About Us

The United Methodist Church of Chagrin Falls traces its roots back to a gathering of Methodists that began to meet together in 1834, one year after the first European settlers arrived in our village. We organized as a congregation and erected our first church building in 1844 across the street from where the church now stands. In 1884, we moved to our present site at 20 S. Franklin St. Additions in 1961 and 1981 have expanded our church facilities, giving us a warm and comfortable home for all of our activities, programs and worship services. Currently, we have about 600 members in the congregation.

Our staff and members would be glad to serve you in any way we can. Please feel free to contact us at (440) 247-5848 or at info@chagrinfallsumc.org

Our Staff:

Rev. Joyce Lawson
Pastor

Rev. Lawson began her appointment with us July 1, 2014. She came to Chagrin Falls from the Youngstown area where she served as the pastor of Brookfield UMC for two years and Mahoning UMC for 12 years. Her pastoral appointments also include the Apollo United Presbyterian Church in Apollo, P.A., and Johnsville & Steam Corners United Methodist churches south of Mansfield.

Rev. Lawson graduated from Mayfield High School, received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Mount Union College (University of Mount Union) in Alliance. She completed her Master of Divinity degree at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, N.J.

She is married to the Rev. Peter Lawson (a Presbyterian minister), who is currently working as an Army National Guard Chaplain at the 28th Division headquarters of the Pennsylvania Guard in Harrisburg. They are the parents of two adult children and grandparents to two grandchildren.

Contact Rev. Lawson at  jlawson@chagrinfallsumc.org

Pastor Nicholas Gliha
Associate Pastor

Pastor Nick began his ministry with Chagrin Falls on June 15, 2018 after completing two years at Lakewood Calvary and Cleveland Trinity United Methodist Churches. Nick graduated from Trinity High School in Garfield Heights and most recently from Youngstown State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies. Currently, Nick is completing his Masters of Divinity at The Methodist Theological School in Ohio, with an expected graduation date of May 2019.

Nick serves as the part-time Associate Pastor of the UMC of Chagrin Falls. His focus is on discipleship, the equipping and empowering of both new and mature Christians through Bible study as well as hands-on engaging ministries that are trans-formative for the individual and the community alike. Discipleship is a lifelong journey and as such Nick works with children, youth and adults.

Nick is married to McKinsie, whom he met over a mutual love for running. When they aren’t busy working, they can be found exploring the South Chagrin Metroparks, playing with their pet rabbits or going on a motorcycle ride.

Robert Thorndike
Director of Music

Robert “Rob” Thorndike joined The United Methodist Church of Chagrin Falls in September 2017 as Director of Music.  Rob grew up in the Youngstown area and earned his degree in Music Education/Guitar Performance from Youngstown State University, Dana School of Music.

Rob is an instructor in guitar, voice and percussion with Warren Henry Music in Chagrin Falls, and also works with the Euclid High School competition show choir.  Rob composed an original score for A More Civil War, a feature length documentary and Cleveland International Film Festival official selection (2017), and is a Dana Young Artists competition winner (2010).

He resides in Mayfield Heights with his wife, Julia.

Connie Hasman
Administrative Secretary

Connie joined our staff in July, 2012. She previously owned a dog boarding kennel. Connie’s past administrative experience includes serving as a church secretary for twelve years.

She lives in Parkman with her husband, John. She has two adult children and five grandchildren. Her hobbies include scuba diving, line dancing and collecting beach glass on the shores of Lake Erie.

Contact her at info@chagrinfallsumc.org

Nicole Whitcomb
Communications Coordinator

Nicole Whitcomb joined our staff in February 2017 as our Communications Coordinator. Nicole has had a lifelong passion for the arts, beginning in her childhood church plays at The United Methodist Church of Magnolia. She earned her BA in Marketing from Notre Dame College, in addition to minors in Finance and Performing Arts. Outside of operating as our Communication Coordinator, Nicole works at Plymouth Church UCC as their Marketing & Office Administrator and enjoys photography.

Contact Nicole at communications@chagrinfallsumc.org

Rebecca Kuo Konow
Church Organist/Pianist

Rebecca Kuo Konow, a native of Taiwan, began her piano study at the age of 5.  She later started learning cello and focused on both instruments throughout college and graduate school.  Rebecca moved to the United States for school in 2007.  She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Cello Performance from the Roosevelt University and Master’s Degree in Cello Performance and Suzuki Pedagogy from the Cleveland Institute of Music.  Rebecca fell in love with the organ while attending church services.  Currently, Rebecca works full-time as a program coordinator and general music teacher at the Rainey Insititue’s string program at Village Prep Willard Elementary School.

She is married to Joshua Konow, Director of Music at Federated UCC

Karen Spisak
Music Associate

Karen Spisak serves as the Director of the King’s Singers Children’s Choir, the Ringing Bells (bell choir) and Shepherds of Sound (praise team).  She is also our substitute organist.

A resident of Auburn Township since 1985, Karen was first drawn to church work by her love of children and music.  She began accompanying the King’s Singers when her children were a part of the choir and became director in 1998.  Her goal with the children has always been to provide opportunities for biblical learning, to support social skills, and to create lasting memories of growing up in the church.  Karen eventually became director of the already established Ringing Bells, and more recently she started the praise team group called Shepherds of Sound.

Karen has a Bachelor of Science degree in Education, an American Guild of Organist service playing certification, and she teaches piano.

Jerry Gibson
Custodian

Leslie McKnight and Beth Barber
Directors of Parents’ Morning Out (PMO) and The Methodist Preschool programs

Leslie McKnight, mostly known as “Miss” Leslie, is the founder and director of our Parents’ Morning Out (PMO) program, a weekday 31-week Christian-based opportunity for young children.  Leslie hails from North Carolina, where she earned a BA in Psychology and minor in K-12 Education at North Carolina State University in Raleigh and her Master of Public Heath in Health Behavior, Health Education and Occupational Health Promotion at rival Unversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Her first teaching job with with emotionally disturbed, aggressive adolescents who had been permanently expelled from public and juvenile correctional institutions.  She moved to Ohio to work as a public health specialist for an international union and joined the United Methodist Church of Chagrin Falls in 1990 after marrying Ohio native Jonathan McKnight. Miss Leslie also serves as Chairperson of The UMC of CF Outreach Team, President of Care for Kenston Political Action Committee, and enjoys volunteering at the Cleveland Food Bank and the Lake/Geauga Habitat for Humanity ReStore. She has attended many PMO graduates’ high school graduations and looks forward to that first wedding invite! Contact Leslie at tomissleslie@windstream.net.

Being a lifelong educator, with emphasis on young children, it is a blessing for Elizabeth (Beth) Barber to come full circle and return to the church that was so important to her and her family.  Chagrin Falls High School prepared her for an undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education from Mars Hill University (North Carolina) and a Master’s degree in Administration and Supervision from Winthrop University (South Carolina).  Beth has taught kindergarten, first and second grades, gifted and talented students, parent education, college (Early Childhood) and has been an assistant principal. She has a commitment to quality early childhood education and has the leadership, experience, and dedication to continue the legacy of The Methodist Preschool of Chagrin Falls.