Board of Directors

Board Biographies

Frederick Balfour

Fred Balfour and his wife Sharon became Congregationalists at South Acton Congregational Church and migrated to the Eliot Church of Newton in 1984. Fred holds Master’s degrees in industrial engineering and in education. With experience managing organizations, Fred brings a unique set of skills to the ACA Board. He enjoys sailing, long bicycling trips, skiing and spending time with his grandchildren.

Robert Bachelder

Rev. Robert Bachelder is Minister and President of the Worcester Area Mission Society. He is founding president of several housing organizations in the Worcester, MA area, including Habitat for Humanity, and has led community collaborations to address issues of poverty and homelessness. A graduate of Dartmouth College and Yale Divinity School, and a descendant of Puritan clergy, Bachelder has written for national publications on a wide range of subjects including corporate ethics, economic and social policy, religion and psychiatry, English novelists, and orbital space sustainability.

Christopher Bartel

Senior Vice President, Global Equity Research, at Fidelity Management and Research Company, Christopher Bartel joined the company in 1999 as an equity research intern and worked his way up to become the head of Global Equity Research in November 2010. Chris graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Government from Dartmouth College and earned an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He and his family are members of the Wellesley, MA, Village Congregational Church.

Mary Biedron

Rev. Dr. Mary Biedron is Senior Minister of North Congregational Church in Farmington Hills, MI. She is a fellow of the Congregational Foundation for Theological Studies of the NACCC and continues to serve on the NACCC Christian Education Commission and as a consultant for the Center for Congregational Leadership. A graduate of the University of Michigan, she received her M.Div. and D. Min. from Methodist Theological School in Ohio. Biedron is active in the Farmington area Interfaith Association, serving as director of the CROP walk, and as a member of the Interfaith Leadership Council of Metro Detroit.

Francis Bremer

Dr. Francis J. Bremer is Professor Emeritus of History at Millersville University in Pennsylvania. He received the B.A. from Fordham College and Ph.D. from Columbia University, while also studying at Union Theological Seminary. Bremer has been a visiting scholar at New York University, Oxford University, the University of Cambridge, and Trinity College Dublin. Dr. Bremer is a premier expert on Puritanism in the Atlantic world and a prolific author. His book, John Winthrop: America's Forgotten Founding Father (2003) was submitted for a Pulitzer Prize, and won the John C. Pollock Award for Christian biography. First Founders: American Puritans and Puritanism in the Atlantic World was a selection of the History Book Club, and his biography of John Davenport, Building a New Jerusalem: John Davenport, a Puritan in Three Worlds was shortlisted for the New England Society in the City of New York award for nonfiction in 2013 and the nonfiction award for the Mountain & Plains Independent Booksellers Association.

Karen S. Byrne

Rev. Karen S. Byrne is a retired UCC pastor who has served in Maine and Washington, D.C., and also a practicing lawyer, as a partner in Haberstein and Byrne until 2013 and now as counsel to Misra Law PLLC. She received the M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary and J.D. from the University of Virginia. Byrne is an active member of the UCC, as a spiritual director, transitional ministry specialist, and in interfaith conversations.

Davis Dyer

Davis Dyer is Founding director of the Winthrop Group, a company providing historical writing and research for corporations, families, and individuals, and a Senior Partner and Director of Research at Rosc Global LLC. He received both the A.B. and Ph.D. in history from Harvard University, and is the author of many books and articles, as well as case studies and an award-winning film script. Dr. Dyer is a member of the First Congregational Church (UCC) in Cambridge, MA.

Richard Elliott

A native of Concord Massachusetts, Rich Elliott is the Facilities Manager for the historic Park Street Church on Boston Common, where he and his family are members. He earned a B.S. with a concentration in Still Photography from Ithaca College in New York and a Master of Liberal Arts in Museum Studies from Harvard University. A licensed construction supervisor, Rich has over twenty years of building experience, including historic preservation and exhibit design. He is an accomplished musician and photographer.

Rev. Norman Erlendson

Norm Erlendson serves as pastor of the Third Congregational Church of Middletown, CT, having spent the previous 17 years at Maltby Congregational Church in Snohomish, Washington. He has a master's degree in History from the University of Washington, and a Master of Arts in Christian Theology and Ethics from New College, Berkeley, CA. With a deep interest in the history of American Congregationalism, he has served as president of the Washington Gladden Society, which seeks to serve as a forum for the discussion of issues related to social justice.

Mark Gabrielson

Mark Gabrielson's enthusiasm for maritime history has moved from an active interest to a profession. This Princeton graduate and senior corporate executive continued his education at the US Naval War College then Harvard University where he earned a Masters in Liberal Arts in 2012 . Author of Deer Isle's Undefeated America's Cup Crews: Humble Heroes from a Down East Island, Mark lectures and writes about maritime history in the United States and Europe. Mark brings extensive board experience to the Association. He is a Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society, serves on the Board of the Bostonian Society, and is a member of Old South Church in Boston.

Rev. Stephen C. Gray

Stephen Gray is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. He spent twelve years as Conference Minister of the Indiana-Kentucky Conference, UCC. Rev. Gray served on the conference staffs of the Massachusetts Conference and Penn Northeast Conference, UCC. As a specialist in stewardship and financial development, he has served as a consultant in churches around the country. Rev. Gray is a graduate of Middlebury College, VT and received his M.Div. from Duke Divinity School, Durham, NC. He and his wife Lennie worship at First Parish Church, Brunswick, ME.

Charles Hambrick-Stowe

As a pastor and theologian, Rev. Dr. Charles Hambrick-Stowe serves as Senior Minister of the First Congregational Church in Ridgefield, CT. Prior to that he was Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dean of the Seminary, and Professor of Christian History at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL. Charles received his M.A. and M.Div. from the Pacific School of Religion and his Ph.D. from Boston University. He has written or edited seven books and numerous articles about American religion, including studies of Puritan spirituality, the Great Awakening, and nineteenth-century evangelist and social reformer Charles G. Finney.

Richard Harter

Dick Harter and his wife Gay are members of First Church in Cambridge, MA. He graduated from Yale University and received his law degree from the University of Chicago Law School. He has served as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Conference, UCC, and as President of the Massachusetts Council of Churches. A former counsel with Bingham McCutchen LLP, Dick is also a Trustee and former interim president of the Chicago Theological Seminary.

James A. Hopkins

A lifelong member of Riverpoint Congregational Church in West Warwick, RI, Jim Hopkins has thirty-five years of experience in manufacturing operations management with a focus on organizational performance. This included more than ten years serving as a Vice President and Managing Director of European operations for the Wardwell Braiding Machine Company in Berlin, Germany. Jim is an experienced board member and trustee, serving on the board of the University of Rhode Island Foundation, the Anthony Lyceum Library Association, Coventry, RI, the board of the Centreville Bank, and Care New England, an organization of four hospitals and a VNA. He also serves on the Board of Governors of the Congregational Foundation.

S. C. Campbell Lovett

Rev. Campbell Lovett, a third-generation pastor, is the Conference Minister of the Michigan Conference, UCC. He has served in a variety of roles as an interim minister, pastor, co-pastor, and senior minister at churches in New England and North Carolina. Campbell has also been on non-profit boards involved in feeding the hungry and community organizing. With a B.A. from Penn State University, Rev. Lovett earned his M.Div. from Yale University and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Hartford Seminary. He and his spouse, Eileen, now reside in Haslett, MI.

Stephen R. Silver

Rev. Stephen Silver is the minister of the First Congregational Church of Lebanon, NH. He previously served as Affiliated Minister at Trinitarian Congregational Church in Concord, MA, and Chief Development and Stewardship Officer for the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. Steve enjoyed two decades in educational advancement at leading institutions including Harvard Law School and Tufts University. He holds an A.B. in Politics from Brandeis University, an M.B.A. in Marketing and International Management from Cornell University, and both a Master of Liberal Arts in Religion and a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School. He lives in Lebanon with his family.

Rochelle Stackhouse

Rev. Rochelle Stackhouse is Senior Pastor of Redeemer UCC in New Haven, CT, where she has served since 2006. She has many years of experience in theological education, and is a Lecturer in the Supervised Ministries Program at Yale Divinity School. Rev. Stackhouse received the M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary and Ph.D. in liturgics from Drew University, where she was Bard Thompson Fellow. She has published on many different topics, on liturgy, stewardship, and the history of American hymnody.

Julie Johnson Staples

Julie Johnson Staples served as Interim Senior Pastor at the Flatbush-Tompkins Congregational Church and interim Minister of Education at the Riverside Church in the City of New York. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches (NACCC). Johnson Staples has a law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center, the M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, and a Th.M. from Harvard University. She has broad experience in journalism as well, as a media commentator on This Week With David Brinkley and Washington Week in Review, and as White House correspondent for The New York Times. Johnson Staples and Company, the firm she founded and leads, provides consultant services in strategic communications to nonprofit faith-based organizations as well as private equity firms.

Rev. Dr. Barbara Brown Zikmund

Barbara Brown Zikmund ("BBZ") grew up in Detroit, MI and was ordained there at Mayflower Congregational Church. She is a graduate of Beloit College, Duke Divinity School and holds a Ph.D. from Duke University. As a teacher and administrator at three different seminaries, she has studied, written and spoken extensively about the history of religion in America — especially the role of women and the history of the United Church of Christ. From 2001-05 she taught in a graduate American Studies program at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan. She lives in Chelsea, MI near Ann Arbor.