who we are

Joyful. Lovers of God. Earnest. Hard-working.  Pray-ers. 

Feeders of the hungry. Humble. Willing. Fun-loving.   

 Inside any Sunday’s church bulletin the cast of characters shows that the ministers  of the church are “all the members of the congregation.” Everyone who shows up  ministers in some way to us all. Our paid pastoral staff is part-time, as is our music  and secretarial staff.   Here are some folk who make sure the rest of us stay engaged in loving God and  learning together:  


Staff:  Rev. Frances Chester, Pastor; Rev. Mary Etta Mest, Pastor of Visitation; Arlene Umstead, Organist; Sally Fetterman, Choir Director; Vivian Wentzel, Treasurer;  Sharon Sgriccia, Secretary

Rev. Frances Chester ~ Pastor

Rev. Frances began serving Falkner Swamp in 2015 and was called as the pastor, three-quarter time, in June 2018. She was ordained in 2005 at her home church, First Community Church, in Columbus, Ohio. As a child and throughout her life, she was nurtured by evangelical Christian mentors while attending mainline Protestant churches. Her prayer, study, and attentiveness to God’s activity in her life and others is informed by these multiple Christian faith lenses. 

“My role as pastor is shaped by seeing the truth of my life as held in the arms of a loving Creator; forged by study and scripture, enabled by Christian community, and charged by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. All these elements are present in each of us. The greatest joy in ministry for me is to help others express their God-given gifts and talents to heal and spread love. Through them, I believe God’s beloved community is made manifest on earth as it is in heaven, a central line in the prayer Jesus taught his disciples to pray. 

Falkner Swamp began forming in 1720 and is the oldest, continuous-serving, German Reformed church in the United States, so I stand on the shoulders of giants. I am privileged and grateful to serve this congregation.”

Rev. Mary Etta Mest ~ Pastor of Visitation

My involvement with Falkner Swamp United Church of Christ began upon my marriage to Walter J. Mest who was already a member and included: directing the junior choir, supply organist, Sunday School teacher, prayer ministry, intern as a seminary student, ordination by East Berks Association as member of Falkner, and presently serving as Pastor of Visitation.  I have found the people of Falkner to be extremely welcoming and supportive.  I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to minister to the homebound and hospitalized members and friends of Falkner.  

Bob Schnaars ~ Consistory* President

 I was essentially "un-churched" until I went through a painful divorce. As I was recovering from that, I experienced a series of miracles, which continue to this day. One of these miracles was my joining this church, where the people go out of their way to be kind to each other.  I want to spread the message that prayer works, and that the philosophy of Jesus Christ, that we love God and love each other, can make for a peaceful, loving existence for us all.      

Brenda Semach ~ Consistory Vice-President

Faith is a journey that I have been on my whole life; I seek it out in every person I meet. Some their light shines so bright you can't help but soak it up like the sun’s rays, others shine more subtly an it's a feeling of love that opens your heart to new experiences and paths. The people of this church community share their light and love so effortlessly that they constantly inspire me to share what I can give and seek what my soul yearns for. This faith community is the love that lights my way. We are sad together, laugh together and we are always learning from one another. They are the wings that fly me home. I hope that I will always challenge them to find other paths to let their light shine and share it wherever they may find their faith journey takes them.  

1 Corinthians: 13  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.  

Arlene K. (Butts) Umstead ~ Organist

I followed the great faith and commitment of my parents which helped guide me to make decisions to attend church camps, work camps and caravaning, and led me to consecrate my life to following Christ's teachings.  Falkner Swamp feels like home since I've been here all my life.  The members are caring and supportive.  Over the years, I have had many roles:  Sunday School teacher, choir member, organist, Women's Ministry leader, Community Breakfast helper, food pantry contributor, and organizer of day camp programs at Fernbrook for 10 years and 10 years at Camp Mensch Mill.


*Consistory is the name given to the governing body of the people who make up the congregation, those who come together regularly for worship, to join as members, and/or to take part in the work and mission of Falkner Swamp. Currently nine members sit on the Consistory. You can see their names and the list of other committees in our church under the "More" tab on the upper right of this page, then click on “Committees”. 

   


About Us

The table is set

On October 15, 1725, John Philip Boehm, the father of the German Reformed Church in America, served the Sacrament of Holy Communion to 40 people for the first time at “Falckner’s Schwamm.”   

America's oldest German Reformed Church.

Join us for worship at 10 AM.

Our history

A brief history of Falkner Swamp UCC (pdf)

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UCC Roots June 2017 (pdf)

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