he coordinates the cleanliness, the physical maintenance, the room set-ups, and superintends the building repairs of outside vendors. Formerly a star football wide receiver and defensive back at Withrow High School, he sees himself as quarterbacking First Church’s building game plan. He grew up just up the street in North Avondale, attended Ohio University, worked as a heating and cooling worker, and for GE for 10 years, before focusing on property management. “I am a Pisces. I love the water. I used to live in a House boat and have moved to California several times.” He has returned to Avondale to the home where he grew up where he lives now. Mainly Kenny wants the congregation around him to see him as a professional doing his job with great dedication.
Contact Kenny at (513) 281-1564 or via email.
First Church’s LFD Staff
Infant/Toddler Classroom leader
I have been with First Church as the Infant/Toddler Classroom leader for 5 Years. I am a mom. I love small children and helping them foster independence. I also love walking and being with my family.
Contact Ms. Amber via Email.
Preschool/Kindergarten Classroom Leader
I have been at First Church as the Preschool/Kindergarten Classroom Leader for 14 years. I love to read, hike or anything Disney or beach oriented. Lately, I have been inadvertently rescuing feral cats and have kittens ready for adoption, if you are looking.
Contact Ms. Kymm via Email.
Junio High and Senior High Youth Group Leader
Mr. Jeff comes to First Unitarian Church from Ebenezer 2nd Baptist Church, where he served as their Youth Drama Director for 10 years. Mr. Jeff is a performer in the greater Cincinnati area and has worked for a number of youth organizations including Mt. Moriah Youth in Lincoln Heights and the Waterline summer youth program in Fairfield. We are excited to welcome him!
Contact Mr. Jeff via Email.