Rev. Dr. Dawson B. Taylor
Rev. Dr. Dawson B. Taylor serves as Senior Minister of Naples United Church of Christ. He became the sixth Senior Minister in February of 2016 and was formally installed in a worship service the following January. Prior to his role as Senior Minister, Dr. Taylor served as Associate Minister when he was called to Naples in December of 2013; before that, he served in his native Texas. Dr. Taylor holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Centenary College of Louisiana where he served a Congressional internship as well as served as a two-term student body president. His Masters of Theological Studies is from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas and his Doctorate of Ministry in preaching is from Chicago Theological Seminary. Dr. Taylor is a part of the Next Generation Leadership Initiative of the Pension Boards of the United Church of Christ which identifies young leaders (age 35 or younger at the time of selection) for training for the “church of the future.” Locally Dr. Taylor serves on the Board of Directors of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, the Founders Fund of Club Pelican Bay, the Florida Conference of the United Church of Christ where he chairs the Personnel Committee and is chairperson of GLSEN-Collier. Additionally, Dr. Taylor serves as a Trustee of his alma mater, Chicago Theological Seminary. In 2018, Dr. Taylor was named by Gulfshore Business as a 40 Under 40 and Centenary College also presented him the Bentley Sloane Alumni Award for his service to the church. Dawson enjoys traveling and time with family, especially his five nieces and nephews. And of course, he is always entertained by his Chocolate Labrador, Max.
Rev. Dr. Deborah Kaiser-Cross
Minister for Congregational Care
Deborah Kaiser-Cross serves as Minister for Congregational Care at Naples United Church of Christ. Prior to her ministry at NUCC, Deb served for twenty years as Minister of Congregational Care and Spiritual Development at Jupiter First Church. Deb has also served at Hospice of Palm Beach County as a Pastoral Counselor and Chaplain. She is licensed as a Clinical Social Worker in the state of Florida. Deborah holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Notre Dame, a Masters in Divinity from Earlham School of Religion, a Masters in Social Work from Barry University, and a Doctorate in Ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary, where her doctoral project focused on the Twelve Steps as a model for spiritual development.
In her role as Minister for Congregational Care, Deb provides leadership for the numerous caring ministries at NUCC. Additionally, she works with the Board of Missions and Outreach encouraging partnership with local and global missions. She also enjoys leading retreats, seminars and classes in the areas of emotionally healthy spirituality, personal growth, family enrichment and adult faith development. For pure fun, Deb enjoys cycling, traveling, and spending time with her extended family. Deb and David have three adult children. Deb is also the author of Sacred Moments, and Prayers Through the Seasons.
Rev. Dr. Sharon Harris-Ewing
Rev. Dr. Sharon Harris-Ewing joined the clergy team as Assistant Minister, effective January 1, 2019. Sharon joined NUCC in December 2016. Before joining the staff, she was an active member of the Board of Christian Education as well as one of the founding co-chairs of the Task Force on Justice and Witness Ministries. She also co-taught a number of adult enrichment courses with Dr. Deborah Kaiser-Cross.
Sharon holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology, a Master of Divinity degree from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, and a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in Human Development and Family Studies. She was ordained as an American Baptist in 1980 and is currently transferring her ordination standing to the United Church of Christ. Sharon is the author of the book, Give Me Strength: Personal Prayers for School Teachers.
Before relocating from Buffalo, New York, to Naples in 2016, Sharon spent 15 years as a professor, department chair, and associate dean at Roberts Wesleyan College, a small Christian liberal arts college in Rochester, New York. Earlier in her ministry Sharon worked on several church staffs, was a leader in the (then) American Baptist Churches of the Niagara Frontier, and served nine years on the Board of Education of the Willliamsville Central School District.
In her words, Sharon “is thrilled to join outstanding colleagues serving a church that she loves deeply in a community that is now home.” Sharon’s ministry includes working with the Green Justice Team, the Task Force on Justice and Witness Ministries, and Women Engage! as well as hospital and home visitation.
Executive Assistant to Clergy
My position deals a lot with computer maintained member and visitor data. I assist the Pastoral staff in administrative duties, information gathering, filing, drafting documents, as well as, many other duties. I stay close on Sunday in case I am needed by our staff or congregation. I have to be well rounded and know many things about NUCC, staff and church programming. I work closely with groups, committees, and volunteers. I have been here since the summer of 2015 and love everything about my job.
Originally from Omaha, Nebraska. Most of my career has settled in multi-business ownership. With more than ten years’ experience of day-to-day operations, office management, and basic accounting. I enjoy challenges, problem solving and data management. All of which, have helped me prepare for my position at NUCC.
I was married last fall in Gates Chapel, to my beloved Vicente. Proud parents to our three children, Sydney (18), Vince (17) and Sandy (14). We enjoy a shared faith, a loving family and many friends. Most every weekend you will find us entertaining a houseful in our home, in Bonita Springs. We enjoy tandem biking, staying active, and any opportunity to be beachside.
Dr. Becky Weese-Rumpf
Director of Music
Dr. Becky Weese-Rumpf is beginning her sixteenth year as the Director of Music and Organist at Naples United Church of Christ. In addition to her choral directing and organ responsibilities, Becky oversees an extensive concert series. In 2010, Dr. Weese-Rumpf served as the chair and musical director for a gala concert to benefit Avow Hospice which raised over $100,000.00. Most recently Dr. Weese-Rumpf presented a “Turtle Concert” at Naples United Church of Christ in conjunction with the Collier County project, “Turtles on the Town.” The concert featured a choral work, “Wisdom from Old Turtle,” which was accompanied by musicians from The Naples Philharmonic Orchestra at Artis—Naples.
Becky is a native of West Virginia. She received two undergraduate degrees (Bachelor of Music Education and Bachelor of Church Music) at Shenandoah College & Conservatory of Music in Winchester, Virginia. Her graduate studies began at Westminster Choir College, in Princeton, New Jersey, where she was an organ student of Donald McDonald and a conducting student of Joseph Flummerfelt. In 1998, Dr. Weese-Rumpf completed the Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in Choral Conducting at the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida.
Becky was married at Naples United Church of Christ on April 16, 2016. Her husband, Bill Rumpf, is active as a Deacon of Naples UCC and as a Stephen Minister. Bill and Becky enjoy attending events at Artis—Naples as well as cooking and entertaining. They reside in Naples with their little long-haired teacup chihuahua, Lola.
Director of Children’s Ministry
Merrill Noble serves as the Director of Children’s Ministry at Naples United Church of Christ. Prior to moving to Naples in January 2019, Merrill served for fourteen years as the Director of Children’s Ministry at the Acton Congregational Church in Acton, Massachusetts. Merrill has led workshops for the Massachusetts Conference UCC in the area of Worship and Sacraments for church educators, also serving on the Joint Ministry Council, Lay Development Council Certification Task Team and Commission for Education Ministries. She was certified as a Church Educator in Massachusetts in 2012 and completed Stephen Ministry Leader Training in 1999. She is also a trained Domestic Violence Advocate.
In her role as Director of Children’s Ministry, Merrill works with the staff to plan and implement Sunday morning activities for children as well as programs and worship opportunities to enrich the faith formation of children and families. She collaborates with the Director of Precious Cargo to implement the Wednesday afternoon Junior Disciples program, Thursday morning Chapel service for the preschool children and Vacation Bible School. Merrill is excited to share the resources she has compiled and intergenerational events she has created with the children and families of Naples UCC. Her ministry passions include teaching Christian values, the liturgical seasons and celebrating faith milestones with children and their parents.
In her free time, Merrill enjoys reading, walking on the beach, scrapbooking and connecting with friends and family. She is the daughter of NUCC member Don Williams, one of our long-time choir members and step-daughter to Nancy Williams. Merrill and her husband Chris have two adult children.
Director of Programs
If there is a major project, church initiative, or event, you are bound to find Megan Black in the middle of it all, with her sleeves rolled up. As Director of Programs, Megan’s responsibilities are three-fold: project management and coordination, overseeing and expanding church communications and marketing, and serving as the staff liaison to the Membership and Growth committee. She particularly enjoys working with members, lay leadership, and committees to come up with creative ways to implement their ideas- of which there is never a shortage! Alongside Technology Director Tony Falco, Megan also provides audiovisual support for church services, concerts, and other events.
Originally from the Washington, D.C. metro area, Megan attended both Boston University and the University of Pittsburgh and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences. In addition to her background in defense contracting, Megan served in AmeriCorps, teaching adults in underserved communities in Pittsburgh, PA. After living in Pittsburgh for ten years, she and her bearded collie, Fergus, moved to Naples in December of 2015, and they have been enjoying the sunshine ever since.
As an events coordinator, I help to plan church events: anything from finding venues, room setup, menus, food prep, and acting as hostess. I also help with weddings: from organizing the special day to being there on wedding day.
I am from Glens Falls, New York. I have a BA from Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut, and a Masters from Syracuse University. I have a son, John. He lives with his wife Ali in Colorado: they are filmmakers, writers, and travelers. I also have a daughter, Christine, who lives here in Naples with her husband Jay (who works for Arthrex), and my two grandsons, Jack, 10, and Skyler, 9. And most importantly, I live with Charlie, my Shih Tzu! In my time away from Naples UCC, I like to read, travel, and spend time with friends and family.
Previously, I have been a teacher in Montreal, Memphis, Glens Falls, and Boston. I was director of admissions at Hartford Hospital School of Nursing – loved it! I was the Functions Manager at Queensbury Hotel in Glens Falls, New York, and at the Hampshire House in Boston, Massachusetts (home of “Cheers” of TV fame!).
I have been a member of NUCC for about 20 years. I have been on the Christian Education committee and have been involved in Precious Cargo for 6 years. I have also been on the social and NUCC Cares committees, and been the Events Coordinator for about 5 years. I love my family and friends and work associates! They are the best!
Mark Harmon brings to the Naples United Church of Christ more than thirty years of administrative experience in the both the non-profit and government sectors. His previous positions focused on public history as he managed museums and historic sites in Ohio, Illinois, Oregon, and Florida. His leadership successes include: advocating organization missions, visions and values; increasing institutional capacity to achieve strategic goals and objectives; developing winning teams of dedicated professionals and volunteers; and enhancing financial sustainability,
Academically, Mark earned a BA and MA in History from the University of Akron. He additionally earned certificates from the Preservation Leadership Training and the Seminar for Historical Administration. On a more personal note, Mark was born and raised in Ohio, growing up in the suburbs of Canton. After moving to Chicago, he married his wife Gina, who has been in the healthcare industry working in dental clinics and more recently in veterinary hospitals. Their daughter, Krysta, is a music teacher in Illinois and their son-in-law Dave is an attorney. Together Mark and Gina enjoy movies, concerts, daytrips, and spending time with their “puppy” Portia.
Director of Campus Operations
My job responsibilities include the maintenance and appearance of all campus facilities and grounds. I also support all church related events and outside rentals by making sure rooms and outside spaces are prepared as needed. It is also my responsibility to work with outside vendors on repairs and services.
I am originally from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. My wife Julie and I moved to Naples in 2010. I joined the staff at NUCC in March of 2011. Before moving to Florida, I worked as a maintenance technician for Children’s Home Society of South Dakota.
My favorite part of my job is working closely with the worship team and congregation to ensure worship services and church events go smoothly.
Tony Falco is the Technical Director here at the United Church of Christ in Naples. He brings more than 30 years of hands-on experience to NUCC, providing skills with A/V equipment, computer networking and most recently live video streaming. He is responsible for staffing services and events, as well as maintaining all the technology equipment in multiple locations around the church. Tony has worked in a variety of technical positions over the years. He served 20 years at United Technologies as a Service Engineer, Manufacturing Engineer, and Computer Analyst. While working at UTC, he developed his own Computer Consulting Business that started as a side job, eventually branching off into his successful business today of over 25 years. Tony moved to Naples in 2013 from Connecticut, along with his wife Michelle, and two young boys Daniel and Jacob. Tony also has a love for music, and has been playing piano, keyboards and organ since he was a pre-teen. He has been in multiple bands over the years and directed music for his CT church’s annual Passion Play for 29 years. Tony and his wife, Michelle, also direct music locally, and play at different local venues.
Food Service Manager
I was born and raised in Massena, New York. Attended and graduated elementary and high school in Massena. My family and friends still reside in N.N.Y and I spend my summers with them, whenever I can. I Moved to Syracuse and worked for Gregory Systems after graduating.
Sick of wintering in N.N.Y, I moved to Naples in 1976, first working in the food service industry in Marco Island and then in Naples. After 18 years at St. George and the Dragon I worked for Gourmet Catering and The Philharmonic Center for the Arts. I enjoy Naples beaches and water activities, yoga and of course all the wonderful shopping[thrift stores] in Naples.
Food has been a passion of mine from an early age and I enjoy experimenting with new ideas for Sunday Fellowship and all the special events that I might be a part of. I find the members and employees on NUCC very supportive and hope to share a lot of wonderful ideas and occasions with all.
Brad Van Houten
Director of Production
As the Director of Production, Brad oversees and collaborates on all outward-facing worship experiences for the church. With his team of technicians, they provide all the audiovisual and technical support needed to help make great worship experiences for everyone. Both in-person and online.
Originally from Michigan, Brad moved to Naples in the fall of 2013 to work with The Naples Players, located on 5th Avenue. He works there full-time as the Head of Sound & Projection and has worked on over 100 shows since starting with the company. Attending Western Michigan University, Brad received a dual bachelor’s degree in Theatre: Design & Technical Production as well as Theatre: Stage Management. During his time in college, he worked on an Off-Broadway production titled Soul Doctor and internationally at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with the original play The Good Doctor. Previously, Brad worked for GvG Productions in Kalamazoo, MI, as a staff Audio Engineer working on both recording and live audio gigs. In his spare time, he can be found spending time with his dog, Malone. They like to spend their time at the dog park or out on walks enjoying the sunshine and nature
Precious Cargo Academy
Interim Director of Precious Cargo Academy
Julie Forchay was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and completed her undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Minnesota. Upon graduation with a degree in Elementary Education, Julie taught year-round in a school located in a challenging part of the city that was impacted by civil unrest, transitioning neighborhood dynamics, and crime. She discovered a whole new world that was full of its own culture and strengths, and also witnessed the effects of poverty and all the issues that come with that life of insecurity and how that impacts children. She remained teaching there for five years and worked with the U of M to recruit teachers to our inner-city schools. She then became a full-time mother of two and loved having the luxury to be with them and watch their personalities develop. When her youngest was off to kindergarten, Julie headed to their local suburban school district and began a five-year term as a special education teacher.
Julie went on to develop youth programs across all grades and to serve as a liaison from the school district to the community to help form partnerships that would address the issues that are beyond teachers’ reach. Alongside devoted social workers, she founded Teens Alone to combat the growing numbers of homeless teens in the Minneapolis suburbs, funded by community support. Another successful project was the Family Resource Center. It, too, has continued to thrive and serve families with their unmet needs and is a true community collaboration.
Since retiring and moving to Naples, Julie has been learning the culture and needs of Collier County and selecting those projects where she can best make a contribution. Julie has been a member of Naples UCC for 15 years. She has been a member of the Precious Cargo Academy Committee for six years and a member of the Board of Mission and Outreach for five years, and has graciously stepped forward to help PCA during its leadership transition as Interim Director.
Bargain Box Thrift Store
Director of The Bargain Box
I grew up in Illinois but have been a Florida resident for over 4o years. My husband Steve and I love to fish, enjoy a good home cooked meal and a nice glass of wine. I have a daughter Misty, in Seattle with her husband Justin, and two granddaughters ,Tatum and Kenzie. My other daughter Shannon lives here in Naples and currently is a medical assistant at Specialist in Urology. We have a Maltipoo named Peanut. I spend my free time reading, gardening ,scrapbooking and absolutely love to cook. My truest passion is the Bargain Box thrift Store . I started working thrift 12 years ago at the Bargain Basket on Marco. I have spent five years at the Bargain Box, first at the old location and then designing the new store. I am able to use my creativity and enjoy our large family of dedicated volunteers.