Minister: Rev. Doug McCusker
Rev. Doug comes to us from the UU Congregation of Rockville, MD, where he served as part-time Assistant Minister. Before that, he completed his two-year ministerial internship at River Road UU Congregation in Bethesda, MD. He also has a wealth of experience as a longtime member and lay leader of Accotink UU Church in Burke, VA. His vision of ministry is one of helping others seek and express meaning, purpose, and connection to something beyond themselves.
Rev. Doug is originally from Richmond, VA, the son of a mother who immigrated to this country from Colombia and a German-Irish father from Philadelphia. While he was young, his grandmother lived in the home, teaching Rev. Doug and his siblings to speak Spanish. Rev. Doug is proud of his Latino heritage, and his multicultural upbringing informs many aspects of his ministry.
Rev. Doug graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1980 with a B.A. in Government. In 1982, he earned a postgraduate certificate in Cartography from the University of Mary Washington and began a career as a cartographer with the Dept. of Defense. Rev. Doug earned his M.S. in Systems Engineering from George Washington University in 2005.
Rev. Doug, along with his wife Marie and daughter Bree, began attending Accotink UU Church in 1999. He was an active volunteer and lay leader, and it was because of the satisfying and meaningful lay ministry work he did there that he began to feel the first stirrings of a call to ministry. As Rev. Doug neared retirement with the federal government, he answered that call, earning his M. Div. degree from Meadville Lombard Theological School in 2014. He was ordained in March 2015. Visit his website at www.dougmccusker.com for writings and further information.
Director of Religious Education: Chris Johns
Director of Lifespan Religious Education, Chris Johns, is a longtime member of the UU Fellowship of Fredericksburg. She and her family first attended the Easter Service in the spring of 2000 on Caroline Street, felt immediately at home and signed the book two months later. Her interest in music and the theatre arts led her to serve this beloved community as a member – and chair – of the Music Committee, as the director (and sometimes writer) of the yearly Holiday Pageant, as well as the director of the UUth Choir which she founded in 2007. All of this, along with serving as a volunteer teacher in RE, helped Chris develop a passion for working with the children of this Fellowship. When the DRE position became available in 2011, it seemed a natural move for “the pageant lady.” Her creative talents, infectious enthusiasm, and warm-hearted leadership style are tremendous assets, and she is a strong advocate for our children and youth. A 1983 graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City, she found that her training as a singer, actor and director served her well in the role of part-time religious educator. However, the continued growth of Religious Education at the UUFF, and her transition from children programming to lifespan, inspired Chris to seek out increased professional development opportunities in order to expand her knowledge of the job, which lead her to the Credentialed Religious Educator program (Associate Level) which she completed in 2015. Committed to the continuing faith development of this congregation, Chris is currently working on the next level of credentialing, which she hopes to complete in April of 2020 in honor of her 20th anniversary as a UU.
Music Director/Adult Choir/Handbells/UUth Choir: Jason J. Michael
Jason received his BA in Music Composition from Susquehanna University in 1993. Subsequently, he received his BA in Theatre from Kutztown University in 1996, his MA in Theatre from Villanova University in 2005, and most recently his MFA in Theatre from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2014. During the 1992-1993 season, Jason served as Assistant Conductor for the Susquehanna Valley Chorale. From 2001 to 2004 he was Director of Choral Activities and Drama at LaSalle College High School in Wyndmoor, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia. A two year internship with the Berkshire Chorale Festival led to two faculty appointments with BCF in 2006 and 2007, one in Sheffield, MA and the other in Vancouver, Canada. For five years, from 2006 through 2010, Jason was the Children’s Theatre Artistic Director of Upper Darby Summer Stage. From 2011 to 2016 Jason was adjunct faculty at VCU, where he taught Directing and Speech.
As a conductor of musical theatre, Jason has music directed seven national children’s theatre tours for American Family Theatre, and has been a guest music director/vocal director at the prestigious Fulton Opera House in Lancaster, PA, Reading Civic Theatre, Ritz Theatre of NJ, and the Ephrata Performing Arts Center, conducting pits for Annie, Oklahoma!, Peter Pan, Kiss of the Spider Woman, and The Sound of Music to name a few. Locally, for the Riverside Center Dinner Theatre, Jason has music directed 9 to 5, Spamalot, West Side Story, Gypsy, Les Misérablés, Legally Blonde, Pinkalicious, The Full Monty, High School Musical, Phantom, Cabaret, Dreamgirls, and Whorehouse and assistant music directed both All Shook Up and Hello, Dolly! with Sally Struthers.
An active composer, arranger, and author, recent area premieres include “We’re Gonna Shovel the Snow,” The Colors of Christmas,” and “What Cool Child is This.” Other composition credits include incidental music for Cheaper by the Dozen at the Ritz Theatre Co. in Haddon Township, NJ, songs for Twelfth Night at Hunter College, and three revues, The Magic of Spring, America Sings, and Victorian Christmas in the Country, all in collaboration with Oliver Blatt for Blatt’s Dinner Theatre in Kutztown, PA. In 2014, he contributed songs to Warp Speed: A Sci-Fi Parody Musical, which had its run at the Midtown International Theatre Festival in New York City in August 2014. His spiritual, All Aboard: The Ballad of Harriet Tubman, is published by Theodore Presser Co. His children’s books, Daddy Doesn’t Purr (But I Love Him Anyway) and Mommy Made a Beastie (But I Love Her Anyway), and his books of poetry, A Haiku a Day and True Haiku for You, are all available on Amazon. Jason was recently appointed Artistic Director/Music Director of the Stafford Regional Choral Society. He is married to UUFF Office Administrator Nancy, and they have one son, John Adams.
Office Administrator: Nancy Michael
Nancy is a Doctoral Candidate and Teaching Fellow at The Catholic University of America in the English department, where she is a medievalist. She expects to defend her dissertation, “Motherhood and Power in Middle English Romance,” in May 2019. She holds a BA in Psychology from Boston University, an MA in Theatre from Villanova University, and a Graduate Certificate in Medieval Studies from Catholic University. She is currently teaching Intensive English at Catholic University, and she teaches a cultural foundations survey for New York University’s DC site. She has taught literature and composition University of Maryland Baltimore County, The United States Naval Academy, and Villanova University, and has presented papers on medieval literature at a number of academic conferences. In 2016, Nancy was the recipient of a Fellowship to attend the National Endowment for the Humanities’s Summer Institute “Teaching Beowulf in the Context of Old Norse-Icelandic Literature” at the Medieval Institute in Kalamazoo, MI. Currently she is working as a contributing author to a book, Practical Approaches to Teaching Beowulf, forthcoming from Medieval Institute Publications.
If and when she has time, Nancy works as a freelance stage manager, costume designer, and actor, although her theatrical pursuits have been put on hold so that she can focus on her other full-time career as mother to her son John Adams. She is active in the UUFF Adult Choir and Hand Chimes ensembles.
Accompanist: Pati Dunn
Pati is a musician. She has been singing since she was 3, started on flute and choir in 3rd grade, piano in middle school and then guitar. Graduated from the Crane School of Music with a Bachelors of Music Education, Pati has since taught music from general to specific to ages 5+, both in public school and private lesson settings. The best feeling is when students return, showing you made a difference to them. Directing over 300 middle schoolers singing “We Are the World” was a highlight of her most recent public teaching experience. She has also performed with the Chamber Chorale of Fredericksburg, Camerata Chorale, St. Lawrence Chrorus (Sweet Adelines) and the Crane Chorus.
When not at the piano, Pati lives in Spotsylvania with her husband, homeschooled son, and cat (ask her name!). She is also the leader of the Herbal Arts Collective associated with Downtown Greens, serves on the board of the Fredericksburg CSA, and choreographs musicals for Spotsylvania Middle School.
Minister Emeritus: Rev. Walter Braman
Rev. Braman has many years of experience in both settled and interim positions, and has ministered to a wide variety of congregations. In 1998, Walter served as our interim minister for two years, helping us to successfully navigate a time of transition as we began the process of calling our first settled minister. He became so enamored with the Fredericksburg area that he continued to reside here. In 2010, Walter returned to the UUFF as our part-time minister. He officially retired in 2015 and was bestowed Emeritus status at the Annual Meeting in May, 2015.