Get to know our very talented and wonderful church staff!
Our pastor Diana Bell-Kerr is helping us grow in faith, love, and action even as we continue Zoom worship during the pandemic.
Rev. Bell-Kerr was raised in the Texas Panhandle where her family attended a progressive (and therefore, she says, sometimes underground!) Presbyterian Church. She received a B.A. in World Religions from Trinity University in San Antonio, after which she spent a few years in the Florida panhandle where she was involved in faith-based community organizing. Later, she earned a Masters of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in New York City, an ecumenical seminary with a long history of social justice. From 2011-2017, she served as the associate Pastor for Families, Youth, and Children at First Presbyterian Church in San Anselmo, California, and then became the Interim Pastor at Mission Bay Community Church in San Francisco, where she “shepherded this culturally and racially diverse church through the process of discovering their mission and call.” She most recently served as the pastor at St. John’s Methodist Church in Rohnert Park. Rev. Bell-Kerr was drawn to the UCC because she sees it as “a place where faith is more important than religion,” and she began and completed the process of becoming a member in good standing in our local conference three years ago.
William O'Neill, Music Director
William O’Neill is a Bay Area Performer, choral conductor and theater director. Originally from Rhode Island, William is the son of a church music director. He grew up singing in his dad’s church choir, and singing grew to be his favorite activity.
After graduating high school, William attended Rhode Island College for two years until his dad passed away. He dropped out of college, but decided to continue directing church music in his father’s footsteps. While at a church music conference in Washington DC, he met his wife Maureen and decided it was time for a change of pace. At the age of 22 he left RI and took a bus to California with just two suitcases and a couple of hundred dollars in his pocket. It was very difficult at first, and he slept on his brother-in-law’s couch for the first three months. He first lived in Orange County, where he directed church music and worked at any other jobs he could get. He also started a youth theater program in San Clemente, which has continued for 15 years. He married Maureen and he returned to school in 2005 to attend the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Singing opera became his main focus. He started singing with prestigious opera companies from Opera Colorado to Boston Lyric Opera, and sang as a soloist for many Bay Area concerts. Church music and directing youth theater was still a major part of his life, and how he earned a living while in school. After graduating, William took on a position as a full-time church music director on the Peninsula as well as starting a youth theater program in Redwood City. William continued to pursue opera as a side job, until, in 2014, he got the full-time chorus position at the San Francisco Opera. He is a tenured member of the company. After he and Maureen and their daughter, Charlotte, moved to Sebastopol in 2016, he became the Director of Music for the First Congregational Church of Santa Rosa. William hopes to be at this church for many years to come!
Chris Alexander, Service Musician (Piano/Organ)
Chris's strong musical background enhances our worship services each Sunday. He performs with local and regional theatre groups, leads several choirs, and teaches piano. He and his wife Dana have one daugher, Ella (who also sings in the choir occasionally.)
Chris Alexander has been pianist and music director for a wide variety of choral and musical theater groups in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since moving to Santa Rosa in late 1999, Mr. Alexander has been pianist or music director for Santa Rosa Junior College Theater Arts, Spreckels Theater Company in Rohnert Park, Raven Players in Healdsburg, 6th Street Playhouse in Santa Rosa, Novato Theater Company, Cinnabar Opera Theater in Petaluma, Hoochi-Doo Productions in Sonoma, and choirs at Sonoma State University. While living in the Peninsula and South Bay, Mr. Alexander was piano accompanist for the San Jose State Chorale (including a tour to Scandinavia and Russia in 2000), TheatreWorks of Palo Alto (including World and West Coast musical premieres), the Gilbert and Sullivan Society of San Jose, and the Redwood Symphony (in Redwood City), among other groups, as well as being an accompanist for the Stanford Savoyards for 11 years. Mr. Alexander received his BA in Music from Stanford University, and works during the day in data analysis and management. Mr. Alexander would like to thank his wife Dana (Choral Director at Montgomery High School) and daughter Ella for being wonderful!
Jeff is indispensable in our church and not just working our sound. He also sings in the choir and on any given day he can also be found up on a ladder installing liturgical art, or helping with our building and grounds.