Pastors and Staff
Rev. Timothy Carl Ahrens
Ahrens, Rev. Timothy Carl
Senior Minister
First Church Staff
Office: 614-228-1741 x 13

The Rev. Dr. Timothy C. Ahrens is in his 16th year of ministry as Senior Minister of First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ in downtown Columbus. A church known for its witness to social justice since its birth as an abolitionist congregation in 1852, Rev. Ahrens is the fifth consecutive senior minister from Yale Divinity School and is a lifelong member of the United Church of Christ. Under his leadership, First Church has doubled in membership during an era when seven downtown churches have closed their doors.

Rev. Ahrens has been a strong and respected voice in the community since 1985 when he arrived in the city to serve North Congregational UCC on Henderson Road. He has built relationships with other pastors, lay people and city leaders to work to end poverty through improved education, fair labor laws, job creation, fair housing, health care reform and equal rights for all people. He has advocated for the end of gun violence and the abolition of the death penalty and has served two terms as co-president of B.R.E.A.D. (Building Responsibility Equality And Dignity), which he helped found in 1996. To move compassion for the poor forward across Ohio, Rev. Ahrens launched We Believe Ohio in 2006.

Rev. Ahrens has preached in churches across the country and has served as preacher of the week in Chautauqua, NY; Lakeside, Ohio and Bay City, Michigan. He has preached, lectured and taught at Yale Divinity School and Chicago Theological Seminary. He has preached at the MAAFA celebration at St. Paul's Community Baptist Church in Brooklyn, N.Y. In October 2011, he spoke and offered a eulogy at a home-going celebration for the Rev. Dr. Fred Shuttlesworth in Birmingham, Ala.

He has lectured on Washington Gladden and the social gospel movement on a number of occasions and his comments and columns have been widely published and appeared most recently in the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post in a column by EJ Dionne. He has also appeared in the National Catholic Reporter, The Christian Science Monitor, New Yorker magazine, the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, Christianity Today, and Christian Century. He appeared in and has written for Reflections magazine, published through Yale, and has also appeared in over 40 Ohio newspapers. He has been quoted in several books on religion in America and has had sermons published in interfaith books and periodicals. For years, he wrote regularly for the Columbus Dispatch’s “Faith and Values’’ section. He wrote a blog for the newspaper in the summer of 2010 chronicling his travels and experience among Jews, Muslims and Christians in the Middle East and Spain (See “Meet the Pastor’’ page on this site). He is the author of “Acts Comes Alive, 12 Keys for Reviving the Church” and is currently a contributing editor to The Columbus African American Journal.

He served from 2009-2012 as a member of the board of directors of Faith in Public Life, a faith-based national organization that seeks to influence public policy, has been involved with the Universal Health Care Action Network in Ohio and has spoken at many rallies at the Statehouse on issues of social justice and fairness. He is the 2008 recipient of the William Sloane Coffin Award, given by Yale Divinity School in recognition of a person’s commitment to peace and reconciliation, the only local church pastor to have ever received the award. On September 11, 2011, he received the Distinguished Citizen Award for social justice and community action from the Interfaith Youth Group of Central Ohio. He has also won The Good Life Award and several other awards for his work on behalf of the LGBT community. In May, 2014, he received the Alvin R. Hadley Social Justice Award from the Spirituality Network of Ohio. In August, 2011, Rev. Ahrens joined The Dominican Sisters of Peace as associate of the order. He currently serves on the Mayor's Advisory Council and is on a review committee serving the Columbus Public Schools.

He has served the United Church of Christ at the association, conference and national level. Rev. Ahrens was ordained in his home congregation, St. John's United Church of Christ, in Lansdale, Penn., June 23, 1985. Before coming to First Church, he served as senior pastor of North Congregational United Church of Christ in northwest Columbus for more than 10 years. Prior to that, he served Bethany UCC, Cleveland, Ohio, and in three urban settings of ministry in St. Louis, New Haven and Philadelphia, stimulating growth and revitalization by helping congregations to become more multi-racial, more multi-cultural and more accepting and tolerant of all people.

Rev. Ahrens earned his Doctor of Ministry degree from Chicago Theological Seminary. His thesis was entitled: “Young and Growing Stronger: Creating a Model of 21st Century Prophetic Witness Leaders with a New Generation.” A devoted husband and father, he and his wife, Susan Sitler, have been married since November 1985 and are the parents of four adult children and have two grandsons.

Rev. Emily Corzine
Corzine, Rev. Emily
Associate Minister
First Church Staff
Office: 614-228-1741 x 21
A lifelong Presbyterian, Emily grew up in Cambridge, Ohio. She graduated from Denison University with a degree in Biology and Physical Education/Athletic Training. She received a Master of Science from Indiana University and then served as an assistant professor/athletic trainer at Denison University for seven years before answering God’s call on my life to ministry. She was an active member and ordained deacon at Broad Street Presbyterian Church in Columbus, Ohio. In 2008, she graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey with a Master of Divinity degree. While in seminary she served as a pastoral intern at The Brick Presbyterian Church in New York City. Emily participated in a Lilly Endowment grant for Faithful Practices for Congregational Leadership. She received The C. Frederick and Cleta R. Mathias Memorial Award in Worship and Pastoral Ministry.Following seminary, she completed a year-long hospital chaplain residency program at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. In 2010, Emily was ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and served First Presbyterian Church, Wooster, Ohio as their transitional associate pastor. Returning to Columbus in 2011, Emily was called to Nationwide Children's Hospital as a chaplain in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. From 2012-2014, Emily served as the interim director of mission and young adults at Broad Street Presbyterian Church, Columbus, Ohio. Prior to coming to First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Emily served at Old Stone Presbyterian Church as their Transitional Pastor. At First Congregational Church, Emily’s role incorporates pastoral care, administration, preaching and teaching. She resources Church Growth and Church Vitality, Justice and Mercy, House and Grounds and Administration. She hopes to engage members in discovering their spiritual gifts to better serve God’s kingdom, working for justice in our community, nation and world. Emily has a heart for mission and walking with individual in their faith journey wherever it may lead. She it has participated in mission opportunities in Peru, Guatemala, and Malawi. Emily has dual standing with the Central Southeast Association, United Church of Christ, and is a member in good standing with the Presbytery of Scioto Valley where she serves as a Care Task Team representative working with Candidates and Inquirers in Ministry. She also serves on the Metropolitan Area Church Council. Emily, her husband, Jeff, and their daughter, Camryn (4) live in Dublin, Ohio.
Mark Dahnke
Dahnke, Mark
Building Manager
First Church Staff
Office: 614-228-1741 x 22
Mark is responsible for the care and improvement of the Buildings and Grounds of First Church. He oversees and maintains the daily operation of all mechanical systems, ensures the facility is safe and used responsibly, and oversees or performs periodic maintenance on all other building components.He coordinates various services with contractors and vendors, assists other staff with their programs and projects, and oversees and assists Custodial Staff.He cares for the grounds, parking areas and sidewalks.He is involved with the planning and implementation of improvements to the facilities through design work, obtaining bids, hands-on installation or ensuring the work is completed satisfactorily by contractors.He meets regularly with the House and Grounds Commission as well as other groups such as the Security Committee. Mark came to First Church in October of 2016 after 23 years as the Facility Manager for Shadowbox Live where he was directly involved in the design and construction of 5 theatre spaces.He was involved in all daily aspects of their operations such as show design, set and prop construction, lighting and sound, kitchen operations, facility maintenance and improvements, IT operations, and more.Prior to that he had his own residential Handyman business after leaving the Maintenance Department of Trinity Lutheran Seminary.He was recognized with the Joseph F. Scharrer Phantom of the Theatre Award in 2012 presented by the OSU Department of Theatre.He graduated from Grove City High School and attended The Ohio State University.
Kevin Jones
Jones, Kevin
Minister of Music
First Church Staff
Office: 614-228-1741 x 12
Kevin Jones began formal musical training at the age of four in his native Ohio. He attended Southern Methodist University, studying organ with Robert T. Anderson and harpsichord with Larry Palmer. He completed his undergraduate degree at Ashland College, studying organ with Karel Paukert and piano with Elizabeth Pastor. Mr. Jones went on to earn graduate degrees in Collaborative Piano and in Organ Performance at the Cleveland Institute of Music, studying organ with Karel Paukert, and piano and chamber music with Anne Epperson, Thomas Muraco, Elizabeth Pastor, and Vivian Hornik Weilerstein. From 1996-2004, Mr. Jones held the post of Musical Director/Conductor of the New York City based Gilbert & Sullivan ensemble, theBlue Hill Troupe, Ltd.With that ensemble he made his Carnegie Hallconducting debut as guest with Skitch Henderson’s New York Pops Symphony Orchestra. He has worked as assistant to conductor Anton Coppola in productions of Aïda, Gianni Schicchi, La Bohème, Lucia, Le Nozze di Figaro,and Rigoletto.He appeared frequently at Carnegie Hallwith Mid-America Productions, and made his Weill Recital Halldébut with flutist Koaki Fujimoto. He has performed at Ashland University, Cleveland Museum of Art, Oberlin College, Merkin Hall, theMetropolitan Museum of Art, SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Purchase, and Weill Hall. Internationally, he has performed throughout Europe and the Far East. Mr. Jones has served as an Associate Artist and Assistant Chorus Master with Cleveland Operaas well as a staff pianist at both the Cleveland Institute of Musicand the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. From 2007-2012 he was Canon Precentor and Director of Music at Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford, Connecticut. While in Hartford, he also was a member of the vocal division faculty at the Hartt School serving as vocal coach and vocal instructor, and teaching courses in English, French and German diction. Currently, Mr. Jones holds the post of Minister of Music at First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, in Columbus, Ohio. He directs and oversees a large choral program with three choirs and a handbell choir that plays five octaves of White Chapel handbells. He also is responsible for organizing Concerts at First Church including Congregational Concerts– a concert series in Central Ohio that is celebrating its 44th season, First Tuesdays– a midweek monthly series, and all other musical events that happen outside of the normal Sunday morning service.
Sharon A. Leidheiser
Leidheiser, Sharon A.
Business Administrator
First Church Staff
Office: 614-228-1741 x 11

Finance administrator, compile stewardship campaigns and pledge reports, manage and structure church budgets. Technical support for church systems: copier lease and maintenance, telephones, internet and server maintenance, WIFI, email accounts, church schedule, Lease agreements for guests and organizations. Manage printers, laptop and desktop computers and software. Personnel benefits including: annuities, pensions, disability, health and dental insurance and payroll. Manage the custodian and security personnel.

Amy Wagner
Wagner, Amy
Office Manager
First Church Staff
Office: 614-228-1741 x 10
As Office Manager, Amy is responsible for the daily operation of the church office. She coordinates a team of volunteers who commit their time and talents to support First Church by volunteering in the office and around the church on a regular basis. As the face of First Church, Amy answers the phone, responds to email requests for information and assistance, and greets members, visitors and vendors who come to First Church during the week. She is responsible for communicating with members and visitors in a variety of ways – monthly newsletter, weekly Depart to Serve inserts in worship materials, posts on Facebook, emails to members via Constant Contact, and the Annual Report, which Amy edits and produces. Amy supports varies missions and programs at First Church. She assists in the leadership of First Church’s Care Ministry, which continues to meet regularly to prepare cards and to share prayer concerns, and occasionally share a potluck meal. She supports the Good Samaritan program by fielding calls and assisting visitors on Good Samaritan Day. Amy regularly First Church’s Laundry Love events, which provides free laundry services for the West Franklinton community on the last Tuesday of each month. Additionally, she has served as a Sunday School Teacher for many years and is a member of the Christian Education Commission. As part of First Church’s Wedding Ministry Team, Amy serves as a Lead Wedding Coordinator, and she is responsible for providing tours to prospective couples, scheduling weddings, and preparing the corresponding contracts, information and planning paperwork. A lifelong member of the United Church of Christ, Amy attended Immanuel United Church of Christ in her hometown of Zanesville, Ohio. She attended Bowling Green State University, graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing, with a minor in Technical Writing, Editing, and Children’s Literature.Before Joining the staff of First Church, Amy worked as Senior Marketing Manager for twenty-five years at URS / AECOM, an engineering and architectural design firm. Amy and her husband, Bill, have been members of First Church since 1996. They have two children, Katie and Chase, and live in Upper Arlington.
Mark S. Williams
Williams, Mark S.
Director of Christian Education
First Church Staff
Office: 614-228-1741 x 15

Mark is responsible for all First Church's Education Program from infants through adults. He also works with both youth groups, supervises the nursery staff and is part of the worship planning team.

Mark received his Bachelor of Music Education from Morehead State University in Morehead, KY and his Masters of Science in Educational Leadership from Ohio University in Athens, OH. He has extensive experience in all aspects of education and church administration.

Mark served for more than 33 years in several churches as a Director of Music, Organist and Choir Director. He was the Director of Educational Media and Technology with Portsmouth City Schools and also served the district as a music teacher for 20 years. He is the father of three sons and lives in the city of Bexley with his partner.

Marty Worth
Worth, Marty
Program Manager
First Church Staff
Office: 614-228-1741 x 14

As program manager of First Church, Marty supports the ministries of First Church: worship planning, the music programs including the choirs and the Concert Series, church growth & vitality, Deacons and administering the Good Samaritan Emergency Help Fund. You will see her name as the contact person for many areas of the First Church ministry.

Marty grew up in Columbus and at First Congregational Church. She and her husband Gerry returned to both in 2002. They have 4 grown children. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University. Marty has served on the lay staff of churches in several denominations across the country as the family moved during Gerry’s career.

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