On October 2, 2016 Pastor Kris Snyder-Samuelson was elected to position of Senior Pastor.
Rev. Kris P. Snyder-Samuelson grew up in a United Church of Christ church in the small town of Slatington, Pennsylvania. She has known ever since she played “Take and Eat” as a child with her sister with perfectly cut white bread cubes and purple Kool Aid that the church would always have an important place in her life. She’s also known since then that one day she’d be serving “Take and Eat”, Holy Communion, to others as their pastor. God’s call in her life to love and serve others has been constant and strong.
In college (at Susquehanna University as a music major and then at Penn State University as an Elementary Education major) she knew she was meant to go to seminary but she wouldn’t say ‘yes’ for a few more years. While teaching middle school students at a Catholic School she tested the waters by taking classes at Lancaster Theological Seminary where her husband John was attending. When John graduated from Lancaster, they moved to Buffalo, NY where he served his first church and she attended seminary at Colgate Rochester Divinity School in Rochester, NY. She graduated from there with honors. In Western New York she had the chance to serve a large city church and a small suburban church.
She was called to Union UCC, Neffs in 1996 as the Associate Pastor. Here she developed a team to take Communion and flowers to members, drafted and implemented a plan to call a visitation pastor, created new ideas for outreach and welcome, designed and led a Confirmation program for 25-30 students each year, generated a middle/high school ministry for over 60 youth, established and led a contemporary worship team, offered meaningful and creative worship and music experiences, and shared in all of the pastoral care, programming, and administration of a church of 1,400.
Since November 2014, she has served in a new way at Union as the Acting Senior Pastor when Reverend Thomas N. Thomas retired. Leading in this new role has allowed her to: oversee the administrative pieces of our church’s life, support and empower the staff, develop a new approach to finances and Stewardship, collaborate in worship scheduling and planning, grow our church’s ministry and mission of Jesus Christ and create a vision and plan for the future.
Recently at a new member gathering at Union, a new member said, “You know the saying we use to open worship: ‘No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here?’ Well I think that’s the best thing I ever heard a pastor say. That’s the kind of church I want to join.” Pastor Kris is passionate about helping Christians practice and live the extravagant love, grace and hospitality of Jesus Christ and she’s glad to serve at Union, a place that shares that passion.
Pastor Kris says, “Being in ministry has always been my dream job, and I believe it is God’s dream for me too.” In November of 2016, it will be twenty years since she has been serving at Union. She is honored, humbled and grateful that Union would consider calling her to serve as the next Senior Pastor. “This is another dream job for me, and I trust it is a chance for us to work together on continuing to be a beacon of light, love and grace for each other, the community and the world.”
Her family includes John, her husband of twenty-eight years who is an ordained UCC pastor that currently works with a family services agency; their daughter Hannah, who is twenty-three and who loves working on environmental issues and organic farms; and Roscoe, their five year-old beagle mix. She loves gardening and supporting the many wonderful local farms in our area. Reading, swimming, walking, traveling, being near the water and watching a good movie or musical or listening to wonderful music are the things that always reconnect her with God and renew her spirit.