Our Leadership

Serving the people with joy and revolutionary love

Our Ministers

Rev. Jacqueline J. Lewis, Ph.D. (she/her)

Senior Minister for Public Theology and Transformation; Chief of Staff

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Rev. Jacqueline J. Lewis, Ph.D. (she/her)

Senior Minister for Public Theology and Transformation; Chief of Staff

The Rev. Jacqui Lewis, PhD uses her gifts as author, activist, preacher, public theologian toward creating an antiracist, just, fully welcoming society in which everyone has enough. After graduating with an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1992, Jacqui fell in love with urban ministry, leading two churches in Trenton, New Jersey. Fascinated with how faith heals the soul—so we can heal the world—she returned to graduate school, for a Ph.D. in Psychology and Religion from Drew University (2004). Jacqui came to study Middle Church, received a call, and joined the staff in January 2004. Middle is the church of her dreams and prayers, a multiethnic rainbow coalition of love, justice, and worship that rocks her soul.

In her activism, preaching, speaking, writing, and teaching, Dr. Lewis advocates for racial equality, gun control, economic justice, equal rights for all sexual orientations/genders and marriage equality. Because of her dynamic leadership, Middle Church was featured in a national broadcast on CBS. A Bold New Love: Christmas Eve with Middle Collegiate Church aired on December 24, 2018 to more than 1,000,000 viewers. Dr. Lewis has been on the The Today Show, All In with Chris Hayes, AM Joy, The Melissa Harris Perry Show, NY1, ABC, NBC, PBS, CBS and WPIX, where she recently covered the Brooklyn memorial for George Floyd. Dr. Lewis created two national television programs: Just Faith, an on-demand television program on MSNBC.com, and Chapter and Verse at PBS.

Jacqui is a womanist whose preaching, teaching, speaking, writing, and activism are aimed at racial equality, gun control, economic justice, and equal rights for all sexual orientations and genders. Jacqui has preached at the Festival of Homiletics, Wild Goose, The Children’s Defense Fund’s Haley Farm, and was a featured speaker on the Together national tour with best-selling author, Glennon Doyle.

Jacqui’s books include Ten Essential Strategies for Becoming a Multiracial Congregation, The Power of Stories, a Guide for Leaders in Multi-racial, Multi-cultural Congregations, the children’s book, You Are So Wonderful! a rhyming celebration of diversity, and a contributing chapter to Becoming Like Creoles: Living and Leading at the Intersections of Injustice, Culture and Religion. Her newest book Fierce Love: A Bold Path to a Ferocious Courage and Rule-Breaking Kindness That Can Heal the World is available wherever books are sold. And her podcast Love. Period. is available on all streaming platforms.

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Rev. Natalie Renee Perkins (she/her)

Minister for Worship and Online Community

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Rev. Natalie Renee Perkins (she/her)

Minister for Worship and Online Community

Rev. Natalie Renee Perkins serves as Minister for Worship and Online Community at Middle Collegiate Church, helping to build and hold its online church and community. She received her Masters of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in 2015 and was awarded the Karen Ziegler Feminist Preaching Prize. She became an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ denomination in 2020.

Natalie also serves as a chaplain/spiritual life advisor for NYU Global Spiritual Life and was recently awarded Chaplain of the Year. As a theologian, she is the co-founder of the Tanho Center where she lectures and works with extracanonical texts. She also works with the Westar Institute to bridge the gap between religious scholarship and the general public.

Additionally, Natalie is a professional writer, musical theatre performer, and composer. Her album, Songs of Your Truth is available on any major music streaming and/or purchasing platform.

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Rev. Benjamin Perry (he/they)

Minister for Church Growth and Media Strategy

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Rev. Benjamin Perry (he/they)

Minister for Church Growth and Media Strategy

Rev. Benjamin Perry is Minister of Outreach and Media Strategy at Middle Church. He has also worked as an organizer with the New York chapter of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, as Deputy Director of Communications and Marketing at Union Theological Seminary, and as an editor at Time Inc.

An award-winning writer, his work focuses on the intersection of religion and politics. His writing can be found in outlets like The Washington Post, Slate, The Huffington Post, Sojourners, Bustle and Motherboard and he has appeared on MSNBC, Al Jazeera, and NY1. His first book Cry, Baby: Why Our Tears Matter will be published by Broadleaf Books in May, 2023. He holds a degree in psychology from SUNY Geneseo and a Masters of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary.

He is married to Erin Mayer, and they live with his brother and best friend. He is the editor of the Queer Faith photojournalism series, and helped curate an art exhibit by the same name. He is a passionate advocate for building Church that lives into God’s blessed queerness. His two proudest achievements are skydiving with his grandmother and winning first prize in his seminary drag show.

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Rev. Mira Sawlani-Joyner (she/her)

Minister of Spiritual Development and Care

Rev. Mira Sawlani-Joyner (she/her)

Minister of Spiritual Development and Care

Mira Sawlani-Joyner is the Minister of Spiritual Development and Care. She completed her Master of Divinity at Wesley Theological Seminary, where she specialized in Public Theology. Her public theology work has been informed by her multi-racial identity and her lived experience as an immigrant in Hong Kong, Australia and the United States. She has served locally at Forefront Church as their Family Minister and most recently as the Associate Pastor of Spiritual Formation at Peace Fellowship Church, working closely with congregants, community organizers and activists to end gun violence in Washington, DC through their social justice arm, Peace Walks DC. Outside of her work at Middle, Mira also leads a cohort of fellows focused on the examination of Trauma-informed Care at the Faith and Justice Network. Though she wears many hats, her favorite is parent to her three daughters and puppy Milo.

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Rachael Ward (they/them)

Ministry Specialist for Communications & Design

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Rachael Ward (they/them)

Ministry Specialist for Communications & Design

Rachael Ward is the Ministry Specialist for Communications & Design at Middle Church. They are the co-founder of Bible Queery, Atlanta LGBTQ+ History Project, and host of How To Be Human Podcast.

Rachael is a public theologian and LGBTQ+ activist pursuing their Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Practical Theology at Columbia Theological Seminary. Their work focuses on liminal space and death care and has been presented at the American Academy of Religion. They currently serve as a steering committee chair for the Death, Dying & Beyond Unit for AAR.

Rachael believes deeply in the work of narrative as a divine form of pastoral care. They write often at queerinfaith.com and hold to the truth that God made each of us unique and beloved – period.

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Monique J. Fortuné

Ministry Specialist for Congregational Life

Monique J. Fortuné

Ministry Specialist for Congregational Life

Monique has been a member of Middle Church since January 2020.

Monique is an adjunct faculty member at Union Theological Seminary and Fordham University. She is also a certified American Clinical Pastoral Educators (ACPE) Chaplain.

Monique is a communication and leadership coach, published poet and writer, and community health advocate.
This year Monique collaborated with a host of women ministers to create a new devotional Sacred Sistering. Available on all purchasing platforms.

Rev. Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft (she/her)

Consulting Community Minister

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Rev. Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft (she/her)

Consulting Community Minister

Amanda Hambrick Ashcraft is the Consulting Community Minister at Middle Church. Prior to Middle, she served as Director of Outreach at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian in Midtown Manhattan, and as Outreach Coordinator for Metro Baptist Church/the Rauschenbusch Center in Hell’s Kitchen, NY. She is the founder of Raising Imagination, a platform that examines social issues through the lens of imagination and encourages activism with young and old alike.

Her activism has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, Yahoo, the Wall Street Journal, and Refinery29. She’s a regular writer and inaugural board member of The Resistance Prays, and serves on the Junior Board of The Lower East Side Girls Club.

Amanda graduated from the Baptist Theology Seminary of Richmond, Virginia with a M.Div. and from Samford University with a B.A. in Communications Studies and a Minor in Christianity, Women, and Leadership. Amanda’s pronouns are she/her/hers.

Amanda was ordained by Metro Baptist Church in 2016, is married to Graham and has three children Zane, Levi, and Skyler.

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Victor Andre Greene (he/him)

Minister In Training

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Victor Andre Greene (he/him)

Minister In Training

Victor Andre Greene (He/Him) is a poet, licensed minister, and community builder based in Paris, France. He received a Masters of Divinity degree from Duke Divinity School in 2017. He was the recipient of the 2017 Frederick Buechner writing award and was nominated as the 2016-2017 Duke Orientation Preacher. He is passionate about the intersections of theology, social justice, and the arts.

Rev. Catherine Torpey (she/her)

Consulting Minister

Rev. Catherine Torpey (she/her)

Consulting Minister

Rev. Catherine Torpey is a consulting Minister at Middle and the Executive Director of The International Focusing Institute. Focusing is a mind-body connection practice which helps us bring our whole selves to our personal, professional and spiritual lives.

Catherine is a graduate of Union Theological Seminary and an ordained minister who led a small church on Long Island for a decade. She became a member of Middle in 2015 and has become known for her Bible studies. She brings a lifelong love for the scriptures, years of academic and personal study, and a way of reading them that is open and non-dogmatic. She also loves to sing and is a passionate devotee of West African drumming – plus her Spanish is not too bad.

Rev. Chad Tanaka Pack (he/him)

Clergy in Residence (West Coast Gahterings)

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Rev. Chad Tanaka Pack (he/him)

Clergy in Residence (West Coast Gahterings)

Chad Tanaka Pack is a Consulting Minister at Middle Church. His teaching and preaching reflect his deep commitments to racial justice, LGBTQ equality, and the arts. Chad was ordained as the first openly gay and married minister in the Reformed Church in America in 2017. In 2019, he transferred his ministerial standing to the United Church of Christ. He earned an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School and a certificate from the Yale Institute of Sacred Music in 2010. Chad is an aspiring author and novice fiber artist.

Chad is employed on the Homeless Veterans Team at Inner City Law Center, a nonprofit poverty-law firm in Los Angeles. He serves on the boards of directors of Room for All, which advocates for the welcome and full affirmation of LGBTQ people in the Reformed Church in America; and of the Middle Project. He also serves on the Yale Divinity School Alumni Board.

He is married to the Rev. Michael Foley. They live in Pasadena, California. Chad’s pronouns are he/him/his.

Our Team

Elise Tiralli (they/them)

Director of Congregational Life

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Elise Tiralli (they/them)

Director of Congregational Life

Elise serves as the Director of Congregational Life at Middle Church. Elise organizes programming for all ages, where they specialize in cultivating community and play for families, queer folx, and elders. Elise leads Middle’s Pride initiatives, and they are deeply committed to raising social consciousness and building safer spaces that center, celebrate, and uplift queer/LGBTQIA2S+ and BIPOC voices. They are also a joyful member of Middle’s Care Team, engaging clinical care from a liberation-based healing praxis and the deep belief that God’s radical love has room for all of us. Elise holds an MSW from the Silberman School of Social Work and a dual BA in Psychology and Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies from the University at Albany, SUNY.

Elise lives in Brooklyn with their partner and foster cats. They love red pandas, finding people who also ugly-laugh at the John Went dinosaur comic strip, and will never turn down an iced oat latte. They feel most at home down the shore, toes in the sand, or yelling at a terrible strike zone at a Phillies baseball game. In their “spare time,” Elise serves as the Vice President of Events on the National Board of Trustees for their sorority and is slowly chipping away at a book of fiction.

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John Del Cueto (he/him)

Director of Music and Choirs

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John Del Cueto (he/him)

Director of Music and Choirs

My name is John Del Cueto and I am the Director of Music and Choirs, and also the Director of the Jerriese Johnson Gospel Choir (JJGC)  as well as the Village Chorus for Children and Youth. I have the priviledge of working together with our Sr. Minister, Jacqui Lewis, and worship staff to help create the worship experience for Sunday morning. Sunday morning worship is an amazing moment of collaboration between staff and congregants as we both curate and create new content to meet the congregation in this present moment. I have been Director of the JJGC for the past 14 years and so we help to amplify worship and provide music that uplifts and transforms.  The Village Chorus for Children and Youth has taken on a couple of different forms, but currently serves to elevate worship where these young people offer their voices to help us remember that no matter what age you are, you can make a difference in this community. Whether it’s planning worship, working with congregants, scoring music, creating vocal tracks, voice coaching, working one-on-one with my groups, recording prayers or meditations, taking choirs out on marches or singing at different venues, Middle provides an amazingly diverse atmosphere to grow one’s gifts and graces. 

I am originally from San Antonio, Texas and have been a native New Yorker for the past 31 years. I love the energy of the city as well as the diversity that holds the key to what brought me here in the first place. I am a bit of a foodie and enjoy a good home cooked meal. I do enjoy chocolate making as well, when the weather is cool.  I have a cat, his name is Kitty. Is that so wrong?

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Nathan Johnson (he/him)

Director of Administration and Data Support

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Nathan Johnson (he/him)

Director of Administration and Data Support

Nathaniel Johnson is the Director of Administration and Data Support at the Middle Collegiate Church, a multiracial, multicultural, and inclusive congregation in New York City.

As a Director of Data and Systems, Nathaniel constantly works on new ways to determine how Middle Collegiate’s database can create care experiences that are specific to each member and draws people in from the margins.
Prior to joining Middle Collegiate Church, Nathaniel’s career trajectory was fueled by the basic tenet of customer service. This core belief led to many conversations with the Senior Minister Rev. Jacqui Lewis on how to provide congregational care and connection whether you are in the East Village or France. Nathaniel was responsible for the collaboration with the executive clergy team to roll out some of the following care products; birthday and anniversary automated communiques, issuing of grief booklets, phone prayer portal, virtual care cards, etc.

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Jeff Berman (he/him)

Director of Media & Worship Production

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Jeff Berman (he/him)

Director of Media & Worship Production

Jeff Berman is Director of Media Production & Worship at Middle Church, where he creates digital content to share Middle’s vision of love and justice in the world. You can find him behind the camera filming, mixing audio, or in the editing room, supporting Middle’s revolutionary art. Jeff also co-produces and livestreams virtual worship celebrations, helping to shape how Middle embraces our global family through worship.
 
Alongside his work in media, Jeff is a musician and composer, and makes work that amplifies the relationship between humans, society, and the natural world. His background in ethnomusicology underscores his desire to tell stories about our individual and collective experiences of community, culture, and spirit. Jeff practices Zen Buddhism and is lay-ordained in the White Plum Asanga.

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Ellen Matlach (she/her)

Director of Senior Ministry

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Ellen Matlach (she/her)

Director of Senior Ministry

Ellen Matlach provides key strategic and administrative support to Senior Minister Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis in the administration and operation of Middle Church, especially in the areas of public theology and worship. For inquiries about baptisms and weddings at Middle Church, contact Ellen for answers to your questions and to help you schedule your special celebration.

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Devon Mosley (he/him)

Director of Development

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Devon Mosley (he/him)

Director of Development

Devon Mosley serves as Director of Development to support the stewardship and fundraising efforts of Middle. A commitment to social justice combined with his decades long experience as a marketing consultant makes this a dream role. He holds a B.S. from Boston University and a certification in Entrepreneurship from The Wharton School.

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Gloria Moy (she/her)

Congregational Liaison

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Gloria Moy (she/her)

Congregational Liaison

Gloria May serves as Congregational Liaison for Middle Church. I have been coming to Middle for 22 years. When I was younger (high school) I dreamed of living in the mountains, Thank you John Denver. And my favorite dim sum place is Dim Sum GoGo.

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Alesha Borbo Kilayko (she/they)

Children’s Education Instructor

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Alesha Borbo Kilayko (she/they)

Children’s Education Instructor

Every Sunday, I teach Christian Bible stories to kiddos aged 5 to 10. I develop lesson plans that dismantle Western Eurocentric colonialist understandings of Christian faith and amplify the multiethnic, queer theologies of radical social justice work. And while I develop these lessons in ways that are developmentally accessible to the young ones, that sort of stuff might fly over their heads a bit—because another focal point of our lessons is to have FUN!  How wonderful it is to learn about God’s revolutionary love through storytelling, play, and imagination! It is always my intention to nurture Kids’ Enrichment as a space for the kiddos to explore their faiths and lives with curiosity, compassion, and joy.

My teaching inspiration is, no joke, Dewey Finn from the movie School of Rock as portrayed by Jack Black. When I was a socially awkward, extremely quiet kid, I thought it was so. cool. how real and caring Dewey was with his students. He saw them as kids, but that didn’t mean that he saw them as incapable of understanding life. He sees their skills, he sees their struggles, he sees them as they are and says to them, “Hey, you’re rad, and I’ll do everything I can to make sure you realize that about yourself.” 

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Elders (Church Governing Body)

Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis (she/her)
Ivan Anderson (he/him)
Vickie Burns (she/her)

Chair

Pete Grenfell (he/him)
Darren Johnston (he/him)
Gerald Lazore (he/him)
Hadaryah Morgan (she/her)
Claudia Slacik (she/her)
Shanta Thake-Kriegsmann (she/her)
Tom Smucker (he/him)

Intersections

Deacons (Our Care Team)

Edna Benitez (she/her)
Deborah Berg McCarthy (she/her)
Thelma Boyiri (she/her)
Pamela Edgar (she/her)
Beth Ellor (she/her)
Kelly Smith (she/her)
Dennis Barton (he/him)

Local Deacons (Our Care Team)

Linda Doria (she/her)
Johanna Goepel (she/her)
Vincent Parham (he/him)
Sandra Santana (she/her)
Kaede Z. Helck (she/her)