Rev Andy Sidden -
email@example.com - A native of Winston-Salem, N.C., the Rev. Andy Sidden was called in March 2003 to serve as pastor of Garden of Grace United Church of Christ (formerly MCC Columbia). Ironically, his pastorate in South Carolina's Midlands began on his birthday!
Pastor Andy worked as a reporter and copy editor for newspapers in the Carolinas and Florida before entering the professional ministry. He worked more than eight years in Rock Hill, SC, where his son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren live.
As a child, he joined Mock's United Methodist Church in Advance, NC. He attended Methodist Churches in the Carolinas and, shortly before returning to South Carolina, he served as an administrative assistant at Harvester United Methodist Church in Land O' Lakes, FL.
Pastor Andy entered the professional ministry in 1991 after serving in lay ministries at Metropolitan Community Churches in Charlotte and Raleigh, NC, and in Tampa, FL. He served as assistant to the pastor and later as associate pastor of MCC Tampa.
From 1994 to 2002, he served as pastor of Spirit of Life MCC in New Port Richey, FL, which grew during his leadership by more than 500 percent to become the 25th largest MCC in the world. During his pastorate, Spirit of Life completed a $350,000 building program and started a satellite mission in Spring Hill, FL. In 2002, he was MCC's first-ever nominee for regional elder.
He and his life partner of more than 30 years, Dr. Kevin Dove, share their home with two cats, three beagles, tropical fish, and a greenhouse filled with plants. Avid gardeners, they love to watch living things grow!
Under his leadership, Garden of Grace has nearly tripled in size and has built a $500,000 worship center.
Andy Farmer - (bio not submitted)
Board of Trustees:
- Melissa Huettner
Jennifer Spears -Jennifer Spears has been a member of Garden of Grace since July 2005. In that time, she has served the congregation in many capacities.
She is currently a licensed minister for Garden of Grace, and formerly a lay delegate to the Georgia/South Carolina Association and the UCC Southeast Conference. In 2009, she completed two years on the Board of Trustees for Garden of Grace, where she was the clerk. During that time, she chaired the church’s 2009 project of restructuring its bylaws into a modified package, which included a first-ever constitution.
Jennifer previously served as a lay delegate from 2005 to 2007, during which time the congregation moved from the Metropolitan Community Church denomination to the United Church of Christ.
In addition, she is currently an in-care licensing student, working toward licensed ministry within the Association, and is supervised and guided by Pastor Andy Sidden. She entered in-care status with GOG in May 2009 and was formally accepted by the Association in January 2010.
In June 2010, she was elected to a 4-year term as one of six delegates to the UCC’s General Synod, representing the Southeast Conference. In addition, during 2010, she and Pastor Sidden became Garden of Grace’s representatives of the Conference’s Capital Campaign “Transforming Churches, Transforming Lives.”
She serves as the local coordinator for the Conference’s Theology Among the People (TAP) program, from which she is due to graduate in June 2011; has been a member of Garden of Grace’s choir; and aids the church sexton in the cleaning of the GOG facility.
Jennifer has previously attended three national events of the United Church of Christ: two General Synods (in 2007 and 2009) and the National Youth Event in 2008. She presented workshops on transgender issues at NYE ’08 and General Synod 2009 gatherings.
She earned an associate degree in liberal arts from North Greenville College in 1978 and embarked on her professional journalism career. Jennifer has garnered numerous awards over the course of that career, having been recognized on the local, collegiate, state, regional and national levels for her writing and design work. She serves as a senior editor of 32 years’ standing with her local newspaper.
She is a published author, having related part of her journey as a transgender female in a book that was published in the United States and abroad. She also owns and co-administers an Internet forum for people who suffer from depression.
In addition, she is an honorably discharged veteran of the United States Air Force, having served during the Cold War era.
Happily married since 1987, Jennifer makes her home in Orangeburg with her wife Lois and their cat, Silly Sally Lightfoot. She has two children and six grandchildren.
Care Circle and Small Group Leaders:
- Karla Goff, Garden Team Leader
- Jessica Grello, Children's Ministry Leader
- Loretta Cobb, Children's Nursery
- Danny Douglas, Church Sexton
- Lenore Stackhouse, Adult Night Out
- Leta Horine, Prayer Team Leader
- Don Renner, Bulletin & Building Maintenance
- Linda Renner, Minister in Discernment
- Lenore Stackhouse, Deacon
- Kevin Dove, Sarah Steeves, and Karla Goff, musicians
- Richard Kiraly, web site minister - The design and ongoing maintenance of the Garden of Grace UCC website is a donation of labor, time and talent by Richard Kiraly, member of Garden of Grace. Richard is a Photographer and volunteers in the community with SCGLPM and Town Theatre (Stage Manager, Crew and Publicity), Workshop Theatre (Crew) and other community theatres, and is on the board for T.O.S.S. (Timmons Organization For Sarcoidosis Support).