Our history as a congregation began in 1928 on the Peabody-Vanderbilt campus in Nashville. As Collegeside Congregational Church, we presented a liberal witness to God’s Word. In 1954, we moved to our present location at 700 Bresslyn Road, and changed our name to Brookmeade Congregational Church. In 1957, we joined the merger of four historic denominations to become part of the United Church of Christ. (The U.C.C. is not related to the independent Churches of Christ.)
Current Pastoral Team
Pastor Becca Griffin is originally from Mobile, AL. Her undergraduate degree was in worship leadership (church music and theology) and she is currently a candidate for an MDiv at Vanderbilt Divinity School where she is focusing on religion and art in contemporary culture. She is interested in the intersections of religion, art, and psychology, art, and neuroscience. She writes poetry that developed as a coping mechanism for anxiety and a desire for inner and outer reconciliation–her seemingly-endless project is called Ode to We and can be found at odetowe.com. She does stand-up comedy, enjoys rock climbing, appreciates pop culture divas (like Barbra Streisand, Amy Winehouse, Celine Dion, and Mariah Carey), loves dancing, values roller skating, admires Mary Oliver, and goes to the movies.
The Reverend Beverly J. Ross is an ordained Minister in the United Church of Christ. She earned her M.Div. from Vanderbilt Divinity School after earning a B.A. from Florida State University, and law degrees from New York University and Columbia University. While Beverly was at Vanderbilt, she attended and volunteered at Brookmeade UCC. After graduation, she became a hospice chaplain with Vitas Healthcare, the nation’s leading hospice provider. While at Vitas she was certified as an educator and supervisor of those seeking to become professional chaplains as well as other persons who wished to learn how to provide sensitive and effective spiritual care to any person in need – which is all of us. Through the years Beverly continued to visit Brookmeade whenever she visited Nashville, and rejoined the congregation when she purchased a home here in 2019. Beverly has provided interim service as a pastor to several congregations, and is grateful for the opportunity to serve Brookmeade at this time.
Former Pastoral Team Members
(September 2017-Present) Rev. Diane Tugel is an ordained minister with the United Church of Christ. She is Certified as a Clinical Educator with the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education and she is a Board Certified Chaplain with the Association of Professional Chaplains. She holds a Doctorate of Ministry degree and has served in the parish, hospital, and hospice settings. Diane is married with two adult children. She and her family moved to the Nashville area in January of 2017 to begin her work with the Nashville/St. Thomas CPE Partnership. Besides her family and work, Diane enjoys boating, reading, golfing, and being in the outdoors.
Laura Hodges (embraces all pronouns) grew up in Avon Lake, Ohio attending Avon Lake United Church of Christ. Her early faith formation was heavily influenced by her times spent at Temple Hills church camp as well as her passion for reading which included children’s Bibles and prayer books. Disillusioned with the church at thirteen, Laura spent time exploring other religions and spirituality before having a conversion experience at a Southern Baptist Church at sixteen. Since then, Laura returned to the UCC tradition where she feels she can reconcile her deep love for Jesus Christ and her commitments to love and seek justice for people of all racial/ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, gender identities, abilities, and socioeconomic situation. Having attained her undergraduate degree from Calvin University, in Grand Rapids, MI, Laura began her ordination process with Avon Lake UCC and enrolled at Vanderbilt Divinity School where she hopes to graduate with her Master’s of Divinity in the spring of 2021. In her free time, Laura loves to draw, write, read, play with her dog and cat, rock climb, and spend time with her husband James.
Pastor Abbey Labrecque (she/they) attends Vanderbilt Divinity School, where they are a second year Master of Divinity student pursuing the Spirituality and Social Activism concentration. In academia and ministry, Abbey is called to explore and nurture the ways in which they can live into their faith, whiteness, sexuality, and gender identities in integrating and justice seeking ways. They understand that uniting all of who they are is crucial to their serious and energetic commitment to exist within and collaboratively cultivate community. When Abbey is not attempting to integrate all of themselves, they enjoy walking in the woods, watching college soccer, and communing with others in the presence of yummy food.
Lead Student Pastor Sarah Kientz is a Master of Divinity student at Vanderbilt Divinity School seeking ordination in the United Church of Christ. She moved to Nashville from her hometown of Columbus, Ohio, where she served as the Director of Youth Ministry at First Community Church (UCC) for seven years. Sarah loved the genuine relationships she formed with youth and young adults as she led progressive Christian education, intergenerational worship, and local and international missions. In that role, Sarah also served as a director at Camp Akita, a summer camp welcoming followers of all faith traditions. Sarah hopes to develop her passion for social justice and practice of pastoral care through worship, mission, and community life at Brookmeade. Outside of work and class, Sarah enjoys spending time in nature alongside friends, family, and her dog, Otter.
Associate Student Pastor Margaret Ernst, hailing originally from Connecticut and New Jersey, was formed enormously in a spiritual and social sense by her years doing faith-rooted community organizing and interning at a UCC church in downtown Philadelphia, just blocks from the Liberty Bell. Margaret deeply appreciates living in and learning from the South as she enters the MDiv program at Vanderbilt Divinity School. She finds her ministry in the sacred work of supporting others to become leaders in creating the communities they dream of in order to follow Jesus’ risky, challenging gospel of love. She recently got married to her beloved partner and friend Michael, and keeps singing and laughing at all costs.
Past Minister: November 2015 – September 2017. Rev. Sharon M. Temple came to Brookmeade Congregational United Church of Christ after serving congregations in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Louisiana. She earned a BS degree in Medical Technology from Louisiana Tech University and a Master of Divinity from Palmer Theological Seminary. She also has specialty training and experience in peer mentoring, personal and business coaching, transition ministry and church growth. Sharon is passionate about helping individuals and groups bridge the gap from where they are to where they want to be. She especially enjoys partnering with congregations to find ever more creative and extravagant ways to share the good news of God’s love.
Past Minister: January 2013 – April 2015. Pastor Richard Diekmann came to us from his position as senior pastor serving First Congregational Church for the last 20 years in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Rick received his Masters in Divinity from Yale University and his Doctorate from Union Theological Seminary in Virginia.
Intentional Interim Minister: February 2012 – December 2012. Dr. Marvin Morgan holds a B.A. from Elon University, an M.Div. from Duke Divinity School, and a D.Min. from Drew University. He has been trained in interim ministry through the Center for Congregational Health in Winston-Salem, NC. He served UCC congregations from 1970 to 1996 in the cities of Burlington, NC; Brooklyn, NY; and Atlanta, GA. For 15 years thereafter, Marvin worked at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, where he directed the Office of Continuing Education and taught courses in Church Administration, Missiology, and Ministerial Leadership. Most recently, Marvin served as Intentional Interim Minister at St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church in Decatur, GA, and as Minister of Pastoral Care and Counseling at First Congregational UCC in Atlanta. Marvin has also exercised leadership in a variety of capacities throughout the wider United Church of Christ, including a term as Moderator of the 27th General Synod.
Past Minister: Rev. Linda White served as our minister from February 2005 through December 2011. She was raised in Pella, Iowa and attended Central College in Pella. She has taught high school history and English in both Iowa and Colorado. Linda moved from Denver to Nashville in 1985. After graduation from Vanderbilt Divinity School, Linda served as associate pastor at The Downtown Presbyterian Church. She has completed certification training as a chaplain, serving as an intern at St. Thomas Hospital.