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Rev. Valerie L. Jackson, D.Min., Senior Pastor
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Luke 4:18-19 (NRSV)
Pastor Jackson joined the UPark faith community July 1, 2016. She moved to Denver from Augusta, GA in 2009, and became a member of the United Methodist Church in 2010 via Park Hill UMC. Pastor Jackson was born in Boston, MA, and reared in Boston and Mt. Carmel, SC. After several years in community development, she has served as Senior Pastor of First UMC Aurora; Academic Advisor/Adjunct Faculty at Iliff School of Theology; Preaching Pastor of Abyssinian Christian Church in Fort Collins; and Director of Christian Education at Beulah Grove Baptist Church in Augusta, GA. Pastor Jackson is committed to “life to the fullest” for all people, and is described as a bridge-builder; as such, she serves as a voice and a board member for The Center for Health and Hope, The Colorado Religious Coalition of Reproductive Justice and as a faith spokesperson for the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado.
Rev. Debby Lawrence, Congregational Care Pastor
Debby joined the staff of UPark in 1998 as Christian Education Director. She was consecrated a Diaconal Minister in 1999 and ordained Deacon in 2002. In January 2001 she became our full-time Congregational Care Pastor. Previous to working at UPark, she was a Stephen Minister and Leader, and Sunday School teacher at St. Andrew UMC.
Duane Buys, Director of Christian Education
Duane has lived in Denver for over 30 years and previously taught at Denver Christian Schools. He began work with UPark in 2001 and enjoys working with children of all ages. He coordinates the Youth Mission trips each year. In 2012 they worked in Los Angeles and in the summer of 2013, the Middle School group will be working at La Puente in Alamosa and the High School group will be going back to LA.
JoAnn Gudvangen-Brown, Director of Music/Organist
JoAnn joined the staff as organist in July 1989 and became Director of Music in 2004. She is a graduate of St. Olaf College and the University of Denver with degrees in Piano Performance and Choral Conducting. She is an active musician, teacher, and performer.
Jessica Carmer, Administrative Assistant
MaryAnn Buys, Wedding Coordinator