Staff & Leadership

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Meet the First Congo

Our church pastors
Rich Kirchherr professional photo



Rich began serving as our Senior Minister in 1998. Prior to that, he was one of our associate pastors for 10 years.  Rich received both his Masters of Divinity and his Doctorate of Ministry from Chicago Theological Seminary. He continues to serve the seminary as an adjunct professor in preaching and is a life member of its board of trustees and has served on numerous other boards, including Plymouth Place, a UCC related retirement community. As Senior Minister, Rich serves as the head of our staff, works with our finance and stewardship ministries, coordinates our adult faith exploration, men’s ministry and provides the primary coordination for our worship services. Married to Clare Kralovec in 1986, they are the proud parents of three adult children.


Associate Minister

Katherine Willis Pershey began serving First Congo as an Associate Minister in 2010. A native Ohioan, Katherine attended seminary at Claremont School of Theology in Southern California, and was the solo pastor of South Bay Christian Christ for five years. Katherine has an active role in Sunday worship, leads our Faith Formation team, coordinates small group ministries such as Moms in Faith, Parents of Teens, and Bible Study. In 2018 she completed her training to become a yoga instructor, and now teaches Faith & Flow Yoga as part of her ministry here at church. With her background in creative writing, Katherine brings a passion for words and the Word into the pulpit. In addition to contributing to the Christian Century and the Art of Simple, Katherine is the author of Any Day a Beautiful Change: A Story of Faith and Family and Very Married: Field Notes on Love and Fidelity. Katherine and her husband, Ben, have two daughters.

Katherine Willis Pershey professional photo
Meredith Onion professional photo


Associate MINISTER

Meredith and her husband Dave have been members of First Congo since 1987. After 20 years of working in business, Meredith heard the call to ministry. She received her Masters of Divinity in 2013 from Loyola University Chicago, Institute of Pastoral Studies and was ordained in the United Church of Christ and installed as one of our Associate Ministers in 2014. Her ministry focuses on pastoral care and small group leadership, including being the staff liaison to the Thursday Morning Woman’s Book Group, Mission and Outreach, Justice Ministries, and the Diaconate. She served as the lead staff liaison to the Strategic Vision Planning Team. She has co-facilitated a Caregiver Support Group and Grief Support Group . Meredith serves as a mentor to Members in Discernment in the UCC. Involvement in the community is important to Meredith – she serves as the President of the Board of Directors of NAMI – Metro Suburban (National Alliance for Mental Illness); Community Memorial Foundation (CMF) Regional Health & Human Services Implementation Council; and, the CMF 25th Anniversary Committee. Meredith and Dave are proud parents of Alexandria, Connor and Aaron.

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Meet the First Congo
Music Ministry

Meet the First Congo
Staff Members