About Us

Meet Our Staff

Rev. Dr. Jay Groat, Senior Minister

 

Jay Groat has served at Westerville Community United Church of Christ since 2013.  Prior to moving to Westerville, Jay served as Senior Pastor at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Akron, Ohio from 2000-2013, was Senior Pastor at St. Paul’s Community Church in Homewood, Illinois and was as an Associate Pastor in Riverside Presbyterian Church in Riverside, Illinois.

September 2015 marks Dr. Groat’s second year as our Senior Pastor. When asked about his impressions regarding his first 2 years with us, Dr. Groat shared the following…….

  • “These first two years have been a whirlwind! I knew coming in that our congregation is a very loving and active faith community but I had no idea the level of energy this place holds. The people of the church have been very welcoming to my family and me. I feel so very blessed to be here.”
  • “I am particular impressed with so many things about WCUCC – one of those things is our incredible Youth Ministry program led by Susan Langner, Pastor Sigrid and legions of dedicated parents and volunteers. The young people of this church are so intelligent, so compassionate, and so confident in their walk with Christ. They smile at you, look you in the eye, and welcome you into the spirit of Christ they are.”
  • “I am also inspired by the many opportunities for Mission outreach our church offers. Every month there are new opportunities to serve those in need in the name of Christ. One of my best days this summer was helping out at Lower Lights Ministry in Columbus as one of our volunteers. It felt great to swing a hammer for Jesus!”
  • “On a personal level I feel as if I am making new friends at our church. It takes awhile for ministers and lay people to get to know each other, to learn what make people tick, to learn what makes us laugh and what makes us cry. I want to be a person’s pastor and I also, whenever possible, want to be their friend. WCUCC gives me the opportunity to do that and I am deeply grateful to God for this.”
  •  “I could say so much more but for now let me say I love to worship at WCUCC. All the children and young people who attend, and all the great lay leadership and excellent music led by Joe, Stu and Larry and the fabulous Chancel Choir add up to consistently inspiring, captivating, and transforming worship.”
  • “Our future is bright. Our best days, and we’ve already had a bunch of them over the past 33 years, are ahead of us!”

Jay and his wife Vicki have been married since 1982. They have one son, Jackson, a recent graduation of The College of Wooster. 

A native of Marysville, Jay is a 1980 graduate of Mount Union College. He received both his Master of Divinity and his Doctor of Ministry in Preaching from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago.

Send an email to Pastor Jay.

Rev. Dr. Sigrid Rother, Associate Pastor


Rev. Dr. Sigrid Rother has served at Westerville Community UCC since 2002. Her focus in ministry is teaching and preaching.

Pastor Sigrid oversees the wide variety of Christian education opportunities available at WCUCC, starting with the youngest ones in the nursery, Sunday School, Children’s worship and Tween’s worship, youth groups, Vacation Bible Adventure, various adult classes. She writes the curriculum for the weekly Children’s worship (ages 3-2nd grade) and the Tween worship (grades 3-8). She established the Cancer Support Group at the church. In 2012 Sigrid became a Stephen minister leader and she leads the Stephen Ministry program at WCUCC.

Her teaching and preaching style varies, but her goal is always the same: to connect daily life with Bible-based faith, so that all can experience God’s goodness and grace. Sigrid tries to empower people to enjoy a life filled with purpose and meaning.

Prior to Westerville, Sigrid served as the Interim Associate Minister with First UCC in Muskegon, Michigan. A native of Germany, Sigrid was ordained in 1993 in the Evangelische Kirche im Rheinland, a partner church of the United Church of Christ. She immigrated to the States in 1996 after having served with the Methodist Church in Southern Africa (1994-1996). She was granted full ordained ministerial membership in the Central Southeast Ohio Association (United Church of Christ) in 2004.

Sigrid received her theological education in Germany and also in England. She received a Th. M. in 1997 from Western Theological Seminary in Holland, MI, and a Doctor in Ministry in Preaching in 2003 from Chicago Theological Seminary.

Sigrid is involved in the Central Southeast Ohio Association and she is chair of the working group: Church Partnership Ohio Conference Westphalia (Germany). She established a church partnership with a German church in Schwelm (Westphalia). We have a regular exchange between the churches in Westerville and Schwelm.

 A devoted mother and wife, Sigrid has been married to Thomas Cochrane since 1996. They have two teenage children: Peter and Anna. In her free time she likes to walk, read, cook and travel.

Send an email to Pastor Sigrid.

 

Susan Langner, Student Pastor

 

Susan joined the WCUCC staff in September 2011. She worked as a college admission counselor for eight years prior to her role as Director of Youth Ministry. She has always been passionate about education—particularly Christian education. After spending many years volunteering with church youth groups, Susan felt the call to youth ministry as a vocation. She feels blessed to work with the talented and spirited youth of this church.

At WCUCC, she leads the high school youth group (Journey Group) and high school Sunday School program. She also assists with the middle school programming, Tween’s Worship and the confirmation program. Susan enjoys getting to know all of the children at church, as she seeks to provide them with opportunities to know God through fellowship, mission programs, and worship activities.

Originally from the western suburbs of Chicago, Susan met her husband Jeff at Denison University in Granville, Ohio. They lived in the Chicago area after getting married in 2004, and relocated to Columbus in October 2010. Susan and Jeff have two young children, Drew and Caroline.

Send an email to Susan.

Pastor Harold Steindam, Pastor Emeritus

 Now that I am retired I have even more time to consider how blessed I am and have been throughout my life. Raised in a family that was an active part of St. John’s United Church of Christ in Genoa, Ohio, I began to feel an interest in and then call to ministry at a very early age, and received much encouragement and many opportunities as I grew up. I graduated from Defiance College with a major in Philosophy and Religion (yes, I “put all my eggs in one basket”!) and then entered the Methodist Theological School in Delaware, Ohio. While in my first year there I was called to my first church in 1973, commencing more than 40 years that I would be blessed serve in ministry.

That pastoral service culminated in what would be my time and place of greatest blessing, serving Westerville Community United Church of Christ, beginning when it was still in its early years and having the challenges and joys of being part of its growth in membership, stewardship, and most of all mission for nearly 23 years. I also tried to serve the community of Westerville in whatever ways I could, as well as the Wider Church, throughout those years.

Today I am extremely blessed to be nearing 43 years of marriage to Jenny (Caldwell), to be the father of two sons and a daughter and grandfather to two beautiful grandchildren. In retirement I have more time to enjoy with my family, and am doing volunteer service through Jubilee Partners in Comer, Georgia (refugee resettlement work) and the Salvation Army in Columbus in a support role for women who have been trafficked and are trying to find their way out. I also work in a part time role for the Pension Boards of the United Church of Christ, calling on other retired clergy or their widows in Ohio and West Virginia.

I am most honored and blessed to be Pastor Emeritus of our beloved Westerville Community UCC. This is a long way from the imaginings of that boy who first felt a call to ask questions about ministry so long ago—but it is without question the same God calling today who was calling me then.

As Pastor Emeritus I will attend services or be involved in WCUCC activities, and give my support to the excellent Pastoral Staff now serving there. Most of all I will continue to seek to grow in my personal faith and as a disciple of Jesus Christ, and promise always to pray for this remarkable congregation that God told me long ago was intended to “share the ever-widening circle of Christ’s love” in unique ways in our community and with all the world.

Thank you, and may God bless you in your journey as part of this ever-widening circle.