Rev. Joy Utter – Senior Minister
We are blessed and fortunate to have such a multi-talented person, the Rev. Joy Utter, as our Senior Minister.
Joy was born and raised in Elmira, New York and went on to Hanover College in Indiana where she received her BA in Music Education and English. While teaching in Athens, Ohio, she earned a Masters Degree in Education at Ohio University. In 1983, she received the Master of Divinity Degree at Andover Newton Theological School in MA. and served as a Pastor in the Mt. Vernon Larger Parish.
Prior to becoming an ordained minister, Joy utilized her talents by teaching music, which is evidenced by the ways that she integrates music and liturgy so skillfully to create such meaningful worship services here at the church where she has served the Seekonk Congregational Church UCC for the past 35 years.
She has served on the Conference Staff and numerous Conference and RI State Council of Churches Boards and committees, hosted a monthly radio program, served as Chaplain of the Seekonk Police Department as well as other local community endeavors. Her commitment to Mission and Social Justice concerns has not only empowered this church to be one of the first open and affirming congregations of all people who enter the sanctuary… but also to be outreaching to our partners in Haiti and South Korea and constant in facing the challenges of our world. Joy has visited and ministered to people in many countries around the globe as well.
Rev. Utter is the widow of the late Rev. Dr. H. Daehler Hayes and in her limited spare time has designed and built a new ‘colonial’ home in Kingston Village and enjoys gardening, music, reading, traveling, and spending time with family as a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.
Susan Barrow – Director of Music
Here in our faith community we are now blessed with the presence of organist and choir director Susan Barrow.
Susan has lived most of her life in Swansea, MA where she graduated from Joseph Case High School and went on to pursue an education at Barrington College, studying Music Education with a minor in piano. Music has always been a huge part of her life. Growing up, she was a member of the First Baptist Church in North Swansea and took piano lessons with the Church organist from the age of 4 years old.
In her later teen years she joined the First Baptist Church in Fall River where she became a member of the Youth Choir and Handbell Choir under the direction of Ruth Hathaway. Ruth gave her some organ lessons and shortly after, Susan became the Organist and Choir Director at the former St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Fall River, where she remained for 22 years.
She brought her talent and experience to Seekonk Congregational Church in November 2006 and she directs the Senior Choir, Handbell Choir, Guitar Choir, Youth Choir, Children’s Choir, Cherub Choir, soloists and instrumentalists as well as playing for all worship services during the year.
In her spare time, Susan enjoys spending time with her partner Dan, traveling and camping when they can. Family is everything to her and she also loves spending time with her two sons, and grandson.
Maria Tavares – Office Administrator
Maria is most definitely every church’s ‘dream office administrator ’. She makes the office and all aspects of this church’s life run with superb organizational ability… always with a pleasant smile and kind word as well. She has that special ability to juggle all the tasks (amidst numerous interruptions) and always manages to achieve top-quality work. Maria has been the church Office Administrator since 1999.
Her work includes not only the day-to-day operations but also entering the weekly and memorial financial data and keeping meticulous records.
Maria attended Rhode Island College and has raised 3 sons, Eric who has his electricians license, Brian who who graduated Roger Williams University School of Law in 2012 and is a member of the RI and MA Bar Association, and Kevin who graduated Providence College in 2012, is now Administrative Assistant at a Dr. office. She has been married to Octavio since 1983.
Maria works Tuesday – Friday from 8:00am – 3:00pm and enjoys her work so much that she has been known to come in early and leave late!
Addie Heelan, RN – Parish Nurse
Addie obtained her degree in Nursing and became licensed in New York. She worked at St. Charles Hospital in the Maternity Unit and Special Care Nursery. She has been a member of the Seekonk Congregational Church since 1992 when she, husband, Tom and children moved to Seekonk from Long Island, NY. Since her arrival in New England, Addie has worked at several of the large hospitals in Providence, Fall River, and Attleboro.
She is currently doing Per Diem Nursing and Childbirth Educator work within the Maternal/Child Health Field. She is also employed by Community Care Services (formerly VersaCare, Inc.) as both Nurse Consultant for the Family Resource Center, and the Young Parents/Healthy Families Program as a Childbirth Educator for teen parents.
Addie began her duties as Parish Nurse on September 1, 2000 by appointment.
Kristin Putney – Director of Faith Formation, Youth & Family Ministries
One of the reasons our church is so active is that the parents want their children to have quality faith education and enjoy it in the process. Kristin recognizes this and makes it a priority to connect with each family to learn more about their needs and interests. She began teaching church school at our church in 1987 and joined the Christian Education Team in 1992. She was hired part time as the Director of Christian Education (DCE) in 2000, increasing attendance in both 9AM and 10:30 church school programs as well as fully engaging families in the various intergenerational activities throughout the church seasons. Kristin also implemented a 2nd grade Communion Class program that has proven to be very meaningful.
Vacation Bible School began in 1999 under her direction, and each year the program doubled in size reaching 80 -100 participants with 40 teen staff, including participants from other faiths in the community. In recent years, Kristin created an extended day option that gave many families childcare after the VBS program ended. VBS was even modified to be an interactive zoom experience in August 2020 and it was a great success. Kristin works closely with the Board of Christian Education and plans monthly opportunities that include involving children in worship in creative ways.
In the fall of 2020, Kristin was hired as the Director of Faith Formation, Youth and Family Ministries, combining her DCE tasks with youth ministry and leading the confirmation class from September to June. This opportunity and the restrictions because of the Pandemic, included the creation of virtual confirmation classes as well as weekly virtual church school experiences.
She also holds a part time position since 2012, as Minister of Faith Formation for Children and Families, with the Southern New England Conference, UCC and has received certification for Faith Formation and Youth Ministry.
Kristin graduated from UMASS Dartmouth with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design and started a Mural Painting business in 1992. She continues to do custom designs in painting and decorative finishes.
Her gift of working with all ages from birth to elders with creativity, enthusiasm and expertise in all areas of Christian Education is a great gift to the Seekonk Congregational Church UCC!!