About The Church Council
The Church Council has its roots in the worldwide ecumenical movement which began to flourish in the early 20th Century. The Seattle Federation of Churches was formed in 1919, and this ultimately became the Church Council of Greater Seattle. Over the years the Council has embraced all denominations and many interfaith partners. It has also developed a distinctly activist character in keeping with the Pacific Northwest’s pioneering spirit and the Christian call for compassion.
- A living active faith in Christ that guides and sustains us.
- Commitment to the unity of the Christian churches and communities.
- Creating a more just and peaceful world.
- Embracing God’s gift of diversity and being open to all.
- Reaching out and giving hope and support to those in need.
- Integrity, honesty and caring in our relationships.
- Care for the earth and equitable use of its resources.
- Collaborating with partners from other faith traditions and other
people of good will.
Adopted by the Church Council of Greater Seattle Board of Directors in September 2009.
The Church Council is a registered nonprofit organization, operating as a 501(c)3 organization under IRS regulations. With an active and engaged board and a small professional staff, augmented by interns, we bring faith communities and individuals together for the common good of humanity in order to know and understand each other and to eradicate the barriers and boundaries that divide and marginalize.
The Rev. James D. Patten. President
The Rev. James D. Patten graduated from Whitworth College and later, Princeton Theological Seminary. He has served four churches in the Presbyterian Church, USA: Medford, Oregon; Bremerton, Washingtion; Indiana, Pennsylvania; and Bellevue, Washingtion. Jim retired in 2014. He is married to Jackie Patten.
He has had a life-long passion for social justice and loves the Church Council’s involvement with racial justice and immigration.
The Rev. Dr. Linda M. Smith, Vice President
The Rev Dr. Linda M. Smith serves as Executive Director and Pastor of SKY Urban Empowerment and Transformation. She is also the Director of REACH Center of Hope, a day and overnight shelter for homeless families, women and children. Rev. Smith holds a Doctoral degree in Transformative Leadership and a Master of Divinity with Post Graduate certificate in Transforming Spirituality. She is currently pursuing a second Doctorate in Prophetic Leadership and Preaching.
Rev. Smith comes from a professional background in human resources and has been actively involved in coaching managers and leaders in professional development for over 30 years. Her experience includes corporate, organizational and ministerial experience. Her involvement in government in the public square includes Renton Human Service Advisory Board and King County Regional Human Services Citizen Oversight Board. She has done volunteer work at the King County Justice Center in Kent, Seattle, and Aberdeen, ministering to those incarnated. Rev. Smith has contributed her leadership skills to numerous civic and human service projects in Renton and King County.
The Rev. Canon Marilyn Cornwell, Ph.D., Secretary
Pastor Cornwell is an Episcopal priest and rector of the Church of the Ascension in the Magnolia neighborhood of Seattle. She did theological training at the School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University and completed her Masters of Divinity at Church Divinity School of the Pacific (Episcopal seminary in Berkeley, CA). Her vocation before becoming a priest was cancer research. Pastor Cornwell is a member of the Society of Ordained Scientists. She has served on a variety of local and regional diocesan commissions and finds particular joy in ecumenical endeavors focused on gospel justice. Marilyn is inspired by the Church Council’s work of becoming a racially just community.
Steven Pomeroy, Treasurer
Steven Pomeroy is a member of Community of Christ and serves as financial officer for several of the jurisdiction’s initiatives. He previously served as the jurisdiction’s Pastor Support Minister and a congregational support minister (2008-2015) and as Pastor of the Community of Christ Renton Congregation for more than 16 years.
Steve holds a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Arizona and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Puget Sound. After11 years of public school teaching in Milwaukee, Steve moved to the Seattle area and worked for more than 30 years as the Business Manager of a consulting engineering firm before accepting church employment.
Steve’s strong interests on the on the board is the Church Council’s efforts include the area of civil dialogue and providing avenues of healing and reconciliation among diverse groups. He is also a member of an ecumenical task force working with the Business School and School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University in development of a course curriculum focused on financial literacy for pastors. Steve and his wife, Mary Ann, reside in Bellevue.
Jan Cherry, Immediate-Past President
Jan Cherry is a Diaconal Minister in the ELCA, serving as Parish Administrator at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension. A graduate of the School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University, Jan served for six years as their Ecumenical Liturgical Coordinator. Jan is passionate about living into the reality of being part of the One Body of Christ that is the Church. Therefore, ecumenical work is at the core of what she does. Believing that liturgy is one of the primary ways we are formed into this Body of Christ, Jan has participated in preparing the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity liturgies for the past 12 years. She is the past president of the Church Council Board of Directors and has served on the board since 2006. Jan is particularly interested in areas of justice-making in this community. She is proud of the way the Church Council is becoming known for its gatherings and educational workshops that support advocacy work with those who are marginalized in our society. Jan believes that articulating the racial injustice that permeates so many the issues is what is needed in order for all to experience the Shalom of God.
A Canadian by birth, Doneen has lived in the Seattle area since 1979. She has a BN from the University of Calgary, and is currently an Executive Board member of the American Red Cross King County Chapter. She is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and is co-director of public affairs for the church in the Greater Seattle area. Doneen promotes service to the needy using the JustServe community service platform, and fosters public awareness to fight human trafficking. Doneen and her husband Wayne have four children and eight grandchildren.
I love the “Weaving our Strengths” conference, and promoting peace and extending compassion by building bridges with people of all beliefs.
Wayne F. DeMeester
Wayne DeMeester has been a community and church volunteer all his life. He has supported families as an avid Boy Scout leader, on the board of the Ronald MacDonald House Children’s Charities, as a Bishop in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and at present, as a Water Commissioner for the Northeast Sammamish Sewer and Water District. He promotes service to the needy using the JustServe community service platform, and by fostering awareness to fight human trafficking.
He obtained his MBA from BYU, and worked in investments for the past 35 years. He and his wife Doneen have four children and eight grandchildren,
Wayne believes that the Church Council is a great organization to promote unity and peace, and extend compassion by building bridges with people of all beliefs.
The Rev. Dr. Darryn Hewson
Picture and additional Information coming soon.
The Rev. Staci Imes
Rev. Staci Imes is the pastor of Woodland Park Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) on Phinney Ridge. As a faith leader, activist, and artist, Staci is passionate about ecumenical and interfaith social justice work. She has worked and volunteered as an advocate and educator for issues related to immigration, homelessness, and peace-making. As a parish pastor, Staci strives to teach and live a model of engaged spirituality and she enjoys folding the visual arts and music into all aspects of her work.
Prior to entering ministry, Staci worked as a bilingual speech and language pathologist, with a B.S. from Truman State University and a M.S from Marquette University. Later, she served as a Young Adult Volunteer for the Presbyterian Church (USA) on the US/Mexico border and earned a Master of Divinity from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA.
J. Vince Larkin
An active member and former moderator at All Pilgrims Christian Church (DOC/UCC), with connections to Metropolitain Community Church, Vince’s faith journey had its beginnings in the LDS tradition. Previous board work includes All Pilgrims and MultiFaith Works, where he served as president through the merger with Rosehedge, remaining on the combined agency’s board through its sunsetting. Professionally, Vince is the General Manager at Acacia Memorial Park and Funeral Home, a Dignity Memorial Provider. His calling in life centers around helping people through transitions which come with death and loss, and finding unique ways to celebrate the significance of lives well lived. Ecumenical work done by the Church Council is so important today as our society finds itself more and more divided. Regardless of individual tradition, the reality of our faith is that we are all one in God’s presence. Whether by focusing on homelessness, living wage, or other issues of social justice, we are stronger when we work together.
Nora J. Percival
Nora J. Percival is the denominational representative of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) to the CCGS Board. She is a member and committee clerk of University Friends Meeting and secretary of North Pacific Yearly Meeting. She strives to inform her work on the Church Council with the Quaker testimonies of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship (SPICES)
Originally a native New Yorker, she has lived in the Seattle area since 2003. She is a retired community health center training manager and a volunteer Cedar River Salmon Journey naturalist.
The Church Council brings Christian congregations of many varieties into collaboration, giving them the opportunity to nurture that which unites them and disregard that which divides them. In this broken world, the Church Council calls Christians to demonstrate by their working together that peace can be the way.
The Rev. Dr. Rick Russell
Rev. Dr. Rick Russel is retired from a career as a clergy person in the United Church of Christ. . He holds degrees from the University of Washington, Bangor Theological Seminary, and Andover-Newton Theological School. Rev. Russell is an adjunct faculty member at the School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University. He is a member of the Prospect Congregational United Church of Christ in Seattle. Rick is the father of three daughters and one son and has ten grandchildren.
One aspect of the work of the Church Council about which Dr. Russell is passionate is connecting people of faith.
Christian Skoorsmith is an author, teacher, ordained minister and wellness coach. He has a rich background of labor union, social justice, and peace advocacy.
Christian has served as an executive minister for Community of Christ, an international peace church, across Western and Eastern Europe, as well as an education and formation minister in the Pacific Northwest. He recently organized, in partnership with the Church Council of Greater Seattle, the largest commemoration of the World War I “Christmas Truce” in the United States.
In recent years his family has taken their environmental and financial stewardship to a new level and started an off-grid homestead project in the south Puget Sound. When not agitating for peace and justice, or active in his church community, Christian can be found caring for his three young daughters, playing his bagpipe, or coaching people to wholeness and health. He serves as an Elder in Community of Christ across the Puget Sound region
Michael Ramos, Executive Director Email Michael Phone: (206) 525-1213 ext 102
In his role as the Executive Director of the Church Council of Greater Seattle, Michael connects congregations in King and South Snohomish Counties, empowering them in working toward God’s shalom. He has worked on ecumenical community building for two decades and enjoys connecting spirituality with social justice. At the Church Council, confronting homelessness, immigration accompaniment and reform and building a living wage future have been his central commitments with faith communities throughout the region. Michael served as Director of Latino Ministries for the Catholic Diocese in Oakland in the mid-1990s before moving back to Seattle with his wife, Donna, and their two (now-grown) daughters. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Seattle University. After growing up and going to college in New York City, Michael came to the Pacific Northwest thirty years ago.
Joey Ager, Community Organizer Email Joey Phone: (206) 525-1213, ext. 109
Joey Ager, a Scottish transplant to the PNW via Washington, DC and San Diego, is passionate about the prophetic power of faith communities to transform the world. At the Church Council, his focus is on bringing the tools of faith-based community organizing to communities throughout the region, with a particular focus on the diverse and highly impacted communities of South King County.
He trained as an organizer with mostly Spanish-speaking Catholic communities in San Diego, holds a degree in Theology from Oxford University, and writes about the relationship between faith and global humanitarianism, most recently as the co-author of the book Faith, Secularism and Humanitarian Engagement.
Joey lives in south Seattle with his wife, Emily, and two boys, Rowan and Finlay.
Iris Chavez, Organizing Staff Email Iris Phone: (206) 525-1213, ext. 106
Iris Chavez is interning at the Church Council of Greater Seattle and serving at Keystone UCC through the Justice Leadership Program. Born and raised in Spokane, WA, Iris graduated from Whitworth University with a double major in Sociology and Political Science (International Studies) and a minor in French. Iris is passionate about bringing people of different cultures together. She was an Act Six scholar at Whitworth University, a leadership and scholarship program that addresses the issue of underrepresentation on college campuses, and she was a Cultural Diversity Advocate on her campus leadership team. Iris’ interest in activism and advocacy flourished with her involvement in USAS (United Students Against Sweatshops) and she is eager to begin working toward social change and social justice with JLP.
Anya McMurrer, Organizing Staff Email Anya Phone: (206) 525-1213, ext. 107
Anya McMurrer is so grateful to be interning with the Church Council this year! Originally from New Jersey, Anya is a recent graduate of McGill University in Montreal with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minors in English and Music. While in Montreal, Anya was involved in numerous mental health initiatives. She volunteered and helped to manage McGill’s student suicide hotline, worked in peer counseling as a resident advisor, and worked as the Mental Health Coordinator for the Students’ Society, ensuring that students had access to quality behavioral health care. Anya is also passionate about racial and economic justice, and is excited to apply the skills she gained in the mental health sphere to the work she will be doing with the Church Council in housing and homelessness.
Beth Amsbary, Philanthropy Manager Email Beth Phone: (206) 525-1213, ext. 103
To Beth, arriving at the Church Council seemed like a natural destination in a life journey that led her through non-profit management and an ever-growing practice in the Christian tradition. Beth brings more than twenty years’ experience as a development officer and educator, often working with groups during times of transition. She served as Development Manager of Seattle Shakespeare Company and Taproot Theatre Company, as well as overseeing educational programs for Pacific Science Center and Seattle Public Theater (where she was a co-founder). Her faith journey began in the Episcopal tradition and brought her eventually to University Congregational United Church of Christ. Along the way, Holy Spirit has shown her the power of Evangelical prayer, Benedictine reflection, Sufi poetry, and Quaker silence. Beth maintains a practice and focus around helping people join together for meaningful moment in worship, organizing, performance, and non-profit ministry. Beth is inspired in her work by seeing brothers and sisters of many traditions together—listening and learning, worshiping and working—a foretaste of the heavenly banquet!
Ann Erickson, Office Manager/Program Associate Email Ann (206) 525-1213 ext. 105
Ann grew up in northwestern Illinois and graduated from Grinnell College with a degree in Psychology, and significant coursework in Political Science and Religious Studies. She moved to the Pacific Northwest as a Lutheran Volunteer, serving at Nativity House in Tacoma, and began working at the Church Council in August, 2007. She has a Certificate of Non-Profit Management from the University of Washington and is a “Jill of all trades,” loving to work on any sort of puzzle and being the behind-the-scenes engine for our work.
Ann grew up in the church – regularly serving as acolyte, participating in service projects, and serving as the youth representative on her congregation’s council when the congregation established a new mission statement and called a new pastor. Today, Ann is president of her current congregation, Immanuel Lutheran (ELCA), Seattle, and is also active with Immanuel’s anti-racism, advocacy, and faith formation teams. She is thankful for the many ecumenical, interfaith, and justice mentors and guides in her life. She is inspired by the relationships built across human-made boundaries, and the strength that such relationships bring in moving our world toward justice and creating God’s kindom here on earth.
Original artwork by Julie Paschkis.