Our Team

Lee Ann Bryce

Senior Pastor

Lee Ann has served as senior pastor of First Congregational Church since December 2012. Read more...

Kathy Bowser

Pastoral Care Assistant

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Laurie Dobson

Office Manager and Director of Communications.

Laurie is responsible for running the church office, the weekly Comma, the monthly Comma Plus, website content, and all other communication needs at FCC. Read more...

Heather Goolsby

Youth Director

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Analiese Hill

Director of Children's Ministry

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Joel Penrod

Worship and Arts Planner

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Nina Ortega

Nursery Director

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Choir and Hand Bell Choir Director

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Laurie Casland Simmons

Accompanist

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Bios

Pastor Lee Ann

Senior Pastor

A native Texan, I am a life-long Christian who has been inspired and energized by progressive Christian theology. I have devoted my life to nurturing healthy, supportive community, both sacred and secular.  (I don't really think there's a difference.) Mindfulness meditation in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hahn centers me in the presence of the sacred, and enables me to sustain the justice work for which I am passionate. I have a Music Education degree from Friends University, and a Master of Divinity from Iliff School of Theology.

 

Favorite Movies

● Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

● Waiting for Guffman

● Goodfellas

● To Kill a Mockingbird

● Fargo

Favorite Places to Eat

● Tacos Ernesto

● Pho & Grill

● Nonna Tata

● Fred’s Texas

● Cork & Pig

Favorite Things to Do

● Watch movies and great TV shows (so many choices, not enough time)

● Hang out with kids David, Sunny, Hannah, and Hayden

● Cook and drink good wine with good friends

● Hike with dogs Denver, Mabel, and Shelbe

● Anything with my partner, Lisa

Favorite Quote

“Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”  —Mary Oliver

A Random Fact about Me

My great-grandfather was an east Texas bootlegger who was killed in a skirmish over his still. Later, the man convicted of his murder was pardoned by the Governor of Texas.

Listen to some of my sermons.

Contact me via e-mail.

Rev. Kathy Bowser

Pastoral Care Assistant

I recently retired after serving ten years as the pastor of Celebration on the Lake Church. I grew up in the Catholic Church and became a nun with the Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. After leaving the convent, I began a career in fundraising for the March of Dimes where I worked for 25 years.

 

Favorite Movies

● The Yearling

● Shawshank Redemption

● One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest

● To Kill a Mockingbird

● Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

● Bridge Over the River Kwai 

Favorite Places to Eat

● Olives Mediterranean Grill

● SukhoThai

● Moni's

● Pappadeaux

● Red Lobster 

Favorite Things to Do

● Swimming

● Boating

● Walking our dog, Annie

● Reading

● Writing

Favorite Quote

The definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result.

A Random Fact about Me

I always wanted to be a beachcomber-philosopher.

Contact me via e-mail.

Laurie Dobson

Office Manager and Director of Communications
I began working a few hours a week at FCC in 2013 as the Director of Communications. In 2015, just as I was ending my 23-year career in college textbook publishing, the position of office manager came available, and I was happy to come on board full time. While helping to run our church can be challenging, we have a wonderful staff and the most loving congregation—along with the most beautiful view outside my office window—and it is a joy to work here.

 

Favorite Movies

● An Affair to Remember (only the Cary Grant/Deborah Kerr version)

● Elf

● Pretty in Pink

● Hope Floats

● Return to Me

Favorite Places to Eat

● Spiral Diner

● Thai Select

● Maharaja

● King Tut’s

● Taste of Asia

Favorite Things to Do

● Be creative

● Play ukulele

● Watch movies and eat popcorn with Eric

● Document life with my camera

● Read magazines and biographies

Favorite Quote

"Perfect is the enemy of good." —John Jerome

A Random Fact about Me

I used to take care of two chimpanzees (one was the famous Nim Chimpsky).

Contact me via e-mail.

Heather Goolsby

Youth Director

I have been a youth director for 11 years at a United Methodist church and now First Congregational Church. I have a passion for working with preteens and teens, and I enjoy spending time with them—both during structured learning time and when we're just having fun. My goal is to help them grow in their faith, find their place in the world, and discover the joy of helping make the world a better place. One of the greatest gifts has been seeing my former youth as adults, carving out their own wonderful paths in this world. Staying connected with them keeps me inspired to work with the next generation of youth.

 

Favorite Movies

● High Fidelity

● Pi

● Mystic Pizza

● Serenity

● The Princess Bride

Favorite Places to Eat

● Clear Springs (onion rings)

● Spiral Diner

● Stir Crazy (sweet treats)

● Happy Bowl

● Swiss Pastry Shop

Favorite Things to Do

● Doula duties

● Exploring outdoors

● Spending time with my husband, dogs, and kiddos

● Traveling

● Reading

● Visiting museums and libraries

Favorite Quote

"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted."

A Random Fact about Me

I am a rescuer of things: lifeless plants, homeless books, animals in need, people in need, and anything else that calls to me.

Contact me via e-mail.

Analiese Hill

Director of Children's Ministry

When I am with children, I feel at home. I have always been drawn to children—as a child with smaller cousins, as a teen babysitter, and now as a parent and a teacher. I nurture my own sense of wonder when I'm engaged with young minds; I cannot imagine living my life in any other way. It is my passion to develop myself as a playful, healthy human while helping to nurture the growing minds and spirits of children. Working with children in this way blesses my life every day. 


Favorite Movies

● The Lion King

● The Fifth Element

● Almost Famous

● Pocahontas

● Avatar

Favorite Places to Eat

● Central Market

● Jazz Café

● My parent's house

● My own kitchen table

● In the park having a lovely picnic

Favorite Things to Do

● Dance

● Go out on the bike, kayaking, or hiking

● Reading inspiring books

● Camping with friends and family

● Creating art outside

Favorite Quote

"Life's too short to worry,

Life's too long to wait,
Too short not to love everybody,
Life's too long to hate." —Todd Snider

A Random Fact about Me

When I eat too much turmeric, the bottoms of my feet turn yellow.

Contact me via e-mail.

Joel Penrod

Worship and Arts Planner

 

Favorite Movies

● High Fidelity (any Cusack film)

● The Thomas Crown Affair

● I’m Gonna Git You, Sucka

● Love Actually

● The Sting

Favorite Places to Eat

● King Tut’s

● Carrabba's Italian Grill

● Maharaja

● Smokey's Barbeque

● La Rueda Mexican Restaurant

Favorite Things to Do

● Driving around with Veronica listening to music and talking

● Making my kids laugh; hearing their laughter

● Playing music with the band

● Watching TV shows set in Alaska (i.e., Alaska: The Last Frontier)

● Watching football (fantasy football)

Favorite Quote

"On a day when the wind is perfect, the sail just needs to open and the world is full of beauty. Today is such a day."  —Rumi as sung by David Wilcox & Nance Pettit

A Random Fact about Me

I have a secret love for beatboxing, but I haven’t gotten much better since 6th grade.

Contact me via e-mail.

Nina Ortega

Nursery Director

 

Contact me via e-mail.

Laurie Casland Simmons

Accompanist

I was born into a musical family. My father was my first piano teacher and my mother taught me to sing all the Girl Scout rounds. I began classical piano training at the age of six while living in Central America. At the age of twelve, I realized I wanted to “expand my horizons” and learned to play the guitar. My first music-teaching job was at the age of sixteen for a summer music camp. I continue to teach both piano and guitar to people of all ages in my private music studio. From 1995 to 2001, I served as Music Director at Westside Unitarian Universalist Church in Fort Worth and later was part of the “start-up” UU church known as Pathways as their Music Director. From 2006-2018, I was a member of the 11:11 Band at First Methodist. I have performed for many years both as a solo artist and with various bands.

For me, music and spirituality go hand in hand. It’s the way I worship. It’s the way I pray. And I love sharing music with people in community.

 

Favorite Movies

● Sound of Music

● Field of Dreams

● Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

● Star Wars: A New Hope

● The Majestic

Favorite Places to Eat

● Mexico Real

● Prima’s Pasta

● Spiral Diner

● My own kitchen

● Picnic on top of a mountain

Favorite Things to Do

● Travel, travel, travel!

● Play music with my three sons: Joel, Travis & Justin

● Go to the movies or a live musical/theatre performance

● Walking with my dogs, Lilo & Cassie

● Read in my pajamas

Favorite Quote

“Music can name the unnamable and communicate the unknowable.”

—Leonard Bernstein

A random fact about me:

In 1995, while working for the Fort Worth Symphony, I washed James Taylor’s underwear and socks.