Board of Directors

Board Biographies

Jean Alexander

Rev. Jean Alexander is a retired pastor with extensive leadership and board experience. She was the Maine Conference Minister in the United Church of Christ from 1997-2005 and has served on the UCC Insurance Board and the UCC Executive Committee, as well as two terms on the board of trustees of Bangor Seminary. As a member of the First Congregational Church in Washington, DC, she has played a pivotal role in keeping and sharing their history. Jean received a B.A. in Music from the University of Wisconsin and her M.Div. from Chicago Theological Seminary. Now retired, she enjoys gardening, singing, traveling, and reading anything and everything she likes.

Christopher Bennett

Christopher Bennett has been a member of Congregational churches his entire life. He grew up in the Wellesley Hills Congregational Church in Massachusetts, and, for the last thirty-plus years, he and his wife (a Yale Divinity School graduate, like Chris a “Cradle Congregationalist”) have been members of the First Congregational Church of Ridgefield, Connecticut. At FCC Ridgefield, he chaired the committee that oversaw a $5 million renovation project and continues to work with leadership on facilities and capital improvement questions and on financial issues. He is an officer of the board of the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra.

Chris retired from Verizon as Associate General Counsel after a career of more than thirty years. With Verizon and its predecessor companies, he held responsibilities in a range of areas, including mergers and acquisitions, regulatory, human resources, corporate governance, and general business law, and was General Counsel of Verizon International. Chris is a graduate of Amherst College (American Studies major) and Harvard Law School.

Mary E. Biedron

Rev. Dr. Mary E. Biedron is Senior Minister of North Congregational Church in Farmington Hills, Michigan. She is a fellow of the Congregational Foundation for Theological Studies of the NACCC and Historian of the NACCC. A graduate of the University of Michigan, she received her M.Div. and D. Min. from Methodist Theological School in Ohio. Mary 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.

Richard J. Boles

Dr. Richard J. Boles is Assistant Professor of History at Oklahoma State University. He received B.A. and M.A. degrees from Boston College and a Ph.D. from George Washington University. His first book, Dividing the Faith: The Rise of Segregated Churches in the Early American North, was published by New York University Press. It examines the transition from racially diverse churches during the early eighteenth century to separate American Indian and African American congregations by the early nineteenth century in the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions.

Richard teaches courses in early North American and United States history, including African American history, Native American history, and American religious history. He has begun a new research project about religious interactions among Native Americans and African Americans in early America. His publications have been supported by a New England Regional Fellowship Consortium Grant, an Albert J. Beveridge Grant, a Gilder Lehrman Research Fellowship, an American Congregational Association-Boston Athenæum Fellowship, a Massachusetts Historical Society Fellowship, and other grants. He has been an active contributor to the Newberry Consortium in American Indian and Indigenous Studies, including as a member of its Steering Committee.

Francis J. Bremer

Dr. Francis J. Bremer is Professor Emeritus of History at Millersville University in Pennsylvania. He received a B.A. from Fordham College and a Ph.D. from Columbia University, while also studying at Union Theological Seminary. Frank has been a visiting scholar at New York University, Oxford University, the University of Cambridge, and Trinity College Dublin.

Frank 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 (2012) 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 (2012) 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. Among his other works are Puritanism: A Very Short Introduction (2009), Lay Empowerment and the Development of Puritanism (2015), and One Small Candle: The story of the Plymouth puritans and the beginning of English New England (2020). He is working on a study of the role of women in the shaping of puritanism.

Karen S. Byrne

Rev. Karen S. Byrne is an ordained United Church of Christ minister and a retired lawyer. Prior to seminary, she practiced estate planning law for 35 years in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, DC. She is a graduate of Union Theological Seminary (M.Div. 2007), where she currently serves on the Alumni/ae Council, Northwestern University (B.S. 1973, M.A. 1974) and the University of Virginia (J.D. 1983). Karen has served UCC churches in Maine and Washington, DC. Her ministry has focused on Ignatian spirituality and anti-racism. An active member of First Congregational UCC in Washington, DC, Karen serves as a seasonal pastor of the Monhegan Island Community Church in Maine. She is an avid gardener and kayaker.

Davis Dyer

Dr. 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 Chief Content Officer at Rosc Global LLC. He received both an 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. Dave is a member of the First Congregational Church (UCC) in Cambridge, MA.

Richard Elliott, Chair

Richard Elliott is the Facilities Manager at First United Methodist Church of Marietta, Georgia. Until his move to Georgia in 2020, Rich served as the Director of Campus Operations at Park Street Church in Boston. He became connected to the Congregational Library and Archives while working towards his A.L.M. degree in Museum Studies at Harvard University, researching and creating exhibitions for Park Street’s Bicentennial. A native of upstate New York, Rich has a background in fine arts, and in historic building and construction, and currently is a Licensed Construction Supervisor. He has extensive experience in historic renovations, including involvement with major renovations to the Park Street church and steeple.

Maxwell Grant

Rev. Maxwell Grant has been the Senior Minister at Second Congregational Church in Greenwich, CT since 2012. Originally from Brooklyn, NY, where his family attended Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims, he has a long-standing interest in public history, with fellowships at the Historic Deerfield Museum and the Mark Twain House. Max has also held positions as School Minister at Collegiate School in Manhattan, Chaplain for Pediatrics and Obstetrics at Yale New Haven Hospital, and Pastor of Community Church of the Pelhams in Pelham, NY.

He is a graduate of Yale University, the University of Pennsylvania, Yale Divinity School (where he earned the Mersick Prize in Preaching), and the University of St. Andrews (Scotland), where he is also pursuing a Ph.D. in Practical Theology. Previously on the Board of Directors for the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ, he currently serves on the Committee on Ministry for the Fairfield West Association of the UCC, and Day 1 Radio, a Christian preaching ministry.

Jonathan Guest

After graduation from Harvard Divinity School where he was a Rockefeller Fellow, Rev. Jonathan Guest became a UCC pastor at The Park Church in Elmira, NY, where he also taught religion and philosophy at a local college and maximum-security prison. While a doctoral student at Harvard in New Testament/Ancient Christianity, he was an editor of the two-volume Introduction to the New Testament by Prof. Helmut Koester, and served as a part-time pastor at Second Church in Newton, MA. Following a legal education at Cornell Law School where he participated in its Law, Ethics and Religion Program, he joined large Boston law firms and as a partner specialized in corporate and securities law (public and private offerings of equity and debt, domestic and international mergers & acquisitions) and institutional governance (including non-profits). After a law firm career, Jonathan was chief executive officer of a New York biomedical research foundation supporting research on neurodegenerative diseases and an adjunct professor in the Transactional Law Program at Boston University.

He serves on the Board of The Trustees of Jaffna College Funds (supports schools in Sri Lanka) and chairs the Investment Committee of Historic Massachusetts Conference of the UCC (now part of the Southern New England Conference). He also earned a B.A. from Wesleyan University and LL.M. in taxation from Boston University. Jonathan is a member of the First Congregational Church of Natick (Massachusetts) where his wife was the minister for 20 years

James A. Hopkins

A lifelong member of Riverpoint Congregational Church in West Warwick, RI, James 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 having served on the board of the University of Rhode Island Foundation (including a period as Interim Executive Director), Centreville Bank, Care New England (an organization of 3 hospitals and a VNA), the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches, and the Congregational Foundation. Jim remains active on the board of the Anthony Lyceum Library Association (Coventry, RI), several committees of Care New England, and the Butler Hospital Foundation.

Jim graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 1962. Following OCS in the U.S. Coast Guard, Jim served for three years as a Training Officer in the USCG’s First District (Boston).

Thomas Knoles

Dr. Thomas Knoles is the Librarian Emeritus at the American Antiquarian Society, where he served as Marcus A. McCorison Librarian from 2006 to 2018, Curator of Manuscripts, 1990-2018, and Head of Readers’ Services, 1995-2000. He earned a Ph.D. in Classics and a Masters in Library and Information Science from Rutgers University, and has written and presented extensively on topics relating to digital humanities and manuscript editing. At present, Tom is editing The Diary of William Bentley, 1783-1819, for the Colonial Society of Massachusetts. He is an Academic Affiliate in The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau Project, University of California, Santa Barbara, reviewing and revising transcripts of Thoreau journals prior to their publication. He is a member of the Collections Committee of the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Website Committee for the Colonial Society of Massachusetts.

Stephen G. Ray, Jr.

Rev. Dr. Stephen G. Ray Jr. recently retired as the President of Chicago Theological Seminary. He is also the Immediate Past President of the Society for the Study of Black Religion. Having written and lectured broadly in the areas of Systematic Theology, African American religion, human rights, and the intersection of religion and politics, Stephen’s current work focuses on reinvigorating the public square as a place for all and reclaiming a vital expression of progressive religion in that project.

Prior to being called to lead CTS, Stephen held several academic posts including the Neal F. and Ila A. Fisher Chair of Systematic Theology at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, the Jeremiah A. Wright Sr. Associate Professor of African-American Studies and director of the Urban Theological Institute at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia; Associate Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary; and lecturer at Yale Divinity School and Hartford Seminary.

In addition to his professorial positions, Stephen was the Project Historian and Curator for the Hartford Black History Project. In this role, he curated the two-site exhibition: A Struggle From The Start - Hartford's Black Community 1639 - 1960. The project, a collaboration between the Connecticut Historical Society and the Charter Oak Cultural Center, was at the time (1996) the second largest exhibition to deal with Black communities in New England.

Stephen has a Ph.D. in Religious Studies-African-American Studies Joint Degree Program from Yale University, a M.Div. from Yale Divinity School, and a B.S. from Charter Oak State College, Newington, Connecticut. He also has a Certificate from the Hartford Seminary Black Ministries Certificate Program.

Stephen is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and has served in several pastorates.

Linda Smith Rhoads, Secretary

While pursuing advanced graduate studies at the University of Chicago, Linda Smith Rhoads discovered her passion for editorial work when she became Managing Editor of Critical Inquiry. She went on to edit The New England Quarterly for over thirty years, retiring as editor emerita in 2015. In 2003, Lynn inaugurated a program for K–12 teachers at the Massachusetts Historical Society, where she conceived of and launched the online, NEH-funded “The Coming of the American Revolution: A Web-based Timeline/Documentary History.” She continues to edit and write in retirement.

Lynn was Vice President of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts and is a board member of the Paul Revere Memorial Association. She is currently an elected trustee of the Adams (Massachusetts) Historical Society and of the Adams Free Library. Raised a Lutheran, she “converted” to Congregationalism, finding there a welcome home for spiritually-informed social activism.

Jonathan C. Roach

Rev. Dr. Jonathan C. Roach is a minister, theologian, author, and librarian. Jonathan earned a B.A. in English Education from Anderson University, a Master of Library and Information Science from Wayne State University, a Master of Divinity from Ecumenical Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in practical theology from St. Thomas University. He has over 40 professional publications including his book, Expressing Theology, which was published in 2015.

Jonathan served as Interim-Dean of the Library at St. Thomas University until 2016 when he was called to become the settled pastor and teacher of Stratham Community Church, United Church of Christ in New Hampshire. After moving to Hawaii in 2019, he served as the Branch Manager at the Honoka'a Public Library and the Laupahoehoe Public and School Library until the fall of 2021 when he started a new call as the Associate Conference Minister of the Hawai'i Conference of the United Church of Christ.

Stephen R. Silver, Treasurer

Rev. Stephen R. 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, a Master of Liberal Arts in Religion from Harvard University, and a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School. He lives in Lebanon with his family.

Adrian Chastain Weimer

Dr. Adrian Chastain Weimer is Professor of History at Providence College. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University. Her first book, Martyrs' Mirror: Persecution and Holiness in Early New England (Oxford, 2011) explores how puritans, Baptists, and Quakers imagined themselves within historical narratives of persecution, especially the stories in John Foxe’s “Book of Martyrs.” Adrian has published widely on the history of toleration, devotional practice, and political mobilizing in early America. Her work has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Young Scholars in American Religion program, and most recently through 2017-2018 NEH Long-term Research Fellowships from the Massachusetts Historical Society and the American Antiquarian Society.