Rev. Holly R. Jackson

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The Reverend Holly R. Jackson (she/her) began her Pastorate at UCCSV in August 2016. Previously, she served for 11 years as the Minister of Christian Education at Hope UCC in Alexandria, VA. As someone who is passionate about children and families, Holly has also spent time as a Stay-at-Home Parent and a School Social Worker. Holly has a Master of Divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary, 2012, a Master of Social Work from Fordham University, 1997, and a Bachelor of Arts in Social Relations from Michigan State University, 1995. Holly is also active in the wider United Church of Christ serving as the Assistant Moderator and then Moderator of the Potomac Association from 2019-2023. In addition, she was honored to be a Fellow in the Resilience in Leadership Program at Chicago Theological Seminary from 2018-2020.

Holly will tell you that she is a beloved messy child of God on a mission to make people believe in love, goodness, grace, redemption, and the inherent worth of all beings. In ministry she seeks to follow Jesus as he wades into the sea of humanity preaching peace and hope to the least and lost. She deeply believes that God is still speaking and active in this world and works to help create a church that reflects that reality. She sees spiritual disciplines and justice work as two halves of the whole of what works to propel us on our spiritual path. She believes that humor and joy make life worthwhile, that being still and silent before God is hard but necessary, and that speaking truth to power is a holy endeavor.

Holly is married to her college sweetheart and has two college age children. They live in the Gaithersburg area with several pets and a whole lot of love. When not focusing on church or family you will often find her singing, crafting, hiking, reading, watching baseball, or playing board games.

Co-Minister of Music & Accompanist

George Benskin V

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George Henry Benskin V (he/him) began attending the United Church of Christ of Seneca Valley in 2007. Four years later, he played his first full service for the UCCSV on Christmas Day in 2011, and now does so more regularly as a confirmed member and as the Assistant Music Minister. As of 2019, he has attained an Associate of Arts degree in Music from Montgomery College, with a focus on Piano Performance, and began study at his current institution, George Mason University to earn a Bachelor's Degree in Music with a focus in Composition - his lifelong calling, as well as his frequent work teaching music theory, piano, and mentoring beginning composition students.

While available to substitute as pianist for various churches and parishes in the area since 2012, George has always felt called home to this church still today, and certainly from the first dedicated offertory special music it heard and accepted on that aforementioned 2011 Christmas Day - a well-timed arrangement of “You’re A Mean One, Mister Grinch” - a poignant repertoire choice during the passing of offering plates. Yet, however amusing the resulting anecdote, that choice spoke well to the UCCSV’s willingness to continue fostering his musical growth afterward for years to come, despite - or because of - his sense of humor that day.

George is always faithfully listening to the sermon, and to everything around him in the sanctuary. It isn’t only to attune to the energy in the room and adapt it to the liturgy happening in that moment, but it is also because he truly believes in the importance of not just hearing, but listening, whether it is the living Word, the joyful noise of a child in the Prayground next to his piano bench, or even the silence of grief. To him, all three of those are the same thing. 

Co-Minister of Music and Congregational Song Leader

Catherine Benskin

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As her mother told it, Catherine came out singing: Commercial jingles, TV theme songs, and learning show tunes and standards her mom. Embarrassing her siblings, Catherine enthusiastically joined in the congregational singing at the Folk Mass at church.

After her first child, Damian, was born, Catherine officially joined her first church choir and soon expanded her ministry to cantor. Attending annual conferences for the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, Catherine attended intensives on liturgical music planning & children’s choir directing and was among the first ten people to earn a Basic Cantor Certificate. She has trained and performed with internationally recognized musicians on music interpretation and animation as well as songwriting and has enjoyed performing all genres of sacred music from classical and hymns to gospel and contemporary. She has also served as cantor and chorister for multilingual celebrations. Catherine performed in two auditioned Papal Mass choirs for the visits of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. In 2006, she produced and recorded a CD project with her music partner, Alan, and organized concerts in local churches for its distribution.

In addition to her cantor and choir ministry, she also directed children’s choir for 7 years and launched a youth cantor program at her most recent church. Previously, she has used her experience to assist in building a new mission community and start a music program from scratch. The part of her experience that has been a most significant calling is her ministry with bereaved families as cantor for funerals and memorials.

Although her 20-year professional career has been primarily in the Catholic Church, Catherine and her family have been attending UCCSV since 2007 and she has volunteered in the choir as often as she was able while maintaining a career requires working most Sundays. She was drawn by the community’s generous welcome and support for her now adult children and the kindness and authenticity of the congregation. Catherine is so pleased to be able to bring her professional experience to her chosen church and to be sharing the responsibilities and joys with her son, George.

In addition to her music endeavors, Catherine is currently office manager for an excellent local chiropractor where she has worked for 15 years. She and her husband, George enjoy going to theatre productions: from local HS & community theater to the Kennedy Center. They also stay fit under the training of their senior rescue Boston Terrier/ Chihuahua Trixi who walks a surprising 3 miles a day.

Ministry Intern

Jack Kasander

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Jack was born in Abington, a suburb of Philadelphia. He and the family moved to Lansdale a few towns over a few years later. As a kid he struggled with dyslexia, but he's all good now. Hard work and helpful people can do that it turns out. He played baseball in High School, but his professional career was brutally cut short by not being very good. He learned to play a handful of brass instruments as well, and by High School blossomed into a Marching Band dork. Thankfully, he recovered. He grew up attending St. John's UCC where you may have heard already, he was drawn toward ministry.

With the passing of his mother, he elected to put the ministry goal on hold for a few years and attended American University with a major in political science. Between reading dusty books by long dead scholars, he found the time to make some friends who have become like family to him. And managed, despite his best efforts, to dodge being arrested at protests. The early Trump years were a rich era for a young man hellbent on getting into that kind of trouble. To escape the heat, he took a term abroad and studied in Berlin at the Frei Universitaat Berlin where he spent a semester studying fascism. Germany, it turns out, is a great place to do that. Who would’ve guessed? Upon his return, he discovered all those AP classes he'd taken in High School meant he'd be graduating a year early. In a panicked frenzy, he applied for a Master's in Poli Sci not knowing what else to do. In this frenzied haze, he met a nice young woman and convinced her to follow his lead and go to Berlin for a year. They'll be married in December.

DC as it happens is an expensive place to live and so he began working at Georgetown Cupcakes to make enough money to keep himself fed and housed while pursuing his masters. This was a bad idea. He ended up living in genuine poverty for two years, struggling to pay his bills and still feed himself. He withdrew from his master’s program and decided on looking for a white-collar job to put that bachelor's degree to use. He found that job at The Public Affairs Council, an NGO on K Street that provides educational programming for lobbyists and policy communications specialist. Here he met some quite ghoulish figures from the corporate world and after two years in their midst, decided it was time to answer that call he'd been putting off. He began seminary in the fall of 2020.

At present, he lives in Greektown in Baltimore, just a hop skip and a jump from the harbor with his fiancé and his late father's dog who they adopted two years ago when his father passed. He aims when he's finished with seminary to move back to Philadelphia and settle down for a life of local church ministry. He's hopeful it'll be a rich environment in which to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

Office and Communications Manager

Shelly Moore

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Shelly (She/her) has been a member of the United Church of Christ since 2014, and joined Seneca Valley in 2015, after stepping away from the United Methodist Church. She is a graduate of Longwood University (2000) with a BA in history and political science, and a concentration in pre-law. Shelly then attended Old Dominion University, where she earned her teaching certificate in secondary history and social studies education. She taught middle school and high school in both rural and urban settings in southern Virginia. In 2009, she relocated from the Eastern Shore to enter Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., graduating in 2014 with a master’s in divinity. During her incubation at seminary, Shelly was a youth pastor and leader of Christian Education; followed by a two-year internship in chaplaincy at a local retirement community and then two years at Mary Washington Hospital, earning 2.5 clinical pastoral education units.

Shelly, with her diverse background in many fields of education, brings a wealth of knowledge and skills to the position of Office and Communications Manager at UCCSV. And since she is also a member of the church, Shelly has a vested interest in the flourishing of our faith community in Germantown. Being Office and Communications Manager means Shelly supports the Pastor and the Church in a multiplicity of ways: managing communications (in our weekly newsletter, The Spirit News, on our website, print media, email, and social media); managing the office (bills, payroll, database, ordering supplies); as well as entertaining visitors and friends at the Church Office. Thankfully, Shelly is a curious learner with a willingness to engage in new experiences.

Shelly is passionate about social justice, inclusivity, hospitality, and caring for the earth. Her many interests include cooking, learning, music, camping, stargazing, traveling, socializing, watching Jeopardy, walking in nature, and being in the presence of water features. Shelly is married to Dave, and they have their beloved dog, Louie.