New Officers elected in Spring 2019:
Jen Druliner – Elder Class of 2020
Jen Druliner has been a member of Western since 2003. She found Western after a colleague, also Presbyterian, suggested the church. The colleague didn’t stay, but Jen did because of the sermons, the music, and ultimately — the people. A former Clerk of Session and Mission Committee member, Jen was honored to serve for four years as one of the Western members on the Miriam’s Kitchen Board of Directors. She continues to volunteer at MK through her employer. Jen got a lot out of the anti-racism training for Western members, led by Crossroads. And she was honored to serve on the last PNC to fill the senior pastor position. A self-described “nonprofit governance nerd,” Jen works by day with two boards of directors and many volunteer committees at the U.S. Green Building Council and its related organization, Green Business Certification Inc.
Becky Koenig – Elder Class of 2021
Becky Koenig found Western Presbyterian Church in 2016 after moving back to the D.C. area for her job as a reporter. She appreciated the church’s beautiful worship music, active mission programs and gentle challenge to apply faith in new contexts. She and her husband Andy DeSoto loved getting married at Western in 2018. Becky grew up attending (and playing handbells at) Kirkwood Presbyterian Church in Springfield, Virginia. She and Andy tutor students through Community Club at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church.
Beth Duris – Deacon Class of 2020
Beth Duris grew up in the Philadelphia area and moved to DC on a lark just after college with her best friend — decades later, they’re both still here. Beth joined Western about 15 years ago after volunteering for several years at Miriam’s Kitchen and remembers Mickey Voigt sitting next to her at a MK event talking up John Wimberly and Western. She was in a time of transition in her life and from the beginning, Western felt like home. Beth describes the church family as so warm and supportive, and she loves the openness with which people here explore their faith. Beth finds beauty in people committing to walk the journey of faith with one another. Beth and her daughter have found the kids’ programs to be fabulous. She’s also enjoyed serving on the Mission Ministry, the Session, and various committees. Beth has also served as an usher for years and finds that to be a very tangible and grounding way to feel connected to the church.
We give thanks to outgoing Elders, who completed their three-year term on Session with the Class of 2018: Sam Hendrix, Todd Trafford, and Nicole Wallace (who also served as Clerk of Session).
Kate Brittain–Class of 2021
Kate Brittain grew up in Tucson, AZ and came to DC to study at GWU, which is how she first found Western. “I loved hearing calls to civic action from the pulpit,” says Kate, “and finding a church that supported mission work not just in the community, but in the very building itself. Our partnership with Miriam’s Kitchen and our commitment to both feed the hungry and fight systemic poverty is very important to me.”
Kate joined Western as a member in 2008, but had been teaching in the Sunday School since 2005. She also served as Sunday School Coordinator in 2015. “It’s been wonderful to watch Western’s youngest grow and develop in faith,” says Kate, “and to see some of the kids I taught as first graders be confirmed last year.”
Paul Fiddick–Class of 2021
After growing up in a small town in rural Missouri, Paul Fiddick embarked upon a career in broadcasting. In 1999, an opportunity to work in the Clinton Administration lured Paul to DC from his broadcasting job in Dallas, TX.
Paul was attracted to Western by–would you believe–a newspaper ad. Paul, with wife Julie and family, joined Western in 2000.
Paul and Julie started the Free Inquiry Class 16 years ago on a challenge from Rev. John Wimberly. Paul has served on several committees and task forces at Western (including Session), but says that chairing the Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) was probably the most meaningful.
Mimi Scotchmer–Renewing for Class of 2021
Mimi Scotchmer was born in Guatemala, grew up in NY, and moved to DC for employment after college because her family was in the area.
“My mom, Sara Parker, recommended Western to me, because she knew how important social justice is to me,” says Mimi, “and I joined in 2002.”
“Just as I have changed over time, my experience with Western as a community has changed,” adds Mimi. For instance, Miriam’s Kitchen and the commitment to mission ministry are the main reason I originally joined Western and that continued to be very important to me.”
“A little after that, I got married at Western, and then both our children were baptized here, as well. Later, when my family had a serious medical event, Western’s Deacons were extremely supportive organizing a Meal Train and praying for us.”
“More recently, the programming for children and families has been wonderful. In the Fall, we had a great time and strengthened our faith together at the all-church retreat.”
The Board of Deacons will be saying good-bye and thank-you to DJ Purnell, Letitia Obeng Roche, and Ray Sendejas (who is shifting into the co-treasurer position).
Kathy Hankins-Robinson–Renewing for Class of 2021
Kathy Hankins-Robinson grew up in Fort Valley, GA and Laurens, SC. She came to the Washington, DC area to go to grad school, and earned her MA from the University of Maryland.
Kathy was hired by Tom Beveridge as a soloist in Western’s choir, and became a member of Western in 2003.
Since then, Kathy has participated in an Associate Pastor Nominating Committee, as well as in a Pastor Nominating Committee. She remembers both experiences as requiring an insurmountable amount of time and dedication.
To some members of Western, Kathy is best known for the Wednesday night yoga classes she leads at church.
Camila Hodgen–Class of 2020
Camila Hodgen was born and raised at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and came to DC for the opportunity to work as a modern dance instructor.
She discovered Western while looking for a Presbyterian church near her, and felt lucky to find Western a few steps away.
Since joining Western in 2016, Camila has been involved with the Flower Committee, Miriam’s Kitchen, and Starter Kits for MK’s newly housed. She has always loved working with the underprivileged and especially, in the past, with human trafficking issues.
Bob Layton–Renewing for Class of 2021
Bob Layton grew up on a horse farm in central Kentucky. He is a lifelong Presbyterian, who has served on Session many times in Kentucky.
When Bob came to DC in January 2015 to take a job in the federal government, he began searching and visiting local Presbyterian churches. He started visiting Western that winter, and joined in the spring of 2015.
Since then, Bob has participated in the Free Minds Book Club; gleaned for Miriam’s Kitchen; supported efforts to focus attention on gun violence; and served the congregation at meals and events. He has also regularly attended Kathy Hankins-Robinson’s yoga classes at Western.
Gregg Pitman–Renewing for Class of 2021
On Gregg Pitman’s life path from Grand Rapids, MI to DC, he was introduced to faith through service and the joy of volunteering.
As a member of Western since 2017, he is already engaged in helping with hospitality as a Deacon. He will continue with the Deacons/Class of 2021.
Beyond Western, Gregg also worships at St. Augustine Catholic Church with his partner, Shane Stryzinski.
Mary Ann Rashid–Class of 2020
Mary Ann Rashid grew up in the Atlanta area, but moved to Washington, DC for college and never left the area.
While working at the State Department, Mary Ann watched from her window as Western’s current building was being constructed. She started coming to Western in 1997, the year she got married; former Western Associate Pastor, Laureen Smith, officiated at her wedding.
“Most of my involvement at Western has been with the children, through the Christian Ed committee and teaching,” says Mary Ann. “I also led the Confirmation Class, six or seven years ago.”
Elizabeth Telson–Class of 2019
Elizabeth Telson spent her preteen years in her hometown of Chicago, before moving with her family to Northern Virginia. A 1975 graduate of Wakefield High School, she has remained a resident of the DMV area up to the present.
Elizabeth learned of Western Presbyterian Church through Miriam’s Kitchen, and became a member of Western in 2018. She and her partner, Tariq, felt privileged to attend the anti-racism workshop at Western during the early part of 2018, where they became acquainted with other Western members.
Kate Wells Lynn–Class of 2021
Kate was born in Bristol, VA; grew up in Morristown, TN; and came to DC after graduating from VCU in Richmond, VA. She first worked for the Virginia Housing Development Authority, the National Housing Partnership in DC, and the Wesley Housing non-profit in Alexandria. After going out on her own, she connected with now-husband Wayne on a project. “We’ve been working (and playing) together ever since,” exclaims Kate.
Kate discovered Western in a 1994 Washington Post article about the challenge to Miriam’s Kitchen by the neighborhood. She thought, “These Westerners are my kind of people.” She went there the next Sunday, and the rest is history.
“Ushering was my first volunteer activity at Western and one of the most enjoyable,” says Kate. “It was a great way to become acquainted with Western members and visitors.” Kate’s other activities have included Clerk of Session; Chair of the Finance Committee; serving on Personnel, Nominating, and Flower committees; and Liturgist.
At Western’s annual Congregational Meeting on Sunday, January 27, three active Western members were elected to serve on the 2019 Nominating Committee: Lauren Amos, Julie Fiddick, and Letitia Obeng Roche.
These three will begin meeting with a current, Session-designated Elder and an active Deacon to identify new Elders and Deacons to start service next January.
Sometimes, job or life changes require an Elder or Deacon to step down before the end of the current year, so the new Nominating Committee always needs to be ready for action!
Lauren Amos brings balance to Western Presbyterian Church, located as it is in a city filled with newcomers: Lauren is a fourth-generation DC native, born within walking distance of Western at GWU Hospital.
Although her family moved to Reston, VA, Lauren’s childhood memories include driving back to the city every Sunday to attend her family church–St. Luke’s Episcopal, a historically-black church on 15th and P St. NW, founded in the late 1800s.
Lauren left the DC area for college, work, and grad school. Upon her return, however, she looked for a church that was committed to social justice. Former member Kristen Register helped her find Western.
Lauren joins Western’s 2019 Nominating Committee as an admitted doer. She has worked with the prep crew at Miriam’s Kitchen and helped with Miriam’s Bowls of Compassion fundraisers. She has done weeding at Clagett Farm (an experience her then-young son Aubrey only remembers for the hot sun, that day).
Lauren was ordained as a Deacon at First Presbyterian Church in Evanston, IL, before she returned to DC, and has served two terms as Elder on Western’s Session. She helped to organize Women-of-Western and has hosted WOW events at her home.
She has particularly enjoyed teaching in Western’s Sunday School: “…teaching the same group of kids from the time they were in elementary school through their confirmation class and a year of youth group. They’re all so tall and accomplished now!”
Energetic Julie Fiddick, a native Ohioan and unapologetic Buckeye, arrived in DC in the late 90s with husband Paul and their two daughters. After a few months of church shopping, the Fiddicks found Western through the weekly newspaper ad that featured free underground garage parking.
Long known as an active Westerner helping with occasional “odd jobs” that come along, you may recognize Julie as an usher (on the 4th Sunday of each month).
While serving as an Elder on Western’s Session, Julie served as Nominating Committee Chair–having had experience as a regular member on several previous Nominating Committees.
Julie spent several years writing for and editing, with Joan Bissell, our former newsletter, Western Word; and has organized potluck luncheons and various meal-centered gatherings and celebrations.
Letitia Obeng Roche
Lucky for Western, Letitia Obeng Roche’s life path led her from Ghana to the UK and finally, in 1982, to DC for a job at the World Bank.
She found Western Presbyterian Church close-by, where she has enjoyed working with younger people in Sunday School; serving on Western’s Worship Committee in various capacities; and sharing hospitality as a Deacon.
Letitia has also volunteered at Miriam’s Kitchen; and spent 2-1/2 years on the labor-intensive Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC) that brought Rev. Laura–now Rev. Dr. Laura Cunningham–to Western in 2015.
More recently, Letitia enjoyed being a part of Western’s Music Task Force that identified Dr. Allan Laino as the perfect match to be Western’s new Director of Music Ministry.
(Bios compiled by Joan Bissell)